Shot Show 2013 the state of the industry

Sorry for the radio silence for the past couple of days, I’ve been down sick with a pretty nasty case of the SHOT Show Crud, a viral infection which is frequently the inevitable result of spending 8 hours a day in a big room with everyone’s germs.

This was a very interesting show for me, because for the first time since I’ve been going to SHOT, I spent more time in the back rooms making deals than I did on the floor looking at guns. That might have also been because there weren’t a whole lot of new guns at the show, with many manufacturers choosing to not intro new products, and for good reason. This year’s show also shed a lot of light on how things are going to progress in the industry through 2013.

The first thing that really stuck out at the show this year was the significant increase in security, armed and otherwise. There were quite a few armed security guards, as well as on duty Las Vegas Metro PD officers. In past years there had usually been just a couple of cops and a decent number of unarmed guards, but this year was quite different. Now, that security wasn’t because the organizers were worried about a mass shooting, but rather because they were concerned about protesters getting into the show. They were much, much more stringent about badge checks for show attendees – I had never seen people getting stopped for having the wrong kind of badge, but this year I did. It was pretty different.

The next most obvious observation was the relative lack of new product. S&W introduced a whopping four new products, Ruger only dropped a couple, and interestingly on Ruger’s part I didn’t see much of their SR-556 line at the show at all. A big reason for the lack of new product is because every manufacturer is backordered out the yin-yang with their current products, so what’s the point of introducing something new if you can’t meet current demand. Part and parcel with those backorders is a relative concerned about the political climate, because savvy companies see two outcomes:

  1. Some kind of AWB gets passed, and those backorders get cancelled
  2. No AWB gets passed, and the secondary market gets flooded with never fired, lightly used ARs and AKs…which results in a lot of those backorders getting cancelled.

That’s not a particularly appealing proposition for manufacturers, so most of the big name companies played it pretty close to the vest. There were a couple of neat new handguns, like the P0-9 from CZ and the SR-45 from Ruger that caught my attention, but it wasn’t the glut of new products that you’ve come to expect. The Sig MPX definitely ruled the show, and we’ll talk more about that later.

There wasn’t a sense of panic though from the big companies; everyone seemed to be taking a cautious wait and see approach to the upcoming year, and there was a lot of and encouragement to get people to join NRA to help support the 2nd Amendment.

SHOT was interestingly; I didn’t like the expanded security presence one bit, but I understood it. And to be fair, it worked. No Code Pink assholes made it into the show floor, or as far as I could tell anywhere near the show. I appreciated the caution from manufacturers and other companies. Like many other people I’m going to wait and see what happens with the political scene…all the while I’ll be writing my reps and senators.