SHOT Show 2007

This is the third year in a row that I've been to SHOT Show. In '05 and '06 it was in Las Vegas. Thanks to my experiences there, I'm not a fan of Las Vegas. This year SHOT was in Orlando, Florida and I am a fan of Orlando. Unfortunately, I have to be honest in this observation: SHOT Show just doesn't carry the same excitement and enthusiasm in Orlando as it does in Vegas. Care to guess where it is in '08? Yeah...back to Vegas.

SHOT Show was everything one would expect it to be: In a word: HUGE. While it may not seem like a difficult task, walking every aisle and stopping at every booth that seems to have anything even remotely of interest isn't all that easy. Even doing it over a four-day period, given the number of times you have to return to certain booths (because sometimes the people you need to see and talk to aren't there on your first visit) means you walk a lot of ground two, three or four times. The 29th Annual SHOT Show is like the biggest outdoor store you can imagine, and this week we're taking a quick look at what I consider to be the HOT items for 2007.

Kriss Super V

A new submachine gun design that is quite innovative was on display at this booth. The gun itself is reminiscent of a Broomhandle Mauser... crossed with a phaser rifle from Star Trek. With a 5.5-inch barrel and using standard Glock magazines for .45ACP, what really sets this weapon apart is that the recoil doesn't travel backward linearly. Instead, through the engineering design concept Kriss developed, the recoil is diverted downward immediately behind the magazine but in front of the trigger and grip. Very cool.

BlackHawk

BlackHawk Products Group seemingly exploded this year. In addition to their already extensive product line(s), they have added:

  • Armor
  • A complete apparel line
  • An expanded outdoor line
  • An expanded light tools line

The two things that really caught my attention were the apparel line and their new Xiphos NT single cell LED pistol light. The apparel line pants (at first) reminded me of some other popular products, but a closer look reveals some interesting differences. The two that I appreciate most are:

  • The MOLLE/STRIKE webbing on the back pockets. Where a popular competitor product has a single strap, the BlackHawk Warrior Wear pants has several straps of MOLLE/STRIKE mounting points. And it's on BOTH back pockets.
  • The cargo pockets on either leg have 2" elastic straps sewn in for holding magazines in place. This is a far cry better than just dropping a bunch of mags in your pocket and having them beat around on each other. Further, if you are practicing and putting your empties BACK into your pockets, then it's easy to separate the empties from the full ones: the full mags are those still in straps.

Their Xiphos NT LED pistol light runs on a single 3V lithium battery and has a fairly intuitive touch pressure switch. They have even incorporated the strobing capability of the Gladius into this pistol light, but I hold comment on how easy that will be to use without plenty of training and practice.

First Choice Armor

First Choice Armor was showing a product they call Fierce Fiber. This wafer thin hard--yet semi-flexible--"plate" was designed to be worn behind regular concealed body armor to provide puncture resistance and a wide dispersal of blunt trauma. To demonstrate the puncture resistance, the rep put the plate down on the floor, curve facing down, so that it was arched up. Then he used a Buck Nighthawk knife and put everything he had behind an overhead thrust into the plate. It dinged the plate, but didn't go through. Then he put the plate on under a vest and invited us to beat on him with an ASP. Well, okay...I had to try that one out myself. With the plate on under a regular IIIA vest, I felt, with no discomfort, the strikes my buddy was laying into me. He says he was swinging for the fence and it certainly felt like a decent impact, but I felt no pain or discomfort and certainly nothing was broken or bruised. Very cool.

Although SHOT Show started out focused on Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor sports, it dedicated a specific space to military and law enforcement products a few years back. That section has grown in size and significance and plenty of what is available there is covered on this week's tactical side. On the recreational side there was much more space dedicated and I'll do the best I can to cover as much of the new products as possible. This week, though, we're taking a quick look at the notable new product releases on the recreational side. I've done my best to include hunting, fishing, camping, archery, backpacking, etc.. Given that the outdoor (original) part of SHOT Show is much larger than the military / LE part, I faced quite a challenge walking it all and finding the items I thought you readers would be most interested in. Let's take a look...

Let me be a complete sexist pig up front: A company called Wilderness Creations had a booth full of mannequins clothed in their camouflage apparel. The apparel line ran mostly to lingerie and bathing suits (not shown here for obvious professional reasons) but was attractive none-the-less. If you are one of those folks who likes to have everything in camouflage, then some of their products are probably right up your alley.

And if you let your significant other go out dressed in one of those outfits, she may need a self-defense tool. Of course, if she's dressed liked that, she won't have room or pockets to carry much. Kimber firearms has released an OC-based defense tool--the LifeAct Guardian Angel--about the size of a pack of cards, that fires two shots of colored gel containing the effective ingredient. The plastic clip on the side makes it pretty easy to carry on a belt or in a pocket and there is a safety built in. Although I wasn't exposed to the agent, and I have no desire to be, I have no reason to believe that it wouldn't be an effective disabling tool.

If your significant other likes to accessorize and happens to purchase a Kimber LifeAct Guardian Angel, they can now accompany that with another defensive option: the new TASER C2. Looking an awful lot like a futuristic "phaser," the TASER C2 no longer even resembles a gun. It looks more like a universal entertainment remote and is available in four different colors: pink, blue, silver and black. Still limited to a 15 foot range, the C2 can be carried in a pocket and has no issues connected with static electric discharge as the X26C did (according to the rep in the booth). Speaking of the booth, I thought TASER went a little overboard with the stock car and Playboy Bunnies, but it's all good. The C2 is priced at about $300, which is a HUGE reduction from the $1000 price tag on the X26C, AND it requires only one pull of the trigger to deliver the 30-second "ride" to the bad guy. The cartridges still incorporate the Anti-Felon Identification Tags and, as a new twist, a background check is required to purchase a C2. This can be done online or via the 800-number they set up for just that purpose.

Revision Eyewear, well known for their military protective eyewear, also has a line of protective masks that are great for use in paintball fun. Shown in the pictures above right they are quite unique and present an almost-alien appearance.

BlackHawk Products Group took the step last year of expanding their line to the outdoor market. It was a logical and easy step and this year saw further growth on that front. The packs, hydration systems, apparel and more in real tree camo have grown in number. Shown here is only one of their packs, hydration system incorporated. Other packs incorporate weapon carrying systems (to haul your rifle or bow long distances). Designed and built based on BlackHawk's extensive experience and knowledge of pack systems, the outdoor line is sure to become a popular item with the hunting crowd. I like it for anything outdoors...real tree is cool.

For as much space SHOT Show required, there just didn't seem to be that many outstanding new product items added. Variations on old themes seemed to be the name of the game. If I had to pick a single outstanding note of the show it would be the explosion of BlackHawk's product line: they've added armor, apparel and expanded their outdoor line, not to mention introducing the first single cell LED pistol light ever AND a Level III holster to go with it.

Be sure to come back next week for the usual reviews that didn't require me to walk just under 60 miles in four days carrying a 40-lb back pack.

BE SAFE!

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