By Jeff W. Zimba
The 20th Annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) show hosted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation was again held in Las Vegas January 27th – 30th, 1998. The largest show of its kind in the world celebrated its 20-year anniversary boasting an attendance of 32,756 visiting their 450,000 square foot exhibition at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
As usual, this event was host to a virtual “Who’s Who” in the shooting industry. In attendance this year were 1,650 visitors from almost 90 foreign countries, with 207 foreign exhibitors displaying their wares in addition to more than 1,100 domestic exhibitors.
For any of you who have been led to believe that this event is nothing more than a big room full of 30-30’s and would be of no interest to those of you with an interest in the fast and exotic, you could not be further from the truth. This show, whose obvious primary focus is on the “Sporting” edge of the firearms realm, still has something for everyone.
As you walk through the main entrance identified by a typical Las Vegas style neon sign, you are transported into a firearm enthusiast’s Mecca. You are immediately greeted by the enormous displays of such firearm icons as Browning, Remington, and H&K. These are not your typical gun show style displays consisting of a few tables covered with cloth, but rather intricate satellite branches of the manufacturers, distributors and dealers home locations. Some of these displays are two stories high, with separate offices for getting down to serious business. Most displays include entire inventory lines for prospective purchasers to handle and evaluate. Many use gimmicks and clever marketing strategies to catch your attention, such as beautiful models and free drawings. Many displays include an interactive area where attendees can participate in various competitions or just try out a new product.
Tasco hosted one particular interactive display. It was an opportunity to do a little timed shooting on falling targets. You were supplied with a pistol set up to fire a laser each time you squeezed the trigger and you were to engage a corresponding set of targets as they popped up. You were given a time limit and the total number of targets fallen decided the winner. The person who knocked down the most targets in the allotted time frame would win a Tasco scope. (After taking his turn, this writer hit a few under the leading score and was presented with the consolation prize of a Tasco T-shirt.)
One prominent feature of the last few SHOT Shows seems to be the proliferation of .50 caliber bolt action and semi-automatic rifles into the general sporting arena. There were numerous .50 caliber rifles being offered and displayed. Some with a proven track record such as the LAR Grizzly and the Barrett, were on display, and there were others that I have not seen in the past. A cartridge once thought of as having no application other than in a military role is now being embraced by the main stream market. Long range shooters, such as the 50 Caliber Shooters Association caught on to this round years ago, and it appears as though the rest of the market is finally getting on board.
Mike Dillon of Dillon Precision had an educational display of his Blue Press’s. There were many models set up to allow you a little “hands on”, and there were many of his associates there to answer any questions you may have had. With a group that shoots as much ammunition as our readership, combined with a product as time proven as Dillon’s Blue Press, it was easy to meet with many friends and familiar faces at his display.
I spoke with the crew of Knight’s Armament at their display numerous times. Among other products, they had their very popular M-16 Rail Interface System, their SR-25 .308 Rifle Series, and their new SR-50 .50 caliber semi-auto rifle. Also present at the Knight booth was 7 time NRA Open National High Power Rifle Champion, David Tubb. David won the 1997 event with a custom Knight SR-25 rifle chambered in 6.5mmx.308. David is the first person in history to achieve this prestigious title using a semi-automatic rifle. This is a true testament to the quality of the SR-25 as well as the tremendous proven ability of Mr. Tubb. In his own words, he chose the SR-25 rifle because of several desirable features it entails, as well as Knight’s meticulous quality control.
Jonathan Arthur Ciener was present with his .22 sub-caliber units. His newest addition is for the Glock. He is anticipating a large influx of orders for these units and I believe he is correct. All of Jon’s sub-caliber units have a good reputation for quality and workmanship, and every one I have had the opportunity to handle has functioned fine.
For any of you who are still skeptical that this show is too low key for you to attend, a few other exhibitors whose names you may recognize are Armalite, Gun Parts Corp., and J&T Surplus. In talking with J&T, things were successful enough for them to already book their display area for the 1999 SHOT Show in Atlanta, GA.
Ted Nugent was again in attendance representing his organization, United Sportsmen of America, and the folks from Browning. An avid outdoorsman and legendary rock and roller, Mr. Nugent is a tireless fighter of our rights and is invaluable to the preservation of our shooting heritage and our outdoor tradition. Ted was also on hand to autograph the official ’98 SHOT SHOW Auction Bow, a one of a kind Browning Bloodbrother, donated by Browning, for the lucky high bidder.
There were many in attendance, as usual, who were not displaying any wares, but simply attending to keep up on the latest industry information, and to meet with old friends. I ran into Larry Pratt, Executive Director of Gun Owners of America, John Ross, author of Unintended Consequences, Kent and Kathy Lomont of Lomont Precision Bullets, as well as countless other prominent industry people.
There were many new and exciting products being introduced and displayed this year, and you will have to keep your eye on Chris Choats’ New Review column in this Magazine, for details. He will be testing them and writing about them for many months. For any of you interested in attending this show in the future, the 1999 SHOT SHOW will be held in Atlanta Georgia, and the 2000 SHOT SHOW in New Orleans, Louisiana. I hope to see you there!
National Shooting Sports Foundation Flintlock Ridge Office Center
11 Mile Hill Road
Newtown CT 06470
(203) 426-1087 – Fax
Dillon Precision Products, Inc.
8009 E. Dillon’s Way
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Knight Armament Company
7750 9th Street S.W.
Vero Beach, FL 32968
Jonathan Arthur Ciener, Inc.
8700 Commerce Street
Cape Canaveral, FL 32920
United Sportsmen of America
4133 W. Michigan Avenue
Jackson, MI 49202
J & T Surplus
PO Box 430
Winchester, KY 40391
PO Box 299
Geneseo, IL 61254
Gun Parts Corp.
226 Williams Lane
W. Hurley, NY 12491
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V1N9 (June 1998)|