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
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
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?
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.