Media Day Musings

I attended my umpteenth Media Day yesterday. Every year I say it’s my last one, but I seem to always return like a moth to a light. And like every other year, I seem to find a few nuggets that pique my interest. Record cold temperatures powered by nearly gale-force winds and a new two-tiered schedule transformed the otherwise insane gathering of media types and wannabes into a fairly coherent event. With the swirling clouds of political fisticuffs looming over guns once again, it was the micro-pistols and AR-based rifles that garnered the most interest. However, I found a few other things that stimulated mine.

.17 Winchester Super Mag.
One would have to be brain dead to not realize the impact of the .17 HMR cartridge. Its flat trajectory and terminal zing has created a renaissance in rimfire varminting. Well our buds at Winchester have developed an even zippier .17—like an honest 3,000 fps at the muzzle—that extends the effective range of rimfire varminters out past 200 yards. The .17 Win. Super Mag. spits 20-grain bullets from the muzzle at three grand and 25-grainers at 2,600 fps. We’re now talkin’ .22 Hornet performance from a rimfire rifle. To attain this performance the rim area of the case needed to be thickened somewhat to contain the higher pressure, and the rifle designed to fire it needed a beefier fire-control system to crack the primer. Rifles are coming from Browning and Savage. I am looking forward to bothering a few pasture poodles and picket pins with this hotshot later in the spring.

Cabot’s Rolls Royce of 1911s
Because of the aforementioned wind, there was only one gun I actually shot yesterday on the firing line—but it was one that I actually had to feel for myself. Anyone who builds a 1911 costing as much as $7,500 better have something special. Clearly we’re not talking about a gun for everyman, Cabot’s president Robert Bianchin characterizes his company as a boutique gunmaker. “We come from the aerospace industry and bring a level of precision in manufacturing that no one else does,” he shouted to me amid the gunfire and biting wind. There are no forgings or castings. Every part is made to print from bar stock in collaboration with Penn United Technologies, a manufacturer of components for the aerospace and nuclear industries. I shot a sample of the company’s Range Master with all of the typical 1911 enhancements—and with an MSRP of $5,250—and found it to be a very smooth and well-behaved pistol. Is it worth the money? You decide.

SureFire Institute
From its inception in 1979, SureFire’s founder and president Dr. John Matthews has one standing order: Build the best. Whether it’s a flashlight (Whoever thought we’d need a $100 flashlight?), sound suppressor or training in the tactics and best uses for these devices, Dr. Matthews will settle for nothing less than the best that can be made or done. SureFire started its institute about a decade ago and based it in southern California. This week it opened a new facility near Las Vegas, and we writer types were given the nickel tour. From basic shooting lessons to high-level tactical training, machine gun rentals, even competition-level off-road racing experience in the same kind of rigs used in Baja racing, all is available at this brand new facility. We had the opportunity to run through several demos of the kinds of training that the SureFire Institute offers. That’s little old me clearing a room with a Simunitions pistol. I am making plans to attend a course sometime this spring and will offer a full report.

Now, onto the floor!

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