SHOT Show, 2024….”The Great Reset”

SHOT Show, 2024….”The Great Reset”

Each year at this time like swallows heading back to Capistrano, the gun industry flocks to that equally idyllic icon: Las Vegas.



The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) hosts the infamous SHOT Show (Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade).   This is a show for industry personnel only.



Well….that can be loosely interpreted truth to tell.



Friends, colleagues, spouses, (and sometimes mistresses apparently), make their way onto the floor of the Venetian / Sands Convention Center every January.



As I have mentioned before, SHOT affords a certain anecdotal measure of what humanity is thinking.  (Or more importantly what business thinks humanity is thinking.). The informal system of order is fascinating to discern.



It also allows the attendant observer to see how the demographics of industry personnel itself is changing.  More about that in a couple of paragraphs.



Let me explain the concept here:  Every year marketing and R&D units in companies ranging from small mom and pops to multinational corporations make an independent, predictive idea of what their customers and the marketplace in general is looking for in a product or service.  They don’t talk to each other.  They don’t meet at a secret underground sanctuary in Cleveland to strategize on how to segment the market.  They look at marketing data….some of it generated from NSSF itself, and then develop a product they hope will take off.  SHOT is the place where that product is usually introduced the first time.



So…thousands of different businesses, looking at roughly the same data, come to roughly the same conclusions, and thus introduce roughly the same products.



It is kind of amusing to watch frankly, and as a result each theme sort of has a “theme” to it.  One year (a few years back) it was “black scary rifles”.  Then it was “weapons for women” (they took the black scary rifles and painted them pink).  Then it was “cowboy guns”….(AR-15’s were displayed having been customized with leather fringes….yeah…that actually existed).



Then the Toilet Paper Wars broke out.



SHOT fell into disarray, as vendors backed out of contracts to attend (Some like Sig Sauer have yet to return).



In the aftermath of Covid, things got…well weird at SHOT.



While the “Theme” did tend to change from year to year, the new vendors began marketing to the obscure, and the whole vibe of the place changed.  It seemed rushed, hectic, unorganized.  This was not NSSF’s fault…it was more the fault of our industry.



New products being introduced either seemed like re-releases of old versions, unnecessary, or in some cases: inexplicable.  (The locking magazines with a key hole on the bottom of the mag still confounds me.)



Gone was the “tactical” vibe….replaced with the…I don’t know…corporate vibe?  During these dark times there was a weird balance attained between a forward facing presence that only an HR Executive could have come up with, and southern flea market feel…..(yeah I know those two images are diametrically opposed, but trust me….it felt that way as you moved from booth to booth.)



This year seemed different.



The excitement was more palpable, and the products being offered more: usable.



The homogenized HR feel had been replaced with what could be best described as “subdued tactical.”  AR-15s are proudly displayed, but not gratuitously.  In fact, the “gratuitousness” of the “booth babe” was conspicuously absent this time around.  ‘



5.11 Tactical’s booth is an interesting barometer.  They have gone from uber tactical (with operators literally repelling off the second story during the show) to a kind of Lululemon storefront look, to now being back to a blend of stylized presentation that does not shy away from its tactical heritage.  (Yes…many of their mannequins were wearing guns.)



As promised the attendees also seemed to have changed.  Those of the beards and sleeve tattoos were hidden away or absent for the last few years.  This time around many were back, but so were the men and women walking around in blazers and business attire.



There were a couple of products that bear mentioning as well of course.



Springfield has their new Echelon pistol.  This is an optics ready platform based on a striker fire system.  It looks kinda cool, and the standard trigger is quite nice.  Corey, who was there with Kavon and me did not like it.  He had trouble with the slide stop, and claimed it hurt his diminutive hands.



Savage also has branded out.  They now have pistols.  Specifically, 1911 pistols.  I played with them a bit and was somewhat impressed.  (Though the trigger is far from perfect…it is a solid entry level 1911 press).  What is disappointing is the price point.   They are looking to capture in the $1500 range for this pistol, and I think they are missing the point.  I would have used the same strategy they have used with their long range precision rifle series.  Make them brilliant, good, and affordable.  With the pistol being priced where it is, a customer may just be close enough to crossing the Rubicon that they say “screw it” and pop for a Kimber.



What was noticeably absent though was the most interesting:  partisan politics.



Each year there has been massive displays of patriotism (that is still there…thank God), but there has also been a heavy leaning in with specific political candidates and conservative and / or Republican messaging.



That was absent…or at the very least I didn’t see it.



That might be because the demographics of our 2A community has changed and become more diverse, or it might be because the HR Managers still have some sway.



It was a good show.  The best part though:  I have a full year to recuperate before the next one.



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Comment (1)


    “Rappel” = term in mountaineering.
    “Repel” = to drive away or cause aversion.

    01/31/2024 at 08:47

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