As a famous comedian once said, “the sooner you fall behind, the more time you’ll have to catch up.”
Truer words have never been spoken, at least in the context of planning for the 2017 Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show. SHOT Show. With nearly 1,900 exhibitors to visit at the 39th Annual SHOT Show, and only four days to do it, you need all the catching-up time you can get. After walking more 30 miles (yes, I counted!) through dusty range bays and exhibit hall aisles, I did manage to find plenty new gun and gear finds that blew my tactical kilt up. Here are a few of my favorite SHOT Show 2017 finds.
1. Plastic Suppressors
Wait a tic. Isn’t building a silencer out of plastic akin to making football helmets from soggy doilies? You might think so, but the idea actually makes sense. The folks at Inland Manufacturing thought, Hey! The inside of suppressors just gets blown to smithereens anyway, and metal is heavy and ‘clangy’ sounding. Why don’t we make suppressor guts out of plastic? Voila! Enter the PX-22 rimfire silencer. It’s lightweight, quiet, and cheap. The outer aluminum tube and stainless steel base are the serialized parts, so swapping new internals is just a maintenance job. Even through the intestines are “disposable,” early models are handling thousands of rounds with no ill effect. For now, you’ll have to mail your suppressor to Inland to get new baffles installed, but if the Hearing Protection Act becomes law this year, you should be able to just order replacement baffles online. The retail price is just $189.95. If you’re not familiar with suppressor prices, that’s super-duper inexpensive.
2. Plastic Practice Bullets
Apparently plastic was a theme for SHOT Show 2017. The folks at Polycase Ammunition have been injection-molding defensive bullets from a mix of plastic and copper for a few years now. This year, they showed off practice ammo made by the same process. Why? If you like to shoot steel targets, and who doesn’t, the Polycase Inceptor RNP bullets fragment to dust when they hit something hard. That means safer shooting for you and for bystanders because there are no lead and copper jacket fragments to fly back your way. While doing so is not recommended by three out of four personal injury attorneys on TV, demonstration videos show company volunteers shooting steel targets from just inches away with no ill effect.
3. Flinch Detector
OK, so it’s not really named the “flinch detector, ” and I’m pretty sure the Mantis-X Firearms Training System folks won’t market it quite that way, but that’s exactly what this nifty little training tool does. Everyone nags and nags about how dry firing is the very best way to improve trigger (and therefore accuracy) skills, but like flossing your teeth every day, it’s good for you but boring, so few of us do it.
This USB rechargeable rail attachment has magic motion detectors inside that track the movement of your gun just before, during, and right after your shot. Those results are beamed to your smartphone or tablet so you can see all sorts of important-looking and colorful graphs that show you what you did. The best part is that the tool works with live ammo too. Stick it on your gun at the range, and you’ll see exactly what you’re doing with each and every shot so you can eliminate the errors.
4. Gun Parts Made From Tactical Yarn
The team at Brigand Arms have figured out how to make durable rifle parts from carbon fiber yarn. In its uncured state, the tactical “string” does feel like the stuff of grandma’s sweaters, and the company weaves it around molds for AR-15 hand guards. After a curing process, the fibers become rock-hard and shockingly durable. The benefits are exceptional light weight, and the airy woven design allows the rifle barrel to cool quickly.
5. Oil Drum Bullets
Teeny tiny revolvers like the Smith & Wesson snubbies, Ruger LCR, and others remain popular because they’re so darned easy to carry. They’re lightweight, and with smoothly rounded curves, you can drop one in a pocket on your way out to the local Stop ’N Rob for a gallon of milk. The downside is that while .38 Special is no particular slouch as a defensive round, those little guns with short barrels tend to fire bullets on the slower side at more unpredictable velocities. That makes it less likely that fancy self-defense hollow-point bullets will do what they’re designed to do: Penetrate deeply and expand at the same time.
Federal Premium addresses this issue by coming out with their new .38 Special HST Micro bullets, which look like miniature oil drums. The cartridge looks even odder because that bullet is stuffed all the way into the cartridge case – there’s virtually no bullet visible past the case mouth. There’s a reason for this: By using the cylindrical bullet shape, it can be seated more deeply in the case. That minimizes air space and causes more consistent ignition. The result of all that is predictable velocity. Since the velocity doesn’t vary, the company can design a bullet that does expand and penetrates as desired. Hey, it doesn’t have to look traditional to work.
6. Body Armor In Plain Sight
Miguel Caballero has been making personal body armor for a long time. This year, the company showed off some of its more creative wares. Rather than designing armor to fit under or over standard clothing, the company makes everyday clothing—shirts, jackets, blazers—out of bullet-resistant material. The stuff isn’t cheap, but it’s discreet, and it’s a very clever idea. Oh, and it doesn’t just protect against gunfire. Body armor can really help you out with other traumatic events, such as motorcycle accidents.
7. Micro Trauma Kit
Known for slings and magazine carriers and such, Blue Force Gear showed off a new item that everyone can use. The Micro Trauma Kit has everything you need to treat a gunshot wound in a surprisingly tiny belt-mounted kit. The package includes things like decompression needle, chest seal, and Quick Clot trauma bandages. While the odds of needing to use the kit to treat a gunshot wound are low, you’ll be happy to have gear like this if you’re ever the first to arrive on the scene of a something like a serious car accident.
8. DIY Custom Gun Cases
All the cool kids have custom-designed gun cases, so why can’t you? Well, using MyCaseBuilder.com, you can. The company provides and easy-to-use online tool that allows you to use a library of hundreds of gun and accessory templates to design the interior of your very own rifle or pistol case. The sophisticated 3-D model lets you optimize space and protection for all of your gear. When you’re happy with your design, just hit “go, ” and your case is built to your exact specifications.
9. Wireless Lights and Lasers
Earlier this year, Crimson Trace announced the LinQ System. The combination of an AR-15 pistol grip and forward-mounted light and laser module paired by a secure wireless link allowed the user precise control without cumbersome and snag-prone wires. At SHOT Show, the company showed off a new model of LINQ fit for the AK-47 platform. As it turns out, the new Springfield Armory SOCOM CQB uses an AK-47 grip so you can mount the LINQ on that too.
10. Thermal Vision
Technology geeks understand a concept called Moore’s Law. It basically states that computing power doubles while cost falls every 18 months. This year, we started to see the benefits of that axiom in the thermal imaging market. Leupold showed off the new LTO Imaging Monocular.
Using advanced heat sensing technology, the system shows a crystal-clear picture day or night. With an identification range of 600 yards, it’ll be a great tool for hunters and hobbyists alike. While still not cheap, the $700 price tag is a fraction of what similar technology cost just last year.
Bonus: Marketing That Grabs Your Attention
The marketing team at Cerakote never fails to disappoint. This year, urinals in the men’s rooms were plastered with “Finishing never felt so good!” Clever and memorable. Hey, I laughed and stopped by the booth as a result.
These are just a few of the hundreds of fun, interesting, and useful new products on display at SHOT. Want to see the new guns? Check out our rifle video and pistol video to get a two-minute look at the new firearms for 2017.