2005 SHOT Show Web Log: Part III

Take a look at the 2005 Shooting and Hunting Outdoor Trade Show through the eyes of Dan C. Johnson, a Intermedia Outdoors gun writer, who reports on things new, old and controversial.

IMR will soon be marketing a new bulky handgun powder for cowboy action enthusiasts. It is formulated specifically for mild lead bullet loads in revolvers.

The final day of the show was on Monday and the crowds had thinned out considerably. Many show goers had left Sunday night to return to work on Monday. I'm not sure why the promoters chose to have the show run Friday through Monday rather than Thursday through Sunday but a lot of the exhibitors were unhappy with the decision. It suited me though as I could quickly navigate the aisles and talk to exhibitors without having to wait for them to get a free moment.

I stopped by the Hodgdon/IMR booth and chatted for a few minutes with Chris Hodgdon about the new Trail Boss powder that will be available soon from IMR. This is a bulky powder designed for mild loads using lead bullets in large handgun cases. It is aimed at the cowboy action market as it fills the cases of rounds like the .45 Long Colt and 44/40 while producing mild pressure. Most fast burning handgun powders only partially fill these big cases resulting in erratic velocities and sometimes can cause unreliable ignition. This is especially true in the cantankerous 44/40 round. Chris informed me the new Trail Boss powder fills these cases even better than Hodgdon's TITEGROUP, which to date has been one of the best powders available for this application.

The Back Booths

Every year I spend a good portion of the last day of the show checking out what I call the back booths. These are the small booths at the back of the showroom where smaller manufacturers and budding entrepreneurs can be found displaying their goods. Let me put this as kindly as I can. Some of the new ideas presented are downright funny, in a sad kind of way. Because it is sad when someone pours their money and dreams into an idea that hasn't a snowball's chance in hades of succeeding. Advances in polymer molding coupled with cheap labor across the sea have prompted a lot of folks to try for a piece of an already saturated accessories market. Shooters are a tough crowd though and not easily tempted by gadgets unless they're truly useful. Look hard enough through the back booths though, and every year you'll find something worthwhile.

This year I had the pleasure of meeting Ted Werner of Power Aisle, Inc. Ted is a bright, friendly fellow with one quality all too unusual among entrepreneurs -- he listens to people. His booth contained an assortment of shooting accessories, mostly various rifle rests and rest accessories, and unlike many who stick to the hard sell and hype Ted engaged me in some honest dialog. He listened with interest when I told him there were flaws in design in all handgun rests on the market and laid out my ideas on what it would take to build the perfect rest. By the time I left his booth we had decided Ted would start work on a prototype of the rest I envisioned and I would help in any way I could with testing and development.

The SHOT Show means lots of press conferences for Primedia staff working hard to get the facts on new products. Shown here is a group of Primedia Editors getting the lowdown from Pat Beckett on new optics from Burris.

The new Kahr P45 puts .45 ACP power in a 9mm sized package. Shown here is the P45 (top) with the Kahr 9mm (bottom) for comparison. The P45 is a noticeably thicker to handle the fat .45 but other dimensions are similar to the 9mm model.

This is not a scale model of the new Starship Enterprise. It is the next generation Bushnell HOLOsight designed to sit lower on the receiver for better sight alignment. Some shooters complained older models required them to lift their head off the cheek piece for a good sight picture. On this new model the simple controls, only two buttons, have been moved to the main body to provide easier access.

Functional Beauty

I've discussed products ranging from plain to ornate but there is a category of shooting related items most dear to me. These are products that are both beautiful and functional, neither too plain to display with pride nor too ornate to actually use. There were many such items at the SHOT Show but I've picked two to tell you about.

Ted Werner models one of his interesting products, a set of electronic muffs with built in FM radio. Anyone who spends a lot of range time alone can appreciate the ability to listen to music while protecting your hearing. These muffs muffle the sound of the shot without interrupting the FM broadcast.

SHOT Show Bloopers

With any undertaking as large as the SHOT Show there are always things that don't quite go as planned. I've shown you a lot of photos here but I wish I had a photo of the look on the face of Primedia V.P. Jim Bequette when he learned he had left a SHOT Show event just minutes before his business card was drawn making him the winner of a Rock River Government Model AR-15. Just one catch, you had to be present to win. As luck would have it, the rifle did end up in the Primedia family as RifleShooter Editor Jerry Lee's card was the next drawn and he was present and accounted for.

I'm glad I don't have a photo of me poolside at the Primedia Reception when I announced I was going for another drink then dropped my glass as I was getting up. I swear I wasn't inebriated. As evidence I point to the fact I was able to bend over and pick up the shards of broken glass without cutting myself or falling in the pool.

This Browning Low Wall single-shot rifle combines the classic good looks of blued steel and checkered walnut with the varmint busting accuracy and power of a thoroughly modern rimfire — the .17 HMR. Browning has unceremoniously produced a run of these rifles in one chambering each year for the past few years.

Manufacturers are usually in a rush to get prototypes of new models together to display at the show and often these prototypes are not perfect examples of things to come. My pick of the number one blooper at the show this year goes to Taurus. I was looking over the various guns on display at their booth when a mirror shiny revolver with an overly long cylinder caught my eye. I picked it up and read the inscription on the barrel: "410 Gauge - 44/40". I puzzled that over for a minute then asked the guy behind the counter, "How can a revolver handle both .410 gauge shotshells and 44/40 cartridges?"

He didn't hesitate, "The barrel is rifled."

"Yes, I understand that", I explained, "but the 44/40 is a bottleneck cartridge. How can you fire it in a straight .410 chamber?"

There are always lots of beautiful knives at SHOT Show to keep a blade aficionado like myself happy but my favorite this year was this limited edition Shiva from Al Mar. It is a perfect blend of form and function. The 5.25-inch double-edge blade is made from laminated steel with a VG-10 core and 440 exterior for high rust resistance. The knife is lightweight and nicely balanced and comes with a superb leather sheath made by Galco.

His response was quick and professional, "Let me ask somebody."

When the next guy came over I asked him the same question. "I was hoping you could tell me", he said in a low voice.

This Taurus revolver was so highly polished it was difficult to photograph under the glaring lights of the showroom but perhaps you can make out the inscription on the barrel. Obviously it should read .410 Gauge - .45 Long Colt, not .410 Gauge - 44/40.

I was only able to cover a fraction of the many products displayed at SHOT Show 2005. With 569,000 square feet of floor space and over 1,700 exhibitors it would be impossible to cover everything so I touched on items I found most interesting. I hope you found them of interest as well. Look to the various Primedia publications for more in-depth information in the months to come.

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