Unless you’ve been under a rock with regards to social media recently, you probably know that the 2015 SHOT Show happened in Las Vegas last week. I was there!
I almost wish I hadn’t been, however. It seems whenever I go to SHOT, I pick up a bug. No, not bedbugs — colds and flu!
With over 60,000 people in a fairly confined place, all of them handling the same products (especially products like rifles, which you put next to your face), you’re bound to spread some disease. Add in handshakes and the occasional hug, and it’s not surprising that lots of people come home with something. I was very careful this year: I dosed myself on vitamin C and antiviral foods before I went, I ate carefully, and I made a point of using hand sanitizer after I shook hands with anyone or touched something that others had handled. Apparently, though, I missed something because I came back with a nasty cold!
But enough about me. I arrived on the show floor Tuesday morning; I didn’t even bother checking into the hotel (which turned out just fine – because when I did check in later, I was upgraded from the room I’d booked to a luxury penthouse suite!) I went straight from the airport to the first of many meetings I had during my three-day stay. Because I was going from meeting to meeting I didn’t really get much of a chance to visit a lot of vendors. In fact, unless a booth had something really interesting that would catch my eye as I went past I didn’t bother stopping.
I was in an important meeting, in fact, when the NSSF (who owns SHOT Show) sponsored a press conference detailing why and how women buy firearms. This probably won’t surprise anyone, but women are buying guns primarily for self defense. They tend to research their choices far more than men do, and when they buy a gun they also often invest in training to learn to use it properly. As I said, we knew empirically that women were the biggest source of growth in the defensive firearms world, but it was nice to see some actual research to confirm what we’ve been seeing in the stores and on the range.
Manufacturers are starting to wake up too, and the marketing trend derisively referred to as “shrink it and pink it” seems to be disappearing. Not totally, mind you, but it looks to be going away. The meeting I was attending during that conference, in fact, dealt in part with supplying women with appropriate, non-condescending tools and training to help them make good decisions and learn to properly use their new defensive firearm. I can’t say anything more right now, but I think you’ll see the results of our high-level discussion in the coming months!
As I said, I didn’t get around very much and so I missed a lot of things. I did, however, get to have a great conversation with the folks at Nosler, the famed bullet makers. They’re finally bringing their defensive hollowpoint ammunition to market, and I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on the stuff and testing it out. Nosler knows how to make bullets and how to tailor them to the expected need, and I’m anxious to see their vision of how defensive pistol ammo should work. They’re just commencing their independent FBI protocol testing; once that’s done I’ll share the information with you. Their 9mm 124gn +P load looks especially promising.
Nosler also has an interesting .223 defensive load that I hope to try as well. It’s a flat-tipped 64gn round that they tell me is optimized for good straight line penetration in target, but presents less of a passthrough potential in things like walls. I’m going to be doing some work over the next year with a .223 bullpup rifle (specifically a Steyr AUG), exploring the use of the bullpup in the context of home and perimeter defense, and I’m hoping that Nosler can get some of that ammunition to me to test in the AUG.
HiViz, the well-known fiber optic sight makers, may have solved a problem that’s plagued theirs (and other’s) products since the beginning: rod breakage. They have a new caged sight design that supposedly protects the delicate rod from side and top impacts while simultaneously allowing a large amount of light to reach the rod from all directions. It’s really a neat-looking design, and I’m hoping it works as predicted — I’ve not been keen on fiber optics until now, largely because I’ve broke them on my own guns, but if it works it will be the first of its type to make my recommended list.
For perimeter defense, Mossberg has a neat new rifle that I couldn’t keep my hands off of! It’s called the MVP LR Tactical Rifle and it’s chambered in either .308 (using either M14 or SR-25 pattern magazines) or .223 (using AR-15 magazines.) What makes it neat is that it’s a short-barreled (16-1/2”) carbine with a stiff stock featuring an adjustable cheekpiece! I’ve always had problems getting a good cheek weld with most rifles, and I almost always need to add a cheek pad to get my eyes high enough off the stock. Having a short, light rifle with that built in is almost a dream come true. (How light is it? The rifle weighs in at 7 lbs, without scope. It’s a little surprising the first time you pick it up!) Mossberg got on my “you’ve got to be kidding!” list a couple of years ago with an incredibly ugly “tactical” lever-action, but they’ve redeemed themselves (and then some) with the MVP rifles.
(The Mossberg rep kept pushing me over to the hunting rifles, and I kept walking around him to look at the MVP LR. He just couldn’t figure out why anyone would want such a thing, but if you understand the environment of perimeter defense you’ll recognize the utility immediately!)
There was a lot more to see at the show, of course, but these were the things that caught my defensive shooting eye. I’m reviewing everyone else’s SHOT Show coverage, and if I see anything of interest you can bet I’ll let you know.
-=[ Grant Cunningham ]=-