The SHOT SHOW is over a month old and the new products are still being announced. Some of these will never see the light of day but some may actually hit the dealer’s shelves. The SHOT SHOW should be called The Concept Show as at least half of the new products won’t actually be available for a year or two, if then. The idea is to build a new special firearm, show it at the SHOT SHOW and see if you get a lot of interest and more importantly get a lot of orders for it. If so, then you build it. If nobody seems to look twice at it, then you fire the yoyo that came up with the idea and quietly pretend it never happened. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with this, as long as you know this is what is going on. I do the same thing from time to time. I wake up in the middle of the night (usually after eating way too much pizza) with a neat idea for a custom series. I go in my office, draw the gun up and then over the next week or two I build the new prototype revolver. I then show it on the forum and if it gets a lot of “I gotta have one of those” type comments then we build them and add it to the list of custom series. If all I get is a “peeyu, that’s ugly” or even worse, no response at all, then I blame the idea on waterboy and forget it ever happened. That is just good business.
And the above is what much of the SHOT SHOW is all about. At the last SHOT SHOW that Kase, Colleen and I all went to we saw several new new handguns that were “coming soon to a dealer near you”. They never have shown up. We asked one of our distributors about them and he quickly changed the subject. Even the big companies come up with a real stinker once in a while and when they do, they may totally deny it ever was at the show. Or come back with “well boy, I think you are thinking of one of our competitors. I am sure I saw it on their table”. And that is what the SHOT SHOW is all about, concept guns. Just like a concept car show. I think we will see a lot of the new guns that were shown at the show but probably half of what was there.
There is one new thing that the liberal gun haters will be screaming their heads off about. When they yell “high capacity magazines” they are pretty much talking about 20 and 30 round magazines. How about a 60 round or a 100 round magazine for an AR-15? Surefire, the flashlight people are talking about them. They have been expanding their line up this last year or so, into suppressors (silencers to the TV people), and now into extra large capacity magazines. The magazine looks like a standard 40 round AR-15 magazine from 10 feet but when you get close it is obvious it isn’t. The section that goes up into the mag well is the same, but then it flares out to twice it’s width. I haven’t had a chance to try one out but hopefully soon.
H&K, who announced a year or two ago they were pulling out of the U.S. market and aiming toward the law enforcement/military market, has apparently changed their minds. They have a new pistol called the HK P-30 that recently went thru a 90,000 round test to see how it stacked up. Obviously it did very well as H&K are talking about it to anyone that will listen. It comes chambered in 9mm or 40 S&W and has all the normal features most semi autos have these days, interchangeable backstrap, DAO, double/single action modes and comes in a standard size or long slide model. I am sure it is a fine semi auto as all H&Ks are, but I have a hard time getting all hot and bothered over another black pistol that looks just like all the other black pistols.
Sometimes I feel we are spoiled with so many different semi autos to choose from. Looking in the 2010 annuals you will see over 175 different models of semi autos to choose from, and as the 2010 annuals are printed in mid 2009, and a lot of new handguns (all the small frame 9mms and 380s) have been introduced since then, that I am sure we have well over 200 models of semi autos to choose from. And that is a lot. Even the top end gun shops won’t be able to stock all them along with all their variations. Let’s go back 40 years to a more relaxed time in firearms history. 1971, 40 years ago, we had 4 semi autos in 9mm. Just 4. We had the S&W model 59, the first double action American made 9mm and the model 39. We had the Colt Commander and the Belgium made Browning Hi Power. Only 4 semi autos in 9mm to choose from. There were a lot of foreign military and law enforcement guns (mostly used) that were available, like old Steyrs, the Beretta Brigadier, Lugers and Walther P-38s. There were a few Stars around but most were reworked military pistols, nothing newly produced. It can’t be, you say? Well, take a look at the 1971 Gun Digest and you will see. Only 4 semi autos in 9mm to choose from. How things have changed in 40 years.
Well, how about other semi autos? Today we have almost 65 models of 45 autos. In 1971 we had the Colt and .....well, that was it. We had a whole one brand of American made 45 auto to choose from. Colt had a couple of models to choose from, the Government model, the Combat Commander, the lightweight Commander and the National Match, that was to become the Gold Cup. The Star model A which was pretty much a copy of the Colt 1911 was there as was the LLama 45 auto, both Spanish made.
In rimfire semi autos we more than made up for any shortages in centerfire semi autos. There were almost 30 models to choose from, the bulk of them from a couple of manufacturers. High Standard had almost 15 models themselves, all very well made 22 semi autos. Colt had their Woodsmen, Huntsman, Targetsman series of guns. Browning had their Nomad, Challenger and Medalist series of guns while S&W had 3 series of 22s, in their models 41, 46 and 61. Ruger only had one, the MK 1.
When it comes to revolvers, many say revolvers are outdated, that there is no real use for them in today’s world. Well, they must be wrong as there are over 120 different models of revolvers on the market today, not as many as the models of semi autos but a lot. There were a lot of them 40 years ago also. In double action revolvers, Smith & Wesson had 21 models, Colt had 10 models, Charter Arms had 2, the fledgling Dan Wesson company had one, High Standard had 4 models, Iver Johnson had 7 models, all 22s, and Harrington & Richardson had 9 models, also all 22s. In single actions, our choice was much smaller. We had Ruger and Colt in American made single actions. In the foreign revolvers we had Hawes, Herters, J.P. Sauer and the Dakotas, although a couple of these companies were actually pretty much the same guns, just cosmetically changed and with a different name on them. Western guns were still the rage back then with westerns on TV and western movies still being made in large numbers. The Clint Eastwood “Man with no name” series of movies were out and very popular. The Dirty Harry series of movies which started the S&W model 29 rush was still 2 years away.
When it came to hunting handguns, the pickings were slim indeed. We had the Remington XP-100 in 221 Fireball, the Thompson Center Contender in various calibers, mostly varmint calibers with the exception of the 357/44 B&D and the 44 magnum. The Merrill Sportsman was out, a single shot break open pistol with the largest caliber being 357 magnum. And of course let us not forget the Universal Enforcer in 30 carbine. I actually hunted bear in east Tennessee with a friend who brought one of these things along with him. Needless to say, he didn’t get his bear.
The prices have also changed dramatically thru these 40 years. Today if you find a decent semi auto for under $500, better check it out. In 1971 the Browning Hi Power was $112. The Smith & Wesson model 39 was $118. The Ruger Super Blackhawk was $125 while the foreign single actions were all well under $100, probably the reason so many were bought back then. The Colt Python was $190, as was the Colt Single Action Army, very expensive for those days. The Smith & Wesson model 29 44 magnum, not yet extremely popular, was a bit cheaper at $181. For the handgun hunters the Remington XP-100 was under $100 at $99. The Contender was $135 with extra barrels at $36. And for a trail gun or plinker, Ruger’s Bearcat was $44. Things have surely changed thru the years.
We are only days away from our next Handgun Hunter’s Challenge (HHC) in the foothills of Tennessee. We have 20 hunters signed up for this one and a few more that think they will be able to make it and will show up for the hunt. This is our 72nd hunt since 1976. The first two were in ‘76 and then the next ones weren’t until 1987 and there have been 69 hunts since 1987. In all we have had well over 500 hunters to join us for these hunts, which have taken place all over the United States, in Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. In many of these hunts it is a chance to see old friends that we haven’t seen in a year or two, sometimes much longer.
The hunt is March 10th through the 13th at the Wilderness Hunting Lodge in Monterey Tennessee. The hunt is over several thousand acres of land and gives us an opportunity to hunt critters we might not otherwise be able to hunt. The list of huntable animals includes the exotic deer, Sika and Fallow, including some gold medal Fallow bucks. Also there are the exotic sheep, including Corsican, Barbado, Merino, Dall sheep and the Black Hawaiian sheep. There are always Spanish goats of every color, and the very unusual 4 horned sheep. He always has a big herd of Bison and Water Buffalo. There are also Tibetan Yak, a very unusual critter to hunt. He has Red Stag and large Elk. Hopefully the Elk will still have their horns for this hunt. His price on a 6X6 bull elk is just $2450 which is extremely cheap for such a great trophy. Plus lots of meat to fill up your freezer.
Also on hand are Javelina, the little pig like critters normally found in the southwest. He will also have Nilgai which are one of the greatest trophies around and good eating too. And of course he always has hundreds of hogs running wild all over his acreage. He has a special on the hogs for this hunt. That is 2 hogs of any size for just $995. If you want to know more go to his web site at www.wildernesshuntinglodge.com. And if you can, join us for this hunt. We have at least two of our hunters bringing their wives who plan to hunt also. It’s a great hunt and can be as easy or as hard as you like. There are few guarantees in this old world, but I guarantee you that this will be a hunt you will enjoy and remember for years to come. Join us if you can.
Til next, take a kid shooting. They are our future.