A French View Of The SHOT Show

I stumbled across a report on the recent SHOT Show this evening in a rather interesting and unusual spot:  the official government website of France’s Ministère de la Défense. It doesn’t surprise me that the French military sent representatives to the SHOT Show. It does surprise me a bit that they’d report on it on their official website given that France is rather parochial about their military arms.

From the intro:


Le salon américain SHOT SHOW 2015, considéré comme la référence dans le domaine des armes de petit calibre, s’est déroulé au SANDS EXPO de Las Vegas. Cette édition a permis d’observer un grand nombre de nouveautés et toujours plus d’innovations. Outre la présence naturelle et obligatoire des plus grands fabricants américains (Remington, Colt Firearms, Ruger, KAC, Mossberg, Smith & Wesson, LMT, LWRC, Troy, Barrett, DSA…), le salon affirme son caractère international au travers de pays comme l’Allemagne, la Grande Bretagne, la Suisse, la Belgique, le Canada, la Turquie, l’Italie, la Pologne, la Bulgarie, la République Tchèque, la Russie, la Serbie, l’Afrique du Sud, les EAU ou encore les Philippines. Il faut noter cette année que la firme SIG SAUER a permis d’observer un grand nombre de matériels en démonstration dynamique.

Given I haven’t taken French since grammar school, I had to rely upon Google Translate to do the translation.

The American lounge SHOT SHOW 2015, considered the benchmark in the field of small arms, took place at SANDS EXPO Las Vegas. This edition has allowed to observe a large number of new and ever more innovation. Besides the natural and obligatory presence of the largest US manufacturers (Remington, Colt Firearms, Ruger, KAC, Mossberg, Smith & Wesson, LMT, LWRC, Troy, Barrett, DSA …), the show confirms its international character through countries such as Germany, Britain, Switzerland, Belgium, Canada, Turkey, Italy, Poland, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, UAE or the Philippines. It should be noted this year that the firm SIG SAUER allowed to observe a large number of hardware dynamic demonstration.

Scrolling through the article and looking at the pictures it is interesting to see what caught their reporter’s eye. I’m not surprised to see the Sig MCX SBR, the FNS 9 Compact, or the HK VP9 covered. I’m not even surprised to see the less than lethal munitions covered or interest in the .300 Blackout cartridge.

What did surprise me were pictures of the Serbu Shorty 12 ga. shotgun and the Coonan 1911 Compact in .357 Magnum. I guess they were considered just odd enough to catch the eye of the French. I shouldn’t forget that the French Army is equipped with the FAMAS as their main rifle.

Not The Blog Post I Intended Before SHOT Show

It was a comment by Grant Cunningham on The Gun Nation podcast that originally inspired me to think about this post. At a previous SHOT Show, he had asked trainer Gila Hayes if she wanted to check out the “Silicone and Aluminum” section. He was referring, of course, to the abundance of booth babes aka gun bunnies in the tactical section.

I had planned to do a post that juxtaposed booth babes with what I considered to be the young, accomplished women of shooting. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t object to pretty women in skimpy and revealing clothing. Far from it. However, everything has a time and a place.

I am not a prude but a realist. With the influx of all the new women shooters of all ages I thought companies that resorted to booth babes or gun bunnies to hawk their products were out of touch with the new reality. Women don’t mind seeing an attractive woman representing a company. From my conversations with many women at the SHOT Show and elsewhere, they do however object to the skimpily clad booth babe who doesn’t know the product and whose attire might have been more appropriate to that other event in Las Vegas the week of SHOT. It turns them off.

With this as the backdrop, I made it a point of trying to get pictures of what I considered accomplished women shooters at the SHOT Show. For example, there is Maggie Reese of Team Colt. She has won multiple 3-Gun events as well as USPSA events. I don’t think anyone would deny she is young and attractive.

Maggie Reese of Team Colt

I ran into Annette Wachter, the .30 Cal Gal, at the Devil Dog Arms booth. She is a member of the US Rifle Team, holds multiple national records, has won at Camp Perry, and was a fierce advocate against I-594 in Washington State.

Annette Wachter – 30CalGal
Then there is Julie Golob. Captain of Team Smith & Wesson, US Army Marksmanship Unit, multiple IDPA and USPSA National Championships, first person and only woman to win National Championships in all six USPSA divisions, and the list goes on. Plus being a mom, hunter, and great cook. And that is just the beginning when talking about Julie.
Julie Golob – Captain of Team Smith and Wesson

Finally, I ran into Kim Rhode at the Beretta booth. I was there for a presentation for bloggers when I turned to my left and there was Kim. As for Kim, she is the only American, male or female, to have won a medal in an individual event in five consecutive Olympic games. She has three Gold, one Silver, and one Bronze medal plus she is tied for the Olympic record in skeet with 99 out of 100. This doesn’t count her many wins in other international competitions.

Kim Rhode – Olympic Medalist in 5 Olympic Games

My only experience with attending a SHOT Show before this year had been at the 1996 SHOT Show in Dallas. I had been working part-time for a knife company and was given an opportunity to work the booth. The owner of the company used his then-girlfriend as the booth babe. Let’s just say she was blonde and enhanced and wearing clothing to show off her assets. Her job was to sit on a stool and look pretty. She didn’t know a thing about knives. However, she must have been legendary because when I mentioned to Michael Janich this year what company I worked for, he said, “Ah, Miss Paragon”.

As I said in the beginning, I wanted to contrast women like Maggie, Annette, Julie, and Kim with the booth babes or gun bunnies. My only problem is that I honestly didn’t see any. I’m sure that there may have been a few. They may have been at booths that I missed. Alternatively, I just wasn’t at their booth at the right time. If I had seen them, I would have taken their pictures just like I took the pictures of the women above. Julie Golob told me in an email that she didn’t run into any which was a big contrast from her first few SHOT Shows.

If my experience (and that of Julie) mirrors the reality of this year’s SHOT Show, then it shows a growing maturity by the industry’s marketers. That and a realization that women are an important and growing component of the gun buying public.

US Made Kalashnikovs

RWC Group is the exclusive importer of Izhmash-made Kalashnikov rifles and carbines. After President Obama imposed economic sanctions on the arms sector of the Russian economy including Concern Kalashnikov, they were between a rock and a hard place. The sanctions meant no more Saiga rifles or shotguns and no more 922(r) compliant AKs could be imported.

Fast forward to this year’s SHOT Show. They announced the formation of Kalashnikov USA would begin production of AK-47s in the United States. According to their press release, the US manufactured products will be available during the second quarter of 2015.

From MarketWatch:

RWC Group, the licensed importer for the Kalashnikov company, revealed at the popular Las Vegas gun exposition known as SHOT Show this week that it would form a new company known as Kalashnikov USA to manufacture the weapon. The company is currently negotiating with three U.S. states to locate a production plant, with the rifles possibly rolling off the lines as early as the second quarter of this year, Jim Kelly, the new production manager of Kalashnikov USA, told the website OutdoorHub.com.

 According to an update in the story by Matt Korovesis at OutdoorHub.com, Concern Kalashnikov will not be working directly with either RWC Group or Kalashnikov USA on the new US made rifles and carbine.

The YouTube channel of the AK Operators Union, Local 47-74, had an interview with Rob Young of Kalashnikov USA at the SHOT Show which they published on Wednesday.

One Way To Objectively Assess Popularity Of New Products

I will admit that I didn’t get to the SHOT Show New Product Center. I did go to their Showcase but that was much different. Nonetheless, the New Product Center was fairly crowded when I went past it. The NSSF was able to track which products in the New Product Center generated the most interest. They might not have been my choices but it appears that they were the most popular with those who participated.

Quality Cartridge – A SHOT Show Find

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it many times. The small out-of-the-way booths at SHOT Show are where you find the really cool stuff. So it was as my brother-in-law Larry and I were walking around the first floor of the SHOT Show. We came across this small booth that was displaying a number of old or unusual cartridges. As you can see from the photo below it was not a very fancy booth with custom-made display featuring lots of graphics (and it is not a professional photo!).

However, what Quality Cartridge lacked in graphics they made up for with the breadth and depth of the brass they make. In my conversation with Pete Cardona I found that they make brass for darn near any rare, unusual, obsolete, or wildcat cartridge that you can think of. Have grandpa’s old Remington Model 8 in .30 Remington but can’t find brass for it? Or you have a pistol in 10mm Centaur? Now you can get the brass you need and at a reasonable, if not cheap, price.

Quality Cartridge is located in Hollywood, Maryland and sells their brass through their website as well as through Midway USA and Graf and Sons. They have both rifle and handgun brass but do not offer loaded cartridges. However, they do have a list of custom reloaders who can meet your needs.

You can email them here. Or contact them at:

Quality Cartridge

301-373-3719 ph/fax

PO Box 445
Hollywood, MD 20636

SHOT Show – Zenith Firearms

I happened to stop by Zenith Firearms late on Friday afternoon. They are an importer of Turkish-made firearms. A couple of things caught my eye. First was a G-3 clone that will take the H&K G-3/Cetme magazines. I’d say it is aimed directly at the PTR-91 clones. The second was a very MP5-ish pistol in 9mm. It looked very nice.

The Turks are definitely working hard to make inroads into the US market. Savage is importing a couple of very nice over/under shotguns under their Stevens brand. The wood on those was beautiful Turkish walnut and the price was even better – in the $600 range.

Below is an interview with Zenith Firearms done by the NSSF. I got a chance to talk with Andy Eckert and he was a nice guy.

SHOT Show Attendance Was Second-Highest Ever

According to a release from the NSSF, this year’s SHOT Show had the second-highest attendance ever.

Long a bellwether for the industry’s prospects, the SHOT Show brings together buyers and sellers from the United States and more than 100 countries. Total attendance for the 2015 SHOT Show was nearly 64,000, second only to last year’s record-setting event, where nearly 67,000 came through the turnstiles. Lower attendance reflected strengthened pre-screening of attendees to enhance the overall experience of both exhibitors and buyers.

“We know from long experience that attendance at the SHOT Show is a reflection of the state of our industry,” said Chris Dolnack, NSSF Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “This second highest attendance is in keeping with what we saw in the past year — that our industry is in good health and that manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers have a positive outlook for this year.”

I’d certainly believe it. The main hallways were always crowded and the flow of the crowd at the end of the day towards the Venetian Hotel was like a river.

The show brings big money to Las Vegas.

The SHOT Show, the fifth largest trade show in Las Vegas, pumps nearly $90 million in non-gaming revenue into the Las Vegas economy.

Those in Nevada who would push the universal background check initiative such as Wynn Resorts co-founder Elaine Wynn should keep this in mind. The firearms industry does have other options besides Las Vegas to hold the SHOT Show. While it is a popular destination for many in the industry, there are other places. I think the NSSF should start making it clear that a vote for universal background checks will come with consequences.

The SHOT Show is about business. On my flight home I sat across from Don Keadle of J.E.K. Wholesale. His company develops 37mm and 40mm grenade, less than lethal, and tear gas launchers. This was the first show they attended and it was very worthwhile. Don said the guys in the shop were going to hate him because they would be working seven days a week. He had received enough orders by the end of the first day to have made the trip profitable. Others I spoke with such as a dealer from Lubbock, Texas said he had placed a number of orders at the show. All in all I take this as good for the industry and good for the US economy.

SHOT Show Swag

I picked up a bit of swag at the SHOT Show. The swag ranges from T-shirts to pins to patches to caps. I probably didn’t get as much swag as if the Complementary Spouse had been with me at SHOT. She is the expert on getting pins and patches.

The joy of swag isn’t that you got something. It is the memories that come with it. For example, I ran into a couple of guys from Memphis on Media Day – Tactical Photographer and Everyday Civilian – and they each gave me a patch. I had been following them both on Instagram so that was very cool.




SHOT Show: You Had Questions; I Have Answers

Before I went to the SHOT Show this past week, I asked readers if they had questions that they wanted answered or products for me to check out. With one exception, I was able to check out all the companies and products. Unfortunately, Ross & Zheng Engineering was not one of the SHOT Show exhibitors do I couldn’t check out their Unimag.

Ronald W. asked about whether Robinson Armament was planning to release their XCR-L in 6.5 Grendel. Currently it is only available in .223, 5.45×39, 6.8 SPC, and 7.62×39. Representatives of the company said they have done chamber drawings of 6.5 Grendel and have the reamers on hand to do the barrel. They did say they haven’t had a great demand for this caliber so it might be a while before they release it.

Danno asked me to check out the Chiappa X-Caliber and give my opinion of it. When I stopped by their booth, I spoke with Giada Chiappa, the granddaughter of the founder, about the combo gun. She said they were aiming for the prepper market with their conversion tubes. The intent is to be able to fire just about any ammo you can find. You can see the X-Caliber with the eight barrel conversion tubes. The gun itself is chambered in 12 gauge and .22 LR.

The trigger guard is the lever used to break open the gun. While the official weight is 5.8 lbs, it feels heavier. The triggers seemed OK but the stock was a bit short for me and I’m not a tall person. I don’t know the MSRP for the X-Caliber but I found one on GunBroker.com for $750. It is an interesting concept but I think something like a Ruger 10/22 Take Down might be more useful at a much lower price.

Mark C. asked whether Winchester Repeating Arms had any intention of releasing the Model 70 with iron sights like they did in earlier years. The answer is no. The only Model 70s that will come with iron sights are the Alaskan and Safari versions.

Anon. wondered when or if Rhino Arms planned to release their AR-10 in 12 gauge. They had a pre-production model of the AR-10 12 gauge in their booth. A spokesman for Rhino said it probably would not be released before 2016. They are in the process of sourcing the magazines for the shotgun. What caught my eye at their booth was their PDW and their shotgun shell holders for 3-gun competition. You can see a picture from their Facebook page of the PDW below.

Anon. asked about the Sig P320. He wanted to know if it would be available in .45 ACP and 10mm. He also wanted to know if subcompact versions were being released. The Sig P320 is available in both full-size and compact versions now in 9mm, .357 Sig, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP. There are no plans to offer it in 10mm. Their representative said that is going to be limited to the P220. Subcompact versions are in the works. The Sig P320 is a lot like the P250 in that the chassis is the serialized item. Grips, barrels, and slides can all be exchanged on the one gun.

Finally, a bit of gossip about Glock. While they released a number of new models that were optics ready, they still haven’t released a single stack 9mm. Some people wondered if they were going to do a surprise reveal on Thursday. They didn’t but it would have been a great marketing ploy. Now for the gossip. According to one of their booth representatives, the single stack 9mm is in the works and probably will be released at the NRA Annual Meeting in April. I’m sure they will sell all they can produce.

UPDATE: One thing I forgot to add. Someone asked me and I forget who about Magpul magazines for the Ruger Mini-14. The answer is no. They don’t have any plans to develop a magazine for the Mini-14 at this time. My guess is that they will never have a Mini-14 magazine just because it isn’t popular enough.

SHOT Show Day One – First Impressions

Day One of SHOT Show is over and Day Two is about to begin.

It was different than what I expected but certainly not disappointing.  I think I expected the exhibition area to be like the NRA Annual Meeting but on steroids. It wasn’t. Unlike a show in a large arena type setting, the Sands Convention Center has almost a cozy feel to it. It wasn’t held in two gigantic  rooms but in a series of smaller (but still large) rooms separated by hallways.

The highlight of the day was not a new product. It was a documentary put together by the Outdoor Channel called “Safe Havens”. Produced by Tim Cremins and hosted by journalist Katie Pavlich, it explored the fallacy of gun-free zones. It captured both the emotions and facts behind the so-called gun free zones and their failures. Experts such as Massad Ayoob and Prof. Eric Deitz of Perdue University were featured as were victims such as Amanda Collins who was raped on campus.

The film will be shown on the Outdoor Channel without commercial sponsors. Jim Libratore, president of the Outdoor Channel, said he didn’t want anything to be used to muddy the message. For more impressions of the film, listen to our discussion of it on the Polite Society Podcast which we recorded yesterday soon after viewing it.

I didn’t devote a lot of time to checking out all the new products. I did see the new optic from Leupold called the D-evo and it looks intriguing. I will also be getting a Ergo Grip’s Delta Grip for the Ruger LCR for review. I’m looking forward to tha.

I am still working on the list of items that you submitted. For reader Ronald, I do have an answer from Robinson Armament regarding the 6.5 Grendel. They have done chamber drawings and gotten the reamer for that caliber in their XCR. They did say that they haven’t had too much demand for that caliber.