New shotguns, rifles shown at SHOT Show

Posted: January 28, 2018 at 1:59 a.m.

Some big news has come out of the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show that was held last week at Las Vegas.

Some of it is inside-baseball stuff, but several companies announced new products that will be of great interest to Arkansas sportsmen.

Probably the most notable is Benelli's announcement that it will make a left-handed version of its Super Black Eagle III autoloading shotgun.

Benelli introduced the SBE3 in 2017, which replaced its highly acclaimed SBE2. The SBE2 is so popular that I consider it the unofficial state shotgun. Everybody has one, it seems, and those that don't, they want one -- everyone except me. I'm a Winchester guy, but my tolerance ended at the Super X3. The SX4 is a cheap downgrade.

The SBE3 has some performance upgrades, but its ergonomics mirror those of the Benelli Ethos. It definitely feels different than an SBE2.

Left-handed shotguns have the load and ejection port on the left side of the receiver. They are uncommon, and most left-handers have had to get used to shooting right-handed semiautos with spent hulls whizzing past their faces. The only ambidextrous shotguns are the Browning BPS and Ithaca Model 37, which load and eject from the bottom. The defunct Remington 105CTi was the only ambidextrous autoloader.

Lefty SBE3s are available in black synthetic with 26- or 28-inch barrels, or Realtree MAX-5 with a 28-inch barrel. It's chambered for 23/4- to 31/2-inch shells and weighs 6.9 pounds. MSRP is $1,999.

New 16-gauge

Franchi announced last week that it will issue a 16-gauge version of its Instinct over/under shotgun.

The 16-gauge is a niche gauge in the shotgun world that refuses to die. That's because anyone that shoots one falls in love with it, and a few manufacturers are making sincere attempts to keep the 16 relevant with new products. The most recent was Browning, which got a lot of great press in 2016 with its A5 Sweet Sixteen.

Franchi's Instinct will be one of only a few contemporary 16-gauge over/unders. Browning produces 16-gauge versions of its White Lightning, as does Barrett Sovereign.

The Franchi Instinct features AA-Grade Satin Walnut and an unadorned aluminum alloy receiver. It is available only with a 28-inch barrel and comes with full, modified and improved cylinder choke tubes. Its overall length is 441/4 inches, and it weighs 5.8 pounds, a half-pound lighter than a 12-gauge Instinct with 28-inch barrels.

Its length of pull is 141/4 inches, about a quarter-inch too long for me. The MSRP is $1,729, compared to $1,600 for a 12-gauge.

Franchi rifles

Though known for its shotguns, Franchi is entering the centerfire rifle business this year with a line of bolt-actions called Momentum.

Despite the glowing prose in Franchi's promotional literature, the Momentum appears to be an entry level rifle to compete with Ruger's ultra-successful American series, but at a slightly higher price ($609).

Interestingly, one option offers a threaded barrel on which to mount a suppressor. The seven-year warranty stands out as well.

The Momentum has an adjustable trigger that can be set from 2-4 pounds. Its recoil pad is said to reduce felt recoil by 50 percent, and its stock design is said to facilitate benchrest shooting positions. The bolt lifts to a 60-degree angle, like the Browning A-Bolt and X-Bolt.

It is available in .243 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmore, .270 Win., .308 Win., .30-06 and .300 Win. Mag.

Visit franchiusa.com for information about the Momentum and Instinct.

Weatherby moving

One big story to come from the SHOT Show is that Weatherby Inc., maker of the incomparable Weatherby Mk. V rifle, is moving its manufacturing operations and corporate headquarters from Paso Robles, Calif., to Sheridan, Wyo.

Weatherby has had a strong California identity for years, but is the latest of several prominent firearms makers to relocate from states that have become inhospitable to firearms and firearms-related culture.

Remington relocated its headquarters from Wilmington, Del., to Madison, N.C., in 1996, although it still makes firearms in Ilion, N.Y. Winchester and Marlin moved their manufacturing from Connecticut to South Carolina.

Arkansas has quietly become a refuge for other major players in the firearms industry. Walther Arms, manufacturer of the pistol of choice for Bond, James Bond, is located in Fort Smith. Wilson Combat, a homegrown giant in the custom handgun realm, is based in Berryville.

Sig Sauer and Remington have major ammunition plants in Jacksonville and Lonoke, respectively.

Sports on 01/28/2018