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IWA 2013: G&A's Guide to Europe's Biggest Gun Show

IWA 2013: G&A's Guide to Europe's Biggest Gun Show

If you've been reading G& 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.

Meindl Island Footwear

In most of Bavaria you're either moving uphill or downhill. Hunters in the mountains obviously need high quality boots to pursue the light-footed chamois at high altitudes. The German shoe factory Meindl, founded more than 80 years ago, is still owned and managed by the Meindl family, the production is still taking place in Bavaria, and the quality is still superior.

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

FX Verminator MK II Extreme

This one caught our attention right away. A combination crossbow/airgun with all the charm of a tricked-out .22? Why yes, we'll have 10.

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.

Akkar Mammut Triple Barrel Shotgun

Europeans love break-open shotguns. Until the 70s, most of them were side-by-sides. That's all changed dramatically over the years, and these days a vast majority of European hunters swear by the over-and-under. One of the stars of this year's IWA show was another option, a mass-produced triple-barreled shotgun at an affordable price dubbed the Akkar Mammut (which is roughly translated to "Mammoth"). Until now, triple shotguns have only been available from custom gun makers at exorbitant prices. This Turkish gun has changed that with a retail price of about [imo-slideshow gallery=297],500.

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.

Zeiss Victory HT Low Light Scopes

The big European sport optics brands — all of them with headquarters in Germany or Austria — have been fighting for the lead position in the demanding European market for more than a century. Hunters in Europe aren't normally allowed to us night vision or lights, so they need the light transmission possible.

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.

First Class Ferlach Guns

The greatest concentration of first-class gun makers in Europe is found in the Austrian city of Ferlach. The guns produced in this tiny town are some of the finest in the world, and they're priced to match. Pictured here is a small selection of hand-built guns from the workshop of Master Gunsmith Hambrusch. The gun in the foreground is a classic double rifle with a floral engraving made to please a wide audience of international customers. Traditional Germanic engravings with their dramatic hunting scenes deeply engraved are as German as it gets. A style that goes very well with lederhosen and sauerkraut.

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.

Aimpoint Red Dot Sights for Running Boar

The wild boar population of Europe is exploding, and Aimpoint is yet another company benefiting from the driven hunt craze. Aimpoint sights are parallax free and without any magnification, making it possible to use the sights with both eyes open.

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.

Browning's Maral Straight Pull Repeater

Driven hunts for wild boar and deer are an old tradition in many parts of Europe. Sadly, though, in most of the Eastern European countries, magazine capacity must be restricted to two shots and similar rules are on the way all over Europe. This makes our beloved semi-auto ARs a much less attractive choice for driven hunts.

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.

Beretta 486 Parallelo

In Europe, hunters love small game. They've had abundant numbers since the dawn of modern hunting shotguns, and their style of scatter gun has always reflected that pursuit. Today, most new shotguns are over-and-unders, but there are still a lot of old side-by-sides in service. Most only leave the gun cabinets on special occasions.

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.

Härkila — The Swedish Look

In the Northern parts of Europe hunters prefer very plain, practical clothes. In other words, they're not all dressed in tweed. The Scandinavian wilderness suit is typically made of the toughest fabrics, high-tec membranes and lots of functional details. If you ever find yourself hunting in Scandinavia, most of the locals will be dressed like these two gentlemen. You might spot a few orange caps, but the dominant color is green. Don't be offended, but European hunters are far from convinced that they really need camouflage to go hunting.

Härkila (pronounced hair-sheela) is dominating the market. A complete outfit — jacket, pants and hat — will cost an European hunter about [imo-slideshow gallery=297],000.

Hunting in style with Laksen Clothing

The hunting culture of Europe varies widely across the continent, which is naturally reflected in what hunters are wearing. The Germans like their traditional loden outfits, while the British hunters tend to stick to their classic tweed. It's as varied as the styles back in The States.

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).

Makura Hunting Rifles

The shooting industry has seen the takedown rifle trend rise in the U.S. over the years, but it's doubtful we've seen anything like the Makura Takedown Urlich.

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.

JANZ-Revolver Typ S

This revolver has one basic frame...that's the only thing basic about this German-made wheel gun. The JANZ Revolver Typ S offers a quick change system that allows the shooter to change barrel lengths, calibers and grips--transforming this revolver from a .22 LR with a 4" barrel to a heavy hitting .454 Casull with a 12" barrel with relative ease.

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.

Sauer 101

With its "Old School, New Rules" campaign, Sauer dominated the floor of the IWA show with the launch of a brand new rifle. The Sauer 101 is being called the "little sister" of the Sauer 202, a rifle that has long been known as a top-level premium bolt gun. This offering is set to bring that same German quality to the mid-price hunting market in the U.S.

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.

Mauser M12

The Mauser M12 is something of a rebirth. Most Americans think of this German company for their historically innovative Model 98 action, a staple of two world wars and over one hundred years of service. But this classic gun maker is still producing quality rifles in their state-of-the-art factory in Isny, Germany.

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.

Jagdwaffen Scheiring Half-Sized Double Rifles

What's better than a masterfully crafted double rifle with all the fine detail of a Picasso painting? One half the size that still shoots. Jagdwaffen Scheiring, another gun maker hailing from Ferlach, Austria, crafts fine doubles made exclusively with the Holland & Holland block system. The firearms are personalized to the character of the perspective buyer, and can be as ornate as you can imagine.

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.

 Ben O'Brien and Jens Ulrik Høgh contributed to this article.

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