We just returned from the 2015 National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers trade show in the dirty delightful and rank refreshing city of New Orleans. This is the event where gun and gear manufacturers show and pitch their very newest product lines to buyers from wholesale companies. I like to think of NASGW as a preview to the annual SHOT Show held every January.
We scoured the floors and hidden cabinets in every booth to find some of the newest guns and gear. Here’s a look at some of what’s coming soon to a gun store near you.
The folks at XS Sights, makers of the Big Dot sight, have figured out that they’re exceptionally skilled at precision machining. As a result, their new business strategy is to seek out gaps in the market where they can solve problems with products that require precise manufacturing techniques to build. They are not in any way, shape or form drifting away from the gun sight business, they’re just growing and expanding into new areas.
Available for pre-order now at Brownells is the new AR upper receiver armorer’s block. This is a universal vise block that allows you to work on most AR-pattern rifles including AR-15, AR-10, SR25, and DMPS GII. Here’s the cool thing. Most blocks are custom to one receiver type and don’t allow use while an optic is mounted on the upper receiver. This one uses takedown pin connections to avoid the optics problem. It’s made in the USA from aluminum and priced at $75 from Brownells.
You may know Eagle Imports as the US distributor for Bersa pistols. For 2016, they’ve got some new Bersa models but have also resurrected the Spanish Llama brand that disappeared from the scene back in 2005. There’s a new full-size Government 1911 that is now a true mil-spec model 70 series. The show stopper was the Llama Micro Max 380. It’s a scaled down 1911 with 7+1 capacity. It’s small and portable, yet offers all the features of a “big” 1911 including ambidextrous safeties. Suggested retail is $465, but you should be able to find them for about $400, give or take.
Most Bersa guns we’ve seen are compact .380 ACP and 9mm carry guns. New for 2016 is a full-size competition gun, the Thunder 9 Pro XT. This 17+1 round double-action / single-action gun features a frame-mounted safety, fiber optic front sight, adjustable rear sight, skeletonized hammer and more. The Bersa team has been shooting it for about a year, not it’s available to the public. You should be able to get one within a week or two of reading this.
On the traditional Bersa front, there’s a new Thunder Combat Plus, which is a double-stack model holding 15+1 rounds of .380 ACP. It’s still compact like the original Thunder models and also brings a couple of carry tweaks like lower slide and rounded muzzle for easier re-holstering.
Meprolight R4E Handgun Sights
The R4E is designed for fast sight acquisition without the need to sacrifice precision. A large front tritium dot sits on top of a vertical bar on the front sight. For the rear, the notch is surrounded by tritium bars at the three, six and nine o’clock positions. These lines guide your eye to the notch where the large front dot jumps into view.
If you look at the rear sight notch, you’ll notice that it’s not a simple “U” cut. The lower part of the cut goes out towards the edges with triangular-shaped cutouts. The idea is that your eye can see more of the target while you’re aligning the sights. The cutouts are small, but when positioned that close to your eye, they make an amazing difference in the field of view.
For precision sight alignment, you can use the vertical bar on the rear sight and the vertical bar under the front dot to get a perfect lateral hold. See the pictures here and it will make sense.
The sights are available in different combinations of green and orange tritium so you can mix and match colors of the front and rear insert to taste. One more thing – the rear sight has a reverse bevel so you can use that to rack the slide one-handed on a belt or edged surface.
The Nuge is back in the ammo business. You might recall seeing a line of Uncle Ted’s ammunition for sale some years back. At that time, he partnered with a new ammo company for production, but the venture didn’t survive. Now, The Nuge has partnered with the Godfather of Boom, Mike McNett of Doubletap ammunition to it right. New lines for personal defense and hunting, appropriately named American Defender and American Hunter, aim to provide high-performance ammo for both applications. You’ll initially see 13 basic rifle and handgun calibers and more will be added as the line grows. One example of the type of boom! ammo we’re talking about is the .44 Magnum load. It’s an 180-grain Sierra bullet cooking along at 1,700 feet per second. It’s specifically designed for whitetail hunting, but obviously can be used for other purposes. You can find more details at www.tednugent-ammo.com.