I had been eagerly anticipating the trip to Shot Show in Las Vegas ever since the invitation was thrown out there by Force12Media to the writers of SOFREP and the Loadout Room. But nothing in by military background would prepare me for what I was about to experience. As I peered out the aircraft window I watched as the scenery slowly transformed from the wintery midwest, to the pale mountainous desert landscape that surrounds the sprawl we know as “Sin City” – a vile hole in the desert filled with everything your deviant mind can imagine. This is the week Vegas is dominated by a heavy dose of testosterone engorged bearded dudes walking around in Velcro clad soft shell jackets and 5.11 pants. I grew up in the Ranger Regiment when we were sporting high and tights and our patches were sewn on, so I was already feeling a little out of place.
Industry day at the range kicks the party off on the Monday before the show, 40 minutes out of town at the Boulder City Rifle Club. This place is a shooters dream come true. With ranges carved into the desert specifically designed for shotguns, pistols, rifles and grenade launchers at every distance you can imagine, there’s no way to leave here without a smile on your face. One of the fastest growing segments in the industry is suppressors, and most of the major players were well represented and offered opportunities to demo their new products.
Shot Show is the 5th largest convention in Las Vegas and for four days straight, over 65,000 professionals in the firearm industry pour over 6.6 million pounds of tactical gear and guns. The elaborate manufacturers displays stretch through miles of the Sands Expo Center over multiple floors are both daunting to navigate and a little overwhelming. Booths representing countries from around the world display everything from the outdoor shooting sports universe. Wide ranging products from the venerable Dillon Aero mini-gun to small quadrocopters with thermal imaging sensors were on display. If it had anything to do with shooting sports or bad-assery, it was there.
Despite the sheer volume of guns and ammo on display, I noticed that firearms as a whole haven’t changed that much in the past 100 years. In fact, there were more booths displaying various iterations of the M1911, a pistol design from the late 1800’s, than any other handgun at Shot Show. Obviously it remains a very popular design, and even though I’m a Glock simpleton, I see a custom 1911 in my future. It’s a beautiful machine that has clearly stood the test of time and every red-blooded American should have at least one in their arsenal.
Sifting through a sea of AR platforms and related accessories, I didn’t see anything groundbreaking that will revolutionize a particular system or firearms in general. The overall theme this year for this tried and true platform was weight loss. Carbon fiber barrels as well as heavily skeletonized rails and receivers manufactured from exotic alloys were a common sight. Some had so much material removed from the original design that it looked like they were made from toothpicks. Time will tell whether durability will be an issue with these “race gun” looking plinkers. What I found most entertaining was observing the doughy YouTube warrior with his Infidel and Professional Door Kicker patches handling these weapons using some over the top version of Chris Costa’s C-clamp grip.
In true Las Vegas fashion, the entertainment never stopped. Wether it was foiling the plot of the young female/male Chinese spy that was obviously probing the SOFREP writers after-hours cocktail party at a casino bar. Or a surreal scene witnessing an officer involved shooting in front of the Bellagio Hotel while crowds of bystanders watched the famous water and light show all while Frank Sinatra echoed in the background. There’s never a dull moment in Sin City and I don’t envy the job law enforcement and fire rescue have to deal with on a daily basis.
After a week in the desert, here are a few takeaways:
- Uber is one of the best inventions ever!
- The need to invent a soft-shell jacket made purely of velcro, because people WILL buy it.
- Wether you smoke or not, your voice will end up sounding like an 80 year old grandmas from the Bronx with a 3 pack a day habit after a week roaming the casinos.
- There’s nothing “happy” about $9 domestic Happy Hour beers.
- Trying to wash the Vegas out of your clothes is impossible, just burn them.
- Start growing a beard now for next years Shot Show.
Although it was a fun trip getting to know the other writers from Sofrep and The Loadout Room, it’s nice to finally be home. Now it’s time to sort through the contacts we made with vendors of interesting new products that we plan to test and review for the readers of The Loadout Room in the near future.
(Feature Image Courtesy of shotshow.org)