I got back from SHOT Show yesterday and all I can say is...whew I am worn out. According to one of the folks I was speaking with "If you walk up and down all the aisles of the show it amounts to over 10 miles" I don't know about that but it was insane.
Lot's of great things to see, lots of great deals to be had. We had extensive meetings with:
Nikon ... A new Monarch binocular with Dielectric High-Reflective Multilayer Prism Coating. About time they updated their flagship Monarch ATB binocular. It's nicer and they did something unusual, they didn't raise the price vs the original version. Nice to see an improvement without an increase in price.
They also showed a new:
*Action Series Binocular in 10x40 (Which IMO was something that seemed missing from their line) for only $84.99.
*They have revamped their Travelite Series of Binoculars. Still available in 8x25, 9x25 and 10x25. They improved the coatings improved the diopter adjustment ring and the Rubber Coating
*SHE ATB Series Binocular in 8x36 and 10x36. This was specifically designed for women. It's a little sleeker in design and comes in Plum and Chocolate Brown with stylish shoulder bags.
Swarovski is very excited about their new Swarovision 8.5x42 and 10x42 Binoculars. The view thru these binoculars is nothing short of amazing. They are a bit expensive, however, after looking thru them I'd say they are offering the most outstanding view for the money they are asking.
I spent quite some time over at Minox. Reason for that is even though we have carried Minox for years the company is somewhat "new" in as much as what's been going on over there the past year. The past VP of Leica Sports Optics moved over to Minox last year. he had some new direction in mind for the company and has started to make those moves and show some product at this years show. The new riflescopes were there and should start to be delivered by the end of this month/beginning of February at the latest. IMO, they are better than their price indicates. No, these are in no way competition to a Swarovski or a S&B but they are not meant to be. These are geared towards the Bushnell, Vortex, Pentax (which BTW there is an interesting development there) and Zeiss Conquest series. Running with these I think that Minox has hit a home run. Yes, I have read the thoughts of other retailers on these and whereas I respect many of the opinions of some of these people opinions are just that, opinions. including mine. The reality is that the proof is in the product. I think those of you that try the Minox will be convinced that it is a winner product line.
They also have released quite a few new binoculars....an 8x44 and 10x44 Comfort Bridge Series as well as their new CFL 1 Compact LED Flashlight and NV mini Night Vision Monocular.
We had a long discussion about their move of production of their HG and APO-HG Series from Japan to Germany. I'm taking a wait and see on this. I think for the money the Japan made HG's are a no brainer purchase (especially since we were able to purchase their remaining Japan made inventory) but with the new production in Germany comes some big price increases. The Japan made 8.5x52 HG is $599.99 vs the German made 8.5x52 @ $1545.00 with the only real difference being a slightly wider FOV and the Made in Germany bragging rights. Personally, bragging rights have never meant much to me. Their APO-HG Binoculars are SWEET but I think that when someone is looking for the best and willing to spend around $2000.00 Minox is up against the established BIG THREE and only time will tell if the obvious quality of these APO-HG's will stand up to the "I own XYZ's" pride of ownership BS.
OK, not that it was unexpected as each year brings more and more excitement to the Vortex booth and this year was no exception. They never cease to astound me with how well they listen to their customer base and produce product on top of product of great additions to their ever expanding line. Had I payed more attention in school and could touch type I would itemize all the GREAT items they added to their line up, however, since I didn't and it would take well over an hour to get it all typed out I am doing the next best thing....Yes, I am thankful to Vortex for launching a Tactical Web Site of all their new gear. Makes my life easy. Their new PST scopes are everything everyone hoped for and expected. The reality of the delivery dates is more than likely May than any earlier. The new Razor HD 1-4x24mm (30mm tube) is very exciting with outstanding quality. I think you'll be very pleased with it, but don't expect to have that feeling before the end of the Summer at the earliest.
Our meeting with Leica was interesting. I saw their new Monovid Close-Focus Monocular which is a great little unit. I think it will be a popular unit. A great carry everywhere optic.
They announced price reductions on their Ultravid HD Binoculars (nothing mind blowing, but every little bit helps).
The view thru their Riflescopes is outstanding. Probably the best WOW factor out there in a riflescope. Yes, we will have their SHOT samples here in a week or so, if you want one let me know. We also purchased their Ultravid HD, Spotting Scopes, 10x42 Geovid HDs and CRF samples.
BTW, while they last, we do have a few more of their 8x42 Geovids @ $1499.99 and 15x56 Geovids @ $1749.99 for the forum members. These are new & the Yards version.
We also had a great meeting with Steiner. They have some impressive products, their prices are good, they are made in Germany and their customer service is fantastic. We used to do a lot of business with them but in the last few years it seems to have fallen off and for the life of me I cannot figure out why. I looked at their new Tactical 10x50 Binocular laser rangefinder and was impressed. At $2599.99 it's no bargain, but it is not a bargain optic, it is a Germany quality made to run with the Leica Geovid and Zeiss RF. They also released a Predator C5 10x56 and 8x56 which were a nice addition to their line.
We have arranged with them to offer a couple of post SHOT show specials on their:#239 10x26 Predator Pro @ only $149.99
#231 8x22 Safari Pro @ $99.99
#332 12x30 Wildlife Pro @ $299.99
Steiner is worth considering when choosing binoculars. let's not overlook this optic provider.
Zeiss is always a fun meeting for me. I have personal relationships with many of the people their as they are all such down to earth and friendly people. Kris and Sanja in customer service are wonderful and always a pleasure to see. If you ever have a question or a situation just ask to speak with either of them and you'll not regret it.
Zeiss has a new Victory Varipoint Illumination Control iC series of Riflescopes as well as a new Victory Diavari 4-16x50 T* FL. They lowered the price of their Conquest 3-9x40mm Z-Plex #20 to $399.99 which I thought was a great move.
They also showed their new PhotoScope 85 T* FL which is a great unit but $6499.99 for a spotter with built-in digital camera is a bit expensive, IMO. They also showed a new 5.6x62 LT* Nightvision spotter @ $4999.99.
As stated earlier there is a story to be told about Pentax......before I move forward I need to do some background. As many of you know I basically grew up in the camera optics industry. Camera Land has been here since 1957 and Dad still comes in twice a week to make sure that Joel and I continue to run it the way he always has. Being that I grew up in the industry I know many of the players at the different manufacturers since I was knee high to a grapefruit, so to speak. yes, obviously a good majority of the players over the years have changed and companies revamp and some have disappeared..Konica, Minolta, Chinon, Ricoh, etc. Times change, but basic principles of how to do business do not. The meaning of quality does not change. Some brands lose their quality and therefore lose their customers. Then there is the Pentax story. The head office in Japan for the past couple of years has been doing this, that and the other thing. The one thing they have not been doing is staying on top of their product line or showing the proper interest in it. They have let key players go over the past few years, which quite honestly has pissed me off. In the past year they let the remaining players that have been with the company here in the USA for an excess of 25 years go. This too upset me greatly. The new guys came in and IMO did nothing. OH well, yet another company killing themselves. I took advantage over the last couple of years snatching up deals from them as they had no clue what was what which is how we are able to offer their Gameseeker Optics Outfit and their line of Gameseeker Riflescopes way below value. I had a frank discussion with the new regime during SHOT about what the heck is going on over there. From an optics point of view their quality has always been there, however, if you have nobody at the helm the boat is not going anywhere and they have abandoned the helm the last year or two. Nothing new in their product line that was of much interest and just stagnant (Exciting right?) So I asked them what the deal was and was very pleased with their response. First, and to me very significant, came the agreement that the company has dropped the ball and has been doing little if anything as far as direction. I HATE excuses, as mostly they are meaningless. Then came what I really wanted to hear but did not expect....We are committed to Sports Optics and will no longer treat that division as a step child. They are on board and want to be a major player. We discussed many ideas and will be working together to move Pentax forward.
To get some product flowing they have agreed to allow us to offer their Pioneer II series Riflescopes at a nice savings. These used to be made for them by Burris in the Phillipines and was a direct copy of the Burris FFII. Now they make these themselves in China (yes, China. Get over it. China is where the majority of consumer goods are coming from and will continue to. Think about the reaction your father and grand father had when it originally said made in Japan) same scope but now generation II.
3-9x40mm Plex @ $129.99
4.5-14x42mm Plex @ $139.99
IMO, for these prices this scope cannot be bested. This is a limited supply offer to get some scopes out their in an effort to promote Pentax.
They also have a couple of new very inexpensive Dot sights.
I really think the new guys in charge want to remake the company. Time will tell but for now Camera Land is on board and wants to see them succeed. They offer a fantastic warranty and do have some great products. Let's give them the chance to succeed.
I personally have never been a huge Bushnell dealer. They have always had worthwhile products but nothing that really made them a standout jump up and notice company. Then again I'm sure more vanilla and chocolate ice cream sells a year that all those fancy flavors combined. They have a new and quite interesting 15-45x60 Legand Ultra HD Spotting Scope @ $349.99. Also worth mentioning is their new 10x42 Trophy XLT, 8x36 & 10x36 Ultra HD Binoculars as well as new additions to their 4200 & 3200 series riflescope lines.
We also met with, were very impressed with and are in the process of becoming a Hensoldt dealer. This company makes a fantastic product that is in a class of its own.
By request of the mfg we stopped by the Barska booth to take a look. They have a bigger product selection than my local supermarket. I could not figure out where to start looking as to look at everything I'd be there thru next week. Anyone here ever use their gear? Is it worth taking in? Please let me know your thoughts.
We also met with and are in discussions with Trijicon. I think it would make a nice addition to the lines that we currently carry. What do you think.
I am sure as this thread moves forward I'll think of things I have forgotten and will add them later. Thanks for taking the time to read all of this.
Your input means a great deal so please PM or e-mail me your thoughts.