1/20/2017 12:10:00 AM OUT IN THE OPEN: Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trades Show 2017
A sea of firearms industry humanity descends on the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trades (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas.
Brent T. Wheat Sports Columnist
Should I tell you that I'm sitting on the 28th floor looking at blue skies, palm trees, snow-capped mountains and the Las Vegas strip?
OK, I won't rub the collective noses of Both Regular Readers in the fact that during the past week the Indiana weather has been something slightly worse that "horrid" while our only major atmospheric concern was the slight facial windburn on Monday.
As of this writing, the entire staff of Out in the Open is visiting Sin City USA, Las Vegas for our annual pilgrimage to the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trades (SHOT) Show. If you have read this column for any length of time you know that we always attend this event that is a combination of Christmas, July 4th, The Paris Fashion Show and World's Fair for the shooting and hunting industry.
At SHOT, there are more product releases than you could shake a stick at, meetings, press conferences, celebrity sightings, cocktail parties, free swag and all sorts of the usual trade show hi-jinks. For our part, we try to live up to the journalist's creed: never turn down a free dinner.
This has been an interesting year for SHOT. The show is larger than ever, with an estimated attendance in excess of 64,000 people, all jostling in the aisles to fondle the unbelievable selection of gear and guns. If you ever doubt the health of the firearms industry, a quick drive by the SHOT show would quickly dispel any concerns.
But the remarkable thing about SHOT this year is the dearth of new, innovative items. While the "New Products" preview center was larger than ever, it seemed there weren't too many "better mousetraps" on display. One of the first persons I ran into at the show was old friend Richard Mann, one of the top gun writers in the business, who offered an opinion that makes sense.
"It's the political climate," he said in referring to the lack of innovation. "Manufacturers didn't know what was going to happen with the election and were reluctant to invest in new research and design (if Hillary Clinton had been elected President). I think you're going to see a strong push now from a lot of companies," he said.
In other words, the next few years might be interesting and fun for shooters. We can also state without reservation that feelings among the media and vendors in attendance was one of unrestrained relief and hope for the future. As a group of fellow media hacks sat around a table in the Press Room, one of the ink-slingers grandly proclaimed, "Gentlemen, we are truly living in the golden age of firearms right now." We are inclined to agree.
In spite of lack of "new and improved" at SHOT, there are certain trends that are noticeable.
The first is the fad of the 6.5 Creedmor cartridge. Nearly every rifle being introduced was touted as handling the cartridge, an off-shoot of the .300 Savage round that can duplicate .300 Winchester Magnum ballistics with significantly lower recoil. Being a shorter case, it can be used in both bolt-action and semi-automatic rifles such as the AR-15 family of rifles.
Our only problem is that the ammunition is (currently) stunningly expensive and challenging to find. In other words, the 6.5 Creedmor is a great cartridge but whether it becomes commercially viable remains to be seen.
Another interesting trend is the exploding number of firearms electronics. Night vision and thermal imaging scopes are becoming abundant and at lower price points. It would seem manufacturers are shifting resources from the shrinking military market into the world of civilian hunters.
Other electronics include networked trail cameras, cameras and mounts for your gun or bow, target cameras and ballistic calculators that help develop firing solutions for long-distance target shooting or hunting. Several manufacturers are also making integrated "witness" cameras for your pistol to either record deadly force incidents or to use as a training aid.
On the other end of the gun, manufacturers of suppressors (also known as "cans," "snuffers," or "silencers") are betting congress will finally tackle the Hearing Protection Act that would make it easier and cheaper to own a suppressor. If passed, suppressors would go from being a government-registered and highly-taxed piece of equipment to a common gun accessory. This year several major manufacturers are selling guns with threaded muzzles that are instantly ready for mounting a suppressor whenever they become "legal."
That's about the gist of the action from Your Man on the Scene. We're now ready to head down stairs to wade back into the fray, tirelessly fighting and clawing through the mass of humanity in order to bring you all the latest information about the hunting and shooting world.