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2nd Look: Blizzard Gunsmoke

Will Brown 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: Fischer RC4 130 Vacuum / Marker Jester (DIN 10)

Days Skied: 5

[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.]

This 2nd Look will mostly expand upon what Jason Hutchins reported in his review of the Blizzard Gunsmoke, mainly explaining where I feel the Gunsmoke fits relative to other skis in its class. Jason did this well, but I think I can add some relevant comparisons to the picture.

I think of the Gunsmoke primarily as a powder ski—a very versatile one, but a powder ski first and foremost. So we’ll start there.

Powder

I agree with everything Jason said about the Gunsmoke’s performance in pow, but I want to echo an interesting characteristic that affects the way the ski handles—one that makes it so surprisingly versatile in variable / off-piste conditions.

As Jason mentions, the Gunsmoke doesn’t have the loosest, most smeary feel in soft snow, largely because its sidecut radius (22m) is a little longer than skis like the Line Opus or the Salomon Rocker2 108.

The Gunsmoke’s tips and tails are not hugely fat relative to its waist width, so while the ski provides a nice amount of float in powder, its shovels and tails don’t feel as if they plane over or hook up on the snow more than its width underfoot. What this means is that the Gunsmoke is generally nice and predictable in powder, and will remain stable at speed, but requires that you initiate turns more deliberately at slow speeds than other comparable skis. As Jason says, a ski like the Atomic Bent Chetler or Opus is probably going to feel a little lighter, more maneuverable, and more intuitive than the Gunsmoke when skiing powder in trees or steep, tight terrain (especially in older or wetter heavier snow).

I noticed this especially when skiing 8-10” of dense, heavier powder in Lorelei Trees at Taos over Thanksgiving weekend. The Gunsmoke definitely does not feel like a “pin-tailed” powder ski—its tails resist easily sinking and smearing out in soft conditions. The less speed I was carrying, the more deliberately I had to work to pitch the ski sideways through the trees.

Blizzard Gunsmoke, Blister Gear Review.

Will on the Blizzard Gunsmoke, Lorelei Trees, Taos, NM.

I don’t mean to say the Gunsmoke feels directional, as it definitely prefers a more upright, centered stance, and will absolutely smear out a turn quickly. It just requires some encouragement to do so (not unlike the Moment Bibby Pro).

The 190cm Salomon Rocker2 108 and 190cm Moment Deathwish will also feel a little more lively in terms of swing weight at lower speeds, but neither will float as easily as the Gunsmoke. They are very capable in fresh powder so long as you can remain light and balanced on the ski, and both have fairly centered mount points and softer tips and tails that don’t do too much to plow through snow if your weight happens to fall heavily forward or backward.

The Gunsmoke feels more genuinely at home in fresh snow. Compared to the Rocker2 108 and Deathwish, the ski’s flex in the tips and tails feels a little sturdier, more supportive, and more reliable in heavier, more demanding powder.

Off-Piste

As Jason makes clear, the straighter shape of the Gunsmoke, which requires it to be skied deliberately in powder, makes it surprisingly stable in variable conditions (even given its surfier, playful feel).

When skiing hard in a mix of bumped-up, firm, packed powder and light (maybe an inch) of soft snow on Reforma and Al’s Run at Taos, I did have to be careful not to overpressure the Gunsmoke’s rockered tails. Like Jason, I found that they would wash out if I pressured them too hard over firm patches. However, the tails on the Deathwish or Rocker2 108 will fail you sooner when pressured, as they aren’t as firm as the Gunsmoke’s in the first place, and are more likely to get deflected and rattled by variable conditions as they’re a little lighter and less damp.

At slower speeds, I found I could pivot and smear the Gunsmoke through short-swing turns fairly easily, so long as I initiated turns forcefully. Though it takes a little more effort, I can weave short turns through lower, spacious bumps on the Gunsmoke just as well as on the Rocker2 108 or Deathwish.

So despite being a slightly wider, powder-oriented ski, to me the Gunsmoke feels just as predictable and more stable in off-piste conditions as the Deathwish and Rocker2 108, which are more wide, “freestyle-oriented, all-mountain” skis. Relatively speaking, none of these skis excel in variable conditions, but the degree to which the Gunsmoke maintains good performance in variable snow while being so capable in fresh is impressive.

Groomed / Firm

As for the Gunsmoke’s performance on groomers, I don’t have much to add to what Jason has said. It’s easy to smear out of firm snow, but it is also easy to set an edge and bend the ski through a carve. Even if you’re dealing with very firm, hardpacked groomers—the kind you’ll often find during early season skiing in Colorado, for example—you can still have a lot of fun on the Gunsmoke.

Trick / Jib Performance

Compared to the Moment Deathwish and the Salomon Rocker2 108, the Gunsmoke is better in powder, and arguably just as good in variable conditions and on groomers.

So where do those more all-mountain skis have the upper hand? Is there any penalty for the added dampness and width that the Gunsmoke provides? This is where I’d want to expand on a point Jason makes in his “Playtime” section, where he writes:

“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.”

Those other skis out there that Jason is talking about would include ones like the Deathwish (which is lighter in the air than the Gunsmoke) and the Rocker2 108 (which is a little lighter still). Compared to those, I’d definitely agree that the Gunsmoke is more difficult to throw and spin around, but I think I found the difference to be more pronounced than Jason.

The Gunsmoke’s slightly heavier feel and slightly stiffer tips and tails led me to be more hesitant to throw tricks around the mountain in spots where I don’t think I would have thought twice about it on the Rocker2 108 or Deathwish. Like Jason says, you definitely can throw butters and presses on the Gunsmoke, but I just want to underscore that the ski doesn’t have the same snap or rebound to it that the others do. (If, however, I was 30 lbs. heavier, I might feel differently…)

* Sidenote, like Jason, I’m really curious about the 186 Blizzard Peacemaker.  Though I don’t think it could begin to match the float of the Gunsmoke, at 104mm underfoot, I’m hoping it can provide in-air quickness closer to that of the Deathwish / Rocker2 108, but maintain some of the dampness and predictability (especially in soft snow and chop) of the Gunsmoke.

Blizzard Gunsmoke vs. Moment Bibby Pro?

The Gunsmoke is a fun, substantial ski that can be pushed pretty hard while still allowing you to play, too. In that sense the Gunsmoke bears some resemblance to the Moment Bibby Pro…

I haven’t spent much time comparing the two, however, because the Bibby still strikes me as more of a powder ski on the whole, though it does surprisingly well in firm conditions.

I don’t think the Bibby Pro can butter and jib terrain or ski variable hardpack as well as the Gunsmoke, which can more legitimately be compared to all-mountain jib skis like the Moment Deathwish and Salomon Rocker2 108.

Given the Bibby Pro’s width underfoot (118mm in the 190cm length), its stiffness in the tips and tails, and its swing weight, it feels less suitable than the Gunsmoke as an everyday ski. But the 190cm Bibby Pro will probably float a little better than the Gunsmoke and feel more stable and intuitive in soft, choppy conditions, ultimately making it the better powder ski.

In sum, the Bibby Pro’s versatility is shifted more toward the soft-snow, powder end of the spectrum, so much so that I don’t feel inclined to include it in a conversation about all-mountain jib performance. On the other hand, I think that the Gunsmoke is well worth discussing in that category.

Bottom Line

There are more intuitive powder skis out there that will make skiing fresh conditions a little easier than the Gunsmoke does, but I can’t think of any that are as surfy and capable in powder while also seeming so at home in more firm conditions.

On the feet of a strong skier with good technique, the Gunsmoke is a good powder ski that can also be used well as a surfy, all-mountain tool, capable of fast, stable turns in variable conditions. It’s also happy to throw down some jibs, though not as easily as the Salomon Rocker2 108 or Moment Deathwish—but those skis can’t provide the same level of stability as the Gunsmoke.

25 Comments

  1. Blister Member
    Franklin Delano Brosevelt December 10, 2013 Reply

    Thoughts on using this ski as a dedicated backcountry ski?

    What about this ski compared to the Atomic Automatic?

    • Will Brown December 12, 2013 Reply

      Hi FDB,

      I would probably hesitate to use the Gunsmoke as a dedicated touring ski, mainly because of its weight. As I’ve mentioned in the review, it’s is not the lightest ski in its class – the Rocker2 108 is noticeably lighter – nor is it the heaviest (a powder ski like the 190cm Bibb Pro or 191cm ON3P Caylor is going to be heavier). It would probably be fine for some quick day tours. Really there’s no reason you couldn’t tour on the Gunsmoke, but if you were really trying to do extended, multi-day tours I would think something lighter would definitely be preferable. That’s about all I can say on that front.

      As far as a comparison to the Automatic goes, I can offer a few distinctions, but know that I’ve only skied the 193cm Automatic (not the 186, which would probably be the better comparison).

      The Gunsmoke has a slightly longer turn radius than the Automatic, and the Automatic has more taper in the shape of its shovel and tail past their edge contact points. For me this meant that the Automatic felt less stable through variable, inconsistent conditions. Specifically, I found that the Automatic’s tails were a little more prone to washing out in firm snow, and this would also reflect less preferable performance on groomers. Another point worth mentioning might be that the Gunsmoke is a bit more center mounted, and is set up to carve switch turns, butter, and spin little better than the Automatic is.

      But, at the same time the Automatic’s taper that I mention (combined with its slightly tighter sidecut and slightly wider width) means that it feels a little more intuitive and smooth in fresh pow – it’s going to track through a powder turn a bit more easily, where the Gunsmoke is going to require that you force the ski to turn across the fall line a bit more. Really I think the more appropriate comparison would be the Automatic vs. the 12/13 Bibby Pro.

      I hope this helps!

      Will B

  2. Ben December 11, 2013 Reply

    Nice review! Has the Gunsmoke changed at all from last year’s production model? It wasn’t completely clear to me whether you guys reviewed a “pre-production” version of last year’s Gunsmoke, and whether the changes they made before last year’s production run are those we are seeing in this review. I hope so, as I bought a pair of last year’s Gunsmoke’s on a megasale and I’m pretty stoked on THIS review!

    • Will Brown December 25, 2013 Reply

      ​Hi Ben,

      In short, the ski you bought isn’t the same as the one Jason reviewed last year, but it’s not the same as this year’s either, so I can’t say you’re guaranteed to have the same experience as I have.

      Jason did review a pre-production model of last year’s (12/13) ski. The production version of that 12/13 Gunsmoke (which you’ve bought) was stiffened up a bit compared to the pre-prod version (I can’t say how much, as we never got on the 12/13 production model).

      Then this year’s 13/14 model, which I’ve reviewed here, apparently has an again slightly stiffer tail than the 12/13 production model. I can’t say how much – I’m not sure how much softer your ski will be than the one I’ve tested, but it shouldn’t be as soft as the one Jason reviewed last year.

      Hopefully this helps you out somewhat,

      WB

  3. Jed December 15, 2013 Reply

    Great write up. I’m looking very much forward to your thoughts on its little brother, the Peacemaker.

  4. Blister Member
    Me December 19, 2013 Reply

    Can you please give me your thoughts on the Blizzard Gunsmoke vs. Moment Exit World, with the idea that this will be my dedicated touring ski for use in Colorado, both mid-winter touring, and spring time bigger lines skiing.

    • Will Brown January 3, 2014 Reply

      Hey Me,

      I have yet to put any time on the Exit World, but I’ll be sure to let you know how it compares if I do.

      WB

  5. Vail February 7, 2014 Reply

    The more I read, the harder it gets to pick a ski. Thank you guys for the direct bibby pro comparison here, but it really changed my idea of the 190 bibby. If I have been debating the Deathwish or the older bibby pro, would the gunsmoke be middle ground?

    • Will Brown February 15, 2014 Reply

      Hi Vail,

      I think that would be fair to say, yea. The Gunsmoke is going to feel a little beefier than the Deathwish, but a little more variable/hardpack capable as an everyday ski than the Bibby, for sure.

      WB

  6. MT February 11, 2014 Reply

    Any recommendations on mount location for these? I’ve been reading conflicting reports.

    • Will Brown February 15, 2014 Reply

      Hey MT,

      I think it’s going to depend on how much jibbing, spinning, skiing switch you plan to do on the ski. If you’re interested in the Gunsmoke as a playful wide all-mountain ski that still has the option to take a more forward, fall-line approach to terrain, then the factory recommended line would be fine. If you’re more exited about the option of using it as more of a jib ski all the time – skiing switch a lot, throwing a lot of butters and spins – that can also handle some fast skiing in variable conditions, then I think mounting a cm or two forward would make sense.

      Will

      • MT February 16, 2014 Reply

        Helpful! Thanks.

      • BL December 13, 2016 Reply

        Hi Will,

        I recently purchased the 2017 193cm Gunsmokes and am having trouble deciding where to mount them. I am going back and forth between the “recommended line” or +1 of the recommended line. I am 6’3” and 200 pounds. I do not do much switch skiing. I am primarily a directional skier and really like to charge on these through powder and crud. My big concern would be in tight trees. Do you think that mounting them +1 would make them easier to turn/pivot in the trees? Also, by mounting them +1, would I then be sacrificing significant tip support when driving the tips hard. (I currently have the 15/16 Bentchetlers and feel the are way too soft in the tips when I drive my ski. I have a more forward skiing style than neutral). Thanks for any insight on this matter.

  7. Ben February 17, 2014 Reply

    Any comparison of these to the 2014 Super 7? Geometry wise they look similar although the Blizzard is a bit beefier.

    • Will Brown February 22, 2014 Reply

      Hi Ben,

      Unfortunately I can’t really say, as none of us have skied the Super 7 yet, just the narrower Soul 7. But given that the Super has more taper in the tip and tail shape and is ~200 grams lighter per ski (with much of that weight removed from its tip and tail), I would guess it’s going to feel quite a bit different in variable, choppier snow when skied aggressively. And from their rocker profiles I would imagine the Super, while probably playful, is going to function as a more directional ski, less of a potential freestyle/jib ski.

      Cheers,

      WB

  8. Davyn May 23, 2014 Reply

    Hi Will,

    I’m looking for a ski to take to Alaska next year but also something that performs well in conditions other than just deep pow. I’ve done a fair bit of research and it looks like the new Gunsmoke is a great option but I have a couple of questions:
    1. I’m not a jibber so twin tips aren’t necessary for me. Is there another ski I should be looking at that’s similar to the Gunsmoke that excels in other areas at the sacrifice of trick performance?
    2. I’m 6″1 and 160lbs and an expert skier who likes powder, trees, steeps and bumps and am trying to decide between the 186cm and the ‘chargier’ 193cm. Do you have any recommendations? My concern with the longer version is maneuverability in trees and bumps with me being relatively light
    3. What are the major points of difference between the Gunsmoke and the Bent Chetler?

    Thanks a lot for you help.
    Davyn

    • Will Brown September 11, 2014 Reply

      Hey Davyn,

      Sorry to not get back to you sooner! Sure does seem like the Gunsmoke could be a good option for you, but so could quite a few other skis. If you’re interested in a ski with tail rocker and the slightly looser, more playful feel, the 186cm Gunsmoke could be a good choice or the 190cm Line Sir Francis Bacon (if you wanted something a little bit narrower, and more all-mountain oriented). But of you wanted a wider, versatile ski that is more stable and directional, I’d check out my review of the Ski Logik Howitzer.

      Unfortunately I haven’t put any time on the 185cm Bent Chetler, which would be the best length to compare to the 186cm Gunsmoke, but Jason Hutchins has, so you could run that question by him on one of his reviews of either ski.

      Hope this helps!

      Will

  9. Martin_Murin November 1, 2014 Reply

    How far is the +2 line from true center?

  10. Hart November 26, 2014 Reply

    Hi. I’m really interested in the Gunsmoke and have read the reviews also for the Blister Pro. I’m 5’8″ 160 lbs good skier and looking for a powder oriented ski to compliment my bonefides. Will do some part day touring with skins, some heli and lift access to side country on these in Italy, France and American west. I don’t really need twin tips cause I’m past the age for tricks, but I want a ski that can let me do what I want in powder plus trees and bumps if possible. I am a carver in most if not all conditions and terrain.

    How does the bodacious compare to the gun smoke? Some reviews seem to indicate that the gun smoke is a better powder ski, which I find confusing given the shape of the bodacious.

    Can you provide any guidance on this?

    • Author
      Will Brown January 6, 2015 Reply

      Hi Hart,

      In terms of float, I can’t say I think the Bodacious isn’t as good of a pow ski as the Gunsmoke; it’s just a different style of powder ski. The Gunsmoke is more playful / smeary while the Bodacious is much more directional. If you like to carve your turns more than smear them, and you’re going to be skiing fast in more open terrain, then I would say the Bodacious would be the better choice. But if you want a more maneuverable, playful ski for quickness in trees, then the Gunsmoke would be better.

      Hope that helps you!

      Will

  11. Joe G December 27, 2014 Reply

    Looking at the gunsmoke but probably in the 179 length due to what is available to me at a good deal. I am 5’9″ 170lbs and want something that will be good in the trees but still allow me to open it up even in a choppy bowl. I usually ski Snowbird for reference trees off Gad2 and open areas like mineral basin and the cirque. I guess my real question is would I feel undergunned with a 179 in the open? I am sure they would be just fine in the trees.

    • Author
      Will Brown January 6, 2015 Reply

      Hi Joe,

      At ~6’2″, I liked the length of the Gunsmoke in a 186 (which measures more like 183cm). So with that in mind, I’d say you’d be good with the 179. But if its wide-open stability you’re primarily looking for, I would check out skis like the Blizzard Bodacious and Moment Governor (though I know you said the Gunsmoke is what you have lined up).

      Hope this helps,

      WB

  12. Vail January 31, 2015 Reply

    Great review! The comparison to the Bibby Pro is spot on.. I am 6’2 180 and ski the 186. I really enjoy the shorter length for all moutain terrain and conditions.

  13. Adrian August 6, 2016 Reply

    Hi Will,

    Thanks for the review! I’m making the move from the east coast to the west and trying to decide what length to get in the gunsmoke. I know you said you’re 6’2″ but I was wondering what weight you are? I’m the same height, 185 lbs and currently on the 193 regulators and love them.

    thanks!

  14. Blister Member
    Zak September 13, 2016 Reply

    Would like to see this ski compared to the 15/16′ Bodacious.

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