There was certainly a different feel at SHOW Show 2013, and not necessarily a pleasant one. There was also a certain tension among all the participants, particularly the firearms-specific exhibitors, as we waited for President Obama to make his announcements on the executive orders that many felt would attempt to bypass Congress to wage an illegal assault on our Second Amendment rights. Fortunately, those orders had little to do with any regulation targeting the sale, manufacture, or ownership of firearms and instead were merely lip service to mental health and background check issues. After a collective sigh of relief, the SHOW carried on at it’s usual hectic pace. There wasn’t a tremendous amount of new product compared to some past years. The market for ARs in particular is more flooded than ever, and we’re at a point where demand is still far exceeding supply. I attribute some of the slowdown in new products for my particular area of interest to the fact that it’s hard to roll something out, then have to answer to the demand for it til it’s ready to go, which only compounds the problem of not being able to make enough of the old stuff as it is. There were a few gems in the accessory market and some great stuff in the soldier systems arena though, and it was certainly great to see all the renewed support for our gun rights at every turn, in every booth, and in talking to every person. There’s hardly a local economy in America that doesn’t benefit from the industry that SHOT represents, and in spite of the assaults on their livelihood by freeloading socialists, that industry is stronger than ever. Here’s a few of the things that caught my attention this year:
1. Geissele SMR MKIV rail. I was an early adopter of the Geissele hand guard for the HK416, and I have a few each of the MKI and MKII rails for the AR series. The MKIV version utilizes a lightened barrel nut and a slimmed down hand guard that is skeletonized to remove all unneeded material, while still maintaining the strength the previous variants are known for. It has fixed rails at the front where you need them, QD cups for sling attachment, and is trimmed down for a low profile and firm grip everywhere else. They also showed a new gas block that will be my new standard, and a Glock optic mount and magazine well under their ALG brand. Look for those soon as well.
Also, a special mention for Bill, who made 100 special edition SSF triggers to benefit the family of John Noveske, with all proceeds going to them. Featuring artwork by Ten Pound Monkey, the triggers sold for a minimum donation of $250 (often people gave more) and raised well over $25,000 for the Noveske family.
2. Smith and Wesson’s expanding product line. S&W debuted any number of new guns it seemed, but my favorites were the Magpul edition rifle and a new 7.62 platform. The Magpul edition features a forged lower reminiscent of the old “China Doll” lowers, a midlength gas lightweight barrel, and a full compliment of MOE furniture. The 7.62 AR-pattern rifle I saw was a hunting-oriented variant, but it’s always great to see the future possibility by a company with the horsepower of S&W expanding into the heavier calibers.
3. The new Arc’teryx pack line. I was fortunate to see these bags from their very first prototypes, thru the finished product you see today. I have always felt that military-specific style packs were always a generation or two behind the commercial market, possibly due to the much greater loads needing to be hauled, or the durability concerns of lighter weight materials. The new Arc’teryx pack line has bridged that gap, giving cutting edge performance to a user base that previously didn’t have that luxury in my opinion. As a bonus, they’re available in the Wolf colorway so it won’t look out of place in the airport, or amongst the fine unwashed citizens of Boulder.
4. HK416A5. I’ve been a long time fan of the HK416. Mine has probably crested 60K rounds now, and just won’t die. This year, HK debuted a new model, the A5. It features a rail with integral folding front sight, a very functional adjustable gas regulator, a low-profile flip-up rear previously not seen on US production models but common in Europe, a new slimline butt stock, a match trigger, and the best ambidextrous bolt catch I have seen. It’s easy to lock and release, something that many other designs leave lacking. Last but not least, the mag well has been re-profiled to match the standard AR-15 pattern, the oldest common complaint about the rifle, making it fully Gen M2 PMAG compatible. (Note: Just after Magpul introduced the Gen M3 mag, which worked with the old lowers…). I would like to see the M27 IAR use this lower contour personally, which should allow for consistent use of Surefire’s 60-round mags, giving added flexibility and lethality to the Marines employing it.
5. Kinetic Research Group W3 chassis. I can’t say how much I am looking forward to dropping my AICS for one of these. It’s the most functional chassis system I have seen to date. It reminds me of the Sako TRG chassis, which I am a huge fan of, with a number of solid improvements. It’s also very reasonably priced, made right here in the USA by a veteran Special Forces soldier, and can be inlet for almost any popular action.
6. Magpul’s 25-round .308 magazine. Compatible with the industry standard SR-25/OBR/DPMS pattern rifles, the new Magpul .308 magazines incorporate the M3 technology into larger caliber magazines. The 25-round version also features a window to instantly determine the amount of rounds in the magazine. As a Magpul employee I try very hard not to shill…but this thing is awesome.
That’s my want-list for SHOT 2013. Unfortunately I had to keep a very busy meeting schedule and am certain I missed some things. I also apologize for a lack of pictures, but I didn’t have time to take any. Fortunately, lots of other people did and they’re all over the internet now. I am proud to say I made it an entire SHOT week without catching whatever Vegas disease was popular this year (flu, I believe it was this year), and am glad to have an entire year before seeing Vegas again.