By Gerald Almy
As we forge into the new year, it may be a good time to think about updating some of your gear before next year's hunting seasons swing in. Here's a look at a few of the most interesting new hunting products that manufacturers have released for the 2013 season.
• Thompson/Center Dimension Rifles: This innovative new offering from Thompson/Center lets you start with one rifle then add extra barrels and components to create other caliber rifles. With this setup you can hunt anything from predators with the .223 Rem. and .204 Ruger up to elk and moose with the 7mm Rem. Mag and .300 Win. Mag.
In between those ranges you can also choose from the .243 Rem., .308 Win., .270 Win. and .30-06 Sprg. The customizable rifle starts with the Dimension Bolt-Action Platform, a universal receiver that is designed to handle small, medium and long action calibers while maintaining the appropriate bolt throw for each group. Then you can modify the caliber by changing up to four components -- barrel, bolt, magazine and magazine housing.
The Dimension stock is synthetic with a high cheek piece for a comfortable fit and traction panels at the for-end to ensure a solid grip in wet weather. It's coated with Armorsoft, which provides both durability and noise reduction. The barrel is totally free-floated and the Dimension comes guaranteed to shoot one-inch groups at 100 yards. TCArms.com or dimensionrifle.com
• Federal Vital Shok Trophy Copper: A new lineup of ammunition from Federal Premium will cover virtually all hunting needs except for the largest dangerous game, with major calibers from the .243 to the .338 Federal offered. The ammo is called Vital Shok and features the Trophy Copper bullet constructed with copper-alloy and a polymer tip.
With the added tip and boattail design, this bullet has a high ballistic coefficient and performs beautifully in the wind with excellent down-range velocity and energy. That was confirmed for me recently on a long shot across a wind-swept field on a big whitetail. Bullet drift was negligible and the deer dropped on the spot.
The tipped bullet cavity provides superb expansion across a wide velocity range while grooves in the bullet shank relieve pressure, enhance accuracy and reduce fouling. The copper-alloy bullet retains up to 99 percent of its weight, and the case is nickel-plated for corrosion resistance and fast bolt-cycling. This should be an excellent cartridge for a broad range of big game hunting. federalpremium.com
• Nikon Prostaff 5 Fieldscopes: These new spotting scopes from Nikon feature a slim profile, ergonomic design and light weight that make them a pleasure to use in the field. They come in either 60 mm or 82 mm objectives, offering strong light-gathering ability and a variety of magnification lens choices. The two most popular for hunters will be the 20-60 in 82mm and the 16-48 in 60mm.
Long eye relief makes viewing comfortable even for eyeglass wearers, and they're available in straight or angled versions. Newly developed optic technology reduces chromatic aberration at the edges of the viewing field, and lenses are multi-coated for crisp images of game even in the low light of dawn and dusk.
The spotting scopes are filled with nitrogen, making them waterproof and fog-proof, and Eco-Glass prisms are both lead and arsenic free. They include a built-in sliding hood to reduce sun glare and a digital camera bracket is also available for use in photography. nikonusa.com
• Fort Knox Maverick Series Safes: If you want to protect your firearms and other valuables without spending a fortune, check out the newest Maverick Series of safes from Fort Knox. The new folded-door employed measures 5.5 inches thick with 1 and 1/8 inch reinforced steel and is certified to provide 1200 degrees F fire protection for 45 minutes. The Maverick uses 11 gauge steel construction with 1 1/2-inch total body thickness. Theft prevention is provided with four 1 1/4-inch diameter active door locking bolts and locking dead bars, using a patented rack and pinion gear drive locking mechanism, as well as a 3/8 inch multi-layer pry-resistant door edge.
In the event of a fire, Smoke Seal protects your guns initially, then a heat-activated material swells to completely seal the safe door shut. The handle has an easy to use 5-prong design and the interior door panel is carpeted. All Maverick safes feature a durable and attractive textured finish and can be upgraded with a variety of options. ftknox.com
• Vero Vellini Binocular/Camera Slings: Most hunters know the importance of a good comfortable gun sling. But another item we carry around for 8-12 hours a day doesn't get as much attention -- the binoculars around your neck and shoulders. A pair of new contoured, padded binocular/camera slings being offered by Vero Vellini will make the weight of these optics far less tiring during a long day afield.
The hand-crafted slings distribute the weight of the optics to reduce tension and fatigue and strain on both the neck and shoulders. They come in two designs. One uses bounce-absorbing Air-Cushion neoprene with hand-stitched piping. The other uses a thickly-padded premium Napa leather.
The contoured design wraps the strap around shoulders and neck to evenly distribute the weight of either binoculars or cameras. The neoprene sling is available in forest green with brown piping or black with black piping. The Napa leather version comes in two-tone finely finished leather with a soft slip-proof suede backing. gunslingsdirect.com
Award-winning outdoors writer Gerald Almy is a Maurertown resident.