Once again we found ourselves in Vegas in January for the annual NSSF SHOT Show. This annual convention has gone through interesting transitions over the years. From an organic market experiment, SHOT is fascinating. Thousands of independent businesses converge on SHOT every year to showcase their new product lines. There is no coordination between these businesses. They are simply studying the firearms market and making independent determinations as to what consumers are looking to buy in the future. Inevitably, each year there is a dominating thematic overlay. All of these businesses are looking at the same data, some formally, others anecdotally, and coming to reasonably similar conclusions. One year everything was “black scary rifles”. Another year it was all pink guns as the industry attempted a ham-fisted endeavor to cater to the female market. A couple of years ago it was all about suppressors… and this year:
For the most part this year was nothing more than a retread of last year. That is a sad commentary. The industry is in the middle of what has been referred to as a “Trump Slump”. This is somewhat to be expected. With no existential crisis to our gun rights at the federal level, the panic buying has largely stopped. This has caused a slowdown in sales… and I suspect a slowdown in R&D. I suspect as the Democratic field for President starts to crystallize next year, this phenomenon will go away.
There were some things, though, I did notice that bear further discussion:
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NRA Carry Guard
During the last two SHOT Shows the NRA booth, which is a big booth, was 100% NRA Carry Guard. Getting people to sign up was a full-court press. This year… nothing. I mean nada. Literally, there was no reference at all to NRA Carry Guard. When I asked one of the NRA reps about this he seemed somewhat in the dark himself.
“Are you still selling NRA Carry Guard?”
“Oh yeah… yes, of course.”
“You’re just not pushing it here?”
“Well… SHOT really is not the proper forum for it.”
Really? So what the hell were they doing the last two years? The simple fact that it is absent creates a bigger issue than a more muted presence. If you are a current NRA Carry Guard member, I am sure you are fine. If you are considering becoming one, I would contact NRA Carry Guard directly and ask for assurances that it is committed to the market. It may very well be… but its absence gives me pause.
For those of you who read my blog a few months back about the tactical lever-action by Mossberg chambered in 30.30, I have some news. The weapon looked brilliant on the website… actually, it looked God awful, which made it uniquely brilliant in its own right… kind of the warthog of rifles. The problem was availability. You could just not find one for sale! Well, that evidently was a result of production issues. Those issues have been ironed out, and starting last week production began. The SPX should start becoming available in about a month. One was displayed at SHOT and I played with it for a little while.
It is glorious in its audacity.
The sights on it are pretty friggen awesome too!
Yeah… I’m going to buy one.
So, Glock has been watching SIG evidently. With the success of the SIG P365, Glock decided to get into the game. Glock redid its 43 and created the Glock 43X, now a ten-round micro 9mm. She is a fantastic competitor to the P365, and one that leaves the Smith and Wesson Shield further and further behind in the dust. It has the same crisp trigger pull that is standard on Glocks, and the same Glock feel. It does not come with the night sights that are present on the P365, and for some strange reason Glock felt that it was necessary to have the 43X outfitted with a silver slide (not to my aesthetic liking… but, hey…vive la différence).
All right, so this is kinda a fun one. I have never been particularly interested in cowboy guns as a going concern (Sorry, Dave Allen). I have been interested in Italian-produced cowboy guns even less. That being said, I did have a somewhat transformational experience at the Uberti booth. Just by happenstance, my walking-around pattern at SHOT brought me constantly by the Uberti booth. Now, many of you know that I have a Ruger Vaquero in my arsenal that I occasionally wear for fun, and shoot even less. The Uberti models are historically accurate, and have unbelievably crisp trigger systems. Rotating the cylinders of the revolvers give the feel of an exquisitely machined precision system. Yeah… a new .45 LC is probably on my list now as well!
Those who have talked to me about my rifle work know that I have very little interest in electronic sighting systems. If the battery dies, then what? I have also been very, very negative about optics on handguns. Each time I have used one I spent more time looking for the dot in the window than putting lead onto the target. Even with suppressor sights installed to speed up the process of acquiring the dot, it has always seemed slow to me. Now, I may not be the most reliable subject to make this a recommendation, as many with optics on their handguns swear by them.
Regardless, in one of our CCW classes we had a student who worked for Holosun. I looked at his optic and was really, really impressed. Using essentially the same reticle that appears on an Eotech, the lag I felt on sight acquisition was gone. These suckers are fast, and the fact they incorporate solar technology along with battery power, makes one of my arguments against them moot. They are also very reasonably priced. I may not put one on my pistol… but I am very likely to put one on my new Mossberg SPX!!!
5.11 New Shoes and Pants
Ah, my favorite.
5.11 has a number of new products that were showcased. I gravitated towards two of them: their new pants and shoes. They have introduced new footwear, and I was especially intrigued with their casual footwear, that incorporates some fundamentals that have needed to be addressed for awhile, specifically puncture-resistance and low profile.
The Stryke pants have also been updated. The new generation of Strykes look spectacular, and has some additional features on them. This will, of course, require me to go through a complete wardrobe upgrade! Fortunately, these new products will not officially reach the market until June… so I have a couple of months to start saving my pennies!