In looking at new products for whitetail enthusiasts, I focus mainly on brands with a reputation for not only building quality products but also for standing behind them. Any product made by human hands can have issues. Thus, customer service can be an important aspect of gear selection, and I factor it into my assessments. Of course, every brand has to start somewhere, and over time, newer ones can prove to be every bit as good at taking care of consumers as the established ones are.
Following is a list of five products that stood out last week at the 2018 SHOT Show in Las Vegas.
Browning X-Bolt Micro Composite
These days more whitetail hunters are getting the whole family into the deer woods, and this model should be popular with smaller-framed rifle shooters. That said, it has a lot of the same features now found on Browning’s full-sized models. And even bigger guys might want to carry this rifle to the deer woods at times. At just under 39 inches total length, and with a weight of 6 pounds, 5 ounces, the Micro Composite should be great in any scenario putting a premium on light weight and/or ease of handling. Available in .243 Win., 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm-08 Rem. and .308 Win.
Difficulty in cocking and decocking a crossbow is why some hunters say they don’t like to shoot them. But there now are more ways to avoid problems of that type. This new recurve-limbed model’s Charger Cocking System makes it simple to not only cock and decock the bow quickly and quietly, there’s a wrist strap to keep it from ever getting out of your control. This 360 fps bow’s draw weight is 285 pounds, but while cocking you have only 12 pounds of pressure.
Leica Geovid HD-B 3000
Not every hunter needs world-class optics all the time. But in many whitetail situations, being able to see better can be the difference between success and failure. This new rangefinding binocular offers impressive light transmission across the full visible spectrum. The laser is dead on to at least 3000 yards, and the ballistics calculator function is quite helpful. You even can import your own ballistics data via the micro SD card port. Stellar ergonomics round out the outstanding package of features.
At just $699 MSRP, this new model is being pushed as ‘The People’s Rifle,’ giving the average shooter an affordable entry point into a hallowed gunmaking brand. The M18 isn’t fancy, but the synthetic stock has good ergonomics and soft grip inlays, and the overall workmanship appears to be up to Mauser’s name. The model is being chambered first for .308 Win. and .30-06 Springfield, but by summer you also should be able to find it in .243 Win., .270 Win., 7mm Rem. Mag. and .300 Win. Mag. In time, the company will also offer it in 6.5 Creedmoor.
Nikon Monarch 3000 Stabilized
One of the challenges in using a handheld rangefinder has been to hold it on the intended target, whether that’s a deer or some small landmark. This model has impressive image stabilization, with greatly reduced hand shake resulting in easier, more reliable ranging. When the tree is swaying, your body is shivering and/or buck fever is setting in, such technology could be a huge help. The ability to compensate for shot angle all the way to 89 degrees also is impressive and useful.