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SHOT Show 2014 – It’s a wrap!!

This will probably be my last blog post related to the 2014 SHOT Show in Las Vegas.  So, to wrap it up, here are my parting thoughts, notes, and odds and ends, in no particular order;

  1. Note to self;  don’t go to Las Vegas and get sick!!!!  My nightmare come true, courtesy of some bad shrimp or water or something. My range of movement was limited to around 25 yards from the restrooms, Monday through mid-Thursday, and so I did not get nearly as much done as I had planned.  And even when I was able to break my tether for a few minutes, I just wasn’t at my best.  Sorry, I had big plans for killer reports, just wasn’t in the cards this time.
  1. Before the show, I had marked my show planner with 187 exhibitors that I wanted to see.  Of course, that is impossible even at full strength.  I did whittle that down to a serious 110, and ended up actually visiting about 20.
  1. This was the year of the Gas Ram, since all makers seemed to either come out with one or to improve on an existing version.  Alternately, this could have been the year of the Big Bore, since we are getting into 50 cal semi-autos now and almost every maker is building at least a .25 cal gun.  Or, it could be the year of the USB drive, as many of the catalogs were provided on USB drive instead of paper.  I like it, less to lug around.
  1. Jeff Foxworthy was supposed to be signing autographs at an exhibit, but cancelled due to illness.  I could relate.  I had a joke I wanted him to tell for me on camera, if he was willing;  “you just might be a redneck airgunner if you bought a pellet gun because it was advertised as a ‘good beer can shooter’, but you just can’t figure out how to load the cans in the gun”.
  1. Yup, Media Day at the Range was very cool.  Only one airgun vendor (Crosman), but plenty of other stuff to do, see, and yes, to shoot.  I hope to go for the full day next year.
  1. I’ve had quite a bit of experience with interviews, and brought my trusted lavalier microphone and audio system.  But I’ve never interviewed in a room with background noise of 100 + decibels.  So my equipment was pretty much useless.  Paul Capello let me borrow one of his ‘spare’ directional mics or I wouldn’t have had any audio to accompany my video.  Thanks Paul!!  And  I brought all my lightest video equipment,  thinking that I would get tired from hauling the heavier stuff around all day.  That may be so, but the quality is so much better with the good equipment that it would have been worth it, even if I had to hire a bearer.
  1. Odd, with some 65,000 people at the show, you still randomly run into people you know.  Or know of.  Let’s see, Michael McKeown, Tim McMurray, Rick Eustler, Ted from Madison, Joe Brancato, Eric Henderson, Terry Doe, and even Wayne LaPierre and Ted Nugent.  Others I had made arrangements to meet up with, like Randy Bimrose, Bob Sloan, and Jim Stanis.  And I gather there were many more airgun types around that I didn’t meet.  Maybe next year.
  1. So, who else didn’t I meet?  How about Yellow Forum owner Steve in CT, or Jim Chapman, or Tom Gaylord, all of whom were apparently wandering around the show.  I must have just missed them here and there.  I did get together with everyone I had scheduled, just not always as scheduled.  And while I met Ton Jones of Air Force, I never got a chance to take him aside and do a proper interview.  Same with Paul Capello.  Bummer.
  1. My biggest regrets?  Aside from spending most of the show in the restroom,  I regret that I didn’t get an interview with Simon Moore from BSA, who was said to be stationed at the GAMO exhibit.  I mean, really, does anybody know what the heck is going on at BSA?  For that matter, I regret that I didn’t spend any real time at GAMO, Webley, Walther, Pardini, or hardly any of the optics or target/range exhibitors.  But my biggest regret is that I didn’t get a  formal interview with the Air Force folks.  They are just great people and I would have loved to have them tell the story of the new Escape rifles directly.  Missed opportunity, it seems.
  1. If you notice in the videos, almost everybody at the Show has a Gamo tote bag.  Gamo was giving them away in 2012 when I was there, and was still giving them away in 2014, sometimes by the same people handing them out.  They must have gotten a heck of deal on these bags to be giving them away year after year.
  1. But swag just wasn’t as big of a deal to me this time.  I guess because I was working.  No time to wander the halls and find all the cool little doo-dads and such.  I did score a Diana hat, shirt, and pen, a lot of usb drives, some other pens.  And even some pens that had the usb drives built right into them.  But not too much airgunwise.   Oh well, less to pack home.
  1. I had two main goals for the Show.  First, I wanted to report to the airgunning public about what was being presented at the Show.  That was my job, and I did as much of that as I could.  Second, although the Show is not the story, I hoped to provide a glimpse of the SHOT Show experience for those who don’t attend.  I am very fortunate that I do, and yet am enough of a neophyte that I am still dazzled by the spectacle.  I’m hoping some feel for the Show came through in the videos and posts.
  1. That’s a wrap!!!  Now back to the real world of reviewing and fixing and posting videos about it.   Check back often, and thanks for stopping by!!
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SHOT Show 2014 – Air Force, BKL, Cometa (Air Force Intl.)

My first experience with Air Force was through the GunPower Stealth, one of their initial product introductions way back in the early 1990’s.  What I remember most about that experience is calling Air Force with some questions, and the guy who answered the phone was company owner John McCaslin.  He actually seemed quite interested in feedback from customers, and sent me some parts which had been updated and improved from the rifle version that I had.  While I no longer have that rifle, what I retained from that experience is my perception of Air Force as an innovative company that places a premium on customer service.

That innovation clearly continues with the 2014 introduction of the ‘Ton Jones’ Escape line of new Air Force rifles.  Based on the popular Condor rifle, the Escape is a survivalists dream;  lighter for ease of carry and with a smaller bottle to make filling faster and easier, yet still packing the power worthy of the Condor heritage.  In fact, its supposed to be able to put out as much as 98 ft. lbs., if I heard correctly.   The new Escape and EscapeUL were developed in consultation with Ton Jones, star of the Auction Hunter series on SpikeTV.

I’m not one to look forward to the Zombie Apocalypse, or some other end of the world scenario, but there’s nothing says we shouldn’t be prepared, just in case.  And in that event, the Escape series of rifles would be pretty handy for putting food on the spit.  Plus, you still get to use it even if the end doesn’t happen right away.  There’s even a version with a shroud, if you want to shoot more quietly.

With respect to BKL, I’ve been using these mounts for years now, and have been impressed with their consistency and gripping power.  I can’t remember having to shim or turn BKL mounts around in order to get the scope to align with the barrel, as happens with some other mounts.  So mounts should be pretty interchangeable from one style to another,  without throwing your poi high/low or side to side.

The other thing that Air Force has done for 2014, at least through the BKL mounts division, is to offer single mounts.  Yup, you can mix and match mount types, from single strap, cantilevered, to triple strap, or whatever best suits your particular gun.    It took me a minute to appreciate the implications.  There are airguns that present a challenge when using a matched set of mounts, due to the location of the magazine, loading port, etc., and in particular when you run out of room on the scope tube between the objective bells.  So this offers a way to address such a problem, without paying for two full sets of mounts or losing any concentricity.

Finally, Air Force International continues to be the US importer and distributor for the Cometa line of Spanish made airguns.  Cometa had a tough time of it when the US distribution fell apart a few years back.  I’m glad to see Air Force picked it up and provides support for the full line of spring piston airguns and the Lynx pcp rifle.  The Lynx offers a more conventional hunting or target rifle and complements the more hi-tech look of the Air Force pcp guns.

While I was at the Air Force booth, at one time or another I met Ton Jones, Paul Capello, and Eric Henderson (big bore Eric), all of whom are affiliated in some way with Air Force.   That’s in addition to the usual crew of great people who work at Air Force.  It’s always a pleasure to visit with these folks, and 2014 was no exception.  Here’s a brief look at their booth;

You can find more information about Air Force, BKL, and Air Force International at their web site here;

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2014 SHOT Show – Umarex

I was supposed to stop by the Umarex booth early Tuesday afternoon, but my brief illness quashed that plan.  Playing catch up, I finally made it there on Friday morning and spoke with Justin “JB” Biddle, Umarex Director of Marketing.  Here’s brief video;

Umarex handles the RWS/Diana line of airguns from Germany, as wall as numerous other brands such as Ruger, Walther, Hammerli, and Beretta.  They also have their own line of branded Umarex airguns, and sell and distribute ammo, optics, airsoft, and accessories.

As with pretty much all airgun makers and distributors, Umarex is highlighting the gas ram rifles, including the new Umarex Fuel, a .177 with a 3-9×32 scope, synthetic thumbhole stock, and an attached bipod.  It is fitted with the Umarex ReaXis nitrogen powered gas ram system, and the SinencAir muzzle break and shroud which uses a 5 baffle noise dampening system to reduce muzzle blast.2251313_Umarex_Fuel_lsUmarex Fuel Above

In the ‘Built for Fun’ department, the Umarex – Legend series has added a couple of new, semi-auto Co2 air pistols as well.  The C96 is a 19 round drop-free magazine style Mauser replica, while the Makarov Ultra is the 2nd iteration of the historic Russian pistol, this time a blowback version with a 16 shot  magazine.

2251805_Legends C96 ls

Umarex Legend C96 above
2251811_Legends Makarov Ultra lsUmarex Legend Makarov above


So, for the most part Umarex has built on the previous offerings, with a nod toward the ‘gas ram and quietude’ part of the airgun market.  Still, Umarex continues to find and distribute a mix of products that are just fun to shoot, like these new Legends products, or are a bit more ‘purposeful’ airguns like the flagship Diana/RWS, Walther, or even the branded Umarex models.

And if you are wondering why the photos of these new Umarex airguns are so detailed and clear, its because Umarex provided them within their media packet.  And the media packet was on an USB drive.  I can tell you that while I have always preferred paper to computer monitor, the print catalogs really start to build up after a couple of days.  It becomes a burden to pack around, so I’ve actually come to prefer the little USB drives to the paper versions.  Never thought I’d say that!!

You can find more information about Umarex at their web site here;

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SHOT Show 2014 – Air Venturi/Pyramid Air

Air Venturi is the supply side of the largest airgun retailer in the US, Pyramid Air.  Air Venturi brings in the products, distributes them to retailers, fixes them, takes care of warranty issues, etc., while Pyramid Air is limited to retail sales.

During my previous visit to the SHOT Show in 2012, the Air Venturi booth was a hot ticket.  They had just started getting in the new, big bore, semi & full auto Korean air rifles from Evanix, and these guns were all the rage.  In fact, I got caught up and wanted to order one right then and there, just on looks and promise alone.  Only my limited budget kept me from jumping in.

Two years have now passed, and Air Venturi is in the same spot at the Show, with many of the same or similar products and product lines.  As an importer and distributor, Air Venturi is not responsible for breakthrough technology or product innovations, although I’m sure they give plenty of feedback to the manufacturers.  So, not a lot of eye-popping product introductions this time around.

But that doesn’t mean Air Venturi has stood still.  In fact, the Pyramid Air side has quietly moved into the match gun segment of airgun shooting sports, and Air Venturi has beefed up their service capability.  They’ve even sent their service team, led by Gene Salvino, to Germany for factory training at the HW and FWB plants.  They now have the parts and training to do repairs on virtually all match guns, as well as all HW guns.  And yes, this includes many of the vintage match guns too, such as the FWB300.  I get the sense that Air Venturi is taking the service side the business, both warranty and repair work, very seriously.

I was able to speak briefly with Gene Salvino, but as happened in several cases, my interview audio is unintelligible.  Too bad, Gene is a great interview, and Air Venturi has plenty of great products to talk about.  I can tell you that Gene likes the Stoeger X5 and the Air Venturi Bronco as low cost introduction guns for younger shooters.

Here’s a brief overview of the Air Venturi booth.

You can find more information about Pyramid Air at their web site here;

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When I got my media pass, the SHOT Show allowed for a spouse and provided a ‘guest’ pass for her.    So to the extent that its ok to call a spouse a guest, then this is a guest post.

Many of us look at our passions in a way that is foreign to those who don’t share them.  We may overlook some cool stuff that is right in front of us.

So it was great to have her at the show, and she saw things through a different eye,  especially the greater Las Vegas experience (absent the sin parts of it).   I hope you enjoy this alternate version of the SHOT Show and Las Vegas  experience.

WARNING:  it is picture heavy!!!!



The website titles it: The Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Showand Conference. Its registered trademark is Shot Show.

“It is the world’s premier exposition of combined firearms, ammunition, law enforcement, cutlery, outdoor apparel, optics, and related products and services. The SHOT Show attracts buyers from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. It is owned by the National Shooting Sports Foundation.” This is where manufacturers and distributors sell to retailers and show the media their products.


What can I say, the website very accurately sums  up what you will find at the show! Of course, if you are reading this blog, you no doubt know that.  If you are a gun enthusiast/nut this show is probably what heaven looks like.  If, like me, you can’t tell an airsoft from an assault rifle, the initial exposure is nothing short of overwhelming – acres of overwhelming spread among multiple halls and floors.  It literally translates to miles of walking.

My assignment, as a guest of the Northwest Airguns blog – roam the show, take it in, find things you like (if any) and report on the experience.  I got a color coded badge that said “guest” just so everyone would know I’m not a buyer, media or anyone else that attention needed to be paid to.  That was actually good because it allowed me to roam about undisturbed, camera unobtrusively hanging from my neck.  28I was able to escape the embarrassment of talking to someone who not only knows all about guns, but in some cases actually designed or manufactured them.  As the show progressed and things quieted, bored representatives seemed to appreciate even my interest in their products.

I had not visited the website prior to the show.  Rather, I explored the many halls, taking photos of what caught my fancy.  First and foremost, it was the experience itself.  I walked the halls noting the variety of the items on display.  Yep, as it turns out – “firearms, ammunition, law enforcement, cutlery, outdoor apparel, optics, and related products and services.”  This is exactly what I ended up with photos of as I endeavored to capture the breath of items at the show.  Since I ended up with lots of photos, rather than a long narrative, I’ve decided to log a photographic report in the following categories:  (1) Location; (2) The show experience; (3) Guns, guns and more guns; (4) For the ladies; (5) My favorites; and (6) Reasons to go to the Vegas Shot Show even if you don’t like guns.  (AKA – take your wife.  And yes, I plan to go back next year.)

Location:  The Shot Show is held annually, in Las Vegas in January.  I heard it was cold last year.  But we enjoyed beautiful 70º weather.  Be prepared to walk – MILES.

The show experience
:  The first exposure to the show, with no particular focus, was overwhelming but still pretty darn cool.  I may not have a need for SWAT equipment, lazer engraving machines, or even decoys, but it was amazing to see the beauty and ingenuity of all the precise and highly specialized items.  Plus, I enjoyed access to the media area.

05 The Media room had press kits, work areas, plug-ins, charging stations, AND free coffee, tea and water – a $20 value in Vegas!


The star of the show is, of course, guns – all kinds of guns that you can touch, feel, aim. . .


14The NRA was there, as well as celebrities that,  I admit, I’ve never heard of. There’s a show daily that lists meetings and activities that occur at booths and in conference rooms.  Maybe next time. . .

1008 In the tactical halls everything is heavy duty, water proof, and efficient. You can check out things there that I didn’t even know exist.

Show merchandise spans the gamut from armored vehicles to silly sun glasses.

2425You can buy bullets, or machines to make them.


Guns, guns and more guns: Whatever kind of gun you might be interested in, you’ll find it at the shot show.

07 13

29 39 35For the ladies:  They say purple is the new blue, so who’s to say gun toting fellas don’t want a pastel gun.  But, purses with special gun compartments, and holster bras – definitely for the ladies!

48 47 49

My favorites.  Can’t say I was tempted by a single gun, but there were many things at the show that I WANT.  Here are a few of my favorites, in diverse categories.  (Loved all the high end optics, but all I can do here is a representative sampling. I gushed over the waterproof paper so much I scored free samples.)

26 54 58 51 57Under the category of favorites, I want to say something about guns in America and themes that were apparent at the Shot Show.

Because of the presence of the tactical halls, the theme of guns as weapons and, frankly, out right fear mongering was definitely present.  Aside from the expected cornucopia of machine guns and armored vehicles for the urban war zone, they had things like breach doors – 3 inch thick steel doors with small rectangular openings, I guess to shoot through during the Zombie Apocalypse.  “Because Failure is Not an Option.”  Nuff said about that.


But as we all know, there is more to guns than this.  A different kind of survival is at play, the kind that puts food in the bellies of families and may actually be based on the deepest connection and respect for the natural world.  (Can you tell I’m from a hunting family?)  Anyway, while not nearly as prominent as might be appropriate, this theme was also present at the Shot Show.  Specialized products, including things like decoys, calls, and even butchering kits reflect an intimate familiarity with animals.  However, top honors for the expression of this theme go to the National Wild Turkey Federation Wild Turkey Center press kit.  There is actually a Turkey magazine!  50

The kit was simply beautiful.  Clearly, these folks LOVE turkeys.  And the overtly stated message – “Save the Habitat, save the Hunt.”  I bet this crew is the biggest pro-turkey environmental advocate there is!

Reasons to go to Vegas even if you don’t like guns.  Of course there are fancy dinners and shows if one is inclined to spend the time and money.  (Food prices on the Strip are ridiculous – and the selections are not that healthy.)  We did not engage much with that element of Vegas on this trip.  However, I did spend a full day shopping. Vegas is something of a shopping Mecca.  The Fashion Show Mall is pretty much across the street from the Shot Show.  The trendy high end Venetian/Palazzo mall is connected to the Sands Convention Center.  I didn’t even make it into the Cesar’s shopping development just up the street or find the outlets. In the end I actually spent very little money, but I found the experience extremely entertaining.  Kind of like the Shot Show itself, too much to really explore and take in on the first visit.50 52
In addition to all the glitz, there are in fact many interesting opportunities in Vegas.  While nearing the end of its engagement, on my long walk to the Shot Show I happened on the 50 Greatest Photographs exhibit. 58 I spent a full morning with these very engaging National Geographic photographs.

And speaking of photographs, if you have not ever done so, it is completely worth renting a car and visiting the quite amazing parks that surround Las Vegas.  I took my camera and drove to Hoover Dan, then around Lake Mead to Valley of Fire, a popular (not so cheesy) wedding venue. 004 011OMG – amazing, beautiful, awe inspiring.030 019 031

All I had time for was an orienting drive through.  Next time I hope to hike to see the petroglyphs.  Across the board, the overriding theme to my first trip to the Shot Show – to much to really explore and take in on the first visit.

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SHOT Show 2014 – Airguns of Arizona Omega Super Charger 4500 psi compressor

When I first stopped by the Airguns of Arizona booth, I saw this funny little boxy looking thing in the front corner, but was in a bit of a hurry and didn’t pursue it at the time.  I didn’t know exactly what it was from the cover, but it did have a big ‘ol psi/bar guage and a bunch of pcp fill type fittings, so I went back on Thursday to take another look at it.

Turns out that it was a relatively new product, the 4500 psi air compressor called the ‘Omega Super Charger’.  My tour of this compressor unit was given by Gregg Glover of Airguns of Arizona.  He ran through the basic features and capabilities in this video;

(If you notice a difference from our other videos, its because I had to do this one in IMovie; my files must have gotten corrupted and didn’t work in FCPX.)

This compressor sounds almost too good to be true.  A bit pricey, compared to the Shoebox units, but still only about half the cost of a conventional 4500 psi compressor.  I really like the automatic features, and the portability.  I also like the availability of rebuild kits for when it needs an o-ring or a major tune up.  While it was very quiet at the Show, there also was no load on the motor since it wasn’t actually filling anything.  I’d be interested to see how loud it is when actually putting pressure into a gun or tank.  That question aside, this unit has a lot of promise for those of us who use a lot of air.  It may also broaden the appeal of pcp airguns by offering a hassle free fill system to people just starting out with precharged airguns.

Keep in mind, these have only been available for a short time.  We’ll learn how dependable they are as more people get and use them over time.  I do know that Jim Stanis of Precision Airguns & Supplies has started to sell a similar if not identical unit called the Raptor, and he thinks they are a great product.  That’s pretty high praise.  You can find more information about the Raptor compressor at the Precision Airguns & Supplies site here;

I didn’t find the Omega Super Charger on the Airguns of Arizona website,  so if you want more information, you’ll need to call AofA at  (480)461-1113

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SHOT Show 2014 – Hatsan

If you are like me, you won’t recall the first time you heard about Hatsan (pronounced hot-sawn).  I’m pretty sure I didn’t know about them 5 years ago, but more recently,  I stopped by their booth at the 2012 SHOT Show, so I must have been aware of them at that time.  And I remember being blown away by all the models and variety they were offering, in what looked like pretty nice airguns.

In the time between the 2012 and 2014 SHOT Shows, I’ve heard plenty about Hatsan.  They must be doing something right, because they are mentioned on the forums on a regular basis, and have much higher visibility here in the US in just a few short years.

At the 2014 SHOT Show, Hatsan had two major introductions.  The first is the ‘quiet energy’ technology for their pcp rifles.  Ok, quiet pcp rifles ain’t new, except maybe for Hatsan.  The new shroud and baffle system are supposed to reduce the sound by over 50%, according to Hatsan USA CEO Blaine Manifold.  So, that seems like a response to customers complaints that the previous Hatsan pcp rifles were just too loud.  Other aspects of the Hatsan pcp line remain the same, albeit quieter.

The other thing I noted was that Hatsan is offering a Vortex gas ram as an option for many of its spring piston guns, both rifle and pistol.  In fact, over half of the Hatsan models can be ordered with a gas ram unit instead of  the conventional coil spring.  So, they’ve gotten into the gas spring market in a big way, as have most airgun manufacturers.

Finally, Hatsan has introduced a new Co2, semi-auto bb pistol, the model 250XT.  It has a 17 shot magazine and is supposed to provide velocities of 430 fps.  The unique thing about this pistol is that the valving is in the magazine, what they call the ‘all in one’, which I hadn’t seen in any other air pistol before this one.  I’ll be interested to see how it operates in the field.

Here’s some of the catalog info;

Hatsan quiet energy wide hatsan 250xt wide

You can find more information about Hatsan online here;