American made AK

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So, now a month into 2016, and with SHOT Show over, here are my Top 5 Firearms Industry Predictions for 2016.  Take a read and let me know what you think!

1. Firearms Sales will Skyrocket. Again.  Existing gun owners will continue to add to their collections, and there will, again be significant increases in first-time gun buyers, the fastest growing segment of which are women and minorities.

Why?

  • Given the current political environment, existing gun owners are going to accelerate purchases they would otherwise put off, and prospective gun owners are going to finally pull the trigger (pun intended) on that purchase they’ve been contemplating.  The gun control movement, currently championed by President Obama, defined by a series of ineffective Executive Actions as he rides out his lame duck session, coupled with the fear of someone even worse, has many afraid that guns on their wish lists might be unavailable in the future.  And we all know nothing sells anything better than the threat of not being able to get it later.  (The worst kept secret in the firearms industry is that Obama’s been Gun Salesman of the Year for the last 8 years running.  Ironic, no?!)
  • More people are going to embrace the idea of having a gun for home defense and personal protection.  Recent terror events in Paris and San Bernardino, CA, ironically two areas with some of the strictest gun control laws, have forced folks to realize that laws don’t always keep people safe, and that those sworn To Serve and Protect can’t be everywhere at once.  Put it all together and you’ll understand why many smart, realistic, logical people exercise their Second Amendment Right.
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Courtesy of NSSF. Please note the chart is missing  2015 data.

2. Concealed Carry Permits will Continue to Soar. Again.  Inline with an increase in general firearms sales, more people will make the decision to take their firearm outside the home, primarily for personal protection, and pursue their concealed carry license.

Why?

  • Personal protection!  Let’s face it, the bad guys are already carrying guns (oh, but why aren’t the laws stopping them??…), so knowing that, more and more Good Guys will make a conscious decision to give themselves an advantage, or at least level the playing field.  “Sometimes the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun” is NOT just a catchy slogan.  It’s a proven fact!  And while such stories rarely make national news, you can find plenty of examples if you take the time to look into it objectively.
  • National Reciprocity.  In addition to getting a carry permit for personal protection, folks will continue to pursue carry licenses to get ahead of the curve in hopes that 2016 will finally bring about a National Concealed Carry Standard.  In terms of concealed carry, the U.S. currently has an overly complex, inherently risky patchwork of state level statutes, comprised of Shall-Issue, May-Issue, No-Issue and Unrestricted States, plus Resident and Non-Resident Permits in some.  Imagine if your Driver’s License was suddenly not valid the second you hit the State Line.  On top of that, imagine that if, for whatever reason, you wandered across state lines, even by accident, and suddenly got arrested for committing a major felony.  That’s just asinine!!  It all too often severely, forever, negatively impacts the lives of otherwise good, law abiding citizens!!
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Photo Courtesy of Falia Photography

 

3. All major handgun makers will offer a Modular Handgun System, like the Sig Sauer P320, Beretta APX, and Ruger American Pistol.  As such, Modular Handgun Systems will all become increasingly popular.  While handgun modularity has been around for a while – interchangeable backstops are nothing new, Glock enabled caliber changes between 9×19 and 40S&W, or .45ACP and 10mm for decades, and chassis based handguns, like the Sig P250 and Beretta Nano, have been around for years – but 2016 will focus on modular, chassis based guns like never before.

Why?

  • The U.S. Army is looking to award a new XM17 Modular Handgun System (MHS) Contract to replace an aging fleet of Beretta M9 pistols, which have been in U.S. Military service since 1985.   So, why does the U.S. Army want a Modular Handgun System (MHS)?  The research I did indicates that a MHS will allow the gun to be caliber agnostic, easily upgraded without having to replace the entire gun, and easily customized to work well for different sized shooters.  So, the MHS can be configured to specific mission needs, and/or specific shooter needs, as well as upgraded easily to take advantage of component level improvements, without having to buy an entire new gun, which theoretically means less cost.  How will this translate to civilian demand?   Military and LE use generally make it a proven commodity.  If it works well for those guys, it’ll work great for us…

Editor’s Note: It’s a great concept on paper; one “gun” you can change as needed, and/or customize to your hearts content.  Wish, after purchase, you got 9mm instead of the snappier and more costly .40 S&W?  Suddenly need that new Flat Dark Earth frame, or just want to create a cool two-tone, OD frame, black slide combo?  Want to change the grip size so your wife can shoot more comfortably, and more accurately at the range?  None of that is a problem with a MHS (modular handgun system).  Simply order up a new barrel, slide and/or frame and have it shipped right to your house, where you change the parts yourself.  No gunsmith or special tools necessary.  Aside from Military use, the MHS may make a lot of sense for first time gun buyers who aren’t 100% sure of what they want, or who’s needs may evolve.  It may also make some sense in places like Massachusetts, NYC or New Jersey, where it’s not as easy to buy, nor sell and replace a handgun as it is other places.  Ultimately, though, no matter where you live, the cost and availability of components will make or break the design, at least in the civilian market.   I mean, if it’s gonna cost just as much to buy a new gun as it will to change a Sig P320 from a compact to a sub-compact, folks will more often than not simply buy a whole new gun.  And Beretta, where are ya??  The Nano’s been out for 5 years!!  The APX was announced one year ago, yet no public news on the APX since July 2015, and SHOT Show 2016 is over.  What’s the hold-up?! 

 

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The Sig Sauer P320 Chassis. This serialized part is “The Gun”…

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…and everything else is interchangeable, with these Sig Sauer P320 Accessories.

 

 

4. 2016 Will Be the Year of the AK-47 in the U.S. Civilian Market.  While we Americans are by no means bored with our AR-15’s – pretty much everyone who wants one already has one  – over the last year or so, there’s been a lot of U.S. civilian interested in Mikhail Kalashnikov’s famous AK-47 design, and similar AK pattern rifles, like IWI’s Galil ACE.  So, AK pattern rifles will sell very well in the U.S. in 2016.

Why?

  • The AK-47 is a historically significant, notoriously reliable, relatively inexpensive, and a very effective firearms platform.  As the AK platform continues to lose that bad guy image, and instead becomes recognized as just another good, effective firearm, that can be had relatively cheap, that is cheap to shoot, and that can be used for many different, legit, legal purposes, like hunting, recreational shooting and defense, more people will want an AK pattern rifle.
  • Reduced availability of “authentic,” foreign made AKs will drive demand for import based, 922r compliant AKs!  In July of 2014, as part of sanctions against Russia, Obama banned the importation of products from Russian gun maker Kalashnikov Concern (formerly Izhmash), which were then sold in the U.S. under the  extremely popular Saiga brand rifles and shotguns.  (Russian AK’s are considered the best of the best.  Demand, and prices, for Saiga’s instantly went through the roof.  Nothing sets off a good buying spree like a ban.) Anyway, as of January 2016, you can still legally purchase 922r compliant AK’s from Bulgaria, Romania (WAS), Serbia (N-PAP / O-PAP), and potentially a few other European nations.  However, as the Global War on Terror continues to heat up, many of these manufactures will be producing guns for their own military and civilian markets, rather than for export, which may reduce availability.  And finally, 92 Democrats have recently  asked Obama to go further with his Executive Action, and ban the import of all “Assault” style guns.  Get yours while you can!
  • More U.S. companies are making AK pattern rifles, and parts for AK’s right here, which further legitimizes the platform.  Century Arms, Kalashnikov-USA, DDI all produce 100% U.S. made AK-47 variants.  This might be just the ticket for someone who has always wanted an AK pattern rifle, but would rather invest in a U.S. product or company.  Likewise, it might be appealing for those who think U.S. manufactured, milled receivers and U.S. made, nitride treated barrels might make the gun more rigid overall, and improve accuracy of the platform.     And with big name accessory manufacturers like, Magpul and Geissele, making great accessories for the platform – the AK platform will only gain popularity here in the U.S.
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Russian Saiga

 

 

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Century Arms 100% American Made AK-47 Pattern Rifle.

 

 

5. Pistol Caliber Carbines and Bullpups will Gain Popularity, and everybody wants an IWI X95-9mm.

Why?

  • The pistol caliber, bullpup carbine might just be the Best of All Worlds for Home Defense.  Talk to guys on the job, or who have been on the battlefield, and they’ll all tell you they’d much rather have a rifle than a handgun when things go down.  However, depending upon your situation, a traditional rifle might not be the best choice in a home defense, or CQB situation.  Why? That long, protruding barrel may give you away, and at worst, could give the bad guys something to grab onto as you turn corners or enter rooms.  Second, over-penetration is going to be worse with a traditional rifle round than with a handgun, and over-penetration is certainly something to think about in any home defense / CQB situation.  On the flip side, if you can’t quickly and repeatedly hit your target, under incredibly stressful circumstances, with your home defense handgun, that’s a problem!  And, will that handgun have enough “knock-down“power to end a conflict?  Well, a good pistol caliber bullpup might just be the perfect answer.  Shooting pistol caliber ammo from a rifle is generally a very low recoil event, making it very easy for even new shooters to hit their target, quickly and repeatedly.  Pistol rounds fired from a rifle barrel will come out hotter, and carry more energy, giving them more “knock-down” power, compared to when fired out of a handgun.  Finally, the bullpup design, which locates the action behind the trigger group, leaves much less of the rifle barrel sticking out in front of you, which is better in CQB situations.  More rounds on target.  Faster. Easier.  With more knock-down power, and better CQB handling?  Sounds like the no-brainer home defense winner to me!  (The only thing you probably won’t like about the IWI X95-9mm is the price tag.)
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IWI X95-9mm. Photo courtesy of IWI

 

So that’s it, my Top 5 2016 Firearms Industry Predictions!  Let me know what you think!

 

Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!

© 2016 Inside The X Ring.

Shot2015Logo

That’s right, this year’s Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade show just wrapped-up.  I’ve scoured the Web, watched hours of videos, and checked out the latest posts from other blogs.  Here are the trends I noticed, and the products I’m excited about.

 

The AR-15 craze is slowing, but customizable offerings, 3-Gun ready models & AR-10s are still extremely popular.  

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Image courtesy of Looserounds.com

 

Don’t get me wrong, the AR-15 is still the most popular rifle in America, and for great reasons!  (Click here to understand why the AR-15 is the most popular rifle in America.)  Make no mistake, AR’s were still hot at SHOT, but they didn’t seem to dominate the show like in recent years.  Colt’s OEM1 & OEM2 bare bones offerings, the four new FN-15‘s and out of the box, 3-gun ready, affordable rifles, like those from Armalite all piqued my interest.  18″ barrels are again popular.  Makes sense to me!  AR-10s continue to gain popularity.  Same familiar, reliable, accurate, quick handling form factor and manageable recoil (at least in semi-auto), just delivering a bigger 7.62×51 payload?!  Yeah, I’m in.  Finally, just Right Carbines also has some cool looking pistol caliber AR based carbines.

 

AK-47’s – American Made AK-47’s!!

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So, while the AR-15 continues to be the most popular rifle in America, the AK-47, first developed in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Kalashnikov is the most popular rifle in the World!  Why? They’re cheap and easy to produce.  They’re easy to use.  They’re effective.  Finally, they’re reliable.  Unbelievably reliable.  Loose tolerances that negatively impact accuracy, allow the AK to just keep running in the harshest, muddiest, dirtiest, dustiest, sandiest conditions.  Though traditionally seen by some as a “bad guy’s gun“, the AK-47 has always enjoyed some popularity in the United States.  This year the AK’s popularity has increased exponentially.  In part due to current Russian sanctions, which prevents importation, and in part due just to the increase in popularity of the platform, I’ve noted several “American Made” AK-47s, an AR-AK combination, and AK accessories from some of the best in the business.  Century ArmsPalmetto State Armory and former importer RWC Group all plan to produce American made AK-47’s.  Century Arms has incorporated a clever bolt hold-open into the safety selector.  Purely an admin feature, but helpful to those of us who like to comply with range safety practices.  Geissele’s got a new AK-47 trigger. Magpul’s got new AK furniture and magazines.  There’s even a mutant AR-AK combination; late 2014 CMMG released an AR-AK hybrid.  Mossberg also has a new .22 rimfire rifle, called the Blaze-47, styled after – you guessed it – the AK-47.  I shot a friends AK-47 back in 1994, and it was a blast!  (pun intended).  Such a fun gun to shoot, and I just had another friend, and fellow “good guy” pick one up.  Personally, I want one, but can I can get past the “bad guy gun” stigmatism??  (Does knowing some of our brave men and women in the armed forces have allegedly used AK’s as far back as Vietnam, and certainly in more recent conflicts help justify the decision?  Does buying an AK manufactured and assembled completely in the U.S. help?  I guess only time will tell.) 

 

Concealed Carry Handguns & Pocket Pistols Continue to Reign Supreme

the-all-new-taurus-curveNo surprises here.  People want personal protection.  Yes, even outside the home…  After all, isn’t that a basic right?!  There are still tons of great, and ever increasing options, but unlike the past few years, there was no specific, hotly anticipated new concealed carry gun.  Bond Arms has some new CA legal Hand Cannons amongst other things, S&W introduced ported variants of their very popular M&P line, Ruger increased the size of the LCP with various new offerings, and Taurus introduced the curve.  Still no return of the Remington R51, though I read on Guns, Holsters And Gear that it might be mid-summer.  Nor was there any sign of a single stack Glock 9mm. (Would a G42 in 9mm be any more concealable than the existing, and ever popular G26?  Is the striker fired, polymer framed, 9mm pocket pistol market too saturated?  Are they possibly working on it now?)

 

 

 

Colt Clearly Wants Consumer Business, Our Business!

ColtRailGun_BlackDespite history dating back to a manufacturing plant in Paterson, NJ in 1836, a long, successful history supplying firearms for the military & law enforcement, and one of the most iconic names in the business, I think it’s fair to say it’s been a while since Colt has been an “A” player in the consumer / civilian market.  Technically, they may have re-entered the civilian / off-duty concealed carry market back in 2007, but for the first time in a long while, at least in my opinion, Colt now clearly wants our consumer / civilian business, and this is a great thing!    Just look at their AR-15 and 1911 based product offerings, with features inspired by both the success of their USMC adopted CQBP (Close Quarters Battle Piston), and customer feedback.  Colt’s Rail Gun is 100-plus years of proven performance and historical significance, in the familiar 1911 battery of arms, combined with the modern convenience of a M1913 Picatinny Rail. I have to admit, I want one!

 

People Like to Customize Their Guns & The Manufacturers Have Noticed!

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Customized sights & trigger.

Let’s face it, people like to differentiate themselves from the crowd.  To make their things work better for them, based on their application and use.  To make things distinctly their own.  We do it to our houses, cars, trucks, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, computers and even our bodies.  Why not customize our guns, either with custom accessories, or even just custom colors & accents!  It’s a growing trend I don’t see slowing down anytime soon.  It’s also a trend that hasn’t been lost on the manufacturers.  While many mainstream firearms manufacturers have traditionally offered “custom shop” variants at significantly higher prices, some – Strum, Ruger & Co., Inc. in particular – now offer many more options than ever before for customizing production guns, either at time of order, or via owner / gunsmith installed accessories.

 

 

Double-Taps (aka quick-hit updates):

  • 1911’s, 1911’s & More 1911’s!  Still riding high from it’s 2011 Centennial, John Moses Browning’s timeless classic is as relevant and popular as ever.  Remington R1’s, Colt .45’s, Sig 1911’s, Ruger SR1911‘s, S&W 1911e’s and many, many more.  Though originally seen by die-hards as sacrilege, Full-size and Commander model 1911’s in calibers beyond just .45 ACP, particularly 9mm,  had a strong showing at SHOT 2015.  There was even a polymer 1911 from American Tactical Imports (ATI).  Personally, I’ll stick to classic .45 ACP, in some kind of metal based frame and slide.

 

  • 10mm Handguns.  Favored by handgun hunters and brown bear backcountry explorers, 10mm fans have two new options in the Glock 40 MOS and Sig 220.

 

  • Optics on handguns, and factory slides milled for them.  Putting red-dot style optics on handguns is becoming more and more popular.  So it seems natural that certain manufacturers are making this easier than ever, milling attachment points right into the factory slide, while retaining the traditional iron sights.  Glock’s MOS (Modular Optic System) is just one example.

 

  • Ruger 10/22 Takedown Bull Barrel & Stock Option.  Honestly, if you don’t have a Ruger 10/22, you need to get one!!  Ruger’s iconic, rotary-magazine-fed 10/22, introduced to the public in 1964, is one of the most popular, and customizable rifles of all time.  Since being announced in March 2012, the Ruger 10/22 takedown, like all other variants, has enjoyed tremendous popularity.  Well, the aftermarket is finally catching up with the takedown.  Popular 10/22 barrel & accessory manufacturer Tactical Solutions teamed up with famous grip and stock manufacturer Hogue to offer this new, very cool looking bull-barrel / stock combination.
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Courtesy of Tactical Solutions

 

Knives & Flashlights… The future’s getting sharper, and looking brighter!

Knives – There are great new offerings from familiar names like Spyderco, Benchmade, Gerber, Kershaw / Zero ToleranceSOG, ESEEBuck, Condor Knife & Tool, CRKT, Emerson, Mora Kniv and Victorinox (Swiss Army).  Across the board, steels, handles, grinds, designs and features continue to get better.  (Honestly, I’m still enamored with some 2014 models; the proven Spyderco Manix 2 in CPM S110V with Dark Blue FRN handles, and Benchmade Hunt Series Grizzly Creek folder are prime examples.) There’s always a place for hard-use, no BS tactical / self defense blades.  They are, and will always be popular, especially with military and law enforcement personnel.  The same can be said for the never-ending need for good, high-quality EDC (Every Day Carry) blades, whether they be Chris Reeve Sabenza style ‘Gentleman’s Folders’ or more basic, utility type blades.  I couldn’t possibly cover all the new models here, but the good news is there’s really an overwhelming array of great choices available, so you almost can’t go wrong.  On the general public, mass-marketing end, focus seems to have shifted away from the ‘Zombie Apocalypse’, Doomsday, Rambo Survival Knife, towards more practical, Outdoors, Bushcraft and Hunting knives. The Zombie Apocalypse phase was fun for a bit, but I think this new trend is a good thing.  While not exactly breaking news, ESEE’s Camp-Lore line is a prime example.  That RB3 is something I’m really hoping to get my hands on for a review.

 

Flashlights – By now, everyone knows LED’s are, no doubt, the way to go!  The lights keep getting smaller, lighter and brighter, while packing in more features.  There are handheld flashlights available today brighter than most automobile headlights.  Think about that… As if the ability to carry the sun in your pocket wasn’t enough, waterproof ratings & USB charging capabilities top the list of 2015 highlights.  Surefire and Streamlight have traditionally topped the list for Military, Law Enforcement and EMS professionals, for good reason, and of course they have new 2015 models.  In my own experience, and while there are some newer players to the game, I’ve found FOURSEVENS and Fenix Lighting to offer, high quality, competitive alternatives – sometimes even at a lower price point for more lumens.  While not exactly new for 2015, take the Fenix UC35; aircraft grade aluminum construction, waterproof, USB rechargeable, 960 lumensall for under $100?!! Seriously, how do you beat that?!!  There are also very interesting options, some at even lower price points, from EagleTac, ThruNite and Nitecore.  Though to-date I’ve no personal experience with those three brands.  (Look for that that to change in the very near future.)

 

That’s clearly not everything at SHOT 2015.  I didn’t even get into the many new, or improved more traditional, hunting / sporting and tactical marksmanship rifles.  Nor did I get into all the bags, packs, pouches or clothing.  There’s just not enough time in the day!  Anyway, that’s my initial take on this year’s SHOT Show, the products I’m looking for, and a bit on where I think the Shooting, Hunting & Outdoor Industry is going.

 

What caught your eye?  What’s on your 2015 Guns, Knives, Flashlights & Gear Wishlist?  Let me know what you think!

 

Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!

© 2015 Inside The X Ring.