Shot Show is an annual tradeshow, where all major companies that deal with hunting, shooting and outdoors exhibit their products. This year, it was held for the 40th time. The location used to change every year, but since 2009, Shot Show has been held in Las Vegas at Sands Expo convention centre. It adjoins Venetian and Palazzo hotels, and the Italian ambiance makes the visit a unique experience. This year (2019), I went to Shot Show myself. The primary goal was to visit booths of optics manufacturers and check out whether they have come up with anything new for 2019. In this article, I have categorized the novelties presented in paragraphs for clarity.
Let’s start with binoculars. In this field, Sightron has made an interesting upgrade – they decided to upgrade the SII Blue Sky series with 8x42 and 10x42 models. These open-bridge construction binoculars, equipped with High Definition ED glass and dielectric coatings, offer a great combination of optics and ergonomics for the price of 300 €.
Steiner introduced two new series of binoculars. The first one, BluHorizons, features two pocket models, 8x22 and 10x26. Steiner used the Autobright technology, based on the brightness automatically adapting to the surrounding lighting. The second series goes by the name Predator AF. These feature an interesting combination of open bridge and Porro prisms. An open bridge construction makes them lighter than conventional Porro binoculars, while the prisms make them very bright. Both these binoculars will be available at an affordable, entry-level price. Swarovski had their CL Companion Nomad binoculars exhibited. Holding them in my hands was a real pleasure – they are dressed in quality leather. Both the strap and the carrying bag are also in leather, and Nomad comes in an attractive wooden box. A great binocular for collectors or those who appreciate elegance, selling at around 2500 €.
The Czech company Meopta has also introduced a new series, called Optika HD. Available in two configurations, 8x42 and 10x42, these offer plenty for a price around 250 € – housing made of magnesium alloy, phase-correction, and dielectric coatings; a hydrophobic, anti-scratch coating on external parts of the lenses, and great edge-to-edge sharpness.
This year, there weren’t as many innovations in the field of laser rangefinding binoculars as was the case in some of the previous years. Nevertheless, the trend of companies presenting their very own versions continues. This year, Leupold introduced RBX-3000 TBR/W 10x42 LRF binoculars, made – interestingly – in Czech Republic. It is capable of measuring distances up to 3000 yards (2700 m) if pointed at a reflective object. The binoculars also boast the capability to display the equivalent horizontal range, which is a useful feature for all those who do inclined shots. Athlon has also launched a binocular that features the angle compensation mode – The Cronus 10x50 rangefinding binoculars display distances up to 2000 yards. These are not as powerful as the ones by Leupold, but at 1600 $, they cost almost half RBX-3000’s price. Furthermore, Leupold’s binoculars will only be available in the US market. The most attention-grabbing laser rangefinding binoculars were the ones made by Vortex. Fury, introduced last year, has received an upgrade – gen II carries the name ‘Fury 5000 HD’. Amazingly, it can measure and display distances up to 5000 yards (4570 m). It will be offered at the same price as the previous model, meaning that you will get more bang for the buck.
Leica introduced a new, innovative laser rangefinding monocular, Rangemaster CRF 2800.com. It has all the premium features that the contemporary B models have. On top of that, it is equipped with Bluetooth connectivity. Android and iOS smartphone users must simply install Leica Hunting app on their phones. Using the application is simple and intuitive, and we are sure that Leica has made the right step. Hawke has also expanded their line of laser rangefinders with the new Endurance series. There are three models available, and the most powerful one can measure distances up to 1500 m.
What about riflescopes? Last year, Swarovski shook the world of optics with Swarovski dS. This year, standard riflescopes were in the spotlight again. Meopta made one of the biggest breakthroughs by introducing Dichroic Reticle Technology. It is based on a special coating that enhances contrast and improves aiming abilities in all lighting conditions. Basically, it ensures optimal visibility based on the ambient lighting – the reticle turns bright red in daylight but might turn green in a dusky environment. Furthermore, the reticle is transparent so that it does not block any of the field of view. The technology is, for now, available on some Meostar models and their Optika 6 line of riflescopes. Optika 6 is also brand new, consisting of two subseries: ‘shooting’ and ‘hunting’. Currently, 5 models have been announced in both subseries, basically covering all popular configuration options.
Zeiss expanded their affordable V4 series with two new models – 3–12x44, a great choice for hunting in the mountains, and 4–16x50, a riflescope for varmint hunting on longer distances. Leupold introduced a new model in the Mark 5HD series – 7–35x56, an FFP riflescope that currently boasts the highest magnification in the mentioned series. Primary Arms has categorized their riflescopes in four different tiers, adding the new Gold series to their offer.
Sightron expanded their S-TAC series with a 4–20x50 FFP model with exposed turrets. They also added Zero Stop to some of their SIII and SVSSED models. Zero Compromise Optic is about to release their two new, promising models on the market – 4–20x50 and 5–27x56. These FFP riflescopes, designed for professionals and competitive shooters, are of exceptionally high quality, featuring 92 % of light transmission rate, ED glass made by Schott AG, and a 36mm tube, offering plenty of elevation.
Schmidt & Bender introduced the 3–21x50 Exos hunting riflescope with an amazing 7x zoom factor. This premium riflescope offers everything that is expected of a riflescope in this price class.
Burris unveiled successors to the XTR II series – XTR III 3.3–18x50 and 5.5–30x56. These 34mm scopes offer a wider field of view, improved optics and better clarity than the previous series.
Nightforce expanded their popular ATACR series by launching the 7–35x56 model in the SFP configuration. Sightmark introduced a new model in the Citadel series – 1–10x24. For a price at around 430 €, this 10x zoom factor riflescope is a great buy. Athlon introduced two new riflescopes in the Midas line – 1–6x24 BTR GEN II and 4.5–27x50 BTR GEN II.
Not much has changed in the spotting scopes category. Vortex introduced a new reticle eyepiece for their 85mm Razor HD spotter. Athlon had their Cronus Tactical 7–42x60 ED with a TSSR FFP MIL reticle exhibited. The configuration makes it a great choice for long range shooting.
Red Dot Sights
In the field of red dot sights, Aimpoint was in the centre of attention with their brand-new Acro P-1, an enclosed, compact reflex red dot sight for handgun users. It boasts a low-profile design, 3.5 MOA dot, low weight and plenty of illumination levels for all lighting conditions.
Kahles also took a leap into the world of red dot sights with their Helia red dot. It is of the open reflex type, featuring a big window, 2 MOA dot, and four levels of illumination paired with an auto-turn off function.
Meprolight introduced Foresight, a red dot that can display more than just the reticle on its transparent lens – digital compass, active lever, shot counter, battery level, sensor data etc.
Primary arms launched SXLZ-25, a red dot sight available either with a 2 MOA dot or their famous ACSS reticle. Holosun introduced a new feature – models with letter ‘R’ will have a rotary illumination knob instead of standard buttons. Furthermore, some of their models now feature yellow/gold illumination colour which is a colour blindness neutral colour – it also works well in all conditions, no matter the amount of light. HE508T and 509T, reflex sights with a titanium body, are also new. Shield updated their SIS series with the second generation, called SIS2. It has a 10% larger window than the previous series.
Night Vision, Thermal Imaging Optics
More and more companies are diving into night vision and thermal optics. Companies that are already well-positioned in this field constantly upgrade their products to be on track with latest available technologies. Pulsar, for example, is one of such companies – each year, they push forward, striving to be in front of everyone else. This year, they introduced Axion and Thermion. Axion is a hand-held, compact monocular that will succeed Quantum Lite. There are two key models and two advanced models in their offer. Thermion is a thermal riflescope that looks like an ordinary riflescope on the outside – it features a 30 mm tube and turret-like compartments for battery, microUSB port, etc. It will hit the market in late Summer.
ATN released two new BinoX variants – 4K 4–16x, a night vision device, and BinoX 4T 4–16x, a thermal imaging device. The former is equipped with a new ultra HD sensor that boasts 3864x2218 pixels of resolution. The 4T device comes in 6 versions that differ in sensor resolution and magnification range. Both 4K and 4T devices feature a built-in laser rangefinder.
Berring Optics introduced Hogster, a thermal clip-on attachment that is going to be in the same price class as Pulsar Core. Flir unveiled their new thermal monoculars Scion, one with 9 Hz and the other one with 60 Hz refresh rate. Leupold presented Thermal Imager HD GEN II with the new Beacon mode technology and a better sensor than its predecessor.
As a visitor to this annual show, I can say that the future in the field of sports optics is digital and thermal. What I have noticed is that manufacturers do their best to appease customers’ wishes. People with astigmatism have often been overlooked in the past – only in the last few years, different reticle technologies and illumination colors have been introduced to provide the best optical experience for everyone. Holosun claims that gold/yellow is the colour that least people have trouble with – we will have to wait and see the market's response. Also, presenting one's own laser rangefinding binoculars is a trend that is still in the going. There have never been so many optics manufacturers as there are today – the competition is rough, and each individual company must do its best not to be swallowed by others. In the future, we are sure to see a rapid expansion of technologies.