Last week’s SHOT Show rang up the second- highest attendance in the history of the shooting, hunting and outdoor trade show. More than 60,000 people showed up for the four-day run at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas.
We started with media day at the range, an invitation-only event at the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club. As nice as this facility is, our Central Oregon Shooting Sports Association park is a nicer place to shoot. But Oregon is a nicer place to live than most anywhere else. Don’t tell anybody.
Mark Knowles, Sam Pyke and I strolled among the product displays. The first gun I shot was a new Walther, a compact 9mm they call the PPS M2.
We stopped at an improvised shoot house made of aluminum rails and rubberized walls where Joe Overstreet showed us UTM’s line of training munitions. UTM sells lead- and gunpowder-free ammunition, personal protective equipment and portable training facilities. They also offer training courses. Their target ammunition is available in .223/5.56mm, 7.62mm, 5.7mm, 38 Special and 9mm.
The plastic projectile weighs less than 1 gram with an average velocity of 375 fps at the muzzle. To shoot the UTM ammo, UTM offers a conversion kit that enables the gun to quickly transform from a firearm to a training tool.
At the range, UTM teamed with Target Tracker, a company that offers a line of remote-control robotic targets. We fought the robots from behind an improvised wall and from the front seat of a sport utility in a simulated car-jacking with bad guys coming from both sides.
We also test-fired a new double-barreled pump-action shotgun called the DP-12. Configured bull-pup style, it is loaded with two magazines that hold eight rounds each. The right barrel fires first, then the left barrel, then the action must be cycled with the pump to bring the next two rounds into battery. We had a pile of empties at our feet in no time.
The folks at the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club laid out a challenge course for the outdoor press to try trucks from Chevy, Nissan and RAM. I drove a RAM Rebel up a hill I wouldn’t have driven in my own vehicle. It was tricky driving into blue sky at the tops and negotiating deep ditches on three wheels. The automotive reps put a lot of misplaced faith in a bunch of gun writers, but nobody rolled a truck.
One of the big product releases was the new 30 Nosler, which shares the action length of a 300 Winchester Magnum, but develops 200 fps more at the muzzle. Coincident with the new cartridge, Bend-based Nosler is releasing its Reloading Guide 8 with handloading information for the 26, 28 and 30 Nosler, updates on the latest powders and notes from Nosler’s ballistics team.
Wilsonville-based Flir has a new pocket size Scout TK thermal vision monocular. If you’ve ever been in camp on a moonless night and wondered what kind of creature was prowling around in the dark, you could have used this unit — with still image and video recording. Expect the retail price to hover around $600.
Bullseye Camera Systems, based in Eugene, launched a new AmmoCam sight-in unit that works to 300 yards and retails for $349. I hope to put one to use this spring.
There was no shortage of new offerings from holster-makers, but what caught my eye were two companies that promise “self-defense with fashion sense” and “hidden heat in lace” for women’s concealed carry. In the last few years, the number of women with concealed carry permits has increased by 89 percent, yet the industry still caters to the male firearms owner. Can Can Concealment and Miss Concealed offer some of the latest options in lacy and racy belly bands and holsters.
I also liked a new rimfire lever-action option from Chiappa, a take-down 22 that comes in several models including the stainless steel Kodiak Cub.
Portland-based COAST is offering a new headlamp they call the FL-85. This one has an extra wide focusing lens with a red LED option, a maximum output of 540 lumens and a reach of 172 meters. The battery life is 17 hours on the low setting.
ALPS Outdoorz has a new Grand Slam turkey vest. Strap it on, hike in and sit down on a thick padded seat and recline on the kickstand frame. I’m picturing myself on a warm day in May, fast asleep in a turkey vest easy chair, a gobbler strutting in front of me. I’m willing to take that chance.
The best new thing I found for the dog owner is from Gunner Kennels. Double-walled, roto-molded, American-made, it’s like a Yeti cooler for Fido. The G1 Intermediate is the only size available right now, but it’s perfect for anything from a German shorthair up to a big black Lab.
The industry celebration is over and it’s time to kick off the consumer shows. Mark your calendar for the Pacific Northwest Sportsman’s Show on Feb. 10-14 and the Central Oregon show, which starts March 3 at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center.
— Gary Lewis is the host of “Frontier Unlimited TV” and author of “John Nosler — Going Ballistic,” “Fishing Mount Hood Country,” “Hunting Oregon” and other titles. Contact Gary at www.GaryLewisOutdoors.com.