NRA Show 2023, held in Indianapolis, was, as usual, an event all serious practitioners of our art should attend!
The show is HUGE! 3-days was not enough time to see everything
Most of the major manufacturers were present, as well as a plethora of mom & pop shops displaying all manner of firearms and firearm accessory.
Curiously absent this year was Smith & Wesson – they were missed.
Also absent, but not missed, was any sign of what has been referred to for decades as “booth bunnies.” Provocatively clad female models strategically placed to attract attention. It seems our industry is finally realizing their audience is not the prurient male of the species!
Speaking of female gun owners, Shoot Like a Girl had their trailer on display and operational.
SLG is a mobile operation that sets up in the parking lots of retailers like Bass Pro Shop and Cabella’s, offering the uninitiated potential gun buyer an opportunity to handle and size firearms, as well as obtain some basic lessons in their electronic simulator, both in firearms and archery.
We spoke with Vice President, Christa Forrester, about their operation, and she filled us in on their own growth, which now includes the addition of a second trailer tailored towards new male shooters.
My wife had opportunity to run through the archery simulator and commented on the professionalism of the Staff, as well as how much fun they made the experience.
Also on the female front, Julie Willis, of Zendra, had her off-body carry bags and purses on display. They feature a clam-shell pocket on the back side for carry. Easy access – no zipper.
U Koala Bag had a unique take on a unisex off body carry bag. It can be worn as a purse, a backpack, or even as a drop leg bag, the latter of which is something motorcyclists might find interesting. The gun pocket is held closed with a light magnet. No zipper to fumble with.
My wife is presently testing one for daily carry.
McLean had their Dynamic Retention Sling 2.0 on display. It’s a sling which allows for 1-pont or 2-pont usage through a quick release. I have a copy for T&E and will report again on it in the future.
Gun Nutz has developed a flexible rubber tray to assist with charging pistol magazines. Laying on a flat surface, 7 rounds are placed in it, and, while holding a magazine upside-down, one can rapidly charge the magazine one-handed. The second half of the tray is for lose rounds.
No strained thumbs, blisters, or struggling to get those last two rounds in.
Obsidian arms in-house manufactures an AR15 armorers punch kit that contains a few tools that had me asking, “why didn’t I think of that.”
The punches are made of Delrin, an almost hard-as-steel polymer, that holds up to hammering and pin driving, yet won’t scratch the finish of the receivers.
One is scalloped to allow the tool to lay against the receiver for a straight push against the bolt release pin. So simple, like most brilliant ideas are.
12 piece kit. $65
I now have a set for my workbench.
Obsidian also makes a nickel-plated cotter/retainer pin for the AR15 firing pin. It makes installation and removal FAR less of a struggle when field stripping.
I stopped by the HK booth and spoke with one of their in-house armorers, Greg Lahr. I was informed that repairs are generally turned around by their Columbus, GA, shop in 2 to 3 days, with the exception of barrel or frame issues. Those two components are still produced in Germany and have to be imported as needed.
HK had a poor reputation over the decades when it can to any factory service of their firearms. It’s good to hear they have stepped it up!
Dead Foot Arms produces an AR15 side folder which allows the rifle to be fired when the stock is collapsed. Ingenious captured spring inside of a captured spring design, easy to deploy, robust construction. Stock is actually designed as a “Sig Brace” style, as well.
They also have an AK-style underfolder for the AR15, which will clear a 30-round magazine. The rifle can be fired with that stock folded.
Next door to Dead Foot Arms was the Fold AR booth. Fold AR has created a folding AR BARREL. When pared up with the Dead Foot stock, one can have a rifle that fits into a 17” long space (with a 16.5”)
If the Sig Brace is taken into account, and the receiver is a registered pistol, it’s possible to get the entire affair folded down to 10”.
This is a major plus for those who regularly fly with a defensive rifle in their checked baggage!
$1500-2500 per copy.
Brian Hoffner was present with his outstanding folding and fixed blade knives. I picked up another copy of his Hoffner Bodyguard knife, which I’ve worn as a neck knife over the years – however, this version has an adjustable belt-loop on the sheath which allows for appendix or center-line carry.
Brian also informed us that he has discontinued the Hoffner Hand Hawk (hatchet/tomahawk) simply due to the complexity of manufacture. He hopes to bring it back in the future, but for now, those who possess one of those amazing tools, consider yourselves blessed!
Challenge Targets was displaying their new Supernova swinging target system. 9 plates – after the first is hit, it falls off, causing the mechanism to be off-balance and the remaining 8 plates to start swinging in random patterns. As each remaining plate is hit, the speed and rotation of the remaining increases. One of the Fortress Staff has one on order, and I’m looking forward to giving it a go!
Touch pads of remote mounted weapon lights have always been less than satisfactory when it comes to mounting. Most manufacturers now offer some version of a rail clip that can be installed on the pad and then fastened to a standard rail. This is far superior to the double-sided tape method most have used for the past decade+.
I secured a couple of kits for my Streamlights, we’ll I’ll see how they hold up with regular use.
Flashlight Outlet of Valparaiso, IN, had a booth set up. Owner Larry Brown took a minute to chat with us and we learned that they have 1000’s of demonstration lights in house! There are few shops in the nation that have that amount of display inventory available for customers to get their hands on.
They carry most well-known manufacturer’s products, and they are who I picked up the touch pad kits from.
If you find yourself running down the I-80 corridor through NW Indiana, take the exit South to Valpo and stop in. Or, check out their on-line sales through their website. It looks like they are generally cheaper than anything listed on Amazon.
Hillsdale College (Hillsdale, MI) had a booth at the show, handing out free copies of the Constitution, and it was well worth my time stopping by. They have a complete shooting sports complex on campus, including handgun, rifle, shotgun, and archery.
Staunch supporters of Article II, and they refuse to take any Federal or State funds for operation, including any student loan funds.
For those familiar with historian Victor Davis Hanson, he occasionally teaches classes there. DTI’s own Vicki Farnam has also been a guest Instructor!
Something to look into for young adults seeking higher education outside of the woke agenda. And something we should all be supporting!
While visiting with the incredibly knowledgeable Brian Yip of Barrett, a strange, extremely nervous man with anthill shoulders and unwashed hair interrupted us, wanting to know if the display rifle he was pointing at had an “electronic scope” mounted on it. There were six of us standing there a bit dumbfounded as what he was pointing at was a standard Leupold variable power scope. Nothing abnormal or exotic.
He continued to press with the same question, and for some reason really wanted to hear the word “yes” instead of “no.” After four attempts he gave up and slunk away. It was during the exchange that I noticed the show pass on his lanyard said “New York Times – Reporter.”
He was so obviously out of his element – jumpy, fearful – like a poodle by an alligator pond. Emitting all the body language of a single Beta surrounded by a prison gang of Alphas.
He had no reason to be. I don’t think there was a single person there who wouldn’t have answered his questions honestly or been hospitable. It really seemed like he was genuinely looking for conformation of his fears – that the evil gun nuts were celebrating more efficient ways to murder school children.
In reality, one couldn’t have found a safer, more civilized, and polite place to be.
The NRA Show is not to be missed!