Here’s the run down. Everything happened fast and it’s hard to keep track of just what happened when it happened. I have a lot of pictures that I threw onto my Facebook page, but I’m going to put up a quick Vid on YouTube that shows all of them in a montage. But let me give you a narrative right now:
I drove out Sunday morning. The trip from Vernal to Vegas is a long drive, but it isn’t that bad at all. I left about 10AM and got to my hotel about 6PM. I was set up in the Stratosphere, which was nice but the hotel nickels and dimes you on every little freaking thing so much so that it was a turn off. “Resort Fees” that don’t cover anything, that was annoying. I’d rather have paid a little more and felt like a “Guest”, know what I mean? But the room was great and the hotel staff didn’t steal any of my stuff.
The next morning I went to the Media Range Day. This was one hell of an event. Let me tell you, if you have a Press Pass and you don’t go to the Media Range Day – you might as well not go to SHOT. Because picking up a gun and looking at it is very different than being at the range with the gun with ammo and being able to actually shoot the thing and get some real hands on. It opened my eyes on a great many things.
The new magazines from Surefire, for example. The quad stacking mags hold 60 or 100 rounds. I suspected a lot of problems with them. I found none. They are not that heavy at all. In fact, I think it makes an AR type gun balance quite well. The increased weight helps hold the rifle straight and the weight helps soften the recoil. Combine that with good handling techniques and your going to be making a lot more hits, faster and more accurately. What’s not to like about that? The impressive thing is how easy it is to load. The springs don’t stack to make the last rounds impossibly hard to load like some mags do. I was unimpressed with the Marine’s move to replace the M249 SAW with the HK IAR. It made little sense to me. Now, with these magazines, all the sudden the IAR makes a lot of sense.
I shot Para USA’s new rifle. It does quite well, but other than the folding stock which their recoil system allows, it doesn’t really do anything special. It shoots as well as an AR type gun should. Para’s Wild Bunch gun was a pleasure to shoot. I liked the simplicity of a more basic 1911 and I’m happy to see these types come back into popularity. The Wild Bunch gun looks good and shoots good and I think it’s a good option to the Para GI Expert as the Wild Bunch gun is better looking.
Steyr’s rifles are all good rifles, but the price points on them make me scratch my head. Yeah, nice guns but a bit over priced in my opinion. Now the Steyr pistols impressed me a lot. I was shooting them at a close range pistol target and quickly got bored with that. So I started popping at the 100 yard plate and found that making hits was rather easy. Evidently this was some amazing feat that had one of the Steyr Factory guys say “I’ve never seen that before.” I was captured on video doing this by several different press guys. I liked the Steyr pistols, I have to admit. Shot well, shot reliably, and I even thought the triggers were good. Would I buy one? Well, it would certainly be a consideration.
The CAA Roni conversion kit for your Glock, SIG, XD, or Beretta Storm had been a curiosity kind of thing. I was interested in the idea, but never really took them or any of the similar kits all that seriously. Now I have a different opinion. They are easy to use, easy to convert the pistol to the carbine, and more importantly, they are easy to shoot well with. It makes your pistol into something that can be scary effective. If I was thinking about doing a Beretta Storm carbine – and I was – I’m thinking of doing one of these now. Okay, no. I’m not thinking about it. I’m going to do it. I rocked a steel plate like crazy with a Glock 9mm conversion and never missed a shot. No recoil, no delay in the action, no losing sight picture. I love these things. I have got to have one of them.
Before I went to the next guns, I ran into The Gunny. This guy really is as cool as I thought he was. I spent a good amount of time with him talking about various things and then I got an interview set up for Armed American Radio. Did you know that he turned down 17 movies last year because he was having more fun with the shooting sports and going out to visit the troops. That’s fantastic. He’s a genuine straight up cool guy who has his head on straight.
Springfield has their new compact XDM pistols and they all shot just as expected. Pleasant to shoot and I observed or experienced no malfunctions at all. The XDM pistols are competent handguns, reliable and accurate… I just feel “Meh” about them. They don’t do anything for me, personally. If you like them, they are a good solid weapon choice and there is nothing I could say to disparage the choice. I’m just not going to buy one again myself.
Chiapa Arms “Rhino” revolver. You’ve all seen photos I’m sure. It’s a revolver that fires from the bottom of the cylinder instead of the top like normal. This does a couple things for you. First, it’s a cool break from tradition and looks distinctive. Second, it makes a full power .357 Magnum feel like you are shooting a 9mm automatic pistol. Very soft and very controllable. There is only one downside to the Rhino. It truly has a horrible trigger. One of the worst out there, if not the worst. For a revolver to have a crap trigger like this, that’s impressive. But understand that you don’t have the same mechanism of other revolvers. The firing pin is really low in the frame so a normal hammer with its normal position just doesn’t have the momentum to hit the firing pin. So the Rhino has to have a heavy spring in there, which means a less than ideal pull. The result is that while the gun is soft shooting, the heavy trigger that isn’t very smooth either, is hard to shoot accurately with. The company offers some other trigger options that can lighten them up. Would I get a Rhino? Yes. Do I want one now? Yes. Are they cool? Yes. I want one with a medium length barrel and I would like to see them in heavier calibers such as .44 Mag or even .454 Casull.
The Kriss SMG gun with the really funky action that softens recoil… I thought I’d really like that gun. I was optimistic about it but had doubts about longevity and such. Well I have to be honest here, I wasn’t impressed. It didn’t do anything all that great and I thought the CAA Roni kit was just as cool.
Colt surprised me. They have a new AR-15 rifle that has a modular mag well that allows one to switch to .308 and back to .223… in a nice light, unbuiky AR-15 sized system. As far as AR-15’s go, this is the best advance that I’ve seen. The whole time I was looking at these Colt’s I was thinking why had no one else thought of this before?
Winchester has a new Shotgun Shell line. “Blind Side”. They have their own “Flight Control” type wadding that improves patterning. The pellets are unusual. They are all uniformly deformed. Not perfectly round like normal. They are like rounded squares. This allows them to stacks in the shell denser, allowing for more pellets. Combined with their new wadding, and denser patterns, this stuff looks like a Black Cloud Contender. I’m going to have to see for myself if they are as good as they look… but they look great. They shoot very well too, but I was shooting at clays and not a pattern board. I was able to actually break clays, which is something I normally don’t do. I’m not a trap guy.
I had a chance to fire Winchester’s PDX1 load in .410. If you have a Judge or the new S&W Governor, this is the best load I’ve seen for defense in .410. It is stout and has a lot of kick, but unlike other loads – I feel that this is the only good defensive option.
Bumped into Mike Bane out there at the Media Day range. Bane is great… You know how I said that Rob Pincus is like a Rock Star? Well, Bane is like the Gun Industry’s Visa Card. He’s everywhere you want to be. I’m not exaggerating this in the slightest – he’s freaking everywhere. If he isn’t in a booth in person, he’s on a video monitor. He’s in so many different places, it isn’t humanly possible for one man to bounce like Bane does. This is why I suspect there are at least 15 Mike Bane Clones… Banelings. There were Banelings all over SHOT Show and I bet there is a command center where the real Mike Bane controls all of them. Probably in the Freedom Group Booth. I am only jesting of course, but it would be cool to get this Urban Legend Rumor out there… because I’m only sort of kidding about this. Either he has a bunch of Banelings under his control, or the man is the hardest working guy in the industry. One, the other, or both. Hmmm…
Dodge brought out a bunch of their Ram trucks to test drive around an off road circuit. I tested a Power Wagon. Hard. The poor guy from Dodge about wet himself. I asked if I could open it up and the man foolishly said yes. You don’t let the Ogre open it up unless you are ready for a ride. I gave him a serious ride. The Power Wagon actually impressed me with it’s smooth power delivery… and it did have a lot of power to deliver. Not only was it smooth, but the truck actually let the ponies come out to play. The whole time the truck felt composed and stable… in control. Even in power slides.
Leupold has a new 4x ACOG type sight that I liked, a lot. I didn’t catch the pricing on it, so I’ll have to look that up later. I forgot the name of it too… but it was sharp. Good glass and the reticle was very usable. I might consider this for my own Crusader Broadsword.
Plastic cartridge cases? Yes, we now have plastic rifle cases. They shoot very well, accurate, and may one day be reloadable. I asked the guy about reloading and he said “Not Yet” but did so in a way that was more like “We Don’t Want To Say They Are”. They are looking for a military contract and I think they should get one. 30% less weight in a loaded cartridge. Now combine that with the Surefire quad-stacked magazines. This is a real and tangible advantage especially if you are talking about a full combat load. I want this technology put in use ASAP. This is the best advance in cartridges since the boxer primer. For the reloader it will have advantages too. Crimping isn’t a concern. Just load the bullet to the correct overall length and you are golden. The way the polymer casing grips the projectile… makes it very easy. Case trimming isn’t a problem. Tumbling? I think the new Sonic Cleaners from Hornady are perfect for these.
I finally got to play with the Trijicon RMR sight. I’ll be honest, when I read of Gabe Suarez advocating small red dot sights on defensive handguns, I thought the man was up in the night. I told him this in person when I met him. He’s a great guy, BTW. I wish I had more time to have talked with him. Anyways, I was really not comfortable with this concept. The Trijicon RMR makes this actually make sense to me now. All the studies on this remark on the increased accuracy with the small red dots. The RMR is the only one I would consider due to it’s lack of battery dependence. Electronics can fail, batteries can fail. I can’t have that in my Rip Cord. So here I am, saying that Gabe was right. I’ve had to do that before and I’m not afraid to admit that I was wrong. I like this concept on a bigger, full sized guns, duty type guns. It adds no weight that I could tell, the RMR is that light. And even if it did, who cares? You are going to hang a pistol light off of it too, right? Of course you are.
Speaking of pistol lights, I stopped by FoxFury and hooked up with Tim Ellwood there. Tim showed me the new tactical light and it has instantly become my favorite. Just as bright as everyone else’s lights, but they are lighter and smaller… very slim, no bulk to them. And they are about the same dollars too, so the FoxFury is what I’d spend my own money on. Oh, they have one more advantage… they have a randomized strobe for disorienting a subject. It’s highly disorienting. I’ve heard people argue for a fast strobe, or a slower strobe… this thing does both randomly pulsing this hot white light that you can’t blink our or get used to. It’s just… disorienting. As it was intended to be. The unit went on and off easily, felt rock solid. Get one. Not just for your handguns, these would be great on your lighter weight build carbines.
Diamondback has a new gun out. These guys are the ones that made a little Glock-like gun the size of a little .380, in .380. Now they have pretty much the very same gun, but in 9mm. Holding both together, it’s easy to see that they are the same size. I’m going to have to test one before I can the low down on it. The guy they had at the Media Range Day really didn’t know all that much about it… or anything… so I’ll get with Diamondback later and set that up.
I bounced from the Range Day to S&W’s event on the other side of Vegas… I rode with Scott McGreggor from FMG Publications, riding with Bruce Piatt and Chad Adams from 3 Gun Nation. These are awesome guys. Scott has been trying to get Bruce to come out for some Prairie Dog hunting… but they have a tight schedule knocking down steel plates and getting paid for it… so I don’t know if they will have time. But they want to.
At the S&W event I found something for killing prairie dogs… a .17HMR Performance Center gun that looks like a small X-Frame XVR custom gun…. it’s cool as hell. Jerry Miculek showed it to me and I fell in love with it… I’m a huge fan of the .17HMR. If I can’t have it in a semi – might as well have it in a really cool revolver. S&W also had a new revolver that I really liked… The Governor. This overrides the Judge. In fact, I may never have to sell a Judge again, thanks to this. (I personally thanked S&W for this)
The next day at the SHOT Show, Mark Walters and I set up the Armed American Radio table in the space that Para USA was kind enough to give us. This was in the Law Enforcement section right near Benchmade Knives. We talked to a lot of amazing people… people from all around the gun industry and all around the country. Luke Adams and his wife came by… He’s the guy that is Adams Holsters. Luke hooked me up with a belt and Mark with a new holster. My belt matches my Sharkhide holster… it’s awesome! More on that later.
One of the Armed American Radio sponsors is Sealed Mindset. Larry Yatch, talking to him was a SHOT Show Highlight. He’s awesome. This guy seems like such a nice guy until you start talking shop and then he just radiates cold deadliness. No, I’m kidding… He really is a nice guy. After all, he didn’t kill me. He’s been on Armed American Radio several times and it’s been a pleasure to talk with him. Now I have a face to go with the name. I’m going to have to go out and get some training from him.
At the USCCA dinner, I met George Harris. You may have heard of him. He is the one man that personifies SIG’s training program. Spending some time talking with George Harris was one of those things I’ve wanted to do, but didn’t see it happening. Turns out he’s very approachable and if you a question, just ask him. He’ll give you a no BS answer.
The talk of the whole SHOT Show was this new shotgun from Kel-Tec. I was hoping that the KSG was going to be at the Media Range Day, but they were a no show. When I finally got my hands on it – instant love. No, I liked it before. Now I like it ten times more. It’s light. It’s smooth. It’s balanced. It’s so short! Twice the capacity, short length yet with a full 18 ½” barrel… it’s fantastic. Everyone was talking about this gun. Everyone. If you had told me years ago that at this SHOT, that a Kel-Tec would be THE GUN… I’d have laughed at you. I knew KT was a great little company and they were not afraid to try something new… but damn. This was amazing. I have to have this shotgun.
The Press Room was done well this year. Plenty of room, but they could actually have used more. They took a huge space for a couple tables for the Press Room administration where they handed out the SHOT directories that you could have grabbed everywhere… but still. I can’t complain.
I gave Slipstream samples to everyone I could that looked like they were serious shooters. Joe Chetwood, my partner with Crusader Weaponry was there… he had never been to SHOT before. I think he was overwhelmed with the shear awesomeness. I am, every time.
I met so many cool people it wasn’t even funny. Uncle Ted, Mark Wills, Lou Ferrigno, Doug Koening, three gorgeous hookers who tried to wisk me away in a limo to their party outside of Vegas… Friends who I’ve not seen in a long time… Rob Pincus, Larry Correia, Oleg Volk, Bob Westover, Mike Kupari, Bruce Eimer, Duane Diaker, Tim Schmidt, Kathy Jackson… too many people to list just fantastic… Listeners, Readers and Fans. You know, SHOT really is about the people. No where else can you get all these awesome people together in one place. That’s what guns can do.
Now, you can’t be in Vegas without doing some Vegas stuff. I can’t go into that… but I did find the best pastrami sandwich I’ve had in some 18 years. I won some money playing craps. I listened to some awesome Irish Punk music at Nine Fine Irishmen, and I hung out with the best people on Earth. Gotta love it. As my good friend Mark Walters says, “It’s a beautiful thing”.