SHOT SHOW 2020 RECAP
Well… every year we make the pilgrimage to Las Vegas for SHOT SHOW, and every year the next blog contains my thoughts, feelings, and impressions. There is no reason that this show should be any different.
To make life easier for you, dear reader, I have categorized this blog into separate sections. Good protocol would be, at this time, to explain my categorization methodology so you could scroll down to your own individual area of interest. That would be kind, polite, and efficient. Since I am not known for any of those things… let’s just begin:
General Feelings: The Ambiance and Bouquet of SHOT
Each year (we’ve been going for eight years, I think) there tends to be an organic theme of the show. Manufacturers independently look at the market and decide what the future interest of customers will be. There is an elegance to this informal system of order. As such, you can get a sense of what the consumer is interested in (at least to the extent that manufacturers have gleaned what their customers are interested in).
One year everything was tactical; black, scary rifles were being showcased even in the hunting knife vendors’ booths. Then another year went “full woman”… meaning the unimaginative manufacturers simply colored a bunch of their guns pink. A couple of years back suppressors were all the rage. This year… as we approach an election, I was curious to see the direction. I guess it could be boiled down to: revolvers (almost steampunk in design), skeletonized bolt-action rifles… (even some of the “black, scary rifles” are now having bolt-action varietals)… and, interestingly enough, cowboy guns. There were also certain specific products that I will go over independently.
Lastly… I had the opportunity to meet some… I guess one would say “famous” people… and the following are my impressions.
(If you have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here…)
Korth from Nighthawk Custom
As I was walking by the Nighthawk Custom booth, I ran into Sheriff Jim Wilson… more about him later… and happened to see the monster pictured above. This weapon… scratch that…this work of angry, precise art is glorious. (Full disclosure: As with all the weapons presented at SHOT, I did not actually shoot them… dry fire only. ) The revolver as you can see is… well “intricate” to say the least. As the trigger is pressed, you can instantly feel the exquisite German craftsmanship that went into each and every component, from the feel in your hand, to the timing of the action, to the general appearance of the monster. It is perfect… simply perfect. It will also set you back about $5K… so it better be!
Springfield 1911 Ronin
This was one of the more amusing conversations I had during SHOT. As you can see, the 1911 Ronin looks just like a 1911. That is because it is really nothing more than a 1911. I was holding the gun in my hand and the Springfield rep was waiting for me to ask him questions.
“So… um… this feels nice… what makes it new?”
“So we’ve used a new alloy in the production, and it… hmmm… well… we… we… we made a new gun and gave it a new name. Ronin sounds pretty cool though, huh?”
Honestly, it is a nice feeling 1911… and if you want a gun named after a Samurai who lost his master… well, this is the gun for you, baby!
We have always has a very strong relationship with 5.11 Tactical and, as a result, we have many friends at the 5.11 booth. This year they went away from the industrial booth look and opted for a more… I don’t know… European look? Frankly, it was a major improvement. Their clothing is, as always, spectacular. As they make strides more and more into the “non-overt tactical” market I have been cautiously optimistic to see what their fashion design crew is able to produce.
They have not disappointed. While their clothing line is becoming more, I guess you would say “fashionable,” they have stayed true to their tactical roots. Every single piece of clothing should be considered first and foremost “gear”. Everything is extremely well thought out, consistent with concealed carry, and tough as nails.
At the VIP party, Kavon and I were able to spend some time with our 5.11 friends and got some detailed information about one of our favorite pieces of their gear… their boots and shoes. The design work that goes into these is mind boggling. If you have not depleted your bank account yet on 5.11 gear, then you are not a full-on active participant.
Savage Bolt-Action 110 Elite Precision
This was one of the more “holy crap” moments of the show. I had originally gone to the booth to look at their bolt-action twelve gauge. Instead, I became fixated on their new 110 precision long-distance rifle. Now, most of us have owned a Savage at one point or another. Either it was our first gun, or we bought one for our kids. It has a history of being a “starter gun”. It is relatively cheap, safe, and well made. Since most have the “accu-trigger” feature, we can reduce the poundage of the trigger without having to take it to a gunsmith… kind of a nice feature. But we typically don’t think of Savages as being our end all, be all.
That, I suspect, is going to change.
Their precision line is friggen awesome! It includes metal stocks, completely free-floated barrels, and extremely smooth bolt travel. The stocks themselves have taken a page from Magpul’s thumb placement shelves to allow a place for the shooting hand’s thumb to stay on the same side as the rest of the hand and actually have a place to go. A customizable stock and that same accu-trigger in a platform that costs about $1400… we are in business! Chambered in a variety of calibers including .308 and 6.5 Creedmore… I have to figure out how to convince Sandy that I need to add this to my collection.
Many of you have shot the FN 5.7. When you did, you probably chuckled and thought…hmmm… this is kinda cool, and also thought… when the hell would I actually use this thing?
Well, Ruger decided to compete directly with FN and came up with the Ruger 5.7. Evidently, they also don’t really know when someone would use it. Their tag line is “Cool to own… fun to shoot.”
I guess it is good. Trigger is kinda “ugh”. But, if you want one… you now have a choice.
Taylors & Company
So… this was really interesting. As I mentioned above, there were a lot more cowboy guns present. One of the companies that manufactures Italian-produced replica guns is Taylors & Company. These are .45 long colt single-action revolvers and similar six shooters. They also have lever guns. They are extremely well made and have a precision feel to them. The interesting thing that happened in the booth was a conversation I overheard.
A guy, who clearly owned a gun store somewhere in the U.S., was chatting with the sales rep from Taylors & Company:
“Yeah… honestly, I can’t keep these things on the shelves. I don’t shoot single-action very much, but my customers definitely do. They get their carry permits and buy their striker fires, then they want something else to entertain themselves. They get into cowboy action shooting and I end up selling them two six shooters and a lever gun! I love it.”
“Yes, we see that all the time. Most people know that women make up the largest-growing segment of new shooters… what most people don’t know is that cowboy action shooting represents the fastest growing application segment of the firearms industry.”
Now, honestly I have no way of confirming the veracity of her statement… but it sounds cool.
I contacted one of my good friends, Dave Elkins, who is a big cowboy action shooter and asked him if he would be willing to put on a presentation at Artemis for those who might be interested in picking up this sport. He instantly said yes. (Actually he texted back and wrote, “Oh, hell yes!!!”) So… look at the Saturday newsletter in the next couple of weeks for that class.
People: Sheriff Jim Wilson / Tim Schmidt
These last entries are about humans, not guns.
First Sheriff Jim Wilson:
Many of you have read Sheriff Wilson’s works in many, many gun magazines. He is, first and foremost, a cowboy, a country western singer and, without question, a scholar. A couple of years back Sandy took a class at Gunsite and stayed at the famed Little Thumb Butte B&B while she was there. Sheriff Wilson, who was doing a media program at Gunsite, was also there. The two of them quickly hit it off, and through her, I became Facebook friends with him. A year later I was in Dallas at the NRA convention and I got to personally meet the Sheriff. He is warm and gracious and regaled both Cosmo, who was also in attendance, and me with a ton of country sheriff stories about being a true “peace officer”.
In short… I really like the guy.
Now… while we have met, we are not “friends” per se. He is much more of a celebrity with whom I have had the pleasure of chatting with.
However, he did see me and immediately recognized me and started to ask about Sandy and how Chaney is doing at West Point.
This man, literally, meets thousands of fans a year, and yet he still has the ability to not only recognize a random fan like me, but remember intimate details about my life.
In short… this cowboy sheriff has a ton of class.
If you have not followed him on Facebook, or other social media… start doing it.
(His cowboy wisdom is also pretty awesome.)
Many of you have USCCA Concealed Carry Insurance. (If you don’t… you should.) Tim Schmidt is the CEO of USCCA, and I had the unique pleasure of being invited to the USCCA VIP party and cocktail reception on the high-roller ferris wheel while at SHOT.
There were quite a few of us “invitees,” and we were all assigned a “bubble” on the ferris wheel when we arrived. (Each bubble holds about 12 people.) Kassy and Dave, our friends from On Target in Laguna Niquel, were also invited and, as luck would have it, we all ended up in Bubble #2.
Along with us, was Tim Schimdt himself.
Tim is a very charismatic CEO and extremely charming. During our 30 minutes in the bubble he made sure to engage each of us individually in conversation and discuss our experiences with USCCA.
As an attorney who has received funds from USCCA to defend one of its policy holders, I was able to tell him my very positive experience dealing with his company. He was, of course, pleased to hear this, but was also very interested to hear what his company could have done better.
I can’t lie… I like the guy.
So… this is a longer blog… and I hope I didn’t lose you along the way. I am back home, sitting at my desk and very, very, very thankful that SHOT is only once a year!