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2009 SHOT Show, Long Review

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by atek3, Jan 18, 2009.

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  1. atek3

    atek3 Member

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    I hadn't actually intended to go to SHOT this year... but after my car got fixed on friday, I said, "Orlando is basically along the way to West Palm Beach." And thanks to my good friends, Tim Pack of www.tacticalgunfan.com and Chris Rhines of THR, I had a place to crash Friday night and some people to go out to dinner with last night.

    Also... see the pictures, a lot of them are funny:
    SHOT 2009 pictures

    The SHOT show is ridiculously large, it encompasses basically everything shooting, hunting, outdoor, military, law enforcement, competitive, etc. etc. You had everything from flashlights to grenade launchers, beef jerky to body armor. In terms of space, it entirely filled the west concourse of the Orlando Convention Center... which is massive. It would probably take about 4 hrs to walk past all the booths without stopping.

    One general "vibe" I got was that despite the worst downturn since the great depression in the general economy, the gun industry is booming. I spoke with many of the vendors to get a feel for the split between panic buying and a secular change in demand and I came away with the following impressions. Yes, the massive price hikes for Black Rifle parts and mags are due mostly to Panic buying because of the Obama Victory. Many people within the gun community are convinced that Obama is going to ban EBR's (Evil Black Rifles) the first chance he gets, however the jury is still out on that, IMHO. Counter evidence for the panic buying theory comes from booming sales for pocket auto's. Kel-Tec, Taurus, Ruger all are making affordable pistols designed for concealed carry and they have been selling like hot cakes.

    Hunting, however, feels like another story. Some new ammo came out, but nothing revolutionary. Within Hunting Rifles, I don't remember seeing any major new products... whereas last year (when hunting was still hot) every major rifle company had something new-fangled and great.

    The Cerberus takeover of the gun industry is bearing interesting fruit. First a bit of back story. George Kollitides, a life long shooter and Cerberus MD began rolling up major American gun companies at the height of the private equity bubble. The gun industry was ripe for a roll up... many fragmented players, inefficient companies deficient in best practices, etc. Now Cerberus owns Bushmaster, Remington, Marlin, Cobb, DPMS, and Eotac, and a few other small gun companies. As a result, Cerberus has been able to consolidate marketing and administration to some extent, also there has been some rebranding... for example, Remington now sells AR-15's as hunting rifles called R-15's. Cobb, a relatively unknown maker of big bore AR-type rifles (338 Lapua, 30-06, etc), is now selling it's MCR 4000 as a Bushmaster.

    Two more interesting pieces of Cerberus related scuttlebutt. Many gun companies establish a "Custom Shop", basically an in-house gunsmith that builds high end, low volume guns to customers who want something a little different. Bushmaster now has a "Custom Shop"... however Bushmaster's custom shop is actually Iron Brigade Armory, the company that built most of George Kollitides custom boltguns. George Kollitides, a long time gun owner, is now trying to buy an NRA board of directors seat. He's become a life member of every hunting and gun rights organization of the US and has the support of all of Cerberus's portfolio companies. The guy seems pretty committed so I'd be inclined to support him.

    [​IMG]

    Okay, enough color, onto the actual show. While walking around, I was basically twittering everything I saw that really stood out to me. Unfortunately that means many things that weren't novel to me won't be mentioned.

    I think the company that surprised everyone the most this weekend was
    Taurus, a Brazilian handgun company. According to the head of their US subsidiary they'd worked on pocket 380 semi-auto but never really followed through. Following the smashing success of the Ruger LCP, Taurus embarked on a crash program to release the TCP (Taurus compact pistol). Very similar to the Ruger and Kel-tec in size, the Taurus feels much better built and has the availability of a titanium slide for those that demand a really really light pocket pistol. The pistol is DAO and packs 6+1.

    They also came out with the Taurus "Slim", a single stack compact nine that competes with the Kahr PM9, Rohrbaugh R9, and dare I mention it in the same sentence, the Kel-Tec PF9. While the "slim" really can't hold a candle to the Rohrbaugh, the Taurus is easily as nice as the PM9 and is much better built than the PF9. The Slim is a DA/SA with a manual safety and packs 7+1.

    29kxlyb.jpg

    The award for wackiest item at SHOT goes to the TAC 15... a Crossbow upper for your AR-15. To any normal person this seems like a crazy idea but the designers put a lot of thought into it. The TAC-15 has some features that make it a great crossbow. One is the trigger. Most crossbow triggers actuate a part under 140 pounds of bow tension giving them a terrible sensation compared to a fine rifle. The TAC15 is actuated by the falling hammer in the AR-15 lower. So if you have a JP trigger, it still feels like a JP trigger. Another point was the accuracy. They claim 2" groups at 100 yards. Having never shot a crossbow I can't vouch for the veracity of that claim.

    [​IMG]

    Chinese companies were in full effect hawking knockoffs of every great western scope. They're getting better, but still need a lot of work. for example I tried their state of the art knock off of the Schmidt and Bender Short Dot, a $2500 dollar scope. While the scope had some pretty great features, 1-4x, FFP reticle, red and green illumination, I still wouldn't trust it. For example, by applying up and down pressure to the illumination knob the green reticle would short out. What this says to me is the first time you drop the gun, that reticle is toast. Not what I'd want on a "real gun".

    Ruger was quite impressive. They developed a new snubnose revolver called the LCR. An extensively fluted 5-shot 38+P cylinder enclosed by a lightweight aluminum frame...nothing special so far. The entire grip, trigger, hammer, enclosure was made out of polymer...Boom. The revolver weighs nothing, feels great (the grip was designed by Ruger, Hogue, and Crimson Trace), and has an EXCELLENT double-action pull.

    Glock had 10mm's that didn't require banana hands, and some new heavily textured full-size auto's that will literally take off your epidermis under recoil.

    XD had their new XD(m) which holds a lot of rounds of 9mm or something.

    S&W had their M&P9 Pro... I'll probably buy that if I get back into IPSC.

    As far as "Wow" stuff it was basically all handguns. In the rifle world, everyone has a great AR-15-clone. The two areas that still have some innovation are Gas-Piston uppers and AR-10-clones (that run). I handled one of the new DPMS AR-10's with a 16" bbl and a Carbon Fiber Free-Float tube and I could almost convince myself it was an AR-15 (that is until I used the charging handle).

    Sig has their new 556 Classic, which looks like the Sig 551. A lot of fanboy's love the rifle, but I'd rather have an AR-15 any day of the week. The charging handle is on the right... terrible.

    Besides Guns, I most enjoyed the various Firearm Training Systems. Most of them use a projector to display a scenario on a screen... Then you the shooter use a real firearm (modified to shoot a laser pulse) to deal with various situations. They varied in price and realism. The better systems used a CO2 cartridge system to actuate the slide and simulate recoil. The best system was hooked up to an infrared tactical flashlight. The system blacks out everything out but the area the flashlight is pointing. Let me tell you, the "shoot/no-shoot" scenarios are much more interesting at night. You have to be constantly scanning for threats. Beyond simply illuminating the target the AI responds appropriately. During a possible felony stop the driver raises his hands to his eyes and squints, then curses at you to remove the light. After some banter, he suddenly draws a concealed gun, giving you the trainee less than half a second to make the shot. One lesson I learned from the simulators was that on the scenarios where you were shooting at targets or everyone was a bad guy I crushed the simulation. It was simply "front sight, press, repeat". I tripped up on the "shoot/no-shoot" due to an issue I didn't really consider before. My eyes were focused on the suspect, attempting to judge whether he was a threat. When the suspect grabbed a gun my reaction time was great, but my accuracy was terrible. The problem was that my focus didn't return from the target to the front sight. An excellent lesson that you don't really appreciate when all you shoot is square range exercises and matches. I really need to sign up for a Force on Force class.

    A couple of the highlights of the day included seeing the shooting world equivalent to celebrities. Taran Butler, Robbie Leatham, Eric Graffel, Doug Koenig, John Plaster, David Fortier, Dick Heller. Also I finally got to meet the founder of THR, Oleg Volk. He was quite cool in person. I spent about 10 minutes chatting with Alan Gottlieb, the famous gun-rights author about Heller vs. DC, Nordyke, and several other upcoming court cases. The night before SHOT I met up with with my old friend, Chris Rhines and his father, a pair of accomplished 3-gunners and Gunsmiths. Also I bumped into Tim Pack, who was rolling with the Intermedia crew as they were shown the latest and greatest at Nikon, Winchester, and Taurus. Looks like Tim's authoring career is taking off, good for him.

    Winchester was showing off a microsoft surface... blowing people who'd never seen it away.
    [​IMG]

    Oh ya... Ashbury International... Lame. They had an interesting bolt gun chassis system. I asked questions about it and the guy interrupts me to ask if I was LEO or .mil, and of course I say no... and he says, "well then, that info isn't important because we only sell to the government." Wow... and I thought H&K owned the phrase "because you suck, and we hate you".
    [​IMG]

    Remote control aerial shotgun targets. Expensive but cool.
    [​IMG]

    Enough stuff for one day.

    atek3
     
  2. joejoeshooter

    joejoeshooter Member

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    Great job.

    I like the things you had to say about Taurus.

    Good Writing!!!

    jjs
     
  3. General Geoff

    General Geoff Member

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    Wow. Time to spread the word about these guys.
     
  4. gvnwst

    gvnwst Member

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    Well, it isn't as if we could do anything, they only sell to the goverment:neener::D
     
  5. Gunnerpalace

    Gunnerpalace Member

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    I have seen those aerial targets at machine gun shoots, pretty cool. :cool:
     
  6. Robocop

    Robocop Member

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    Well, it isn't as if we could do anything, they only sell to the government

    If it was important enough, yes something can be done. On the Federal and State level, there are elected officials who can have an adverse effect on weapons procurement. This is not worth the effort because there are plenty of manufacturers out there that do not hold the LEO elitist attitude that probably make more money from us lowly people:evil:.
     
  7. Mohawk

    Mohawk Member

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    Thanks for the great review. :)
     
  8. PcolaDawg

    PcolaDawg Member

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    Outstanding review. I appreciate it VERY much.

    Thanks.
     
  9. nwilliams

    nwilliams Member

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    I believe the AK also has a charging handle on the right side and it's a pretty popular design that's been around a while. Personally I think the charging handle on an AR is more inconvenient place:neener:

    Thanks for the review, I'd love to make it to Shot one of these days.
     
  10. atek3

    atek3 Member

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    Popular, yes, correct, debatable.

    Most people prefer to leave their right hand on the pistol grip while performing the other operations.

    Atek3
     
  11. Beren

    Beren Moderator Emeritus

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    Thanks for the first-hand report, atek3. I see Winchester has plenty of marketing budget to waste. :D

    I hope you get to meet some of the other THR founders, someday.
     
  12. benEzra

    benEzra Moderator Emeritus

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    First, a quick sidetrack:

    I do with an AK (run the bolt with the left hand under the rifle); if the 556's charging handle is far enough forward, you could do that too. The AR's charging handle is harder to run with the gun in a firing position than an AK's, IMO.

    Back to the main point of the thread....

    Awesome report. I like the slim Taurus DA/SA 9mm. Sort of the same niche as an S&W 3913, but smaller.

    The AR-15 crossbow looks cool, actually. And it would have at least one practical use---in states that allow hunting with crossbows, you could hunt with that in archery season.

    Too bad about the Ashbury company's attitude---that almost makes me want a bolt-action to put in that nifty stock---if I could afford both, of course---but not if they don't sell to the "little people". You'd think they'd realize that there are FAR more non-LEO's who shoot precision rifles than there are LEO's...

    Oh, and the Bernie Madoff target was hilarious:

    http://gallery.casa-z.org/SHOT2009/1232208218805_G
     
  13. lanternlad1

    lanternlad1 Member

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    "Oh ya... Ashbury International... Lame. They had an interesting bolt gun chassis system. I asked questions about it and the guy interrupts me to ask if I was LEO or .mil, and of course I say no... and he says, "well then, that info isn't important because we only sell to the government." Wow... and I thought H&K owned the phrase "because you suck, and we hate you"."

    Should have told him that your brother/sister is an aide to Congressman <Somebody> and that you'll be telling them not to bother buying their product. Then sit back and watch the attitude change. :)
     
  14. atek3

    atek3 Member

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    i didn't want to be a dick to the Ashbury guy because as a Sales guy he was in favor of civilian sales. I got the impression that it was management... they do hundreds of millions in business with the government, guns are definitely not their bread and butter. If I were them, I'd say forget manufacturing it, just license the design to someone that needs a great tactical rifle stock, such as FN, Remington, Savage, etc.

    atek3
     
  15. xsquidgator

    xsquidgator Member

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    Nice review!

    This was my first time going to SHOT and I got R. Lee Ermey's autograph and a handshake at the Glock (er, GLOCK) booth. He spent a minute or two chatting with each person in line for his autograph, a real nice guy.

    You weren't kidding about the size of the show, though. I did spend about 5-6 hours straight walking up and down the isles, stopping here and there to look and handle something neat. I was going to go jogging the next day and put it off since my hips were still a little sore from all the unaccustomed walking. Met the Rohrbaugh (sp?) family, makers of the Rohrbaugh $1000-ish 9mm ultracompact carry pistol.

    Hope it comes back to Orlando in a couple of years.
     
  16. atek3

    atek3 Member

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    if the Rohrbaugh wasn't so expensive, I'd have one already, it's a great gun.
     
  17. atek3

    atek3 Member

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    Chris Rhines posted his comments here on his blog. Definitely worth checking out.

    atek3
     
  18. bonedust

    bonedust Member

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    i got a chance to shoot the Tac-15 ar based x-bow at the ATA trade show a few weeks ago, and it is eveything they have claimed (so far). i anxiously await mine to arrive.
     
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