As we savor the schadenfreude of the last election, we need to avoid resting on our laurels. I’m aware that some who follow this backwoodshome.com blog don’t actually read Backwoods Home magazine. I’d encourage you to get a subscription, or at least, pick up a copy at the newsstand. The current issue has the third and final installment of my series on the real issues in the gun control debate, which you can find here.
We’ll be in this fight for the rest of our lives. Your comments – and suggested strategies for the battle for gun owners’ civil rights – as always are welcome here.
The mood was upbeat at this next to last day of the SHOT Show as we awaited the January 20 inauguration of the most pro-gun President since maybe, oh, Theodore Roosevelt.
Interesting gun news: it was announced today that the Army will adopt as its new pistol the SIG P320. The announcement comes as a surprise to many. The Glock 9mm had been seen as the front-runner. After all, though, the contract was for an MHS – Modular Handgun System – and the P320 with convertibility in size and even caliber is as modular as the state of the art offers right now. The Army is also very big on manual safeties. That’s an option on the P320, and while this feature is not mentioned in the press releases thus far, photos accompanying the releases depict P320s with ambidextrous thumb safeties.
Lotsa new stuff this year. Some is good new stuff. Case in point: the MantisX Training System. It’s a module that slides onto your firearm’s accessory rail and coordinates with your Apple or Android device. Live fire or dry fire, aim at something and shoot. You’ll get a readout of how smooth and consistent your trigger pull was and, in the last instant, registers where even a “shot from an empty gun” would have hit. It tracks gun movement the whole time. The police department I serve IS gonna have one of these!
Some of the new stuff is…well…remember the classic gun book from 1955,“Firearms Curiosa” by Lewis Winant, with items like palm pistols and belt buckle guns? If Mr. Winant had been around to attend the 2017 SHOT Show, he would have found enough material for at least one new chapter.
There was a customized folding semiautomatic pistol in two variants, one of which when unfolded turned into a Glock with no trigger guard. There was an updated version of the pre-WWII Mossberg Brownie pistol with six barrels instead of four, which fires two .25 Auto barrels per pull of the trigger. The Evil Princess was particularly horrified by a holster that she and I figure can cost the shooter his or her life in at least three different ways. (1) The safety strap appears to be narrow enough to enter the trigger guard upon reholstering, causing the pistol to discharge as it is pushed the rest of the way into the scabbard. (2) That Velcro-closed strap, when secured on a holster designed to be worn inside the waistband, goes to the bottom of the holster requiring the shooter to reach so deeply down into his or her pants that they’re unlikely to be able to get a proper hold on it to pull it clear if they have to draw to save their life. (3) The holster is demonstrated with that safety strap going over the back of the grip panel, so with a proper drawing grasp, the web of the hand is likely to hold the strap against the gun and trap the pistol so it can’t be drawn readily in self-defense.
Overall, though, there was lots of good stuff, and a total “kid in the candy store” element for any gun enthusiast lucky enough to cruise the miles of aisles. Evil Princess logged five and a half miles on her FItBit at the Show today. I spent more than half the day in meetings and was spared some of that exercise. Lucky me.
SIG P320 with factory optional ambidextrous manual safety.
The compact MantisX training system is a stone cold bargain at around $150.
The SHOT Show goes far beyond just guns. One of the hottest accessories today is the sound suppressor – silencer – which is riding a huge wave of popularity that has yet to crest. My old friend Jeff Chudwin is a retired police chief, several-time national patrol rifle champion, head of the Illinois Tactical Officers Association, and one of the great street survival gurus of all time. He has flatly stated that he thinks every police patrol rifle should be equipped with a silencer. Not just for tactical reasons, but also because of the risk of hearing loss in training with very loud guns. He cites the case of an officer he knows who lost 50% of his hearing when a brother officer fired a 5.56mm M4 rifle near him in the course of an on-duty shooting where naturally, no one was wearing ear protection. Today’s silencers are better than ever, and we have gun-makers such as SIG and Ruger making their own.
For some time now, the SHOT Show schedule has included not just show and tell/show and sell, but training. Some of it has to do with marketing and management for firearms dealers and shooting range owners, but some of it also has to do with survival. Some highly-credentialed people are teaching initial police response to mass murder incidents, and offering tactics for unarmed civilians caught up in such atrocities.
Today some of us from Massad Ayoob Group took a well-attended class on firearms dealers’ role in suicide prevention. The National Shooting Sports Foundation has joined with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to help gun dealers recognize customers with suicidal ideation in hopes of denying those people the means to carry out impulsive self-destruction. Though some have the impression that this is a new concept, it actually follows in the footsteps of the New Hampshire Firearms Safety Coalition under Elaine Frank, and the Gun Shop Project spearheaded by gun shop owner Ralph Demicco, an active member of NHFSC. This program puts suicide prevention posters and literature into the shops themselves, and offers training for gun shop staff on how to pick up subtle indications of suicidal ideation. There have already been “saves” with it, and many other states have developed programs modeled on New Hampshire’s. It is good to see a national organization picking up that ball and running with it, given that some two-thirds of the “deaths by gun violence” that prohibitionists cite as a reason for you and I not to own firearms are in fact suicides.
Christine Moutier, MD, Chief Medical Officer of AFSP yields the microphone to Bill Bussard of NSSF at SHOT Show suicide prevention lecture.
Latest variant of Ruger Mark IV .22 pistol, the 22/45 lightweight, mounts Ruger’s own suppressor. Handy thing to have around farm or ranch. Yes, suppressor requires BATFE licensing.
Had the prof done the slightest bit of research, he would have learned that blanks won’t cycle the slide of a semiautomatic service pistol, leaving the gun “jammed” after the first futile loud noise. To make an auto pistol work with blanks for TV and movies, the gun has to be altered in such a way that it can no longer safely fire live ammunition. In a situation where you are on the defensive and have to shoot or die in an instant, loading a defensive weapon with blanks is not only spectacularly stupid, it can be fatally stupid.
In December, some rocket scientist decides the safest way to identify your target before you fire is by pressing your trigger…to activate gun-mounted white light what-could-possibly-go-wrong/ . The first prototype I saw like this was 25 years ago that the inventor had planted on a Glock, leaving the shooter a startle-twitch away from shooting anything in the light beam that surprised him. We laughed at it then. It’s better to laugh than to cry now, a quarter century later.
And, at SHOT in January, we saw a resurgence of a trigger that fires the gun once each time you press it…and again as soon as you take your finger off! It’s an idea that has been around for a while. The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives has thus far let that skate with the maker’s argument that it’s only one pull of the trigger, and nothing in the legal definitions EXPLICITLY bans a shot firing when the trigger finger is removed therefrom (a/k/a “release trigger”). I am not sure how long it will be before the Bureau changes its mind on that, but I for one don’t want to be the test case. Yeah, I know: “because fun.” Still, a firearm that discharges when you take your finger OFF the trigger after firing an intentional shot is far enough away from a normal “manual of arms” that it strikes me as an accident waiting to happen.
How many things do YOU think can go wrong with the above?
All the new goodies at SHOT Show were more than any one reporter – particularly me, who didn’t get there until the second night of the event – could cover. But there were also new products I got to look at before…and after.
J-hook for belt on new Safariland holster at left of photo, and at lower right of same pic, pad which prevents holster from digging into body and levers muzzle outward away from groin and femoral artery if carried in appendix position.
Before: In early January the EP and I visited Bill Rogers at the Safariland facility in Jacksonville, FL and were sworn to secrecy on the new GLS inside the waistband holster scheduled for announcement at SHOT.
Regular pistol packers know that a holster inside the waistband is considerably more discreet and concealable than one worn outside: there’s less bulge, and the cover garment can ride up higher without revealing the holstered gun. Except for thumb-break safety straps, there have been few with security features that might keep the holster from yielding the gun to an unauthorized hand in a struggle with a violent criminal. Greg Kramer came up with one, as did Strong Leather, both back in the 1990s if I recall correctly, but neither caught on.
J-hook secures on bottom edge of belt, and niche above secures as well: double security.
This one, designed by master holster maker Bill Rogers himself, incorporates the intuitive GLS security lock which is fast and natural for the wearer to release, but not so for someone standing in front of or behind the wearer. Already well proven in outside the waistband designs, this one rode comfortably inside my own waistband for several days before the SHOT Show, and proved both fast and secure with the 9mm Glock I used for testing in daily carry. Rogers himself does not consider this a “security holster” per se, but it does give the wearer an additional margin of safety. Recommended!
WarLock barrel change option from Frontier Tactical is an ingenious approach to AR15 versatility.
After: The weekend following the Show, fellow Glock Sport Shooting Foundation contestant Tim Young joined us at a GSSF match in Boulder City, NV along with Tim’s friends Nate Love and Scott Gray, who run Frontier Tactical. I had missed them at the Show itself, but at the range got to look at their way cool switch-barrel AR15 conversions. Instead of changing the entire upper, you can keep the same optic to which you are accustomed in place, and switch from .223/5.56mm to .300 Blackout with NO other changes, and with bolt and magazine changes can swap to numerous other calibers. They’re working with an optics manufacturer whose product will allow, with a touch of the controls, for pre-determined zero to switch between calibers too, saving you the price of another optic and mount.
In both cases, proof that you don’t have to be in one place at one time to get the scoop on innovative, useful new gun products. Change is constant. Insert additional clichés as necessary…but tell me, what new products have our blog readers spotted that I’ve missed? Feel free to share here, as this blog’s 2016 SHOT Show coverage ends.