Earlier this month I was an official media guest of the NRA at the Great American Outdoor Show. It’s a big show, with plenty to see and do. The Great American Outdoor Show is open to the public, and open for business! That’s right, in many cases, you can buy products and book trips right on the spot!
Direct form their site, “The Great American Outdoor Show is a nine day event celebrating hunting, fishing and outdoor traditions that are treasured by millions of Americans and their families. The show features over 1,000 exhibitors ranging from shooting manufacturers to outfitters to fishing boats and RV’s, and archery to art covering 650,000 square feet of exhibit hall space! Not to mention a jam packed schedule including country concerts, fundraising dinners, speaking events, archery competitions, celebrity appearances, seminars, demonstrations and much more!”
A major highlight for me was ALL of the major firearms and accessory manufacturers in attendance, who brought plenty of guns and products for attendees to handle, and plenty of expert reps to happily answer your questions.
Another personal favorite were the many new, smaller, niche-market vendors I met, some with extremely innovative, exciting new products. It’s the quintessential, grass-roots American Dream in action.
I spent the better par of the day and evening at the show, but there were so many manufacturers and vendors to visit, products to see, demos to watch and seminars to attend, I wish I had at least two full days to cover everything!
Highlights, with Specials Thanks To…
Major Firearms & Accessory Manufacturers
Representatives from Mossberg, SIG Sauer, and Winchester Repeating Arms all spent a lot of time with me discussing their products, giving me detailed, hands-on demos, or even just finding product catalogs when they weren’t otherwise available. I certainly appreciate their attention.
Based in North Wales, PA, Geissele Automatics makes products for “the Competitor, the Warfighter and the Protector.” In short, their triggers are the best you can put in your firearm! This hasn’t gone unnoticed by the U.S. Government. In fact, the DOD tapped Geissele for triggers for semi-automatic sniper rifles, and M4 carbines. (Now you understand why a Geissele S3G found it’s way into my own AR.) Geissele brought some great guns to the Great American Outdoor Show, all of which were, of course, fitted with Geissele triggers. They also had a bunch of trick, innovative trigger housings that let attendees try out the triggers without having to install them in a firearm, and without damaging the trigger mechanism. I spent a lot of time talking to James about their products, the guns they brought, and my own build. The forest green AK they brought, with their new ALG AK-47 Trigger was lusted after by many!
Up & Coming Firearms Manufacturers
Since I had already highlighted Bond Arms in my 2015 SHOT Show coverage, it was great to get more hands-on with their product line, and to meet some of the key folks behind this innovative company, including President Gordon Bond. As I examined all the different models of Hand Cannons, the interchangeable barrels, beautifully crafted grips, holsters and even Buck based knives, the words that kept coming to mind were, functional, overbuilt, high-class, and quality. I can’t wait to spend some time at the range with a few of these models!
IWI US, Inc. was also on-hand with an impressive selection of UZI PRO pistols, GALIL’s and TAVOR bullpups. In case your not familiar, IWI has an 80 year history, dating back to the (IMI) Israel Military Industries, of producing some of, “the most innovative, and legendary firearm brands used by militaries, law enforcement agencies and security personnel around the world.“ IWI’s TAVOR SAR, launched in 2013, was the company’s first firearm squarely aimed (pun intended) at the US civilian / commercial market. New 2015, after an almost 25 year hiatus, the AK-47 based GALIL ACE family of riles and pistols is coming back to the US civilian / commercial market. One of the IWI reps spent a lot of time with me reviewing their products – some of which I had never before seen up close, or wasn’t familiar with at all. She even took the time to field-strip the TAVOR, right there, in mere seconds, with nothing more than a pen. (The fact that she probably could have just as easily killed me with the same pen did not escape me…) I can’t wait to get my hands on a GALIL for a detailed review!
Up and Coming Products
Viper Holsters, LLC. – A good holster is like a comfortable pair of jeans. If you don’t find a good, comfortable holster, you’ll likely start leaving your gun at home. That’s not a good thing. Unfortunately, you can’t test holsters until you buy them, and with an overwhelming array of choices out there – from super cheap to luxury items that are more fashion than function – most of us end up with a rather expensive box of “not quite right” holsters. Well, Joe from Viper Holsters noticed this trend, and has created a line of Kydex and leather products to address the need for economical, high-quality, comfortable holsters. Joe highlighted some of the product features that set his Viper Holsters apart from existing competitors, and it all makes perfect sense to me. I did see both quality and feature improvements in the samples Joe highlighted, when compared to commonly known competitors. I’m hoping to get my hands on some of Joe’s Viper Holsters for a more in-depth review and comparison.
TacticalWalls – This company’s “hidden in plain sight” idea is gonna make you say, “Why didn’t I think of that?!” Let’s face it, if you have guns in the home, it’s a major responsibility to keep those guns out of the wrong hands. At the same time, if you have guns in the home for protection, quick, easy access to your guns, and probably when you least expect it, is important for all the obvious reasons. Made right here in the USA of high-quality (real wood), furniture grade components with high-end fit and finish, TacticalWalls has come up with a novel solution to both the security, and quick-access challenges. I spent a lot of time speaking with Chris, and am really impressed by not only the basic idea, but how well it’s executed, the fit & finish, and the people behind TacticalWalls. I’ll tell ya, even the Sig Sauer folks, who were right across the isle, couldn’t get enough, and helped make sure the TacticalWalls booth didn’t go unnoticed. Look for an upcoming, detailed product review.
Knives, Holsters & Other Gear
Battle Horse Knives – Let’s face it, guns and knives go together like peanut butter and jelly! If you’re into the shooting scene – be it for recreational, tactical, or hunting reasons – you’re probably into the broader outdoor scene, to include fishing, camping, hiking and bushcraft. This means, you’re probably into knives. Well, BHK makes custom quality knives at production prices, so you won’t be afraid to actually take ’em out and use em in the woods! Since I already have a couple of their knives and sheaths, it was great to see them, and the rest of their product line in person, at the Great American Outdoor Show. Look for some future in-depth reviews, and a special one-off project already in the works with BHK. In the meantime, you gotta check ’em out: Battle Horse Knives.
Ballistol – “The world’s most useful and environmentally friendly lubricant.” I first learned of Ballistol from fellow firearms enthusiast and product reviewer Hickok45, and his Youtube channel. (Hickok45 is on a very short-list of video bloggers, or vloggers, I find spot-on in terms of their logic & information, and first-rate in terms of quality.) Supposedly good for firearms, knives, tools & hardware, leather, home & garden, marine, road & trail, I’ve been seeking out Ballistol ever since. I walked away from the Great American Outdoor Show with some product in hand, so look for an upcoming review.
Cold Steel – I’m a big fan of their products, which can easily be summed up as High-Value. The Cold Steel Recon 1 and Voyager knives, both with the Tri-Ad lock, are regarded by many as two of the best hard-use folders on the market. Cold Steel was in attendance with product on hand, and some phenominal pricing. In fact, the Cold Steel Recon 4 and Lawman products I wanted were long gone.
OK Auto 4WD & Tire – While guns, knives, related gear, fishing equipment, hunting guides, and taxidermy services dominated that show, there was a section dedicated to ATV’s, RV’s, 4×4’s and boats. The guys from OK Auto 4WD & Tire spent a lot of time with me showing off tricked out vehicles from their shop and AEV. If you’re not familiar with OK, click this link for a great, in-depth write-up.
Finally, I’d like to thank the NRA, America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen’s group, for not only such a great event, but also for being such gracious, easy to work with media & press hosts! I’m certainly looking forward to the next large scale NRA event!
Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!
© 2015 Inside The X Ring.