ShotShow 2011 was an interesting event this year given the recent tragedy in Tucson with Representative Giffords. While I avoid any and all political discussion at these types of events (mostly because there is no bidirectional dialogue, only whinging and posturing), I expect that there was substantial discussion on the politics of gun control. Not surprisingly in the news, there are already reactions from both sides of the political fence as some from the far left argue for greater restrictions on the ownership and access to firearms while others on the far right argue for unfettered access to all things guns related.
My take on all this controversy is the same reaction that I have with other unfortunate events gaining media attention that induce in some, a reactionary response to specifically targeted, but *rare* events. Policies that are instituted based upon reactive responses typically have unintended adverse consequences. I am thinking specifically of the terrorist events that have involved the United States over the past decade where Richard Reid had bombs hidden in his shoes resulting in all of us having to take off our shoes whenever we fly, an absurd reactionary requirement that resulted from a single incident. Similar events prevent us from carrying scissors, pocket knives, or even bottled water or infant formula on planes with us and subject travelers to unreasonable searches of our persons and now, potentially tremendously increased new exposures to ionizing radiation with the new TSA backscatter screning devices. Taken to extremes, governments end up banning routine items and tools from persons like in the U.K., where a simple pocket knife is not allowed to be carried and you have to have paperwork documenting that you use a kitchen knife to even have it in your possession outside the home.
While isolated events garner media attention, we focus on easy targets rather than acknowledge all the many other targets that endanger or could possible harm us. In fact, we deliberately ignore many modern conveniences that *do* create considerable harm and cost to society. Injuries and fatalities related to automobiles are spectacularly costly. Injuries related to sporting events cause untold financial burden to the country, and the fiscal burden imposed by diabetes and obesity are becoming a national security concern through increased heathcare costs and lost work productivity. Yet we are not in an all fired rush to ban football in schools, college or professional venues and we routinely encourage consumption and marketing of unhealthy foods and sedentary lifestyles through local and national policies.
While i am uncomfortable with some of the more shrill aspects of the culture, the firearms industry really is an interesting and notable bright spot in innovation and manufacturing in this country. While we have nationally spent years outsourcing manufacturing to other countries in all sorts of industries, the firearms industry has continued to develop and innovate making it possible for small business initiative to driving aspects of our society and economy. One notable example of this is George Gardner, seen above who started a small company in 1999 called GAPrecision. I’ve written about his company before, but George is an accomplished riflesmith who has built his company up by paying attention to craftsmanship and high quality manufacturing.
Another example of a small company that focuses on high quality manufacturing and engineering is Advanced Armament Corporation (AAC). AAC was formed a few years ago with the express focus on creating and manufacturing noise suppressors for firearms. I don’t know all the details of the companies history, but I seem to recall that they came into existence around 2007 and in October of 2009, AAC was acquired by Remington Arms. The company has been another bright success story that has kept high quality manufacturing and engineering in this country. My hope is that we can continue to encourage other small business and manufacturing in this country. We have a number of opportunities in everything from machining to biotech that can drive this countries economy and should be developing national policy to help support companies that are willing to keep manufacturing in this country much like what Germany has most successfully done over the past few years.
Speaking of German companies, Heckler & Koch whose MR556A1 rifle I shot yesterday is now assembling these rifles here in the United States. The barrels and other components are manufactured in Germany then shipped to the USA for final assembly.
Kriss is another company that produces very high quality products that are remarkably innovative. These designs are truly new thoughts on how firearms should be designed and they appear to work rather well. I have some range time with the Kriss submachine guns and they absolutely are controllable even with the .45 cal round.
Keltec was exhibiting a new bullpup shotgun design that is very compact and appears quite comfortable and controllable. I’ve not had any range time with it yet, but do hope that Keltec can manage to pull this one off. It is a unique design, no doubt.
Other new items were the Sig Arms P290 subcompact pistol. I am not quite sure how to feel about this one. It is a small, compact design like some of the other designs out there, but chambered for 9mm. I have reservations about this entire category of guns, but the P290 is likely the best engineered of the bunch with better than average safety features.
Here is Tom Specht with the LMT .308 rifle in a 20in barrel. I had very good things to say about the LMT .308 with a 16in barrel yesterday, so I anticipate that the 20in barrel will provide even better accuracy beyond 1000 yds.
Kimber had a very interesting non-lethal weapon design out at their booth in the form of a double chambered capsicum firing pistol. Not quite sure how it works or how it performs, but it was interesting.
This picture is for my friend John Sturr who specifically asked for my thoughts on the Smith & Wesson Governor. It is certainly a unique design and they appear to be selling well. I have no idea what inspired the company to make this thing, but the ability to fire .45 Colt, .45ACP and a .410 shotgun shell out of this thing does make it a flexible design. On top of that, you have the safety and reliability of a revolver. Not having any range time with it limits my impression some, and while its a little bulky, S&W appears to have a winner on their hands.
Troy Industries, manufacturer of rails and chassis systems for firearms also were demonstrating a robotic system with remotely fired and controlled mounts for light arms.
I am thinking I could take over the whole world with this semi-automatic grenade launcher from Sage Control Ordnance.
While the Shot Show is much larger than the firearms industry, time was so short this year that I simply did not have time to spend any time at some of the other booths exhibiting other categories. You can easily spend 3 or 4 days going through all of the floorspace here, but my photographic work saw me present on the show floor for a day before I had to head home to finish work on a manuscript. But not before photographing the AAC Big Bang Party tonight. Last years AAC Big Bang Party was pretty impressive and they tell me that this years will be even better. Stay tuned…