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.

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.

Most Elegant Award, SHOT Show: Cabot Guns

Classy and absolutely gorgeous. These displayed on rotating pedestals…

20140115-071343.jpg

20140115-071355.jpg

Fun Gun Of The Day: Walther PPQ .22LR With Threaded Barrel

Want a sweet shooting .22 that’s silencer ready?

Look at this.

20140113-131021.jpg

New From Springfield Armory – 9mm Range Officer 1911

This is a sweet shooting gun. 9+1 rounds of 9mm ammunition. Large enough to shoot easily under control and good capacity for a single stack design.

Swap the adjustable rear sight and you have a great carry gun.

20140113-130146.jpg

New Self Defense Ammunition From Winchester – Train and Defend

Winchester Train and Defend is a no-brainer for new and experienced shooters alike.

Winchester Train and Defend is a no-brainer for new and experienced shooters alike.

So one of the neatest things at SHOT Show Media Day at the range was not even a gun! What???

High on my to-do list for the day was to actually shoot the new Winchester Ammunition Train & Defend ammunition. The idea is simple. Create matching loads where the bullet weight and recoil are virtually the same. Practice with the less expensive full metal jacket stuff, then load your gun with the hollow point version when carrying or using your gun for home defense.

Look similar? These two .38 Special Train and Defend loads should!

Look similar? These two .38 Special Train and Defend loads should!

The neatest thing about this ammo is that it’s designed to be low recoil for controllability. The hollow point projectile is designed to penetrate and expand at lower velocity, so it still works.

Dr. Rob Pincus extracts some .38 Special rounds from the gelatinous pig juice.

Dr. Rob Pincus extracts some .38 Special rounds from the gelatinous pig juice.

Unlike most ammo tests in front of large audiences, Rob Pincus and the Winchester Ammunition folks did it right. They used 4 layers of clothing per FBI testing protocol. It makes a big difference. Any bullet will expand in pure gelatin, but adding the clothing layers helps separate the men from the boys. As you can see by the photos, penetration was excellent and expansion perfect.

Gooey mushroomed bullets.

Gooey mushroomed bullets.

I’m thinking this will be excellent ammunition for short barrel guns where velocity is a bit lower than standard. I’m anxious to try this out. More to follow.

New Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 Air Rifle

20140113-125635.jpg

I had the opportunity to try Crosman’s newest air rifle at SHOT Show Media Day at the Range. It’s a break open, .22 caliber rifle so more speed yet an easier cocking mechanism.

The new piston system provides 15% more velocity and 35% more power, but with 10 pounds less force required for cocking.

Shooting it? Since energy is stored with a gas system and not a spring, it shoots like a dream. No sproinggggg!

Stay tuned, we’re working on a head to head test of this rifle against a .22 Long Rifle rimfire. Given the advances in air rifle power and velocity, the results should be interesting. I already know one benefit: you can shoot it in most any back yard.

Black Friday Sale – No Camping Out Required

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun EditionWe were going to have an in-person Black Friday (and today and Saturday) sale event, but the thought of all those people camping out for days outside the office was kind of weird. We decided to be Insanely Practical about the whole thing instead.

Today, tomorrow and Saturday, our newest book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition, is not 10, 20, or even 40, but 60% off!

That’s right, the Kindle version is just $3.99 for these three days only.

Recently featured in American Handgunner magazine, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting is the perfect resource to help you, or a friend, develop safety, confidence and skill with handgun shooting. Filled with tips, ideas, products, lots of photos and even a few cartoons, this book will get you up to speed in no time.

American Handgunner Magazine - Insider column feature

What our readers have to say

“Tom does a great job, in a comedic fashion, of explaining firearms and shooting in general.”
Hank H.

“This is a fun yet serious read. Great for anyone new to guns as well as those with some experience.”
Richard H.

“This a great tongue-in-cheek look at sometimes serious problems in becoming a gun owner. Everyone from rookie to veteran gun owners should read this.”
SixFourCop

Pick up a copy of The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting today! Whether you’re an experienced handgunner, or just starting out, there are plenty of helpful tips, photos, ideas and more that will help you become a better shooter. And it’s all delivered with a dose of fun.

Legal Disclosures about articles on My Gun Culture