The 2022 Lucid Optics Ballistic Summit was conducted at the NRA Whittington Center in New Mexico. Seven companies, a handful of selected media (including Rob Pincus, Michael Bane, and Gun DoctorTV), and one of the greatest shooting facilities I've ever seen. Record-holding former Sniper Jim Gilliland and staff from WyoTac were on hand to help get us all on target.
The concept was that over the course of three full days together we (media) get to know not only the products companies brought to show us, but also have the chance to talk with and get to know the people behind the products. We intend to do full reviews of most of the products seen at the Summit. Below is a breakdown of which companies were present, what we did together, and my impressions thus far. To see some of these items in action see the video at the end of the article.
APF Armory: (www.apfarmory.com) There are a lot of AR makers out there so I didn't know what to expect with APF. What I discovered was a company that can build rifles in 32 different calibers and do well that well. On display for us was a 9mm, 5.56x45mm, 6.5 Grendel, 6.5 Creedmoor, and 300 Winchester Magnum. I was impressed at how manageable the 300 Winchester Magnum was, and its reliability. With the 6.5 Creedmoor I landed hits easily at 1,300 yards. The APF rifles had were no flashy gimmicks, no claim of magical fairy dust. The rifles looked good, but not try-hard good and were solid performers. Just a rifle should be. Their line covers a wide range of what could be used for hunting, target, or tactical use with appropriate pricing throughout the spectrum.
Retten 1: (https://retten1.com) A retired law enforcement officer inspired to continue saving lives. The Retten 1 WMT (Weapon-Mounted Tourniquet) is a mountable bracket that protect the tourniquet from all sides while also keeping it readily available. Simple logic: If your using a rifle there's a chance someone will need one including yourself. The bracket is designed as such that it doesn't have to be mounted on a weapon. In fact, Retten 1 WMT owners have used the lightweight system to place tourniquets securely in kitchens, vehicles, on heavy equipment, and in classrooms. It's smart and simple.
Firebird USA: (https://firebirdtargets.com) An alternative to messy and velocity-sensitive binary targets, these signaling devices are packed ready-to-go- in a biodegradable puck with an adhesive back. When struck with a projectile they boom with a small flash and end with nice billowy smoke. We saw .22lr and high-powered air guns set them off with the same excitement centerfire rifles did. Having played with binaries in the past I was impressed at how much easier and cleaner firebird targets are. They served us well to signify a hit on targets that might not otherwise confirm the shot (ie. too far or too light of a caliber for an auditory hit confirmation). I could see these being an excellent reward for someone learning to shoot more accurately: stick them to your standard steel target and get a "ding" for a marginal hit, "boom" for a precise hit.
Airforce Air Guns: (www.airforceairguns.com/) While air guns are not our usual subject matter, they've been creeping closer and closer to firearm power while still largely remaining free of "firearm"-level restrictions. These air guns can have up to 850 ft/lbs of energy! With pellets costing around $15 for 250 the "ammunition" is certainly cheaper than a firearm. Because these operate with around 145 bar of pressure your standard home compressor likely won't fill the tank. A scuba tank and nearby dive shop is the way to get your air. A big plus for me is that Airforce Air Guns are made in the USA.
Shaw Barrels: (www.shawcustombarrels.com) With more than 100 years of making barrels, and currently offering 180 calibers, chances are you've shot a Shaw barrel without even knowing it. That's because they do a lot of work (up to 12,000 barrels per month) making barrels for famous brands. The most accurate AR15 I've ever shot used a Shaw barrel and so I was excited to finally meet some of the folks behind the brand. Shaw Barrels now offers complete rifle builds (AR and bolt action) and will even re-barrel your existing action so you don't have to worry about finding and trusting a local gunsmith. I challenged Shaw Barrels to fix my Remington 700 .300 Blackout with a barrel that makes the gun worth shooting and they've accepted. That's a project and video I'm looking forward to showing you all in the future.
Bilson Arms: (BilsonArms.com) This is an interesting one that I hope we'll see more of in the future. An AR buttstock that pivots, pans, and tilts. When transitioning from primary to offset sights, running drills, or shooting from improvised positions, as I've done at Thunder Ranch, traditional buttstocks have to turn out of the pocket, even sometimes be placed over the shoulder, or in other unsupported places. The Bilson Arms Pivotal Buttstock solves most, if not all, of those scenarios with a but plate that rides on a spherical bearing. The rifle can be twisted, panned, raised, or lowered but the but plate remains seated. This of course results in more support and control of the firearm; increasing accuracy, safety, and accelerating follow-up shot potential.
Lucid Optics: (LucidOptics.com) The host of the event and company whose product we've been using for years. You've seen their M7 red dot on several of our guns, the L7 is what I took to a min-max-range .308 course, and the L5 is one we like for grouping as it has such a fine aiming point. This year they've updated several model to ED (extra-low dispersion) glass, and have a new offering coming soon we'll tell you about once it's out.
Of extra interest was learning why Lucid Optics uses the blue/purple illumination on their rifle scopes. This color excites (and irritates) the eye less than the more-common red and green illumination. The blue might not catch the eye as violently as red or green, but it also doesn't disturb the eye's effort to see in a low-light condition that might require illumination. Blue is, in many ways, a less anxious color. Additionally creating the color in an optic puts less strain on the battery and so increases battery life.
For a quick look and some rough footage, see the video below. Worry not, we'll have our standard grade of review of these products coming soon.