If you’ve been reading G&A.com recently, you know all about the SHOT Show. It’s the biggest trade show/celebration/gun marketplace in our great nation. It’s a gathering—with over 62,000 attendees this year—that’s all about guns, hunting and every other facet of our industry. It’s as American as apple pie—or the Single Action Army, whichever you prefer.
But we’re not the only game in town. Europe has a rich shooting and hunting tradition, and even though Great Britain, Germany and others are at the bottom of the list when it comes to gun rights, they host one heck of a trade show.
The IWA Show 2013 was an international feeding frenzy of gun buyers, dealers and shooting enthusiasts with every bit of the shock and awe produced by SHOT. The show kicked off for the 40th time earlier this month at the Exhibition Centre in Nuremberg, Germany, offering new and innovative products and an alternative to the American market. According to officials, 1,207 exhibitors from 50 nations met more than 38,000 trade visitors from over 100 countries during the four-day exhibition.
G&A was there to catch the highlights: three-barreled shotguns, working half-sized rifles and a few pairs of tactical knickers. Enjoy.
Compared to traditional European scopes for driven hunts, Aimpoints are priced to sell. Hunters in Europe are generally picking up an Aimpoint to supplement their regular scope, and they're always on the money.
At 8.7 lbs with three 28” barrels, the Mammut isn't exactly lightweight, but the balance should work for waterfowling. It has a single trigger (right – left – top), 3” chambers, manual safety, extractor and uses standard Rem-Choke choke tubes. It also comes in a handy 19” version with an almost cartoonish charm. The gun is also available on the American market under the Chiappa brand.
Never-the-less, Beretta introduced the 486 Parallelo at IWA, an elegant round action side-by-side. The model number is derived from the number of years that have passed since the factory was founded...486. It's a beautiful, slender gun with classic English lines, and it's priced for the highest of high-end at $5,500. Even if you're priced out of this market, you can surely appreciate this fine Italian double.
Browning’s new straight pull repeater – the Maral - is a reaction to present and future legal problems with semi-automatics. It's a lightning quick repeating rifle with a large magazine capacity. Actually, the rifle is little more than a Browning BAR with a handle on the bolt and a constant force return spring in place of the gas mechanism. You just pull the handle and let go, it's that easy. The demand for the Browning Maral is huge in Europe and will surely compete with the likes of the Blaser R8.
The price of a beautiful gun like this? As the saying goes: If you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it. We did manage to find out that a double rifle built to meet the preferences and personal measurements costs around $100,000.
The FX Verminator Extreme lives up to its name with a pretty insane package. It's comes in a hard case complete with an FX arrow barrel, shrouded smooth-twist barrel, four carbon-fiber arrows, two different optics and a spring loaded magazine. The synthetic stock has soft-touch coating on both the bottle cover and the pistol grip. Combine all this with a quick change barrel system and you've got a hybrid of epic proportion. Vermin beware.
Härkila (pronounced hair-sheela) is dominating the market. A complete outfit – jacket, pants and hat – will cost an European hunter about $1,000.
The Danish brand Laksen enjoys international success with their modern interpretation of classical tweed. Their biggest market is Great Britain, but the brand is gaining more and more followers all over Europe (and even back home).
For trade shows, the company breaks out these little half-sized working models that will fire .22 cal. rounds. We didn't get to the range with these little wonders, but they're surely one of the most astonishing works of gunsmithing you'll ever come across.
Grip frames can be wood or rubber, the caliber choices include 22 lr, .38 spc., .44 mag., .45 long colt, .357 mag., and .454 Casull; and the package includes various rear sight options. The trigger is controlled by a roll pin and is adjustable to three different let off points. This impressive system wasn't priced at the show, but we're assuming it cost a pretty penny. Without a doubt, though, this is one of the more innovative guns we fondled during the IWA show.
The Urlich uses the famed Blaser R93 action with an exact one-piece saddle mount designed to keep the rifle on zero even after multiple takedowns (no tools necessary). The receiver is offered in a simple bronze or black hard anodized version, but can also be dressed up with an elaborate relief engraved receiver and bolt assembly. This high-class pack rifle is available in everything from .222 Rem to .375 H&H Mag., and comes with a classic hard case. Makura has certainly spared no expense on this package, so check their website for full pricing.
The M12 is heading the company's charge back into to the American market with hopes that it will help revitalize the brand in the States. This new offering, with it's 60 degree bolt lift, large bolt handle and six lug locking system; is a brilliantly quick repeater and, from our testing, extremely accurate. It comes standard from the factory with 2 lb. trigger, the new SRS three-position safety, a five round detachable box magazine and either a synthetic black or wood stock. Most importantly, the M12 will enter the market with a mid-range price. which means it should beaccessible at retail for most American hunters.
The most popular hunting model – the Meindl Island – is the Mercedes of footwear, and certainly would rank near the top of the heap here in The States. See more at www.meindl.de
The 101 is also produced in Isny, Germany, and includes many of the same features that have garnered such a sterling reputation for the company's other rifles (with a few new twists). The gun's six bolt lugs engage directly into the barrel and the action bedding is set to ensure maximum isolation between stock and action. The double-stack box magazine and soft touch synthetic stock give this gun a distinctly American feel, while the smooth 60 degree bolt and 2 lb. trigger give it Sauer quality.
Right now, the king of the low light class is the Zeiss Victory HT with a light transmission of more than 95 percent. Shown here is the 3-12x56 model with ultra-small illuminated center dot. In Europe, the retail price of such a scope is about $3,500. Yet it is not a rare sight in the high-seats across the continent.
Ben O’Brien and Jens Ulrik Høgh contributed to this article.