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Shot Show Airsoft Report

Shot Show Airsoft Report

The 39th Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show, owned and operated by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), signalled a positive year ahead for the firearms industry, both in the USA and internationally. Strong attendance, upbeat buyers and sellers, and a series of packed special events that collectively made up ‘SHOT Week’ resulted in one of the top-rated SHOT Shows ever!

The show spanned January 17th - 20th at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas. Industry professionals packed the aisles from the get go, and by the time the doors closed on the Friday afternoon attendance totalled nearly 65,000, surpassing last year’s turnout to make it the second most attended SHOT Show in the history of the event.

I’ve been to SHOT Show on a number of occasions now, and if you’ve never visited, the sheer scale of what is on offer will blow your mind; you’ll end up walking miles to see so much innovation that it quite literally takes your breath away, and it’s the perfect opportunity to make new connections and re-establish old ones.

Now, we have the IWA Outdoor and Classics Show here in Europe, and I’m pleased to report that it continues to grow steadily, but SHOT is like IWA on steroids. There were thousands of products for attendees to see on the show floor, encompassing firearms, ammunition, accessories, optics, knives, gun safes, apparel and tactical equipment, among other categories. More than 500 new products from 338 companies were on display in the show’s New Product Centre alone, which was sponsored by the U.S. Concealed Carry Association. In addition to the more than 1600 exhibiting companies on the main show floors, the NEXT 2.0 Pavilion provided first-time vendors from the show’s extensive waiting list with welcome visibility and potential new customers.

If there’s something you want to find in relation to Shooting Sports, including the very latest airsoft innovations, then ‘SHOT’ is most definitely the place to visit!

Ranging in!

Not all of the important attractions are on the Show floor though, and one of the most eagerly anticipated events is Industry Day at the Range; this takes place on the Monday immediately prior to the show and is held at the Boulder Rifle & Pistol Club Boulder City, Nevada, approximately 25-miles out into the desert south of Las Vegas. Coaches are provided throughout the day to transfer both media attendees and buyers from The Strip to the range, and once there you can rest assured that as a shooter you’re going to have an amazing day!

Industry Day at the Range is the largest, most influential one-day event in the hunting and shooting industry, period. For the last eleven years, Industry Day has been the epicentre where gun, archery and hunting manufacturers, dealers, buyers, retailers and the media join together for one day on the range where new products are unveiled, tested and analysed. It provides a hands-on experience that one cannot get anywhere else, especially if you’re from the UK, as there are full-auto carbines and .50 calibre rifles for you to shoot, and more handguns than most of us have seen in one place before. Ammo is dished out like sweets, but the safety aspects are always to the fore.

Whilst not airsoft, I had the great pleasure of shooting some great new firearms including the Hudson HP9, the Colt Delta Elite, the Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 pistol, and the DVC Carry and Tactical models from STI International. Lewis Machine and Tool were showing off their latest PDW, which I loved shooting, and the Kel-Tec bullpup was an absolute dream; there were many more! You name the company, all the big names, and they were there, and I’m somewhat embarrassed that I must have cost the manufacturers a considerable amount in ammunition!

Hitting the floor(s)

The doors to the show proper, though, opened bright and early on the Tuesday morning, and after a brief visit to the professionally run Press Room, sponsored this year by Carhartt, it was time to get rolling; as much as I like to see as much as possible when I visit SHOT, experience has taught me that you need to make a schedule and stick to it. It’s simply just not possible to see everything, but with so many friends in attendance there was a constant ‘heads up’ flow of information in relation to exciting new products.

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Firstly, it was absolutely fantastic to see Danny, Bip, and Paul from NUPROL who were there intent on doing some serious international trade, and that’s exactly what they did after the confirmation of 101 Tech USA Inc. as the official distributor of NUPROL products in the USA; 101 Tech are essentially G&G USA, so this is absolutely huge news, and a great move forward for our ‘home team’! Bloody well done NUPROL, keep flying that flag proudly!

Talking of G&G, they always have something new to talk about at SHOT and this year was absolutely no exception; there were two new CQB AEGs in the form of the ARP9 and the ARP556, both super-compact with PDW style sliding stocks, a slightly longer PDW15 and a super ‘larger calibre’ offering in the shape of the TR16308, which will be a dedicated, out of the box DMR. G&G were also showing a new ‘M92’ style pistol, which has some clever internal performance tweaks and comes suppressor ready, along with some tasty wheelguns. To put the icing on the cake, not only did they have their new G2 gearbox with enhanced performance and functionality to show me, but also their G2 MOSFET, which is half the size of their G1, but offers single shot, three round, five round, and full-auto settings! Looks like it’ll be another exciting year for them.

Following the trend in the ‘real steel’ world, a number of manufacturers were showing ‘AR/AK’ style hybrid carbines, the most impressive of these to me being the Krytac Alpha 47 CRB; hopefully one of these will be winging my way for evaluation. Now, I’m not a big personal fan of the whole ‘KRISS Vector’ deal, but I know that for many of you, the AEG version of this innovative firearm has been eagerly awaited; well, the wait is over, it’s here and it looks as if it’s going to be both a performer and a seller!

In terms of prototypes, it was exciting to finally see a SIG MCX on the Palco Sports stand, and a number of handguns from Elite Force that all looked very good indeed. Other big news included getting ‘hands on’ the new EVO Carbines from ASG; Paul at ASG has been teasing me with these for some time now, and the two variants, one suppressed and one standard are absolutely lovely! It’s great seeing such a positive response to a European business in the US marketplace, and with a new handgun colour to boot, ASG are certainly driving forward well and their range of fully licenced replicas never ceases to impress and inspire.

Accessories, my dear, accessories!

Valken looked to have a couple of new models of AEG to show this year, one of which was a very tasty looking CQB model, but it was their accessories that really impressed; rails, foregrips, stocks, suppressors and consumables were all there for the viewing. The PTS stand was equally impressive, as their line of branded and fully licenced accessories continues to expand, but once again it was UTG/Leapers that really caught my eye in this respect.

The UTG/Leapers stand is always and impressive affair, but this year seemed bigger and bolder than ever before; if you need an accessory for your RIF, then they will undoubtedly have it! Last year at IWA they were at the very forefront of the whole ‘KeyMod’ rail drive, and whilst adding further to this, they’ve also delved fully into ‘M-LOK’ as well. There were some great rails and accessories on show for AK variants, but it was their ‘PRO 15 inch Super Slim’ system that really caught my eye; if you’re looking to build a ‘race rifle’, then this comes in a whole rainbow of colours to catch the eye and is extremely light and low-profile!

And talking of things ‘race’, of course Redwolf were all over this, with some stunning new ‘Airsoft Surgeon’ replicas to drool over; I look forward to seeing Clarence at IWA and to getting the lowdown on his new ‘cutaway’ creations. Redwolf also had a sample of the new Battle Arms Development Inc. licenced upper and lower receivers for the Tokyo Marui GBBR; this, to the best of my knowledge is the first of its type for the TM, and the sample looked absolutely stunning, as you would expect.

Well-known and highly respected as a retailer in the USA, EVIKE had a stunning stand showing off the very best of their custom work; SALIENT ARMS AR-15 PDW? SEEKINS MCSR V2? Bespoke M4s’ with ‘Unique AR’ front ends? Yes please to all! The EVIKE team really pushed the boat out with their display, showing exactly what can be achieved with a good base RIF and some really high quality accessories.

Of course, what I’ve brought you here is just the very tip of the iceberg, and there is SO much more exciting news that will be coming by the time that IWA is upon us, and visiting SHOT show this year has let me tap into it earlier than ever before. Of course I also spoke at length to manufacturers in the footwear, clothing and equipment sectors, but that’s a whole other story; suffice to say that there’s a lot of tactical goodness lined up for evaluation and review, which will drop into Gun Mart in the coming months.

SHOT Show is the largest trade show of its kind in the world, attracting attendees from more than 100 countries. Preparations have already begun for next year’s 40th anniversary SHOT Show, which will return to the Sands Expo on January 23rd - 26th; hope to see you all there… IT’S VEGAS, BABY!

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