News From SHOT Show 2024

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As an invitation-only show for retail and wholesale buyers, LE and military, and industry media, you can’t really judge show success by attendance numbers. In fact, it was clear the NSSF has been clamping down on “recreational” attendees and less serious media types.

Overall attendance was about 55,000 this year, and that’s a lot, but less than some of the pre-COVID years. A more reliable gauge is the exhibitor count. That hit a whopping 2,500 this year, filling up the traditional SHOT floorplan in the Sands Expo Center and a new (past couple of years) giant exhibit hall in Caesar’s Forum. This expansion added two miles to the “walk by every booth” calculation, which used to be about 12 and is now 14. Hard stop: 14 miles of gun and gear booths. This is the number I watch as it represents business owners plunking down real cash, and lots of it, to show their wares at SHOT. If this investment didn’t pay off, they wouldn’t do it.
Bottom line: The industry is optimistic and continuing to invest.

SW 1854 Lever Action: While come companies like Winchester
released more classic designs, many, like S&W, are modernizing
the levergun concept.

Levers & Metal

Lever action rifles are making a big comeback. Like the Browning Hi-Power design over the past year or two, folks have apparently rediscovered the joys of the classic lever gun. Yeah, I know, this is American Handgunner, not American Rifle Guy magazine, but you have to admit, there’s no better pairing than an elegant sixgun and a butter-slick lever rifle. In fact, if you flip forward a few pages, you’ll find this issue’s cover story exploring just that topic. Special Projects Editor Roy has been tinkering with the new(ish) Henry Big Boy revolvers and a companion Big Boy Classic levergun in .357.

Anyway, look for new offerings like the Uberti hunting version of the classic 1873, complete with rail for optics. Or how about a new S&W .44 Magnum built for hard use with synthetic stock and brushed stainless finish? And the list goes on with a new take from Bond Arms, a Henry Supreme that takes standard P-Mags and delivers sub-MOA accuracy and a nifty new 15-shot rimfire from Winchester. We’ll see if we can lean on Editor Brent over at GUNS Magazine to cover some of these.

The other? Metal guns. I know a lot of you appreciate the utility of polymer, and I do too, but given the choice, I’ll always prefer a metal gun, even at the expense of more carry weight. I prove that belief with my daily carry choices, which almost always contain lots of steel or aluminum. Walther is making big moves into metal with variants in their outstanding PDP line, as are other mainstream companies. I can’t say all the names just yet, but you’ll recognize them. And no, it’s not GLOCK.

2nd Amendment

Regardless of what your feelings are on that other big gun rights organization, you should support the Second Amendment Foundation. Other groups (yes, the NRA) have traditionally focused on the legislative side of the fight, where the SAF is right at home in the courtroom. Most of those big cases that are helping to forever protect gun rights are driven by … the SAF. Lots of folks claim credit after the wins, but it’s usually the SAF originating these cases and following them through, often all the way to the Supreme Court.

At the SHOT show, I had the opportunity to speak with both Adam Kraut, Executive Director, and Alan Gottlieb, Founder. You can view those interviews on our YouTube Channel at YouTube.com/FMGPubs.

Please consider joining the SAF today and helping them out with a recurring donation. Court cases are enormously expensive but essential to the ongoing protection of gun rights. For more info: SAF.org

Ballistic Dummy Lab: You might be surprised at the number of useful applications for anatomically accurate ballistic dummies.

Worlds Collide

Every now and then, Hollywood and the gun industry intersect in a positive and complimentary way.

Digital Editor Ashley and I ran across an attention-getting booth from the folks at Ballistic Dummy Lab. Filled with “gelatin people,” the exhibit showcased the company’s mockups of anatomically realistic “dummies” used for ballistic testing and training.

The team has lots of experience in the special effects space, having worked on many shows and networks you know. The result of this experience is dummies made with both natural and synthetic gelatin products and a specially formulated plastic “bone” material. The idea is to be able to test and evaluate all sorts of physical trauma without anyone having to visit Doc Dabbs. In addition to ballistic applications, the company sells to companies for workplace safety testing. Think, “Pay close attention, people; here’s what happens if you go up on that lift without wearing your safety harness.” For more info: BallisticDummyLab.com

If you look at the rail and slide-mounted portions of the Holosun DPS, you’ll see they’re not much larger than a standard duty light and red dot.

Low Light Tech

The engineers at Holosun have been on an innovation tear for the past few years, taking the product line from budget optics to first-rate quality with a leading-edge feature set.

While not yet available, the company showed a new level of handgun innovation. The DPS-TH Thermal Optic. Yes, thermal. The clever design uses a sensor module mounted on the rail, which is not too much larger than a duty light. This unit transmits a thermal image to the red dot sight up top. The result is the big and heavy stuff doesn’t have to ride on the slide.

We’ll see where the technology goes, but it looks promising for duty or tactical unit use in the short term. For more info: Holosun.com

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