The most honest and in-depth reviews of outdoor sports equipment on the planet.

2016-2017 Blizzard Gunsmoke

Jason Hutchins reviews the Blizzard Gunsmoke for Blister Gear Review

Blizzard Gunsmoke

Skis: 2016-2017 Blizzard Gunsmoke, 186cm

Available Lengths: 179, 186, 193 cm

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (Straight Tape Pull): 183.5 cm

Stated Dimensions (mm): 140-114-130

Blister’s Measured Dimensions (mm): 139.5-113.5-129.5

Blister’s Measured Weight Per Ski: 2248 grams & 2273

Sidecut Radius: 22 meters

Core Construction: Bamboo/Poplar/”ISO” (Synthetic) + Fiberglass Laminate

Tip / Tail Splay (ski decambered): ~77mm / ~66mm

Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~2 mm

Factory Recommended Line: – 5.95cm from center; -85.75cm from tail

Mount Location: +2 cm from Recommended Line

Boots / Bindings: Nordica Enforcer / Marker Jester (DIN 10)

Days Skied: 18

Test Locations: Alta Ski Area, Park City Mountain Resort, Wasatch backcountry

[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 13/14 Gunsmoke, which was not changed for 14/15, 15/16, or 16/17, except for the graphics.]

As I noted in my review of the 2012-2013 Blizzard Gunsmoke, this was a ski that I really wanted to love. I am continually searching for a ski that allows me to feel 100% in control while skiing in challenging snow, yet still is super fun, nimble, and intuitive when I just want to play around and goof off. The Gunsmoke looked like it would do both.

Unfortunately, after spending a good chunk of time on the pre-production version of the 2012-2013 Gunsmoke, I didn’t feel like it was a great mix of either. It felt a bit like the ski was having an internal battle determining the type of skiing / skier it preferred.

As it turned out I wasn’t the only one who thought the ski could be tweaked a bit: before the full production run began on the 12-13 model, Blizzard changed the construction of the ski and switched away from the Isocore center stringer used for their other Flipcore skis (e.g. Cochise) to Paulownia stringers. This supposedly stiffened the ski slightly, and helped with binding retention.

For this coming season, Blizzard has refined the Gunsmoke a little further by increasing the flex behind the bindings even more. They’ve also added a new length to the size run (193cm) for big dawgs shredding big terrain.

While I wish I could have ridden the actual production 12/13 Gunsmoke for comparison to the 13/14, I can say without a doubt that the new Gunsmoke is a big improvement over the preproduction model I skied in Japan and at Alta a season ago.

Powder

Combine the Gunsmoke’s width with a moderate amount of tip and tail rocker and it’s no surprise you have a ski that floats well in fluff.

Furthermore, the flex and rebound characteristics make the ski much happier than the 12/13 Gunsmoke in typical resort powder day conditions. The Gunsmoke doesn’t have quite as loose and smeary of a feel as fatter skis like the Atomic Bent Chetler, or a ski bearing a shapelier sidecut and rocker profile like the Line Opus or the even smaller 190cm Salomon Rocker 2 108 (the 190cm 108 has a 111mm waist width), but with the right amount of speed and / or edge control, the ski can drift around quite easily.

And like most of the Blizzard skis I’ve ridden, the Gunsmoke never minds fall-line arcs with speed, even in powder.

The new flex pattern of the ski has allowed for a more forward mounting position than I felt comfortable running on the old Gunsmoke, and this translated to a more playful feel without giving up float or resort pow versatility when weighted by my 160 lb. self.

Playtime

The Gunsmoke has become one of my favorite skis for throwing buttery nose tap spins off of drifts, drops, and trail edges.

Of the mid-fat and fat skis I’ve ridden, this ski is among the best in terms of predictability during those types of maneuvers, which increased my motivation to play around.

Jason throws a switch 180 on the Blizzard Gunsmoke, Blister Gear Review

Jason Hutchins, Shifty 180 on the Blizzard Gunsmoke, Alta Ski Area.

Initially, I would never have never guessed that the Gunsmoke would be this playful. It feels pretty damp, of average weight, and maybe a little too supportive in front of the bindings.

But when it came down to it, tossing my body weight far to the tip or tail of the ski revealed a very progressive and predictable flex, which cradled my weight and rebounded with just enough kick to help set rotations out of a press.

(Ok, so our editor-in-chief isn’t a huge fan of the word “cradled” here. What I mean is that the nose and tail of the Gunsmoke have a large sweet spot, so it is easy to hold a nose or tail press—and those large sweet spots also provide a lot of rebound coming out of a press, too.

What is unique about the Gunsmoke is that it still feels strong in the tip for ‘normal’ skiing, but it allows you to jump up onto the tips and get the feel of a much softer playful ski like the Line Opus.)

That same progressive flex and smooth rebound was noticeable when hitting pounded-out kickers as well. Even though at times I wish the ski had a touch more snap to it, the Gunsmoke’s flex pattern provides a lot of confidence and reassurance when pinning it into a jump.

The Gunsmoke is what I would consider an average weight for a ski of its size. There are skis out there with lower swing weights for those inclined to get super duper tricky off pristine backcountry booters, especially with the latest trend in designs at the tip and tail of skis to reduce swing weight.

But for chopped up resort powder day conditions, the Gunsmoke feels just about right: it’s able to motor through a chopped up in-run, take-off, or landing pad, and will still allow you to get pretty fancy in the air.

Off-Piste

Like most freestyle-oriented, “all-mountain” skis, the Gunsmoke does have a limit to how hard it likes to be driven off-piste. Blizzard does, however, make some of the most ripping skis for variable conditions out there (especially the Cochise), so it shouldn’t be a big surprise that even their more jib-oriented, 186cm Gunsmoke does particularly well in these conditions.

The Gunsmoke has a 22-meter-radius, full-length sidecut, which keeps the tip and tail dimensions from becoming excessively wide. The trade-off of this profile is that the ski doesn’t initiate turns quite as easily as a ski with a greater amount of sidecut through the tip. This means that at slower speeds through difficult snow, the Gunsmoke requires a little more effort and skill than a Salomon Rocker 2 108, the Rossignol Sickle, or Line Opus.

The benefit, however, is that the Gunsmoke delivers a very predictable ride when skiing both fast and slow through varying degrees of chop, because the tip isn’t easily deflected or excessively grabby as it transitions in and out of varying snow depths or densities.

2013-14 Blizzard Gunsmoke Blister Gear Review.

Jason Hutchins on the Gunsmoke (and some weird thing on his head) at PCMR.

In my opinion, the limiting characteristic of the 186 Gunsmoke, when pushed to the max, still came from the tail. Aggressive speed control in tight spots or moguls and, to a lesser extent, when bleeding off a little speed while bee-lining down an open face made the ski feel a bit out of balance. Because of this trait, I found myself second guessing a few of the more difficult lines that funnel or air into bumps and tight spots.

(One day at Alta, I’d aired off the cliffs into Tilt-A-Whirl, which as always was full of moguls, and I had to shut it down quick before the trees. But I overpowered the tails while slamming through moguls, and washed them out. I did kind of a lincoln-loop / polish-donut-on-the ground-looking-thing, and skied away.)

With a strong, balanced stance, and an understanding of the skis characteristics, I still felt comfortable enough to ski anything I wanted in complete control, I just had to remember that the tails didn’t have my back at all times.

If that sounds like a deterrent to those skiers looking for a “chargier” playful ski, the Gunsmoke in the new 193cm length supposedly addresses these characteristics. According to Blizzard, the 193’s flex is designed with “chargy” skiing in mind, while still allowing you to throw tricks down a line, and is stronger not only throughout, but also increasingly so through the tail over the 186cm. While we haven’t yet tested the 193, I have heard a few testaments to back up those claims.

Groomed / Firm

Like every Blizzard ski I’ve ridden, the Gunsmoke holds an edge well, even with its fairly substantial tip and tail rocker, and on harder, choppy snow provides a smooth and damp feel.

At 114mm underfoot, groomers and hardpack aren’t what the Gunsmoke was built for, but I still found it very fun: It loves to carve, and it can build up enough energy to pop you from turn to turn.

It’s also easy to skid, and is happy to slow down and play on the side of a trail or through the trees.

Bottom Line

The new Gunsmoke provides an entirely different experience than the pre-production model we reviewed a year ago.

While I had really hoped that the OG Gunsmoke would be a top contender in the one-ski quiver category for a resort like Alta, I can now confidently say that if that’s the type of ski you’re looking for, the new Gunsmoke better be on your radar.

And if you’re looking for a powder ski that can also tackle left-overs and handle sessioning kickers, the Gunsmoke should also be on your list.

This ski isn’t the easiest ski out there, but I would not call it a demanding ski, either. Rather, It will reward accomplished skiers looking for a playful ski that can actually still be skied hard all over the mountain, and will allow them to push nearly all aspects of their skiing.

And the fact that the Gunsmoke is now available in a “chargy” version in the 193cm length, along with the more “jibby” 186 version, will make the ski even more appealing to a larger audience.

* You can now check out Will Brown’s review of the Gunsmoke.

NEXT PAGE: ROCKER PROFILE PICS

16 Comments

  1. Blister Member
    Byron July 10, 2013 Reply

    Thanks Jason…Great review!! Just what I was looking for.

  2. Blister Member
    Byron July 10, 2013 Reply

    Jason,

    One question. I am 6′ 3” and 195 lbs. I will be mounting Rossi FKS 180 bindings to the 14′ Gunsmoke 193’s. I will be riding primarily forward. Any suggestion on where to mount them?

  3. Rob October 4, 2013 Reply

    Great review as always,

    Have you had any chance to ski the Peacemaker?

    Interested in this as a one ski quiver for Europe, where it’s hard to justify the width of the Gunsmoke for my 30 days skiing a year.
    Need something that will float in boot deep powder, work well on groomers, deal with bumps, be quick in the trees and stiff enough for chop and crud. Nice if it can handle the park, but not critical. TST, Soul 7 are other possibles.

    Rob

    • Author
      Jason October 15, 2013 Reply

      Rob,
      I haven’t been on the Peacemaker yet, but I hope to early this season.

  4. Blister Member
    Steve October 14, 2013 Reply

    Thanks for the fantastic reviews – enlightening, interesting, informative,… always excellent.

    I’m currently skiing the Cochise 185 as my widest ski (184 Solomon Enduro being the other end), skiing most frequently at Kirkwood. I know you can’t really say, but would you tend to think that a skier’s preference for a soft snow resort ski would be either the Gunsmoke or Cochise? Or, are they sufficiently different that one skier could appreciate both. Basically, I’m wondering if the Gunsmoke is far enough away from my Cochise that I would use both, or if I should go farther away to something like the Bent Chetler for something more playful.

    • Author
      Jason October 15, 2013 Reply

      Steve,
      While the Gunsmoke still has the distinct feel that Blizzard skis seem to have, it is definitely a different animal than the Cochise. The softer shovel and tail, extra width, and greater degree of rocker make the Gunsmoke a far better option for deep light pow, where the Cochise isn’t really known to excel. For you in the Sierra’s the Cochise probably works really well on fresh days, given your higher density snow. The same physical differences I just mentioned of the Gunsmoke also elicit more playful skiing than the Cochise, yet the ski is still able to carve groomers and negotiate chop very well.

      The Bent Chetler is also an amazing ski, and as you suspected is going to be a much larger step away from the feel of your Cochise. You will not find the Bent Chet as versatile all-around as the Gunsmoke, but if you want to play in soft snow, your mind and body will be the limiting factors of what is possible, not the ski.

  5. Jason October 23, 2013 Reply

    I ski A Basin, Keystone, and Vail mostly. I love skiing pallavicina lift at A basin, the trees and bumps at Keystone and the bowls at Vail. I am considering the Gunsmoke in 193 or the Sir Francis Bacon in the 190. I could ski the steeps, trees and bumps pretty well with my 183 Gotomas with no rocker and 103 under foot but had to work hard in fresh snow over 6 inches deep. Will take any suggestions you could send my way. I am 6′ 4″ and 240. I ski with a lot with my 11 year old son and his freeride ripper friends who all ski 40 plus days a year so I need to be able to chase them through tight trees and still coach them in the bumps.

  6. Ben December 1, 2013 Reply

    Hey guys, great review!

    So is it safe to say that the information I’ve seen on other sites claiming the 2014 Gunsmoke is “unchanged” from the 2013 is not true? I’m asking because I like the sound of the ski and have a line on a great deal for the 2013 model. Let me know! I’m an East Coast skier who spends about 14 days skiing out West and think these might be my vacation ski.

  7. Cory March 21, 2014 Reply

    You guys write some amazing, in-depth, unbiased reviews.

    I’m not sure if you guys have had a chance to ski the new 2014 Rossignol Super 7’s yet, but I was wondering how you would compare the two skis (186 gunsmoke vs. 188 Super 7).

    Any thought or comments would be welcome.

    Thanks,

  8. Pat December 16, 2014 Reply

    Hey Jason, great review.

    Whats the “mounting sweetspot” of these skis? And how far back is the recomended line from “True Center”. Im 5’8″ 155 and looking at snagging a pair of the 186’s.

    Thanks again and keep killin it!!

  9. Gregor January 3, 2015 Reply

    Great review Jason!
    you guys are really doing a amazing job. !!
    How would you rate the Gunsmoke for predominantly East coast woods and powder (Jay)?

    I saw you are from out East, so really value your perspective on tight wood runs and cruddy iced up shoots. We ride 95% backcountry and go out west once in a while, but only get around 25 days out per year..
    I just started skiing more after mainly boarding for the past 12 years, so need to completely upgrade !!! (I am still on gen1 1080s)

    I have tried Sin and Soul 7 and my buddies Gypsy, as I have been used to camber twin tips, and ride pretty aggressive (however I am around 175 pound, but pretty tall) so did not like the Souls much ( the skinnier sins seemed a little quicker, but still not great – not aggressive)

    Any other skis you could recommend for these types of conditions.?

    How about then Völkl Bridge, SFB,s Bibby Pro etc?

    I am gravitating towards a 98-103 underfoot, mainly for quick tight wood runs, but honestly, you have a much better perspective as my knowledge of all the different skiis out there is pretty limited.

    Thanks Gregor.

  10. Blister Member
    Joseph October 20, 2015 Reply

    Great info

    This ski is on my list to replace my original Line Influence 115, I’m looking for a suggestion for this category (112-122mm.)

    Myself: 28 5’10 200lbs I grew up racing so I hard charge everything but looking for something lighter than my influences for touring in deep powder. I have a pair of Guardian 16s waiting to go on whatever I purchase.

    Current quiver
    189 13/14 K2 Shreditor 102/Marker Duke EPF
    186 11/12 Line Influence 115/Look PX14
    189 13/14 K2 Pon2oon/Marker Jester

    Boots
    10/11 Lang RX 130
    13/14 Lang XT 130

    My current list that is open to suggestions

    14/15 Blizzard Bodacious 186/196
    14/15 Blizzard Gunsmoke 186/193
    14/15 Line Pollards Opus 186/192

  11. Zo November 9, 2015 Reply

    And here I had always thought “Tilt-A-Whirl” at Alta was actually called Tilted World…

  12. Tahoe Guy February 19, 2016 Reply

    I bought a pair of 2015 Gunsmokes, my first set of powder skis. I’ve skied for 45 years, and still can hang with the top 10% on the mountain on any given day. I’ve been out for two epic 16+ inch powder days now, and the Gunsmokes float likea champ. But better yet, they are very quick side to side, and very lively without sacrificing stability. As the day progressed from powder to chopped up bumps, this ski allowed me to attack it hard and to handle everything I threw at it- steeps in thigh deep snow, trees, bumps with loads of powder chunks to bust through. Just pure fun. I kept waiting to find a weakness but just didn’t. I wouldn’t ski this every day but for powder and defent top snow these are a blast.

    And after lots of research over mounting points I decided to mount mine (cowboy graphics) on the line and they seem perfect there. Very happy and impressed with what Blizzard has done with this ski!

  13. James December 21, 2016 Reply

    Jason, I know this is an older review, but I would very much appreciate your feedback to the mounting point. I ski mostly Alta, and I’ve mainly been on Opus’s for the last 2 years at Eric’s choice. I know the Gunsmokes won’t feel quite as quick, but I would like to have them as my daily ski for pow, charging, and jibbing. I bought them used and was able to mount my bindings in the old holes (luckily exact same binding, and sole length), at recommended. I just don’t find them to be as quick as I would like and feel a little weird going switch. I absolutely love my Opus’s, but got the Gunsmokes to be more stable and able to handle chop. I would like to gain the quickness and more center feel, without compromising the advantages of the Gunsmoke’s strengths. Would you recommend moving forward +2 or +3 from recommended (what specifically would you recommend)?
    Thank you very much if you see this and have the time to answer! Love the reviews, no one does it better!

    • Author
      Jason December 22, 2016 Reply

      Hey James, no matter where you put the bindings on the Gunsmoke they won’t be quite as quick as the Opus. That said, going forward as you suggested will definitely make them easier to swing around and more intuitive switch. As you can read in the review, I rode these at +2cm from recommended and never felt like I had too little ski in front of me. If you are a playful balanced skier I think you’ll be fine at +3, knowing you’re going to lose some drivability when the chop gets deep or the snow is a little upside-down/wind effected. If you just want to improve the agility a touch and keep as much stability in the chop as you can, go for +2. Good luck!

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