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My SHOT Show 2023 report

SHOT Show ’23 took place January 17th through the 20th. I attended as an exhibitor this year, helping Lubriplate officially introduce their SFL Firearm Grease and FMO Firearm Oil, two products which I’ve been using and promoting for many years. More on that in a bit.

But first…this was my first SHOT since 2019. I decided not to attend in 2020, and the 2021 show was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic. The show returned in 2022, but I had no reason (or desire) to go.

Frankly, after attending so many times, the show has ceased to be interesting. There are only so many ways an AR-15 can be dressed up (despite the phrase “game-changer” being applied to every one of  them), and it isn’t long before one’s eyes glaze over at the sight of yet another one. Despite that, every year there are more and more of the things, and less actual innovation.

So, aside from the opportunity to help Lubriplate’s re-entry into the shooting sports market (they made the original op-rod grease for the M1 Garand rifle before bowing out of the gun world), for me SHOT Show ’23 was about reconnecting. I made no effort to seek out new products; instead, I sought out old acquaintances.

I made sure to set aside some time to visit with Sheriff Jim Wilson. We hadn’t seen each other since 2019, and we had a lot of catching up to do. Jim has always been very supportive of my work, and getting to chat with him is one of the highlights of any SHOT Show. He’s a gentleman of the Old School, one who understands that we build stronger communities by focusing on our commonalities rather than our differences. 

I hope he’s able to keep spreading that philosophy for many years to come, because there are too many in the shooting world who seem to exist only to drive wedges between people.

You many recall that I was on the original development team for the Kimber K6s revolver some years back. The man who really spearheaded that project, and who got me involved, was their then-director of product development, Tim Mulverhill. After Tim left Kimber he took another executive position with a different manufacturer, but I lost track of him for a couple of years. 

I ran into Tim quite accidentally this year; he’s now CEO of SDS Imports, a company that (surprise) imports pistols, shotguns, and accessories from quality makers around the globe. Since taking over the company he’s spearheaded some new product lines, including some decent reproductions of custom 1911s from the past. 

It’s always good to see a “gun guy” running a gun company; you’d be surprised how infrequently that happens.

In the past I had something of a reputation as a “1911 hater”, and I suppose that’s true. I did, after all, once produce a t-shirt featuring a picture of a stovepiped 1911 with the caption “The West wasn’t won with a jammed-up gun!” It might come as a surprise, then, to learn that I once backhandedly endorsed a 1911 manufacturer.

Some years back I visited the booth of Cabot Arms, a high-end 1911 maker. There I met their chief gunsmith, who happened to be a tool and die maker, and we had a long talk about quality machining and hand craftsmanship. He in turn introduced me to the owner of Cabot, Rob Bianchin, and he and I hit it off immediately. (Rob and I share a similarly warped sense of humor, so it was probably inevitable.) 

During our meeting I made the comment that, if I were ever to buy a 1911, it would be a Cabot — a quote which he immediately put on their website, where it stayed for several years. It is indeed a strange world. 

Rob and I had a nice visit in his booth this year, and I’m happy to report that both of us retain our skewed outlooks on life. Rob’s a good guy, passionate about guns, and his company makes really nice 1911s. (Their “California” model is simply stunning, and has to be seen “in the flesh” to truly be appreciated.)

If you’re going to spend the not-inconsiderable money a high-end 1911 commands, you should look at Cabot first.

One of the people who visited me at the Lubriplate booth was Mike Wood, who writes the consistently excellent Revolver Guy blog (a must-read for anyone who has an interest in revolvers.) Mike has been producing some of the best in-depth articles on revolver topics that have been written in recent memory, and because of that his is one of the few firearms blogs left in my RSS feed. Mike always has the latest revolver gossip, and frankly I’d often be left in the dark if it wasn’t for the research he does on the industry. 

Go to his blog and subscribe. You’ll thank me.

My comment about the sad state of undifferentiated AR rifles isn’t to say there wasn’t any excitement at the show this year. The Liberal Gun Club, the second amendment organization for people who don’t fit the traditional gun owner stereotype, actually had a booth there. Festooned with unicorns and the most colorful patchwork floor of any exhibit ever seen at the show, they attracted actual crowds of people curious about their mission. 

The most common comment I heard from people visiting their booth: “it’s not for me, but I have a sister/neighbor/cousin/co-worker who likes to shoot, and this would be perfect for them”. They were definitely the talk of SHOT, and people coming by the Lubriplate booth told me the club’s unicorn patches were this year’s most coveted swag item. Naturally, I’d already given mine away to someone who literally begged me for it — now I know why!

(I personally endorse the Club and support their mission, but occasionally receive some criticism for doing so. As I told one particularly vociferous critic, “the Second Amendment is for everyone — and if you have a problem with that, you’re not a real American.” I stand by that statement.)

As I said at the beginning, I was at SHOT ’23 to help Lubriplate officially introduce their new line of gun oil and grease to the public. I’m sure you’ve seen me singing the praises of their products over the years, but I’ve been using and talking about their lubricants for a decade-and-a-half because they work. The SFL grease and FMO oil are the very best I’ve used in my career as a shooter, gunsmith, and teacher, and because of that all of my guns run on Lubriplate.

In the past, however, their products have been hard to get. When I started using them, in fact, I had to go to great lengths to acquire small amounts for my own use. Well, those days are over! Lubriplate has committed to the shooting sports, and now produces SFL and FMO in convenient range-bag-friendly dispenser tubes.

They’re running a limited time SHOT Show Special on the grease, oil, and combo paks in their online store. Take advantage of this deal while you can!

Click here for the Lubriplate SHOT Show specials 

You can also watch me talking about Lubriplate products on YouTube!

Here I am being interviewed by Kaitlyn McCluskey, Lubriplate’s director of social media:

Lara Smith, the National Spokesperson for the Liberal Gun Club, also caught me on camera talking about Lubriplate products:

That’s all for now. I’ll be back soon with a review of the new second edition of Massad Ayoob’s book, “Deadly Force: Understanding your right to self defense”. 

-=[ Grant ]=-

  • Posted by Grant Cunningham
  • On January 26, 2023