Once again, SHOT Show delivers the goods
The National Shooting Sports Foundation's SHOT Show is the largest trade show of its kind in the world. More than 1,600 manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers from more than 100 countries gathered to exhibit their products, and a record 67,000 attendees descended upon Sin City to review new products and improvements upon existing ones.
The event continued in partnership with Law Officer to provide their signature law enforcement education program (LEEP). More than a dozen two-hour training sessions were offered, which included topics such as the Below 100's "Driving Down LODDs," "Response Planning for Critical Incidents," "The Tactical Patrol Officer," "Low-Light Training," and "Recruiting and Retaining Today's Tactical Officer." Once again, training exceeded expectations.
Back on the showroom floor, the following items, in alphabetical order, caught my eye.
Advanced Technology International (ATI) offers a diverse line of stocks, grips and forends for most popular law enforcement rifles and shotguns, including the AR-15 and Remington 870. The new Talon Tactical Stock and pistol grip features ATI's new Triton Mount System and Scorpion recoil butt pad and pistol grip. This system works to absorb recoil and reduce muzzle rise, which serve to increase the shooter's comfort and allow for more accurate and rapidly delivered shots. No special tools are required and the installation takes just a few minutes. A nice feature is the inclusion of an interchangeable sling mount to accommodate right- and left-handed shooters.
American Technologies Network Corporation (ATN) has become known as one of the world's largest manufacturers of night vision and thermal imaging weapon sights and viewing devices. The ARES 4X and 6X series night vision sights are rugged and user-friendly. Fast infra-red-sensitive optics and quality image tubes offer high-res images for enhanced target acquisition. ATN offers a great range of image intensifier tube configurations to accommodate budgets. These scopes are constructed of multi-coated all-glass optics and feature automatic brightness control for tube protection. A "red on green" reticle system allows for precise (1/6 MOA) adjustments in both windage and elevation. The scope mounts to standard weaver rails. It uses a standard AA battery and has a limited two-year warranty.
The newest offering from ATN is its digital line of ThOR Thermal Weapon Scopes (TTWS 320 and TTWS 640). This value-packed scope is a compact, lightweight, rugged, digital thermal weapon sight. The menu offers five different reticle options and choice of four colors (black, red, blue or white) to suit the conditions, environment and/or user preferences. Since the ThOR has no screws or springs, and it has all digital controls, maintaining zero (proper reticle calibration) is not an issue like other systems. A thermal-imaging device, it has the ability to "see" through total darkness, fog, smoke or other camouflage. It comes standard with a picatinny rail quick release mount for weapon mounting or it can be used as a stand-alone handheld viewing device. It has an 8-hour run time using three lithium batteries.
Armor Express is a fast-growing U.S. company—a manufacturer of soft armor, concealable armor, external armor, hard armor, plates, blankets, shields, helmets and a great assortment of related accessories. At SHOT Show, two new videos produced by Armor Express were shown (you can see both on its website). I was extremely impressed with the apparent quality of materials and sewing on the assorted carrier systems, whether for soft panels, rigid plates or a combination of the two. I recommend a hard look at the "HardCore SU" system for anyone in the market for tactical external body armor.
All armor is tested to exceed stringent NIJ standards in Armor Express's state-of-the-art in-house ballistic research lab (as well as being tested by independent labs). As a testament to how strongly the company believes in the quality and reliability of their products, CEO Matt Davis has been filmed shooting himself with a .45 ACP while wearing the FMS IIIA armor!
ASP has expanded its product line from the signature expandable batons and handcuffs to include handheld illumination tools. The Triad series of modern flashlights is available in aluminum or polymer and is powered by AA or CR123 batteries. It's also rechargeable via USB, a new feature I believe will gain immense popularity. The Triad offers an easy-to-use rotary switch between intermittent, locked and constant-on. The Scribe is a high-intensity light in the form of a ball-point pen. Although not a writing instrument, it can be worn alongside a pen in a uniform pocket or dress shirt to provide a back-up light or ensure the wearer has immediate access at all times to a reliable lighting source.
Boyt Harness Company introduced an extremely rugged, lightweight and exceptionally cost-competitive line of hard gun cases. Long known for its soft-sided gun cases, the hard cases are similar to another well-known brand, but at a fraction of the competitor's cost. These cases are 100% "Made in the USA," feature a dust-proof O-ring full-length gasket, a pressure relief valve for purging and steel powder draw-latches and hinge pins. Importantly, the cases are TSA-compliant and padlock-compatible. The cases are available in a large variety of sizes, from single pistol cases to multiple rifle/shotgun cases. They're also available in black or flat dark earth colors. Depending on the case, an optional wheel roller system is available to assist in transporting heavier payloads. Boyt continues to manufacture its well-known soft-sided weapon carry cases as well.
Buffer Technologies, well-known for its long line of pistol recoil buffers, offers the "Crossfire" hydraulic buffer. Made for the AR-15 rifle or carbine with a telescoping stock, this is a "drop-in" part, which is easy to install. Its advanced design is an improvement over prior models. This part reduces felt recoil that results in increased accuracy and faster follow-on shots. The hydraulic buffer cushions the rearward travel of the bolt carrier, which also saves on parts wear/maintenance. When installed in select-fire weapons, it reduces the cyclic firing rate. This reduction provides for greater controllability, enhanced accuracy, and even results in the barrel remaining cooler for a longer period. Like any other weapon modification, I recommend officers confer with their department policy and armorer to ensure it's authorized and properly installed. Weapons should also be test-fired after any modifications.
Diamondback Firearms, a comparatively newer gun manufacturer known for compact .380 handguns (popular for concealed off-duty or back-up carry), has joined the crowded AR-15 platform market. The DB15 rifle is offered in a variety of configurations, including barrel length, caliber, sight options, Magpul furniture, etc. The buyer also has the choice of finish colors, including traditional black, digital camo tan, digital camo green or flat dark earth. For those constrained by state law, a "California-compliant" version is offered with a currently legal "bullet button." For those so inclined, they also manufacture a pistol version of the AR-15. Both the rifle/carbine and pistol versions are manufactured with forged 7075 T6 aluminum upper and lower receivers and the reliable gas-operated system.
For those in the market for ballistic plates, DKX Advanced Manufacturing unveiled what they are now marketing as "the world's lightest and most buoyant armor plate packages." This U.S.-based manufacturer has developed an NIJ Level III-rated and certified plate that, in its "Shooters cut" configuration, is 10 x 12 inches, approximately 1.1-inch thick and weighs 2.9 pounds. The DKX Max plate is exceptionally buoyant, making it ideal for law enforcement or military personnel who are assigned on or near the water. The 100% Dyneeema composition of the plate is backed with a polycarbonate skin and features an excellent seven-year warranty. Each plate incorporates a Radio Frequency Embedded Verification, which is the plate's own unique serial number. This system aids in inventory control for the end user and allows proper life cycle management.
The DKX Max IIIA plate (10 x 12 inches in the Shooter's cut) is a mere ¼ inch thick and weighs only one pound! Despite its thinness and light weight, it's certified to stop 00 buckshot, .44 magnum rounds and even the FN 5.7 super velocity rounds.
DKX Advanced Mfg.
One of the longest-anticipated debuts at the show was Glock's first U.S.-legal pistol in .380 ACP. Although Glock has had a .380 pistol in its European inventory for more than a decade, due to certaerein BATFE import laws, the Glock pistol in .380 has never been previously available for sale stateside. In the past several years, the .380 has seen an enormous rise in popularity amongst both the law enforcement and civilian market. This has been due, in large part, to advancements in ammunition technology, which render the caliber—previously seen as somewhat impotent—into a more effective choice for self-defense, as well as the growing trend towards legalization of CCW by civilians. Glock's new model 42 is a significantly scaled-down design of its current Gen-4 series. At just .94 inches wide and 5.94 inches long, it's ideally suited for concealed carry as an off-duty, back-up or "deep cover" sidearm.
At the opposite spectrum of size and caliber, Glock also introduced the G41. This is the .45 ACP equivalent of the long-slide G34 (9 mm) or G35 (40 S&W) "tactical/practical" series. However, unlike the 34/35, the slide and barrel of the G41 is not ported. This package allows 13+1 rounds of .45 ACP with Glock's proprietary "Safe Action" trigger, which allows a safe and consistent trigger function. I anticipate this platform will become popular with many tactical team operators as well as competitive shooters.
Founded in 2003, and based in Eden, N.C., KDH Defense Systems offers a variety of personal body armor products, from concealable armor worn by uniformed patrol or plainclothes personnel to external SWAT and military ballistics. KDH produces a wide selection of ballistic panels and carrier systems with the end-user in mind. The company focus not only on meeting, but exceeding, the NIJ standards, while meeting the user's desire for lighter, more flexible and comfortable body armor.
KDH introduced a "system" of body armor appropriately named the "Transformer Armor System." This system allows for up to five different configurations, using the same ballistic panels in different carrier options. Two of the carriers are for concealed wear beneath civilian attire or uniform. The third carrier option is a "uniform shirt"-appearing carrier, which allows the wearer to put on when going out in the field over their actual uniform shirt, but which they can take off when inside the station or at a desk for extended periods.
The other two options are exterior carriers that have either pre-sewn equipment pouches (cuff case, radio holder, flashlight/ASP pouch, Taser pouch, etc.) or a MOLLE attachment system. This versatility allows the user options to switch back and forth efficiently and cost-effectively based upon their mission or assignment.
Anyone involved in U.S. law enforcement is undoubtedly familiar with Lenco's armored rescue vehicle, the BEARCAT. Considered the gold standard in the industry, Lenco isn't complacent as the leader in armored vehicles.Lenco is constantly improving upon an already top-notch design. In addition to offering the standard ballistic vehicle package, many options are available, including up-armored cupolas (the ballistic protection surrounding the roof hatch), thermal camera systems, EOD/Robot ("BOMBCAT") transport platform, a Tac-Medic ("MEDCAT" armored ambulance) platform, the much-larger "BEAR" ARV and a CBRN package. Note: Many agencies have achieved success in wholly or partially funding the purchase with Dept. of Homeland Security or other grant funding options.
MTM Case-Gard was founded in Dayton, Ohio, in 1968. Today, they are one of, if not the most, prolific manufacturers of plastic ammo storage containers. One of its newest products is the "tactical mag can." This heavy-duty ammo can securely holds 15 AR-15 magazines in a rapidly accessible position, while keeping them safe from moisture and damage. The ammo can is lockable and designed to be stackable. These would be ideal for the trunk of every patrol vehicle or to be kept in an armored rescue vehicle for rapid disbursement in a critical incident. Within certain guidelines, they could also be maintained in common areas accessible to patrol officers within police stations or substations/storefront offices rather than inaccessible in a locked armory.
Since 1996, Rock River Arms (RRA) has grown into a company well-known for high-end AR-15 weapon systems. Today, its manufactures top-of-the line weapons for the DEA, FBI and several other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The product line includes .223/5.56, .308 and other rifle and pistol caliber platforms. RRA manufactures complete weapon systems as well as every individual part necessary to custom-build your own rifle/carbine. A multitude of barrel lengths, rifling (rate of twist), stock/forend options are available, in addition to a plethora of other options, including left-side ejection for southpaws. RRA is a premier manufacturer who backs up their products with a limited lifetime warranty.
Rock River Arms
SightMark's LoPro Green Laser Sight Designator is a powerful, bright laser for your AR-15 that won't get in the way of your line of sight. The unit is easy to install on a picatinny or weaver rail systems. A CR123 battery purports to keep this powerhouse running for 27 hours! The matte black finish looks sharp, and the thermoplastic construction is rugged as well as waterproof. Overall, the LoPro is an affordable, rugged laser sight that's worthy of consideration for your AR platform.
Tacprogear, a leading manufacturer of apparel, armor, bags, packs and pouches, combines durable gear with inexpensive pricing. It uses strong, lightweight nylon and proven YKK zippers to construct tactical gear that's used worldwide by outdoor enthusiast and law enforcement/military professionals alike. SHOT Show saw the debut of the "STASH Pack." This pack folds to just 6 x 6 inches, but when deployed it's 8 inches deep, 14 inches wide, and 19 inches tall—the size of a ruck-pack. Tacprogear boasts that this design originated as a pack made for Tier One Operators to use for evidence during raids on high-value targets in the Middle East. The STASH Pack is available in black/gray, black/coyote tan, black/red and black/blue. With the low MSRP of just $50, this is a great value.
Taurus' Millenium G2 is an outstanding subcompact auto pistol that's exceptionally ergonomic. At only 22 oz., this lightweight polymer, compact gun features enhanced "melted edges," which make it virtually snag-free—a hugely desirable feature in a concealed carry handgun. The PT 111 holds 12 +1 rounds in 9mm while the PT 140 holds 10 +1 rounds in the more potent .40 S&W. Both models have the same external dimensions and provide enough of a grip (with its magazine lip) for most people to get even their pinkie finger on the grip. It incorporates a DA/SA action and has the following safety features: loaded chamber indicator, manual safety, trigger safety and Taurus Security System. For anyone in the market for a concealed carry gun in 9mm or .40 S&W, this is a must-look. With all of its products, Taurus provides a lifetime repair warranty.
Truckvault continues to provide top-notch weapons and other sensitive-equipment lockable storage containers for most popular law enforcement vehicles. Whether a marked patrol car, an incident command SUV or an undercover vehicle, Truckvault manufacturers something that will work. The ever-popular weapon storage vaults are offered with single or double pull-out drawers. The incident command versions can be had with dry-erase boards, plexiglass overlays for placing maps below and writing on with grease pencils, lights, etc. The company even offers a "Truckvault Technology Platform" (TTP) which provides 120-volt and multi-socket 12-volt (USB compatible) outlets useful for powering computers, radios, charging units, lighting, etc.
Truckvault also now manufactures BATFE-compliant Class III day boxes for safe and legal storage/transport of flash bangs, detonators or other explosives used by EOD/Bomb Squads and SWAT Teams. Under the "Shotlock" brand, Truckvault offers a line of handgun, rifle and pistol vaults that encapsulate the rifle/shotgun receiver/trigger guard (in the case of handguns, the entire weapon is secured in the locking container), thereby preventing the weapon from being fired. The locking device can be mounted inside a vehicle or within a structure to prevent theft (a good option for securing long guns assigned to School Resource Officers within their school office).
QMAXX Products offers an efficient and convenient way of displacing moisture while providing a cleaner with lubricant qualities to maintain firearms. Available in spray-on or two sizes of pen-size applicator, this product is easy to use. I watched the vendor conduct several short demonstrations of his product. It's a quick, easy and relatively clean way to ensure your expensive weapons don't rust. It's offered in two finish colors—traditional blued and modern black. The containers are small enough to store in a gun case with the weapon and are safe for air travel because they aren't under pressure. I obtained a couple of samples and was impressed with the product. I intend to purchase more.