This year marked the first year that I’ve attended one of NRA’s yearly conventions. It also marked the first time I’ve ever been to a convention where I was part of the media. It felt kind of weird, but the NRA and the vendors in the exhibitor’s hall really do seem to like us bloggers and understand that we’re getting information (both good and bad) out faster and further than traditional media. It was one thing to be told “oh, I love your blog” by other bloggers, but to have a vendor recognize my blog? That was one of those “holy shit!” moments.
- I’d like to thank The Jack for giving me crash space, carting my ass to the con, and the great get together he had on Friday night.
- Similarly, thanks need to go to OldNFO for putting together a get together on Saturday.
- I’ll try to put together a proper report on the Shooter Self Care class that Ambulance Driver put on, but in the mean time, you should read DaddyBear’s report on it. The short answer is that it was a great class, and everyone that shoots on a regular basis should take on like it. Warning: Ambulance Driver being an EMT, he has access to graphic pictures and videos and isn’t afraid to show them. More than one person had to leave the room at various points.
- Speaking of the class, thanks to Brownell’s for supplying donuts and coffee for the class. Good to know that they support education even if it doesn’t directly put money in their pockets. There are lots of online dealers out there, and this will definitely influence my decisions in the future.
- It was good to meet so many fellow bloggers in meat space. I wish I could name you all, but, frankly, if I started the list, I know I would leave out a large percentage simply because my memory sucks.
The convention itself was a good time. While the big events that they were charging for didn’t interest me (I’m not a fan of country music, and, frankly, I tend not to be impressed by the politicians that they tend to have speak), the exhibitor’s hall was a great opportunity to chat with manufacturer reps about their current and upcoming products. Everyone was friendly. The big guys had knowledgeable personal out on the floor, and the folks manning the smaller manufacturers’ booth often included heads of marketing, or even the president. It’s pretty impressive to be talking to a guy a realize that the company carries his last name.
- KelTec was showing off some interesting new stuff, including a bullpup .223, and a carbine version of the PMR (designated CMR) that really caught my attention. I was also told that they are in the mists of greatly increasing their manufacturing capability, and are even delaying the release of the CMR until after they finish the expansion in hopes of not repeating the supply issue they had with the KSG. They also gave me a flashlight that I will be doing a review of in the near future.
- Speaking of bullpups, I stopped by the Tavor table. After handling their rifle for a couple minutes, and being instructed on the rather nifty locations of the magazine release and bolt release, I had to hand it back to the gentleman before I ran off with it.
- On similar note, the Mossberg booth had their new .308 MVPs on display. I was especially impressed with the one that had a stock that incorporated their Flex system. The representative informed me that the Flex system is universal across all their platforms, so the Flex butt-stocks that are already out for their shotguns will work with this rifle and the .22 rifle that will also have the Flex system as an option.
- While I was unable to talk to anyone at the Beretta booth, I was able to check out what they had out. Their Pico .380 is tiny. I could only wrap one finger around the grip, and it somehow holds 6+1 rounds. It’s interesting as a pocket gun, but I’m guessing it’s pretty punishing at the range. I was also able to check out the AR-100. While I have absolutely no need for another .223 EBR, this one does keep calling my name. I was surprised at the fact that, even though it’s bulkier than the AR, it’s a very light rifle. I would guess lighter than most AR-15 configurations out there. The extra bulk makes holding it very comfortable. Basically, I think it’s what MagPul was trying to achieve with their AFG. Add to that that it has a folding stock, and this is a very interesting AR-15 substitute indeed.
- Stopped by the Remington booth and checked out the R51. I really want to like this gun, but, if the display guns were any indication, their quality control is currently all over the place. One had its slide stick in the full rearward position without the help of the slide stop, another had a nice crisp trigger… just with a 20lbs pull, and another had a much lighter pull, but gritty and with lots of slack. Nothing seemed to be consistent.
- Heizer’s coming out with a longer barreled version of their 9mm, and .45cal version of their pocket pistol where you load the rounds in backwards. Their slides are insanely easy to pull back considering the size.
- Coonan is coming out with a 4″ version of their .357mag 1911s. Also, I’m a sucker and bought one of their “Triple Threat Apocalyptic Kits“. Figured it would be good for my gaming room.
- Cold Steel had some interesting stuff in their cases. They also had a demo going which was… um… going. 🙂
- The gentleman at Boker informed me that one of their customers buys their knives and converts them to autos. Apparently they don’t have a facility here, and current import laws stops them from bringing them in. That said, he told me the law has recently changed and they should be importing automatics this fall.
- A.G. Russell was showing off both some truly beautiful high end knives and some cheap light weight ones. Look for a review of some of the cheap ones in the near future (I would review the high end ones, but, sadly, the budget isn’t there).
- Speaking of high end knives, TOPS knives had some damn interesting stuff. I had a chance to quickly chat with the designer about his take on the kukri. While a rather hefty departure from the traditional design, it was clear talking to him that each departure was thought out and tested. I could see this being a series survival knife that would do a pretty good job at everything you would need to do from batoning wood to cutting food.
- EZE Lap had a number of wonderful things to make sharp things sharper. They also had a few of the more modern Mora knives on hand and I couldn’t resist picking up a couple of these excellent inexpensive knives.
- Celia Crane over at LaserMax was a truly wonderful person to talk to. She worked really hard to find me one of their laser sight guide rods that would work with one the pistols I own. Unfortunately, we had no luck. While they do make one for the Beretta 96, apparently the 96 Brigadier is just different enough that it won’t work. Fortunately, they also have a good selection of lasers that hang off rails, and I may test one of them in the future. I laughingly asked about my Bersas and she actually said that they get a lot of requests for them.
- I stopped by the Knife Rights booth to thank them for their hard work in Tennessee for the past couple years. I need to remember to pester WizardPC about putting up a banner link to their site. Their cause is just as important to a free society as the NRA’s. We need to remember that the 2nd amendment is not just about guns.
I know I’m probably forgetting several things, but that’s what I get for not blogging every day. I promise to do better next year when the convention is in my home town.
Oh. One last thing. Apparently wearing kilts at the NRA convention means getting a lot of compliments and positive comments and zero grief.
EDIT: Oh hell, how could I forget? I talked to Dennis at Dragon Leather, which further drove in the point that I *need* to order some things from him as soon as the cash flow starts moving the correct way. Not only does he do beautiful work, he’s also a great guy.