How would you best characterize this year's SHOT Show? Beats me. Attendance was up (another record) and manufacturers told me their order writing was brisk, despite well-documented shortages of guns, ammo and gear for the modern sporting rifle.
While breaking down after what seems to have been an economically successful SHOT Show 2013, attendees seem uncertain as to the near-term well being of the industry - and the nation. Jim Shepherd/OWDN photo.
But most of the people I spoke with were leaving with an uneasy feeling. New York has had already rushed through a restrictive law.
Now, Connecticut is working to immediately ban "assault weapons", limit magazine capacities to 10 rounds- and confiscate all magazines over that limit (pistols included).
Additionally, hoped-for legislation requires registration of any firearm with a pistol grip, and mandates re-registration every two years. A permit would be required for rifles with a pistol grip, and there would be limits on how much ammunition you could buy- or possess at any given time. They'd also ban internet sales of ammunition, and mandate tough gun storage laws.
The other side of the issue isn't being quiet- nor missing opportunities to put leverage on the industry.
Most weekend chatter focused on the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show's surprise decision to ban AR-style rifles and accessories.
Since then, several have announced they won't be attending.
Cabela's posted this statement on Facebook:
"Due to recent changes made by Reed Exhibitions regarding the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, Cabela's will no longer sponsor this year's event. After careful consideration regarding Cabela's business practices, and the feelings of our customers, Cabela's will, unfortunately, not have a presence at the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show."
Lancaster Archery Supply, another show stalwart, explained, "In support of the hunting and outdoors industry, Lancaster Archery Supply has chosen not to exhibit at the 2013 Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show where show management decisions have created a volatile and disruptive political environment."
You can read Trijicon's withdrawal announcement in this morning's news section.
Today, more than two dozen companies announced they won't be in attendance when the east's largest hunting and fishing show opens February 2, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Their decisions weren't reached after industry leaders came together and decided a statement needed to be made.Each company made a unilateral decision. Not every company agrees.
In fact, the National Shooting Sports Foundation disagreed.
A Friday afternoon NSSF statement encouraged companies to attend the Eastern Show, saying "it would be unfair to penalize the 1,200 exhibitors or the some 200,000 sportsmen and women who will attend the show by discouraging participation at a time when the hunting and shooting sports community needs to be united in the face of political challenges."
Saying the "hunting and shooting sports community needs to be unified in the face of political challenges" while encouraging attendance at an event which has banned the nation's most popular and best-selling rifle seems contradictory.
Privately, I'm told NSSF officials are "anything but pleased at the decision by Reed" and "they've made that abundantly clear."
Apparently, they've also been assured by Reed the prohibition is "only for this year's show." Sorry, but I'm not buying. A British company, Reed isn't motivated by the Second Amendment.
In fact, Reed might have the NSSF over the figurative barrel.
As manager of SHOT Show Reed puts millions of dollars in their pockets - every year. To think that would offers some motivation to support gun rights ignores Reed's size.
Globally, Reed runs more than 500 shows. Attendance at this year's SHOT Show (60,000+) - the industry's largest trade-only event - is only less than one percent of Reed's annual show traffic.
Because of that immense global presence,Reed is the 800 pound gorilla of the convention industry, controlling venues and room blocks in Las Vegas and Orlando, the only locations large enough to accommodate SHOT.
So, the NSSF, its staff already rocked by a horrific tragedy in its hometown, finds itself in an awkward situation- because of its SHOT Show partner. Attacking Reed, no matter how distasteful Reed's decision, would be at the peril of the industry's marquee event.
Speaking of marquee events, today is the final of our 2013 SHOT Show special editions. Below, Rich Grassi and Paul Erhardt offer some of their suggestions for potential must-haves for 2013.
I hope you find their choices helpful- I did. But it's impossible to see every new product any year. There are enough new things that we'll all be writing about them through the rest of 2013.
That having been said, here come our Editor's Choices.
From the Tactical Side of SHOT 2013
By Rich Grassi
The focus of this feature is gear displayed at the SHOT Show that would appeal to the military, police, private security or lawfully armed citizen in regards to armed self defense. This doesn't include all
the black-nylon-with-hook & loop-closure types of things, but some of that stuff was in evidence.
If you've not been to a SHOT Show in some years, culture shock would strike -- the defense/concealed carry/mil-LE-security element of the industry has become the "dog" while more traditional elements, like hunting, have become the "tail." There are many companies and products, some of which are likely quite good, that aren't covered - the show was simply too immense (and far too spread out) for the time allowed to say nothing whatever about the space we have to showcase products. Let it suffice to say a good many top tier manufacturers were here.
Were there AR-type rifles and AK-clones? Yes. The same with large pistols. A good amount of what we saw was geared more to the concealed carry market, an increasing segment of the industry. Apparently, the industry hadn't gotten the word that the modern sporting rifle was evil. As you look through this far-less-than-complete list, remember we were competing with around 50,000 people for the exhibitors' time.
- This holographic sight features a custom reticle that allows you to shoot Blackout or Whisper ammunition in either subsonic or supersonic using the short and medium range points of impact for either supersonic or subsonic ammunition.
Colt Marine Close Quarter Battle Pistol
- This Colt Rail Gun has been customized like the Colt USMC pistol -- a Cerakote finished stainless steel frame and slide rendered in Desert Tan. Novak Night Sights are fitted to the slide, a flat mainspring housing with lanyard loop, ambidextrous safety and National Match barrel round out the modifications to this pistol.
Springfield Armory XD/s 3.3 Single Stack 9mm
- This 9mm is a 7 + 1 concealed carry piece with a 3.3" barrel, fiber optic front sight and a polymer frame. Extremely flat, it's a little over six inches in overall length, less than 4 1/2" high and weighs in a 23 ounces. Shipped with a pair of magazines, holster and mag pouch, we fired this at Media Day. It's extremely comfortable to shoot.
- Here we have an AR format 7.62 x 51mm rifle with 18" barrel, a 1:10" 5R rifling twist, an 18" barrel and ambidextrous controls. Shipping with a five-round magazine, the M&P10 weighs in at just over 8 pounds.
Federal American Eagle Ammunition
- Federal American Eagle is now available in 6.8 SPC and 5.7x28mm. The 6.8 round is a 115 grain FMJ load and the 5.7 features a 40 grain FMJ bullet.
Glock 20 Gen4
- In addition to the Glock 30S - the 10-round slim-slide compact .45, the Gen 4 version of the grand Glock 20 is now in production. Still a 15-round 10mm, capable of handling a diet of full-power 10mm ammo, the new gun has the ergonomic improvements.
Spyderco Manix2 Black Folder
- The Manix2 Lightweight has a fiberglass-reinforced co-polymer (FRCP) handle material and a flat-ground CTS BD1 stainless steel blade. Its 14mm "Trademark Round Hole" is the classic one-handed opening method and has the Spyderco patented Ball Bearing Lock. The Manix2 has a reversible wire clip that can be configured for left or right-side tip-up carry.
After our Monday holiday, we'll be highlighting some Editor's Choices for notable gear in various categories. Some of those items will be displayed in features as the year progresses. The SHOT Show was extremely busy and attendees were understandably concerned about the state of our civil rights. The Foggy Bottom Two-Step was in full swing while the people of the outdoors industry were busy trying to prepare for an uncertain year. Manufacturers seemed to have some interest in citizen involvement in the legislative process.
Ruger facilitated the ability of attendees to make their voices heard via computer kiosks set up for anyone to walk up, fill out the electronic form and have that form sent to federal officials: both executive branch and members of Congress from the appropriate districts/states. For anyone not at the SHOT Show, you have only to go to the Ruger website and pull up the same form people used here. Go to the Ruger "PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS!" effort (protect your rights
Regardless of the outcome of this political situation, we'll keep you posted.
Paul's Product Picks
By Paul Erhardt
Winchester's AA TrAAcker
is the most unique and significant development in shotshell design to come out of SHOT Show, probably for quite some time. With a specifically designed aerodynamic wad cup, the AA TrAAcker's weighted wad tracks the shot cloud's flight path which in turn shows the shooter where he or she missed. Not only is the AA TrAAcker poised to be the go-to training aid for shotgun instructors and beginning clay target shooters, but the immediate, accurate feedback (think tracer round) is likely to be very addictive to shooters and make it much more than just a training round.
Look for the Winchester's AA TrAAcker to hit retail shelves in the next couple months at $1.00 over the standard AA. Initial plans are for 12ga, 2-3/4" ounce and 1/8th loads of #7 or #8 shot in either orange with orange wad or black with black wad color options. And yes, since they are still AAs the hulls are reloadable.
Danner's Tachyon Boot
was still in development during last SHOT Show but the company, a leader in law enforcement and military boot design, recognized the need for an ultra lightweight boot for the high-speed, low-drag operator. And at a mere 26 ounces a pair, the Tachyon is just about the ideal boot to those of us looking to satisfy our inner ninja.
Despite the reduction in overall weight, Danner's design put operator comfort front-and-center with an open cell PU footbed that generates airflow, an EVA midsole that provides cushion underfoot and an integrated EVA Strobel board to create a more flexible platform. Now, what exactly all that means I'm really not sure and I don't care. I picked the boot up and it's just unbelievably lightweight, so all I know is that I want a pair...bad. The 8" Tachyon retails for $140 and comes in Black, Tan or Sage Green.
Safariland's New Ranger Series
was completed just in time for SHOT Show. The brainchild of Team Safariland's Bobby McGee - a guy with 14 years experience designing holsters - the Range Series is targeted towards the legions of firearms instructors, as well as the 21,000+ IDPA competitors. Currently the series consists of 4 items, including a 1-1/2" non-slip belt reinforced with Safarilaminent for rigidity and a snap-on dual magazine pouch.
However, it's the new 5195 Ladies Holster that stands out. After about two straight months of a continuous design-prototype-test cycle, Safariland came up with a 1-1/4" drop and 22-degree offset design that provides the female shooter - who wears her belt and holster above her hip - with a set-up that provides for a straight up-and-down vertical draw. With the number of women being drawn into instruction and competition on the rise, Safariland's new holster is sure to find a following.
SHOT Show Selections
By Jim Shepherd
Smith & Wesson quietly displayed AR-10 variants on their successful M&P rifle line. In sporting configuration and .308 caliber, it's more than adequate for virtually any domestic animal you'd choose to hunt, despite what anti-gun groups might like you to believe. Jim Shepherd/OWDN photo.
My SHOT Show selections were collected during hurried walks between too-frequent meetings. No orderly sweeps through the miles of displays. This year, new items had to catch my eye.
One thing I didn't expect to see stopped me in my tracks: Smith & Wesson's "softly launched" expansion of their M&P AR-style rifle platform, an AR-10 in .308 Winchester. I'd heard it wasn't going to be available, but it was displayed -quietly- in the middle of their law enforcement section.
On the first floor, I was surrounded by dozens of intriguing ideas. Like Field Optics Research's POCK. Billed as the world's smallest optics cleaning kit. It's slightly larger than the "fold-up" cleaning cloths we all use. But the POCK (pocket optics cleaning kit) includes a tiny lintless brush, swab and ampule of cleaning solution. Genius-especially if you spring for the larger kit that includes four refills of the single-use cleaning fluid.
Field Optics Research offers a variety of options for their BinoPOD, all designed to allow you to use your hands for something other than holding optics.
But their BinoPOD (MSRP: $79.95) really caught my eye. First, its LBG-like suspension harness allows you to a folding hands-free bipod. Insert your camera or binocular and, viola, you're glassing- hands-free. It's a great option for birding, but long hours spent glassing in any situation makes it a solid option.
The load-bearing harness also has the option of three sizes of backpacks, and a fanny-pack that belts around your waist and clips into the bottom of the harness. You could carry-comfortably- everything from camera gear and audio recorders to notebooks, game calls and a hydration bladder.
Only a few of the many items we saw- but we'll be working throughout 2013 to keep you posted.