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.

The New, Interesting and Odd of SHOT Show 2014

Believe it or not, this functional 1911 is made entirely, and I mean entirely, from wood.

Believe it or not, this functional 1911 is made entirely, and I mean entirely, from wood.

My first plan of action for my annual pilgrimage to SHOT Show is to attack Level One with the enthusiasm of a Dalmatian puppy on Red Bull. I’m not talking about a video game, I’m talking about the basement level of the SHOT Show Exhibits. Of the thirty two ump-tillion and seven square feet of exhibits, the main room downstairs is where the action’s at. New vendors tend to show up there first as established vendors have a perpetual lease on prime upstairs hall space. Before the show, I generally know whether Smith & Wesson, Springfield Armory or others will launch a new gun and I have all week to see those things. What I don’t know is what fledgling startup finally cleared the waiting list, packed up their gear and claimed space literally hours before the show.

With that goal in mind, let’s take a look at some of the more interesting finds at SHOT Show 2014…

Wicked Grips and the miracle 1911

Yep. All that works. Slide, safety and trigger.

Yep. All that works. Slide, safety and trigger.

What if I told you that a frighteningly talented guy who works with Wicked Grips, manufacturers of exceptionally innovative and cool designer grips and accessories for handguns and rifles, made a functional 1911 entirely out of wood? No, it won’t fire a projectile, as wood makes a lousy propellant, but everything works. Slide, hammer, trigger, and magazine release. Stop and think about this for a minute. When I say everything is wood, I mean everything. Frame, slide, barrel, hammer, trigger, sear, and most surprisingly screws, pins and springs. Yes, screws and springs. Handling this Brazilian Rosewood, Walnut and Curly Maple masterpiece, I was speechless – and that’s a rare situation for me. Apparently, the craftsman has made a handful of these, but the others weren’t “perfect enough” to display. Wow. Stunning.

World’s coolest knife sharpener

The stones mounted on ball joint guides ensure a perfect edge every time.

The stones mounted on ball joint guides ensure a perfect edge every time.

Since we’re on a “wicked” kick here, let’s talk for a minute about Wicked Edge. Walking down an aisle on Level One, I saw a couple of folks furiously working a contraption that looked like a cross between a miniature exercise machine and some sort of futuristic fire starter.

Turns out it was a knife sharpening system. You mount your knife blade up in a center vise. Sharpening stones are then slipped over two steel rods mounted on ball joints. This allow you to rapidly work the stones over the entire blade while maintaining the desired blade angle. Start with rough 100 grit stone attachments and work your way to 1000 grit to finish. They did a wonderful job sharpening my Blackhawk! MOD SFK folder as a demonstration. I could shave with it in a pinch.

End of the shooting chronograph?

Plunk this on your shooting table, point it down range and you're good to go.

Plunk this on your shooting table, point it down range and you’re good to go.

I almost walked right by the LabRadar booth because you have to move – fast – if you have any hope of covering the whole show in only 4 days. If I had immediately grasped what was displayed, I would have made this booth my first stop.

You might be familiar with shooting chronographs. They are devices that optically track the passage of a bullet over two or more sensors and calculates the velocity. They’re notoriously finicky due to varying light conditions, indoor or outdoor use, muzzle blast effects and even the material (lead, copper, etc) of the projectile itself. They’re also notoriously short-lived as you have to place them down range and shoot very close to the sensors. Yep, they get shot. Frequently. And fancy electronics don’t tend to withstand hunks of lead flying at Mach 2.

LabRadar invented a radar-based system. Not only does it track the exact velocity of your bullet, it tracks it all the way down range, out to 100 yards or so. You can literally see muzzle velocity and 10, 50 and even 100 yards. The best part? You set this on the shooting bench, behind your muzzle. You won’t shoot it and you don’t have to worry about setting up and retrieving equipment down range. It will be available in April for less than $500. I want one. Bad.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

Flexible Design Improvements From Blade-Tech: The New Ambi Eclipse Holster

Blade Tech Ambi Eclipse 2

This Blade-Tech Ambi Eclipse is shown with an inside the waistband clip on one side and an outside the waistband on the other just for illustration.

New for 2014 is a major improvement to Blade-Tech’s popular Eclipse pancake style holster. The previous design was molded specific to right to left hand use with a curve in the pancake to fit around the body. The new model features an ambidextrous holster pouch. Instead of molding the holster pocket itself to fit the curve, it’s identical on both sides of the gun pocket and features a straight vertical cant angle.

To achieve a curved fit to the body, the clip mounts are shaped with a curve. Swap or flip them to get a curve appropriate to right or left side mount.

The holster comes with two sets of clips – one for outside the waistband mount and the other for inside the waistband. The IWB clips are now molded from really, really, really sturdy kydex. This accomplishes two things. First, it won’t scratch up your nice belt as will metal clips. Second, the kydex does not lose its spring over time.

The new design simplifies things for the retail buyer, as you just pick out the model appropriate to your gun, without working about IWB, OWB or which side you’ll carry it on. For dealers, it’s a really big deal. They can now stock one SKU rather than four which should allow them to stock more variety.

Blade Tech Ambi Eclipse 1

The clips themselves are contoured to provide the body wrap for a variety of her bangles and flipping them upside down makes it work for right or left-handed users

New “Bolo” Connected Projectiles From Advanced Ballistic Concepts

The new Advanced Ballistic Concepts 12 gauge load

The new Advanced Ballistic Concepts 12 gauge load

On the more radical news front, I was able to see the new connected projectiles cartridge from Advanced Ballistic Concepts. Think of these as bullet bolos. You know, those primitive weapons where you connect three rocks or other heavy objects with string. As you spin and throw the bolo, the rocks on the end spread out to help ensure a hit on target. With real bolos, there is also the ensnarement factor as the whole mess wraps around whatever it hits.

Like a bolo, these projectiles leave the barrel as three distinct projectiles. BUT, they’re attached to each other with thin cord strong enough to hold the projectiles in a 24 inch pattern. With a rifled shotgun barrel, the whole bolo-contraption actually spins as it flies.

The intended use is interior home defense as effective range is dramatically reduced by wind resistance of the corded projectiles. The manufacturer claims this is a design feature to limit over-penetration risk in home defense scenarios.

One of the key selling points, as stated by the manufacturer, is the ability to hit your target with less than perfect shots. The other benefit claimed by Advanced Ballistic Concepts is multiple hits per shot. The center .45 caliber slug hits center to point of aim while one or more bolo “stones” hit elsewhere.

Before separating into a flying windmill of doom, the 12 gauge projectiles look like this.

Before separating into a flying windmill of doom, the 12 gauge projectiles look like this.

The company indicates penetration in the 5 inch territory when fired into ballistic gel. What’s less clear is performance after passing through heavy clothing. We’ll need to test that out more thoroughly to see what really happens when this load hits things.

Whatever the outcome, I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of one of these. That would be messy for sure.

We’ll get it into our testing schedule and see what happens.

New Delta Revolver Grips From Ergo

Ergo Delta Grip

The new Ergo Delta revolver grip

The right grips don’t only improve comfort – they can make you a better shooter.

Ergo has developed a new revolver grip replacement – the Delta – and it provides a whole new feel for revolver shooters.

It’s somewhat, umm, interesting looking. Kind of like a large upside down triangle – hence the name Delta.

It’s a one piece rubber-ish assembly to help reduce felt recoil. More importantly, , it’s size and shape really fill your hand. Remember those revolver front strap finger extensions? It’s a little like that, but it does more. The Delta also angles your hand somewhat forward. For me, it totally changes the way a revolver points. In my case, I tend to naturally point a revolver high. With the Ergo Delta, I could raise the gun with my eyes closed and find I was right on target.

Interesting stuff for a snobby revolver. It’s scheduled to ship in March.

Talking Guns With Kate Krueger!

Here I am with my good buddy and famous radio host Kate Kreuger!

Here I am with my good buddy and famous radio host Kate Kreuger!

One of the great things about SHOT Show is catching up with Shooting Industry friends. I met Kate Krueger, host of the Talking Guns radio show last summer, in the middle of the night, way-out in the Oregon desert. It’s not as shady and sneaky as it sounds. We were both at the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational.

Kate was kind enough to schedule an interview for her show this coming Sunday at 12 – 2pm Pacific time. We had a great time talking about SHOT Show and my books for new(er) shooters. She had a full schedule of interesting interviews lined up, so don’t miss it!

Check out the show! You can listen live on KFNX 1100 or on the internet. Kate archives her shows, so you can always check it out here.

New Single Action Revolvers From Traditions

The brand spanking new Traditions .357 Magnum single action revolver.

The brand spanking new Traditions .357 Magnum single action revolver.

Here’s a SHOT Show announcement that caught me by surprise.

Traditions Firearms, normally known for black powder rifles and pistols, is releasing single action revolvers. Initially offered in .357 Magnum / .38 Special and .45 Long Colt, they’ll be available at retailers soon.

How Do You Become A Better Shooter? Practice, Practice, Practice

The Next Level Training S.I.R.T. Smith & Wesson M&P Training Pistol

The Next Level Training S.I.R.T. Smith & Wesson M&P Training Pistol

As you may know, we’re big fans of the S.I.R.T. Practice Pistol from Next Level Training.

A couple of years ago, Britt Lenz and Mike Hughes (you may remember Mike from History Channel’s Top Shot) came up with a cool invention – a perfectly safe practice pistol. Because the way to become a safer and better shooter is through repetition and mastery of the trigger press.

Now, NEXT Level Training has developed a practice model based on the Smith & Wesson M&P pistol. And it’s spot on in terms of feel and general dimensions. At least it’s dimensionally close enough to work in every holster tried so far.

The pistol features two lasers – red and green. The green laser always indicated the point of impact when the trigger is pressed. The red laser is for training use, based on the operating mode selected.

The new Smith & Wesson M&P has four modes of operation set by a rotating lever on the left side:

  1. The first mode simply fires a green laser dot shot indicator light where the bullet would have impacted.
  2. The second mode detects the slightest touch on the trigger and turns on a red laser dot to show that the trigger has been touched. When the trigger is pressed fully, a green laser indicated point of impact. Hold this thought for a minute…
  3. The third mode  sets off a red laser dot when the trigger is pressed just to the point of breaking the sear. The green laser indicates point of impact.
  4. The fourth mode disables all lasers if you want to practice open sight dry fire with no indicators.

Here’s the key part. The red trigger indicator laser is aimed well below point of impact, so it’s hidden from the shooter’s view by the slide and muzzle. It’s intended for instructor or training partner use.  So if the student is showing poor trigger discipline, the instructor or training partner will see it, but the shooter probably won’t as the red laser dot is out of view.

Neat and SAFE ideas. This should be shipping in the March / April 2014 time frame.

Most Elegant Award, SHOT Show: Cabot Guns

Classy and absolutely gorgeous. These displayed on rotating pedestals…



The LabRadar Radar Chronograph

The Labradar Chronograph

The Labradar Chronograph

Are optical chronographs dead?

One of the mind-blowing new products seen today at SHOT Show 2014 was the LabRadar Chronograph. This unit uses radar, not optics, to measure the speed of a bullet leaving the barrel. Not only that, it continues to measure velocity as the bullet travels down range – out to about 100 yards. So you’ll know muzzle velocity, velocity 25 yards down range, 50 yards and 100 yards.

The best part is that it doesn’t care about light conditions or the “shininess” of your bullet. You’ll get accurate readings no matter what. As I recall, the unit pulses 4,000 times per second to track velocity.

And you don’t have to worry about shooting it. Just set the LabRadar on the shooting bench BEHIND your muzzle and aim it at your target down range. Upon sound of the shot, the LabRadar starts to track your projectile as it flies. It knows when and where yours will be traveling, so you don’t need to worry about the person in the lane next to you.

Did I mention it’s bluetooth enabled? So bring an iPad and watch the results get recorded on your tablet. Neat-o.

It will be generally available in the April / May timeframe for a price somewhere around $500.

Wow. Love this.

Note the downrange velocities shown.

Note the downrange velocities shown.

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