The SHOT Show (Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade) takes place every January in Las Vegas and is the trade show where the shooting sports, hunting and law enforcement communities come together to peruse the latest in firearms, ammunition, optics, outdoor apparel and more.
If it’s new and cool in the world of hunting, upland or otherwise, you’ll find it there.
But the annual trade show circuit isn’t the only place you’ll find new gear. This time of year is big for hunting suppliers too, as we head into the fall season and hunters across the country look to upgrade their kits and add new tools to their arsenals.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the hunting gear trends on the market this year for bird hunting enthusiasts.
High tech training and tracking devices for bird dogs have been around for a while, but the latest generation of e-collars from SportDOG, Dogtra and D.T. Systems have taken the possibilities for hunters to a new level by combining the tracking features of GPS systems with full training capabilities and more.
For example, the SportDOG Tek 2.0 e-collar GPS offers up to 10 miles of range and can track up to 21 collars at a time, enough to cover the whole pack. It’s also fully waterproof (both the collar receivers and the handheld) and comes preloaded with more than 100,000 U.S. topo maps. With a full-color display, recordable trip statistics and hands-free controls, it covers it all with minimal fuss in the field. For training, the Tek 2.0 offers up to 99 stimulation levels, for all 21 of those dogs, with vibration and tones settings that are all fully programmable in advance.
The Dogtra 1900S, new for this season, offers a low-profile design with the features of a high-output unit, including adjustable stimulation levels, multiple training styles and ¾-mile range. While D.T. System’s R.A.P.T. 1450 Upland Beeper adds a beeper function to the company’s best selling R.A.P.T. 1400 training collar system.
Smaller gauge shotguns
Lightweight shotguns are here to stay, and we couldn’t be happier about what that means for the sport.
Consider 2015 the year that the 28-gauge went mainstream, with just about every gun manufacturer offering weapons in this growing category. They’re lightweight and easy to carry, with low recoil, making them perfect for novice hunters and for anyone hunting smaller upland species. Granted, the smaller gauge means lighter loads and less variety when choosing shells, but for many bird hunters the pros outweigh the cons.
One example worth noting is the 28-gauge addition to Browning’s popular Citori 725 series, available in both sporting and field models. It offers a low-profile receiver, walnut stocks, a full-width steel hinge pin and Browning’s Inflex recoil pad.
It’s hard to call left-handed equipment a “trend” per se, but those of us lefties that make up 13% of the population certainly appreciate the fact that most major gun makers are now offering lefty-focused shotguns.
Mossberg added left-handed versions of its 500 and 590 in 2015, and even Beretta entered the game this year with its new A400 lefty model, a gas-operated, semi-automatic 12-gauge.
And for upland hunters looking at over/under shotguns, Benelli this year introduced its first double-barrel model, the 828U. It’s pretty light too, clocking in at just 6-1/2 pounds thanks to a new aluminum receiver and Benelli’s reduced recoil design. The Weatherby Orion is another new addition to the over/under market, with a traditional boxlock design that delivers on its promise of “exceptional balance and effortless swing thru.”
Gear for women
In another trend that’s been in the works for a while, more women are hunting now than ever before and represent the fastest-growing segment of new hunters. And now female hunters are starting to see more gear designed just for them.
Gunnison, Colorado-based Prois has been designing and selling hunting apparel for women since 2008, but its standout for 2015 is a new, ultralight raincoat called the Galleann. Soft, silent and 100% waterproof, the jacket and matching rain pants hit all of the high points for performance wear in the field, and are available in a range of camos.
It’s not just about clothing, though. At the SHOT Show this year, Syren launched a new line of shotguns designed specifically for women, including both over/unders as well as a semi-automatic model, the XLR5 Waterfowler, that takes light loads and 2-3/4-inch shells. Both models have thinner pistol grips than most guns and weigh about seven pounds each.