The NRA Annual Meeting: 75,000 Friends and Hundreds of Toys

The NRA Annual Meeting 2014, Indianapolis, IN.

The NRA Annual Meeting 2014, Indianapolis, IN.

I love the NRA annual meeting. You would think a gathering of more than 75,000 people couldn’t be a more polite undertaking than a Miss Manners Impersonator convention, but it is. You can’t go 10 feet without hearing one or more of the following: Please. Thank you. Sir. Ma’am. Pardon me! Have a nice day!

If the folks who rant and rave about how evil the NRA is would actually come to an NRA event, I believe they would be surprised. Actually, they would be dumbfounded. I was chatting it up with a bellman at my hotel one morning, and he observed “I don’t see why people get so upset about the NRA. These have been some of the nicest people ever to come for a big convention.”

If the best part of the NRA annual meeting is the people, the second best part is the product displays. Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting finds this week.

ARES SCR™ Sport Configurable Rifle

I had an opportunity to shoot the ARES SCR™ Sport Configurable Rifle at the American Suppressor Association media event the day before the NRA convention started. For a minute, let’s set aside the discussion of whether a company should even have to make a rifle like this because of silly legislation. As one of the guests on this week’s Armed American Radio Show so aptly stated, “It’s an AR rifle that doesn’t look like an AR rifle.”

The ARES SCR Sport Configurable Rifle

The ARES SCR Sport Configurable Rifle

Here’s what it is, besides a great example of creative ingenuity. Imagine a standard AR / MSR upper receiver, hand guard and barrel, but with a classic rifle stock. You know, just like the stock on your favorite hunting rifle or shotgun. Being that the “bang-bang” parts are all Modern Sporting Rifle, it takes almost all of the standard replacement parts and accessories. Magazines, lights, lasers, vertical foregrips and bipods for example. Remember, it’s an AR / MSR that just doesn’t look like one.

The short bolt carrier that makes the ARES SCR work.

The short bolt carrier that makes the ARES SCR work.

Here’s why it exists: It’s legal in all 50 states, even with the latest in silly and unproductive laws passed as of the date of this article.

The first question people ask is “how does it work?” There is no standard buffer tube as with a standard AR platform rifle, so the bolt carrier is short with a curved pigtail that extends down to a recoil spring in the standard rifle stock. The operating principle is the same.

Shooting the Ares SCR is like shooting any standard stock rifle. You’ll want to mount your optic like you would with a standard rifle – as low to the bore as possible. Since the stock curves down instead of straight back, a standard AR height optic will be too high for a proper cheek weld on the stock. We were using an Aimpoint Micro H1 and it is exactly the right height if you don’t use the AR mount.

Initially, Ares will offer this as a complete package with the lower standard stock and upper mated together. If the upper you want to use accepts standard size bolt carriers, and if there is a short bolt carrier available for your desired caliber, you’re good to go. Just throw that new upper on the lower just like you would with a standard AR / MSR.

Weaver Tactical 6-30x56mm

I fell in lust with a beast of an optic – the new Weaver Tactical model. With 30x magnification it will be a lot of fun for rifles that can reach way out there. It might pair well with the DoubleTap Ammo 7mm Remington Ultra Mag mentioned in this article.

Weaver Tactical-1

It’s got a 34mm tube and an illuminated reticle that offers 5 intensity levels of red and green. It’s a mil dot reticle with .1 mil elevation and windage adjustments. As it’s a long range scope, the best feature might be the SmartZero reset turrets. Remove the cap, set the zero stop, and rotate away, even more than once. When you need to, dial them back to a positive zero point without having to count how many rotations you turned.

I’m probably going to do a dedicated feature on this optic down the road, but I can’t decide on the ideal rifle. Maybe a .22-250? Or perhaps the Weatherby .257 Magnum? Of course a nice .308 is always a good choice. What say you?

 

Crimson Trace New Laser Bling

The Crimson Trace team has quite a bit of new gear in both red and green laser configurations. The new Master Series Cocobolo Diamond pattern grips are gorgeous and will class up any 1911.

Crimson Trace Master Series-1

Also new are green Lasergrips for the Ruger LCR family. With a positive on/off switch and 2 hour battery life, it’s a great upgrade for your snubbie.

On the short-term horizon are upgraded models for Glock Gen 3 pistols with rear activation laser switches. The new models feature positive on/off switches, which are handy for saving battery life when practicing in daylight conditions.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

Win a Wilson Combat 1911 From Brownells

Ryan models the Brownell's custom Wilson Combat CQB 1911. That's OK though as I don't think he's eligible to win.

Ryan models the Brownell’s custom Wilson Combat CQB 1911. That’s OK though as I don’t think he’s eligible to win.

At the recent NRA annual meeting, the Brownells booth was busier than the door of Michael Moore’s refrigerator. Fortunately, the inside of the Brownells booth was a whole lot safer than the contents of Mikey’s Frigidaire. The Brownells team is nice, respectful and knowledgable, unlike the other extreme presented here.

Why the crowd?

Brownells is celebrating their 75th anniversary with a bang. To mark the occasion, they’ve had Wilson Combat build a custom CQB 1911, and they’re gonna give it away. Yep, this could be yours.

It. Is. Gorgeous.

I entered. And since I am such a nice guy, I’m going to reduce my own chances of victory and tell you about the contest too.

You can enter here.

NRA Annual Meeting Day 3

Day 3, while a bit quieter than the first two days of the NRA Annual Meeting, had plenty to offer. Here are a few of the interesting finds.

The Story Behind the Galco VHS Holster and Beretta M9

Part of the fun of wandering the halls of the NRA Annual Meeting is learning interesting back stories. Way back in 2005, troops deploying to overseas combat zones were buying Galco’s VHS (Vertical Holster System) for their issue Beretta M9 pistols. Why the Galco VHS? When zipping around foreign countries in helicopters, handguns must be carried in a muzzle down orientation, which the VHS is designed to do.

The Galco VHS Vertical Holster System

The Galco VHS Vertical Holster System

In early 2005, Galco was temporally sold out of the holster due to the large number of troops deploying. A customer called in to order one for “civilian” use and was told they were backordered and the reason why. He ordered his holster, then asked if he could pay for an “extra” that Galco would donate to a soldier headed overseas. The light bulb went on and the folks at Galco started theHolsters for Heroes program. Donations flowed in and over $100,000 worth of holsters were given to our men and women in uniform.

Now you know the rest of the story.

Burris XTR II Extreme Tactical Riflescope with FastFire Red Dot

In the midst of the total chaos known as the NRA Annual Meeting, I was fortunate to get a tour of the new Burris offerings from Marketing Director Lori. What jumped out at me was the XTR II. Here’s why.

Burris_XTR-II-1

Here’s the new Burris XTR II on a Beretta ARX 100

It’s a dual focal plane tactical scope. Not first focal plane, not second focal plane, but both. With a first focal plane scope, the hash marks indicate consistent trajectory at any magnification zoom level, but the reticle itself shrinks and grows as you zoom in and out. With a second focal plane placement, the reticle itself appears to stay constant size, but the hash marks only indicate proper bullet drop at one magnification level.

The new Burris has a lit horseshoe reticle in the second plane, so it stays the same size for quick short-range shots at any magnification. The ballistic drop compensation pattern is in the first focal plane, so 400, 500, 600 and 700 yard hold points are accurate at any zoom level.

The mounted FastFire Red Dot is useful for quick, shorter range shots. it’s also a great way to spot distant targets. Get in the vicinity using the FastFire, then shift your eye to the scope for a magnified view.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

NRA Annual Meeting, Day 2: The Superheroes Arrive

No worries folks, Gotham and Indianapolis are both safe…

Thanks to a couple of #BerettaHeroes who arrived on the scene of the second day of the NRA Annual meeting to make sure no dastardly villains ruined the event.

#BerettaHeroes NRA Annual Meeting

Josh and Jack, both from the Great State of Indiana, made a brief appearance at the Beretta booth and allowed their fans a quick photo opp. As no villainous plots were hatched today, we can just assume that the deterrence factor was strong.

As you can see, Jack prefers the punch and reach of the Beretta ARX 100 while John values the classic reliability of the Beretta M9. Both declined to elaborate on their hand-to-hand martial arts training, citing national security concerns.

You know these guys are pros – note the trigger finger discipline. No word yet on whether the dynamic duo will be providing overwatch security tomorrow.

Retrieving Freedom

Meet Traveler. He works for a 501c3 organization that helps Veterans with disabilities. Word is, he actually will work for food!

Retrieving_Freedom-1

Retrieving Freedom places trained service dogs with Veterans with physical disabilities and PTSD. The organization also trains dogs for placement with children diagnosed with autism.

The service dogs are provided at no charge, but training and support is an expensive endeavor. Please check out Retrieving Freedom and send them a donation! Every little bit helps the good work at Retrieving Freedom, so break out those wallets.

Girl Power Hour at the Beretta Booth.

The good folks at Beretta sponsored a #GirlPowerHour for writers, bloggers and media personalities. Of course the guys attended the event in force. What male media maven would pass up an opportunity to schmooze with the coolest ladies in the biz?

Beretta_Girl_Power_Hour-1-2

The crew was treated to a personalized booth tour of Beretta’s Class of 2014 guns including theBeretta PicoBeretta ARX 100 and the absolutely gorgeous new Beretta 692 over and under shotgun.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

NRA Annual Meeting Day 1

It’s that time of year again.

Can you tell the NRA is in town?

Can you tell the NRA is in town?

We’re at the National Rifle Association Annual Meeting in beautiful downtown Indianapolis. I’ve not been to Indianapolis before, but will be back. The downtown area is fantastic. It’s filled with old buildings refurbished with modern interiors. Stores, restaurants and hangouts – it’s a great town for a convention. Indianapolis has clearly rolled out the welcome mat. The people are friendly and there’s been a strong police presence to help manage traffic and crowds. Most of them have been asking attendees about all the new products they saw inside. Officer Friendly lives here.

As there will be a million and seven articles about the newest mainstream products, we’ll be covering the more unusual and interesting offerings here over the next three days, so stay tuned for end of day updates. Let’s take a look at some Day 1 finds.

A Sixpack of Pure Fun From the Target Factory

This booth display stopped me in my tracks. Why? Shooting reactive targets is simply way more fun than shooting holes in paper. While there are plenty of “reactive” targets that are fine for outdoor ranges, I don’t know of many (any?) that are OK to use at indoor ranges.

NRA_Target_bottles-1-4

The NRA Target Bottles are made from a “plasticky” material that allows bullets to pass through, creating only a smaller-than-bullet-diameter hole. Unlike the outdoor target cubes, these are ultra lightweight. You can hang them from a Target Factory frame made of the same material, or, if you shoot at an indoor range, you can use the Target Factory adapter and hang some bottles from those motorized target hangers that zoom back and forth.

NRA_Target_bottles-1-5

These NRA Target Bottles have each been shot about 100 times with everything from .22 to .50 caliber.

You know these come in six packs, right? Spares are packaged just like your favorite long neck beer or glass bottle soda. They’ll handle most any caliber from .22LR to .50 and you can shoot each bottle hundreds of times before it’s destroyed beyond recognition.

 It’s one of those “why didn’t I think of that” ideas. Brilliant.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

 

The Sound of Silence: The American Suppressor Association

What's more fun than .300 AAC Blackout full automatic? suppressed? Not much.

What’s more fun than .300 AAC Blackout full automatic with a suppressor? Not much.

On Day -1 of the annual NRA Meeting, I had the opportunity to attend a media event sponsored by  the American Suppressor Association. If you’re not already familiar, the group is a consortium of companies in the sound suppression business that aim to reduce the noise level of gunfire everywhere.

This event was held at the Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area range – an absolutely fantastic outdoor facility complete with full-time range safety officers, baffles to prevent stray shots from escaping and a Pro Shop that was well stocked with… powder. If you’re a reloader, you know what I’m talking about. No one has powder these days! Except Atterbury.

SilencerCo Osprey (top) and SilencerCo / SWR Octane (bottom)

SilencerCo Osprey (top) and SilencerCo / SWR Octane (bottom)

The American Suppressor Association is a great example of companies working together to achieve a common goal. In this case it’s the growth and acceptance of silencers as a normal part of shooting. Who would think of buying a simple lawn mower without a muffler? It’s the same idea with silencers. Shooting suppressed guns is safe and polite to the neighbors. In their words…

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE COMMERCIAL SILENCER INDUSTRY’S 103 YEAR HISTORY, INDIVIDUAL MANUFACTURERS, DISTRIBUTORS, AND DEALERS ARE FORMALLY BANDING TOGETHER TO COLLECTIVELY ADVOCATE FOR THE SILENCER INDUSTRY.

Most states have some provision for citizens to legally acquire silencers for their firearms. At last count, it was 39 out of 50, although that number may increase any day thanks to the efforts of of American Silencer Association activists. Hunting with silencers is a different matter. Regulations are all over the map. These types of inconsistencies are exactly what the American silencer association is trying to fix. One example of a recent when is the passage of legislation in Georgia that allows hunting with silencers. Yay! Another win!

In attendance at today’s event were member companies SilencerCo, Advanced Armament Corporation, GemTech and Daniel Defense. All had a wide variety of products to test. Everything from .22 pistols to H&K full-auto 300 Blackout rifles.

Yeah, it was fun. And quiet.

New From The NRA Annual Meeting: Daniel Defense Offers Custom Finishes

Daniel Defense DDM4v9LW with new Tornado finish.

Daniel Defense DDM4v9LW with new Tornado finish.

I have a mental block. A lot of them actually. But one prevents me from doing anything to a brand new factory gun. The finish is perfect after all, as all the parts were done professionally at time of manufacture. It seems such a shame to mess with it. That would be like taking your new Dodge Charger to Maaco for a paint job, right?

While Cerakote provides amazing personalization options, I’ve only really considered doing it to well-used guns. Now Daniel Defense is expanding the selection of factory-applied Cerakote finishes with its Tornado shade of grey. It will be available through Daniel Defense retailers in July on two models, the DDM4v5 and the V9 LW.

The Cerakote finish is the second new color option Daniel Defense has launched this calendar year. Mil Spec +, a flat dark earth variation, was first unveiled at SHOT Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, in January. “When you look for a new car, you have substantially more color options than just black,” noted Jordan Hunter, Daniel Defense Director of Marketing. “Customers want choices other than the mil-spec Type III hard coat anodizing, or matte black, and the Daniel Defense Tornado™, we believe, will be well received by our customers.”

Book Signings and More at the NRA Annual Meetings

Galco Book Signing Event Insanely Practical Guides Tom McHaleI’m happy.

I think it’s because, thanks to the folks at Galco and Flashbang (two of my favorite holster makers and all around swell folks), I’ll have the opportunity to meet all sorts of NRA Annual Meeting attendees. I’ll be doing daily book signing events at both Galco and Flashbang booths and offering special deals for all four of our book titles:

The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters, 2nd Edition

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Insanely Practical Guide to Reloading

The Rookie’s Guide to the Springfield Armory XD-S

Although insanely chaotic, I LOVE the NRA Annual Meeting. You’ll see people from all walks of life mingling together like it’s no big deal. New products, seminars, gun giveaways, nice people – the Annual Meeting has it all.

We’ll be covering the event here and at our social media outlets. You can also keep up with Daily articles at Beretta USA. Early next week, we’ll do a “Best of NRA Annual Meeting” wrap up over at OutdoorHub.

If you’re gonna be at the NRA Annual Meeting, stop by one of the book signings and say  hello – I’d love to meet you in person!

Friday

Galco, Booth 5464 10-11am

Flashbang Holsters / Looper Brand, Booth 4401 3-4pm

Saturday

Galco, Booth 5464 10-11am

Flashbang Holsters / Looper Brand, Booth 4401 4-5pm

Sunday

Galco, Booth 5464 10-11am

Flashbang Holsters / Looper Brand, Booth 4401 2-3pm

Hope to see you there!

NRA’s Wayne LaPierre’s CPAC Speech Live Here Today

You can catch Wayne LaPierre‘s speech from CPAC live, right here,  at 2:15 Eastern Time!

Taking place in Washington, D.C. each year, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) educates, brings together and energizes thousands of attendees and all of the leading conservative organizations and speakers who impact conservative thought in the nation. From presidents of the U.S. to college students, this event has become the place to find our nation’s current and future leaders and to set the conservative agenda each year.

Top 10 Reasons SHOT Show Is Awesome

The range portion of SHOT Show is equally epic. What you see here is about 10% of Media Day at the Range.

The range portion of SHOT Show is equally epic. What you see here is about 10% of Media Day at the Range.

SHOT Show is an annual pilgrimage of fun, friends, work, pain, exhaustion, more work, more fun and certainly a lot more pain.

It’s infinite, seemingly boundless and more crowded than a buy one get one free bordello, but you still manage to frequently run into people you know among the 68,000 attendees.

I love it.

I got to thinking, which is always dangerous, about why it’s my favorite event of the year and came up with this list…

Where else but SHOT Show is a tactical raptor not even remotely out of place?

Where else but SHOT Show is a tactical raptor not even remotely out of place?

1. The people. There’s always a low-end, like the guy walking around with a t-shirt that said “Vagitarian.” Fortunately, the true class acts use most of the oxygen in the Sands Convention Center. Like this year’s Energizer Bunny, Pro Shooter Todd Jarrett. He was everywhere, all the time. Must be cloned… And this years Best Disposition Award goes to Team Smith & Wesson’s Julie Golob. I know she had an exhausting schedule, but you couldn’t catch her without a glowing smile. Theodoric of Nooge spottings are always a popular pastime and the rocker didn’t disappoint this year – he was all over, gun groupies in tow. Architect of the LaPierreCare Affordable Gun Act, NRA CEO and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre made time for some floor walking. But the very best part is catching up with industry friends – especially the ones you haven’t met yet.

2. Truth in reporting. It’s a refreshing break from the mainstream media. I looked and looked, but to no avail – Piers Morgan and Chris Matthews were nowhere to be found. Also, you’re too busy to turn on a TV, so you get a much-needed break from the state network propaganda political machine. Oh, and the press room? I did some quick math and estimated that the average reporter there owns more firearms than pairs of socks. My kind of company for sure.

3. Gun Control Debate. The only gun control debate was whether you can fit one or two fingers on the new Beretta Pico without the magazine extension.

4. New inventions! While new products from established companies are well publicized, SHOT Show is where you find the startups with a new idea. For example, this year, I ran across LabRadar. They offer a portable radar kit to track bullet velocity. Brilliant. Or perhaps Adaptive Tactical – makers of the Sidewinder Venom drum magazine kit for Mossberg pump shotguns. Can you say home defense innovation?

A low-rider mobile armory? Why not?

A low-rider mobile armory? Why not?

5. I spy. If you looked really, really carefully, you just might spot tiny stickers of flying, ummm, body parts, placed strategically by Top Shot’s Chris Cerino.

6. Dinner. Yes, there are lot’s of great dining opportunities in Vegas, but I’m talking about the NSSF State of the Industry Dinner. I started doing this a couple of years ago and now it’s a “must do” on our schedule. It’s a great opportunity to dine and schmooze with a couple thousand of your best friends. And the entertainment rocks. This year, it was the magic duo of Penn & Teller who pleased the crowd with a dose of humor and their always impressive magic bullets trick. They must know their audience!

7. Perspective. The announcement of a drum magazine for pump shotguns (Adaptive Tactical) was perceived as a good idea, not the end of all life on planet earth, as might be reported by MSNBC.

An honorable mention addition to the list might be the spontaneous happy hours that break out at many booths every afternoon, like this Crimson Trace 20th Anniversary celebration.

An honorable mention addition to the list might be the spontaneous happy hours that break out at many booths every afternoon, like this Crimson Trace 20th Anniversary celebration.

8. Wagyu beef. Wolfgang Puck had the foresight to open a Cut restaurant in the hallway between my hotel room and the show floor. Can you say steak butter? I don’t mean butter-flavored steak, I mean a steak with the consistency and flavor of warm butter. Thanks for lightening my wallet, Wolfgang. #SteakGasm

9. Contagion. It’s the most fun way there is to get the cold or flu. Picking up the same guns as 67,999 other people is a surefire way to do your own live rendition of the movie Outbreak.

10. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) crew. These folks kill it. Every year. Having done far too many trade shows from the vendor side, I know exactly what it takes to organize and pull off an event of this magnitude. Yet you’d be hard pressed to find an NSSF staffer not wearing a big grin and looking to help you find your way. Not only is SHOT Show the place for vendors and gun retailers to meet and do business for the coming year, it generates “profits” for the NSSF that are turned around into productive programs like Project ChildSafe. Gotta love it. Thank you NSSF!

P.S. – If you’d like to check out more photos of SHOT Show 2014, just check out our Facebook SHOT Show album. We’re also adding pictures to our Pinterest SHOT Show board.

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