It has been a crazy busy week trying to get everything in. Meeting after meeting and aisle after aisle I did my best to see what I could see. Here's what I have to share:
I am going to do this in what will appear to be a very scattered & random order, however, it is the order of my meetings and by doing it this way I will make sure to not miss anything.
I met with the folks from Swarovski and found out that the 10x50 & 12x50 Swarovision EL's are on the way. A 12x50 is something new for them and for Western Hunters I think this is a great new addition.
To my disappointment there is no Laser Rangefinder binocular coming in the near or expected future nor an update on the Laser Guide.
They are, however, very excited about the Anniversary Sale going on with the ATM/STM 65, ATM/STS 65 HD, ATM/STM 80 & ATM/STM 80 HD Spotting Scopes as well as the Z3 3-9x36, Z3 3-10x42 & Z3 4-12x50 riflescopes and their entire line of Z6 & Z6 i (illuminated) Riflescopes. We too are excited about this as it brings these scopes down to a starting price of $749.00 which is a price we have not seen on a new Swarovski riflescope in a looooong time. It is a wonderful opportunity.
My next stop was over at Bushnell to see about the close-outs on 3200 and 4200 riflescopes. They are indeed closed out and also sold out. My rep did not give me a heads up on this and we missed out. I can't really say I blame him as we are far from a big Bushnell dealer, so fair is fair.
While I was there they were showing this new BackTrack D Tour GPS kinda thing. I was walked thru it's operations and it is way cool and will sell for only $99.99. They expect it in in the next couple of months.
*Track Course Taken
*Length of Trip
*Speed of Trip
*Elevation Along Trip
*Temperature During Trip
*Keep Track of Repeated Exercise Paths
(It will also keep this info on the water for you fisherman.) After you return you can plug this into your computer and easy upload & save the information to your PC via a free application. Great little item that for the money I think will be a big hit.
I then hiked to what seemed like the other end of the universe to meet with Leica (I really need to wait for the SHOT Show floor plan map to come next year before I set up appointments. It would really be nice to not run all over the place to make it to the next meeting). I took a look at their new CRF-1000 which has the newest lens coatings, and also the new Leica CRF Tripod Adapter (which, IMO, is way over due). This unique adapter is designed to allow safe and secure mounting of any CRF rangefinder to any tripod or window mount with a 1/4x20 or 3/8x16 pan-head stud. Whether you have the CRF 800, 900, 1000, 1200, or the new 1600 this tripod adapter will fit your rangefinder. It is $99.99.
We were able to arrange to purchase some of the display units from the show (Including CRF-1600's) so I was pretty pleased about that.
We will also (This is us, not Leica) extend the $400.00 trade in program we are offering on your old scope to purchase a Certified Pre-Owned, as new, show demo riflescope (that has never been mounted).
My last meeting of the day was with Pentax To be quite honest I was meeting with them more out of personal relationships with some of their customer service people than excitement over what they had to offer (SHOT is that once a year time I get to see lots of folks I spend the year speaking with on the phone. Gives that "Big party reunion" kinda thing going on) as I did not expect much from them. I was happily surprised....
They showed a new binocular and I may be wrong about this so please do not attack me, but I think it is a unique sized binocular.....9x32 DCF BC and 9x42 DCF BR.
*Waterproof & Nitrogen Filled
*Open Bridge Design (Did everyone steal this from Swarovski)
*Plus all the standard features that you'd want from a quality binocular
The 9x32 sells for $299.00 and the 9x42 @ $349.00 So they are affordable and IMO, priced below their value in order to get them out into the market place to get some attention and use.
Next interesting release is their new line of 30mm tube Gameseeker Riflescopes. Priced from $179.00 - $209.00 I think these are an interesting line of scopes with great power ranges and priced low for these size options with a 30mm tube:
To their existing 1" line of Gameseeker Riflescopes they have added:
*2-7x32mm Plex @ $99.00
*3-10x50mm LPP @ $149.00 (Illuminated Reticle)
IMO, these are good additions to already established line of riflescopes.
I was excited about my first meeting of the day as I was meeting with Vortex who every year it seems introduces so many new products that it creates excitement. I was not disappointed....
First of all, and what everyone has been waiting to hear....The PST scopes are finally going to be shipping on a regular basis and in not too long all backorders will be filled and we'll have these in stock in all sizes.
New in their riflescopes is the Viper HS line of scopes which should be available by late Spring or early Summer...Hopefully. These are 30mm tube scopes with nice ranges and all priced below $550.00:
These scopes are a hybrid between a hunting scope and the Viper PST's. It was designed for long distance shooting. Features include:
*Hashmarked BDC reticles
*Uncapped PST Style Elevation Turrets with 1/2 MOA Clicks for precise, rapid adjustments at ranges to 600 yards and beyond.
Vortex has TOTALLY revamped their binocular line with their new Razor HD Series, Viper HD Series & Talon HD Series These are improved versions of the existing Razor and Viper Series binoculars that have enjoyed tremendous success.
*The Razor HD's are a slimmer design as well as slightly lighter than the Razor they have replaced. It features a magnesium body, improved optics, new coatings as well as a new prism. All around a new worthwhile binocular.
*The Viper HD is a better version of the existing Viper series. Compared to the existing Vipers these will be superior in color rendition and resolution.
*The new Talon HD is a sub $450.00 optic that will deliver performance and optical quality of current $600.00 + options.
Then I looked at their new Viper Spotting Scopes....NICE. Under $1000.00 - Rubber Skinned - Lighter than the Skyline Series that it is replacing - Optically Superior to the Skyline Series as well. I did not have the opportunity at the show to compare it to my highest regarded Asian Spotter (IMO, the Pentax PF-80ED has been a best option vs spending big $$$ for the Euros), however, the boys from Vortex assure me that when I do a side by side I will be impressed as theirs is as good and is only $799.99 for the 20-60x80mm HD version and $699.99 for the non-HD...$549.99 for the 15-45x65 HD and $100.00 less for the non-HD. (Personally for the $100.00 difference I would not bother with the non-HD version. I'd spend the extra $100.00 and get the optically superior version).
OK, Back upstairs and to the other end of the convention to the German Pavilion and Minox. Happily we were able to work it out to receive their SHOT Show display units as well as some other samples. Their entire line of riflescopes are now in stock and IMO, their ZA-5 1.5-8x32 Riflescope is a homerun. It fills that gap left when Zeiss stopped making their Conquest 1.8-5.5x38 and 2.5-8x32 and at below $500.00 for a new one it is priced right.
Their German HG line of binoculars are also an excellent value while delivering more quality than the price suggests.
As a side note, I met Greg from Minox who Neil and I have only met on the phone. We spoke at the show and he joined us for dinner. All I can say is that he is a genuinely nice guy that when Neil & I have called upon him for customer service issues he has always stepped up. After meeting him I can say that he is the way he is when we call him because that is his personality, not because it's his job. If you ever have a need to speak with someone at Minox ask for Greg. You'll be pleased that you did
Right next store to Minox is Schmidt & Bender. I remembered to make that my next appointment as they are historically both located in the German Pavilion.
I checked out their new 1-8x24 Zenith. This has a CC mode that permits a parallax-free use of the scope as a red-dot sight with a magnification (or actually lack of magnification) of 1x. The reticle and flashdot are in the second focal plane.
I also liked their new 3-20x50 PM II:
*Illuminated reticle in the first or second focal plane
*Elevation adjustment with MTC, double turn and tactical plane
*Elevation and windage turrets with locking function
*Zero Click:tactile click of the windage zero position
*Parallax compensation from 25 m to infinity
Thinking ahead I ordered a bunch of these in different reticles as S&B scopes normally take a little bit to arrive and this way we'll have them in stock.
I also spoke with them about a demo list of product which we will have next week. They do not have the quantity of demos as we normally get from some of the other bigger mfg's, however, saving some $$$ on a S&B is a great thing. Once I have that list I will post it on this thread.
Nikon was next. We had a great meeting where we arranged for lots of demo goods in binoculars and spotting scopes and I had the opportunity to check out the new EDG Series (available in 7x42, 8x42, 10x42, 8x32 & 10x32) as well as their new ProStaff 7 Series ATB Binoculars (available in 8x42, 10x42 and 10x42 Camo)
I think the EDG is improved in it's construction as well as material used on the body. At around $2000.00 I think it has some tough competition from the big three Euros. IMO, the way perception comes into play as much as reality, no company will sell lots of $2000.00 binoculars unless it comes with "Pride of Ownership" bragging rights. This, again IMO, is locked up by Swarovski, Leica and Zeiss. If you are the type of person with an open mind and knowledge of optics then I suggest you consider an EDG as the optics really are high quality.
The new Prostaff 7 series, on the other had, is priced at $189.99 for the 8x42 and $199.99 for the 10x42. It features a nice feeling rubber armor, phase coated prisms, lots of eye relief, is waterproof and accepts a tripod. For the $200.00 price catagory options it for sure is one to consider.
I finished out Day 2 at ZEISS. I knew ahead of time that the only new thing that I was going to see was their Dialyt 18-45x65 Field Spotter which they claim will be in stock in the next few weeks and will sell for $1299.99. It has a nice robust feel to it, armor coated, easy to focus, high quality ZEISS optics, only 15.5" long and about 2.5 pounds. It has a built on tripod mount with good position for balance. I think it is a winner and it was nice to see it not priced close to $2000.00 as one would expect.
We were able to arrange to purchase many sample riflescopes and binoculars from their booth. As soon as we receive them we will post a list on this thread.
After the first two days I was worn out and decided to make only a couple of appointments for Day 3.
The first two appointments were exploratory and I will not state who they were with, however, I will say that I am glad I went as it gave me a better appreciation of the quality optics in the under $500.00 catagory that we already carry. There really is some awful optics with cheesy construction out there and some people can look you in the eye and state how great it is. Where is the quality control police when you need them? Live and learn. I wasted a couple of hours of my life that I can never get back and for that I am sorry.
After that wasted part of the morning (and I had to get up early for that waste of time too) I was rewarded with a couple of hours well spent at Steiner . I was very impressed with their new Predator XTreme binoculars which are rugged, feature winged eye cups, are waterproof and as all Steiners are...Made in Germany. Very impressive to hold and look thru and then I found out that they are only $399.99 for the 8x42's I did a double take and checked them out again. This may be our new top selling, under $500.00 binocular.
I was then treated to their new line of Nighthunter XP binoculars (8x42, 10x42, 8x56 and 10x56). These are a bit pricier at $849.99 - $1049.99 but back up the price with quality and features. They seem to be able to add light to the image you are looking at. I've used binoculars before that when you are looking thru them it appears brighter than the image appears without the binocular and these fall into that arena. They are construted to feel like an extention of your hand when you're holding them. Nicely done Steiner.
I then was introduced to their head of Military Optics who showed me their line of 34mm tube riflescopes:
Front Focal Plane G2 MilDot reticle 19.5 mils of elevation and 5 mils of windage adjustment, lighted reticle & side mounted parallax/focus adjustment. These seem to be looking to replace S&B in the higher end of quality tactical scope. From the comments I heard while there I would say that most that looked at them felt the same as I did....Steiner is turning out some quality options.
I then went on another blind meeting to Carson Optical, not knowing what to expect. I expected to see yet another "me too" line of binoculars and riflescopes, and some of them were, however, they have some stuff worth looking at and I requested that they send in the sales rep for my area so I can take some of their product outside to truely evaluate it. I think you'll be hearing more about Carson Optics in the not so distant future.
I have once again met with Trijicon and it looks like we will be moving forward with becoming an authorized dealer.
All in all it was a great week seeing some new products, visiting with folks I only see once a year or have never met before and eliminating a few perspective lines that I had been wanting to check out.