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Anyone walking the halls of the 2014 IWA OutdoorClassics Expo in Messe, Germany, would suffer from no such misconception that the United States stands alone in its interest and ability to own firearms. They would see a market ripe with firearms and related products from around the world, converging for what could be accurately described as Europe’s largest industry trade show.

Since I began attending the IWA show in 2008, I’ve noticed a similar trend to those shows in the U.S., in which a strictly sporting venue has increasingly added tactical and defense vendors displaying their wares. IWA has long attempted to segregate the tactical from the sporting, until recently keeping all non-sporting vendors in a single hall at the back of the venue. This year it was apparent that the sheer volume of non-sporting vendors would preclude any attempt at segregation. In an effort to mitigate this shift, IWA management created a Law Enforcement pre-show that ends the day before the sporting show, which is now in its third year.

Despite a cooling in the modern sporting rifle (MSR) market in the U.S. after two years of record sales, it became apparent that Europe has developed an appetite for black guns. AR-15 manufacturers from Germany, the Czech Republic, China, Turkey, Italy and the U.S. were all represented. America’s rifle is becoming an international rifle. See below for some of the top guns from IWA OutdoorClassics 2014.

 

Czech Small Arms Sa vz. 58: Next to the AR-15, Europe appears to have a close following with variants of the famous Czech Sa vz. 58 rifle. Many companies displayed unique versions of this popular assault rifle—short-barrel rifles (SBRs), 5.56mm and 7.62mm versions with fixed, folding or sporter stock configurations, and a choice of wood or synthetic furniture. Of particular note was Czech Small Arms, who manufactures .223 and .222 versions of the vz. 58 for jurisdictions that prohibit military calibers. For those not so encumbered, the company’s 5.56mm and 7.62x39mm versions are available. Some even had adapters to take M16 magazines!

For more information, visit http://www.csa.co.cz/en

 

Czech Small Arms vz. 61 Scorpion: Czech Small Arms also displayed versions of the Czech Skorpion machine pistol in .380 ACP and 9x18mm Makarov.

  • Caliber: .380 AUTO / 9x18mm Makarov
  • Barrel length: 4.53 in
  • Overall length: 10.75 in
  • Width of pistol: 1.77 in
  • Height of pistol with 20 rd magazine: 7.10 in
  • Weight of pistol without magazine: 2.54 lbs
  • Weight of pistol with loaded 20 rd magazine: 3.09 lbs
  • Weight of empty 20 rd magazine: 0.11 lbs
  • Weight of full 20 rd magazine: 0.55 lbs

For more information, visit https://www.czechpoint-usa.com

 

Izhmash MOLOT VEPR 12: Military-style shotguns were everywhere, either from Russia or Turkey, with detachable box magazines and barrels ranging from 10 to 30 inches. Izhmash even had Russia’s top IPSC shooter (bet you didn’t know they had IPSC in Russia) conducting demonstrations all week for the MOLOT VEPR 12 competition gun.

For more information, visit http://www.izhmash.ru

 

B&T APC Assault Rifle: Swiss firm B&T (formerly known as Brugger & Thomet) had several unique guns in its booth. The pistol-caliber APC “patrol carbine” was intended for the LE market. This was developed further into the newly released APC assault rifle, featuring a short-stroke gas piston operating system and a side-folding stock, available in 5.56mm and .300 Whisper. It looks similar the Heckler & Koch G36 design, with a beefy Stoner-style bolt and heavy carrier. The polymer lower receiver is a one-piece design housing a full set of ambidextrous controls. B&T owner Karl Brugger informed me that the company has three different stock designs available as well as a variety of forend and gas block options. It is available in full-size, SBR, semi-auto and select-fire versions depending on who is making the purchase. It uses standard AR-15/M16 magazines. B&T is currently reviewing its options for the U.S. commercial market.

For more information, visit http://www.bt-ag.ch

 

B&T VP9
B&T VP9

B&T VP9: B&T also displayed its “Veterinary Pistol (VP9),” a suppressed 9mm single-shot affair intended for use by game wardens/police to euthanize or eliminate problem animals in developed areas where discretion is required. Despite the innocuous role it is intended to fill, it still looks like something the OSS developed for the European Underground to eliminate Nazi sentries. A triggerguard would likely be a valuable addition, especially when working around injured animals in a suburban environment.

  • Calibers: 9x19mm
  • Length: 286mm
  • Weight: 862 grams
  • Reduction: 31.5 dB
  • Color: Non-Reflective Black
  • Part Number: BT-VP9

For more information, visit http://www.bt-ag.ch

 

Norinco Model NR81 Rifle: An unexpected attendee from my U.S.-centric exposure to the arms industry was Norinco of China. As many U.S. shooters know, all rifled Chinese firearms, components and ammunition were arbitrarily banned by Presidential executive order during the Clinton Administration. Since 1994, no Chinese rifle or pistol, ammunition or components have been available in the U.S., so Norinco sees no point in attending U.S. trade shows. While U.S. citizens have been deprived of what were affordable and quality firearms and ammunition, the remainder of the free world has been lining up to purchase them. Our Canadian neighbors to the north are still able to purchase and use Norinco products, but they are verboten below the border. Of special note was the Model NR81, which is the semi-automatic version of the current-issue weapon of the PRC Army, which most Americans only see in photographs. It is a unique combination of AK and SKS, which makes for a long yet well-balanced weapon.

For more information, visit http://www.norinco.com

 

Norinco 9mm Revolver: Norinco’s 9mm revolver caught my eye, as I had not seen one prior. While somewhat crudely finished, it fit well in the hand. Internationally, the 9mm revolver is a popular choice for law enforcement and security forces since the 9mm is widely available and is usually the designated cartridge for military sidearms. Ballistically, it outperforms the .38 Special, so aside from extraction issues, it makes a lot of sense. This version used the most common extraction method, the moon clip, to hold the rounds for extraction, but it has the additional benefit of acting as a de facto speed loader.

For more information, visit http://www.norinco.com

 

Caracal Precision Rifles: For those with an interest in long-range shooting, Caracal displayed its full line of precision rifles in .308, .338 and .50 BMG. These chassis-style rifles are expected to deliver exceptional results whether using a suppressor or not.

  • Caliber: .308
  • Muzzle Velocity (m/s): 900-1000
  • Effective Range (m): 600-800
  • Barrel Length (mm): 720
  • Barrel Twist Rate (in): (1:10)- (1:11)- (1:12)
  • Length (mm): 1275
  • Height (mm): 208
  • Width (mm): 53
  • Weight (Kg): 6,8
  • Operation: Bolt action
  • Recoil Absorption System: N/A
  • Feed System: 5 round detachable magazine
  • Safety Unit: On trigger
  • Trigger: 2-Stage Fully adjustable Hooked shape trigger
  • Stock: Aerospace grade aluminum, Detachable and adjustable
  • Receiver:Aerospace grade aluminum
  • Bolt: Stainless steel
  • Caliber: .338LM
  • Muzzle Velocity (m/s): 826-1019
  • Effective Range (m): 2000 +
  • Barrel Length (mm): 680
  • Barrel Twist Rate (in): 1:12
  • Length (mm): 1380
  • Height (mm): 208
  • Width (mm): 53
  • Weight (Kg): 7,0
  • Operation: Bolt action
  • Recoil Absorption System: yes
  • Feed System: 5 round detachable magazine
  • Safety Unit: On trigger
  • Trigger: 2-Stage Fully adjustable Hooked shape trigger
  • Stock: Aerospace grade aluminum, Detachable and adjustable
  • Receiver: Aerospace grade aluminum
  • Bolt: Stainless steel
  • Caliber: .50BMG
  • Muzzle Velocity (m/s): 882-928
  • Effective Range (m): 2000 +
  • Barrel Length (mm): 762
  • Barrel Twist Rate (in): 1:15
  • Length (mm): 1530
  • Height (mm): 208
  • Width (mm): 53
  • Weight (Kg): 8,5
  • Operation: Bolt action
  • Recoil Absorption System: yes
  • Feed System: 5 round detachable magazine
  • Safety Unit: On trigger
  • Trigger: 2-Stage Fully adjustable Hooked shape trigger
  • Stock: Aerospace grade aluminum, Detachable and adjustable
  • Receiver: Aerospace grade aluminum
  • Bolt: Stainless steel

For more information, visit http://www.caracal.ae

 

Korth:  presentation-grade revolver and 1911-style pistol
Korth: presentation-grade revolver and 1911-style pistol

Korth Revolvers and Pistols: German company Korth had fine examples of its presentation-grade revolvers and 1911-style pistols. These are works of art, and the level of quality is reflected in the price tag. These high-end guns reflect a trend in the European market, where consumers may be limited to five or 10 guns depending on their jurisdiction. And that trend is a leaning towards higher-quality firearms when your choices are limited. After all, if you can only have a few, then most consumers will want the best. Americans have difficulty appreciating this concept, as do Europeans understanding the inverse relationship. I got funny looks when I told people I had that many Glock 19s.

For more information, visit http://www.korthusa.com

 

Vintage Luger in .45 ACP: As I wandered the aisles I ran across a .45 ACP Luger whose oversized muzzle caught my attention. Two originals had been produced for the U.S. Army Automatic Pistol Trials of 1905, with the surviving example having sold for $1 million in the past. While not an original, even a reproduction .45 ACP Luger is a rarity. This particular example looked to be unfired, sitting in its velvet-lined presentation case.

 

Thomas Sphor Luger P08, Mauser C96 Carbines: Other manufacturers, such as Thomas Spohr, make new-model Luger and Broomhandle Mauser carbines. The Lugers use an original P-08 frame to form the basis of these museum-quality creations, where the C96 is newly manufactured. The C96 also uses the detachable magazine of the original select-fire version. See the specs for the PO8 below.

  • Caliber: 7.65 Para, 9×19 Luger
  • Magazine capacity: 7 rounds
  • Barrel length: 315mm
  • Doc. Sight III
  • Stock: Custom made stocks, Oil-rubbed finish, Fine English fish skin
  • Weight: 2.5 kg

For more information, visit http://www.fineguns.de

 

TransArms 1865 Blackpowder Gatling Gun: TransArms, the dealer with the .45 Luger and M16 lowers, displayed a replica 1865 blackpowder Gatling gun, similar to those used toward the end of the U.S. Civil War. When asked, the proprietor told me that it would be considered a machine gun if it used a modern cartridge such as a .45-70. The Gatling made for an impressive display, despite being in the white, that passersby found hard to resist.

For more information, visit http://www.transarms.de

 

As the tactical market gains traction in Europe and the Enforce-Tac show gains in popularity, we can expect to see a number of new vendors attracted to the IWA venue. Many can’t or won’t exhibit in the United States for either regulatory or financial reasons and can only be seen overseas. Anyone wishing to review these manufacturers and their wares will need to venture out and pay a visit to Nuremberg in 2015. See you there!

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