The NRA Show, part two: self defense products

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As I mentioned on Wednesday, I attended the NRA Annual Meetings (NRAAM) last weekend in Louisville, KY. The major attraction is the trade show which is an integral part of the event. It’s the country’s largest consumer trade show focused on shooting, whether it’s for sport, competition, or self defense.

It’s that last item which I’m most interested in and the reason I attend. It’s a chance to see what’s new in the gear for self defense but also to get together with a large number of my colleagues in the defensive training world. We compare notes, swap ideas, and keep each other informed about the things we see and hear at the show.

This year I had the pleasure of spending time with Andy Loeffler (the chief instructor at Black Wing Shooting Center in Ohio); Julie Loeffler, proprietor of Mid-Ohio IMB and a Martial Arts Hall Of Fame member; and Joshua Gideon of No Soft Targets, who looks at self defense from the perspective of an executive protection professional.

Carrying and concealing a spare magazine

In terms of guns and gear the NRA Show doesn’t see a lot of new product introductions. Frankly, I’m getting to the point that I really don’t care about new guns; we have a huge and superb selection of guns already. We have the best defensive ammunition we’ve ever had, and I’d rather see some innovation in terms of carrying and concealing defensive firearms as well as ways to stage them for ready access in the home.

Trent Cooper and Carol Craighead at Crossbreed Holsters showed me their new pocket magazine carrier, which they call the Gideon.

Crossbreed Gideon Magazine Carrier







It appears to be nicely made and well conceived; for those who prefer not to carry a magazine on the belt it’s a great alternative. A magazine on the belt can be as difficult to conceal as the gun itself, but simply putting it in a pocket makes it both difficult to retrieve and exposes it to a surprising amount of debris. The Gideon places it in a consistent position which makes it easier to grab and also protects the mouth of the magazine from lint and dirt. As of this morning it wasn’t yet up on their website, but check back — I’m sure it will be there soon.

Defensive flashlights from my favorite maker

I was able to spend some time with David Chow, the owner of my favorite flashlight manufacturer, FourSevens. I’ve been carrying one or another of his flashlights for years now; they’ve proven to be among the most durable I’ve owned, and I’ve owned a LOT of flashlights!

What makes FourSevens unique is David’s willingness to listen to customer input, particularly those of us who teach others how to defend themselves. A number of things I’ve asked for have appeared in his lights, and at this point in time I believe that he makes the best self defense lights that exist.

I recently purchased the brand-new Quark Smart QS2A-X; after using it for a couple of weeks, including during my trip to Louisville, I’m convinced it is the perfect defensive flashlight for the average person. I’ll have a full review up sometime next week.

At the show David and I got to talk some more about what’s needed in the self defense world and he showed me prototypes of some new products. One of them is a tiny little weaponlight that puts out something like 500 lumens. While I’m very cautious about recommending lights on handguns, there are cases where they can be invaluable and I expect the FourSevens light to make a big splash in that market. It’s well conceived and constructed.

He also showed me a new version of his AAA-powered Preon P2 light. I’ve often thought that the Preon might be a good defensive tool in the style of the Kubaton, but the original model was smooth anodized aluminum which made it difficult to retain under pressure. The new model has grooves machined into it surface, making it much better for use as a control tool using Kubaton techniques.

FourSevens Preon P2





Because it’s so slim it will easily carry in a shirt or suit jacket breast pocket, and Julie Loeffler pointed out that it conceals easily when clipped under a bra strap. This shows how just a little modification, based on feedback from users, transformed this aluminum flashlight into a viable self protection device. Only FourSevens is listening to what we need and providing quality products to fill those needs. That’s why I personally carry one wherever I go and have done so for many years.

(If you carry a flashlight for self protection you owe it to yourself to learn how to use it in that role. Julie has a course called “Light Then Fight!” which teaches how a compact, high intensity flashlight fits into an overall self defense plan. It’s the only course of its type that I know, and it’s worth taking.)

I’m quite sure there were a lot of things I missed at the Show, especially since I spent a good deal of my time with the Korth revolver people, but these were important enough that I thought you should know about them. I believe in supporting good products and good people, and those I’ve mentioned here are!

– Grant Cunningham

Opening photo courtesy of the NRA



About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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