In the early morning while our breath turned to fog in the cool Las Vegas air, 700 men and women gathered at casino bus stops all along the strip. There were media types of a special sector of communicators, the sporting press, gun writers from around the world.
In the crowd were cowboy hats, berets and ball caps, high heels, combat boots and sensible shoes. Everyone wore or carried some sort of camera. Some came in teams, video squads, while others went solo holding a pen and tablet, or an iPad or a laptop slung alongside.
We were headed to the Boulder City gun range for the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show Media Day, an invitation-only opportunity to test the latest in hunting rifles, sporting shotguns, handguns, optics and ammunition.
On the bus, conversations ranged from social media to “Lone Survivor” to air guns and elephants. Everyone had an agenda, and mine was to test two new Glocks and the revolutionary 26 Nosler rifle.
Straight through the gate, I said goodbye to my brethren of the pen and shouldered my way to the Glock booth. First, they put the all-new G41 Gen4 in my hand, a practical/ tactical 45 ACP pistol with a longer barrel and slide designed to help reduce muzzle flip and felt recoil, for better accuracy in competition and duty use.
Downrange, at 20 yards, a row of steel plates invited me to engage them. I rang the steel with the new full-sized Glock, then picked up the G42. This six-round capacity subcompact is the newest member of the family, a 380, the smallest pistol Glock has ever made.
With a width of .836 inches and a length of 5.94 inches, this Glock fits into a niche between too small for a man’s hands and too big for comfortable carry. There are compromises in any downsized handgun, but Glock found a sweet spot with the G42. I’ve long wished for a smaller version of my favorite pistol and here it is. Good job, Glock.
On the rifle range, I found the 26 Nosler. Central Oregon’s Mike Lake, the Nosler Custom Division Manager, designed this 6.5mm cartridge around the 129-grain AccuBond Long Range. It finds its home in a high-capacity case that fits in a standard length bolt-action.
Zach Waterman handed me the rifle. Mason Payer opened a box of ammunition. I closed the bolt, found a steel pig on the range at 350 yards and squeezed the trigger. There was little felt recoil and through my earplugs I heard the sound of the lead ringing steel.
John Nosler, the company’s founder, would have been proud. When we worked together on his life story, “John Nosler Going Ballistic,” some of his favorite stories revolved around experimentation with 6.5 and 7mm projectiles and wildcat cartridges.
With a muzzle velocity of 3,400 feet per second, this new round retains as much velocity at 400 yards as the 260 Remington produces at the muzzle. With a 200-yard zero, expect a 13.6-inch drop at 400 yards, compared to a 22.2-inch drop for the 260 Remington.
At the Oakley booth, I found Oakley’s High Definition Optics, a series of sunglasses that promise better target acquisition through enhanced tints and precision grinds. In this new HDO line, target shooters get a system that combines clear, light and dark tints.
On the SHOT Show floor, I looked at the latest predator caller from FOXPRO, the new Shockwave. With two horn and two tweeter speakers, this unit has the capability for more volume, but what is better than volume is the ability to fade from one speaker to another and mix and match sounds at the same time during the sequence. It can hold up to 1,000 sounds, has a barometer indicator, moon phase indicators, a timer and more.
On the plane home, I sat next to Ryan Cade, of Portland-based Danner Boots, and when I asked what was new, he said that over the last year, Danner redesigned the Pronghorn, which has sold 1 million pairs since 2001, with more room in the toe. According to Cade, this new Pronghorn is less expensive, lighter and more comfortable than ever.
The 2014 SHOT Show gathered 67,000 company buyers, guests and more than 2,000 media types at the Sands Convention Center. There, all aspects of this $6 billion industry were together under one roof with 1,600 exhibitors and 12½ miles of aisles.
During the show, the National Shooting Sports Foundation unveiled a report that shows that the dollars target shooters spent in 2011 resulted in $23 billion added to the nation’s economy and supported more than 185,000 jobs. In Oregon, target shooting-related spending contributed more than $350 million to the state’s economy and supported 3,574 jobs.
— Gary Lewis is the host of “Adventure Journal” and author of “John Nosler — Going Ballistic,” “Black Bear Hunting,” “Hunting Oregon” and other titles. Contact Lewis at GaryLewisOutdoors.com.