The National Shooting Sports Foundation's SHOT Show is the largest trade show of its kind. More than 1,600 manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers from more than 100 countries gathered in January at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas to exhibit their products.
The event continued in partnership with Law Officer to provide the Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP). More than a dozen two-hour training sessions were offered, which included topics such as The Evolution of Handgun Sight Systems for Personal Defense, Active Shooter Update and the Advanced Police Officer, Law Enforcement Response to Suicidal Persons and The Future of Range Design. Once again, training exceeded expectations and many sessions were so well attended, seating was limited to standing room only.
On the showroom floor, manufacturers introduced new or improved products for attendees to check out. The following items, listed by category, were some of my personal favorite products from the show.
Probably the biggest news from SHOT this year is the mini red-dot ready pistols from major manufacturers. Look for an upcoming piece on the use of red-dot or reflex sights. Do these sights, once developed for the competition market, have a place on modern law enforcement firearms? Only time and testing will tell.
Glock's G34 Modular Optic System
Glock has introduced the Modular Optic System (MOS) in calibers 9mm, .40, .45 ACP and 10mm. All in the Glock Gen 4 configuration, the models are: G34, G35, G41 and G40. According to the manufacturer, the MOS ready pistols were designed based on the popularity of optical sights in "competitive shooting and are becoming increasingly popular for concealed carry, home defense and target shooters." Although law enforcement was not included, more and more cops are looking for the edge that reflex sights offer. The ability to "float the dot and take the shot" removes the necessity of aligning the front and rear sight on target and, as in the military, maintains the same accuracy while decreasing shot time on target. The MOS systems include four different plate options to allow the installation of the four most popular mini red-dots. These mounting plates will allow the installation of EOTech, Doctor, InSight, Meopta, Trijicon RMR, C-More and Leupold DeltaPoint sights. About the only thing I had issue with is that suppressor height sights were not included in the MOS package. The way this was explained is that there are differences in the reflex sight base heights and one set would not work for all. A Glock rep stated that this will be addressed soon.
The Glock MOS models were designed, according to their website, to match the overall length of a Government Model 1911 pistol. For more details, visit US.Glock.com/mos.
Smith & Wesson's CORE M&P pistol with reflex sight installed
Smith & Wesson has come out with a new optics-ready M&P pistol as well. The Competition Optics Ready Equipment (CORE) pistols are available in 9mm and .40. The CORE pistols allow the installation of the reflex sights listed above. Once again, the advantages of speed of acquisition have opened the doors to these types of sights for law enforcement. As an aging shooter with Lasik Monovision-adjusted eyesight, my sights are always blurry with my dominant right eye. With red-dots or reflex sights such as the ones I have on all my rifles, I am able to quickly align the dot and deliver accurate fire on target.
Smith & Wesson has also introduced the M&P Shield compact pistol sans thumb safety. Models 10034 (.40) and 10035 (9mm) are devoid of thumb safeties and the 3.1-inch barrels and overall length of 6.1 inches make for great off-duty or plainclothes pistols. These eight or nine shot pistols (each pistol comes with a seven- or eight-round magazine) have good sights and a smooth striker-fired trigger press. For more details, visit Smith-Wesson.com.
Ruger's LC9s striker-fired single column 9mm pistol with improved sights & trigger
Speaking of striker-fired pistols, Ruger showed off its new LC9s pistol. This seven-plus-one in the chamber 9mm pistol has improved sights and trigger. Considering how many small 9mm pistols have deplorable triggers and all but absent sights, this is a welcome addition. The single column pistol is perfect for pocket or purse and includes a manual safety in the 3235 model or without a manual safety (with integrated trigger safety) in the 3248 model. Ruger has also improved the trigger and sights on their .380 LCP. Friends who shot this pistol at range day complimented Ruger on the improvements of the LCP design. We will be reaching out to Ruger to test these new pistols this year. Stay tuned for more. For more details, visit Ruger.com.
SIG Sauer's P320 subcompact in 9mm
SIG Sauer had its Model P320 pistol on display with a new model: the P320 Subcompact. The P320 is a unique design with the actual ATF serial numbered firearm being a cartridge (fire-control module) that can be removed from one grip and slide assembly and installed in another for relatively low cost. The Subcompact carries 12-plus-one 9mm rounds, is 6.67 inches in length and weighs in at 24.9 ounces. SIG has also introduced the P320 RX with SIG Sauer's Romeo 1 reflex sight attached. The P320 pistols have great sights and triggers and based on the ability to remove the fire-control module and install it in another frame or slide assembly, the design allows on-duty and off-duty carry at a lower cost than buying an additional pistol. Read Chris Boyd's Third Degree in the January 2015 issue of Law Officer . For more details, visit SigEvolution.com.
Colt's M45A1: the perfect example of a government model .45
As I walked through the Colt booth, my eyes were immediately drawn to the M45A1 pistol on display, which was developed through a program of the United States Marine Corps as a replacement for their aging 1911 .45 semi-auto pistols. The result is not only pretty to look at, but incorporates so many of the custom features developed over the years by pistolsmiths. The five-inch barrel M45A1 is treated with a Desert Sand Cerakote finish which is not only resilient, but pleasing to the eye. The grips are double diamond checkered panels and are comfortable in the hand. With Novak sights, improved grip safety tang and thumb safety, the M45A1 is a lot different than the WWII-era pistol I first learned to shoot with. Complete with seven round magazine, easily adaptable to Wilson eight-round magazines, this is an awesome pistol. For more details, visit Colt.com.
Since we're talking about red-dot sights on handguns, how exactly would a LEO carry these on duty?
Safariland 678 GLS Pro-Fit holster
Safariland has incorporated the state-of-the-art designs of former FBI agent and master class shooter Bill Rogers for years. He developed the ALS P2 holster for pistols mounted with reflex sights and has also developed a new holster, the Model 678 GLS (Grip Locking System) Pro-Fit Holster. The GLS Pro-Fit is designed to fit more than 60 different types of pistols, Rogers says. A tool is supplied with the holster that allows a mechanism to lock down onto the trigger guard. By assuming a natural grip on the pistol, the middle finger disengages the retention device. The ability to have one holster that can carry more than 60 handguns is amazing and Safariland's Tom Campbell has promised Law Officer a holster to T&E. Look for it soon. For more details, visit Safariland.com.
Raven Concealment's new Eidolon holster system includes various accessories, allowing a multitude of carry options.
A great off-duty or concealed carry rig was introduced at the show by Raven Concealment. The Eidolon holster system is a new product and can be used as an inside-the-belt appendix holster with a "wedge" system designed to press the grips of the handgun into the body for maximum concealment. The Eidolon can be carried in a seemingly endless number of ways based on the accessories that come with the holster. Conventional strong-side inside the pants carry can be adjusted as to height and cant. I've been carrying my Glock 19 in a Phantom holster from Raven for a couple of years and am excited about testing the new Eidolon system. For more details, visit RCSGear.com.
Pistol Wear holsters designed for active or off-duty carry & materials prevent unnecessary movement when running.
Over the last three years, I've had two knee surgeries. Wearing loose jogging pants with no belt loops during rehab left me few options for concealed carry. I've recently picked up a belly-band holster but it is not as secure during PT sessions as I would like. Since I'm facing knee replacement this year, I was intrigued when I walked by the Pistol Wear Holsters booth. With a moving mannequin replicating a jogger sporting a neoprene Pistol Wear holster, the PT-ONE, I talked to Pistol Wear's Steve Tuggle to learn more. My jogging days are definitely over, but I can remember only carrying a clip-on knife on my running shorts then. There just weren't any holsters available that didn't bounce around uncomfortably. I felt seriously unprepared when a deer ran across the road in front of me with two large feral dogs hot on its heels. The PT-ONE and other holsters from Pistol Wear are designed to discreetly carry concealed handguns under active clothing while engaged in activities such as running or, in my case, physical therapy. Tuggle has offered up a holster and I'll be giving it a real world test soon enough. For more details, visit PistolWear.com.
Alessi Holsters' inside the pants and outside the belt holsters are all handmade with quality leather.
If you've been in the business as long as I have, Alessi Holsters is not a new name-they've been around for more than 40 years. Tom Kulwicki is the present owner and holster maker at Alessi. A lifelong friend of the late Lou Alessi, who helmed the company from 1974 until his death in 2009, Tom is one of the real nice guys in the gun and holster business and does things the way Alessi has from the start. Handmade in the U.S.A., Alessi rigs are top notch. On display were standards such as the DOJ holster, the Hideout, CQC-S and more. All are simply beautiful and also functional. In this day of Kydex and thermoplastic holsters, which oftentimes are uncomfortable to carry when pressed against the skin, these leather Alessi rigs give more and are more comfortable while still retaining the pistol and allowing a smooth and sure draw-stroke.
Kulwicki was showing off a new inside-the-belt design, the Talon Plus Tuckable. Although this holster was designed not to pull or snag a woman's clothing, it can also be worn by men. The holster is worn inside the pants and allows a blouse or shirt to be "tucked" in over the pistol. This new design incorporates smooth leather in the slots so that even fine fabrics will not be damaged when pulling the garment free. Kulwicki has graciously offered up holsters for review and we will certainly take him up on it. For more details, visit AlessiGunHolsters.com.
Galco Carry Safe offers purse-carry options for female officers off-duty.
In recent research for my new book, Citizen's Guide to Armed Defense (Gun Digest Books, 2015), I did an informal poll of what handguns female police officers carry and where. An overwhelming number carry smaller pistols and revolvers in their purses. Many stated that the purse holsters of many designers lack the stylish look these distaff police officers seek. While talking about this subject with Mike Barham at the Galco Gunleather booth, I was shown the Carry Safe Gen 2 holster. The Carry Safe is designed to be clipped into the divider of a purse to allow an off-duty or plainclothes detective or CCW permit holder to carry in their own purse. The rectangular leather plate features a metal clip on one side and a Velcro face on the other side. Holsters and spare mag carriers can be affixed to the Velcro allowing the handgun to be carried separately from the other contents of the purse, thus preventing mishaps such as items entering the trigger guard and permitting a smoother unobstructed draw. The Carry Safe Gen 2 can be used by male officers to carry in shoulder bags or briefcases as well. For more details, visit GalcoGunLeather.com.
We've all got to wear them, shouldn't they be comfortable?
The new Stryke duty uniforms from 5.11 include new materials as well as a synthetic "soft" badge; plus the new EVO patrol boot.
I've been wearing 5.11 Tactical trousers since before they were called that name. Over the years some great products have been developed and 2015 looks to be another great year. The brand is coming out with patrol and tactical uniforms that incorporate modern materials for more comfort, durability and ease of movement while still looking sharp. The Stryke Patrol Duty Uniforms incorporate Flex-Tac stretch technology as well as Teflon coating for stain resistance. According to 5.11, the uniforms are more breathable, durable and are available in both men's and women's sizes.
EVO six- and eight-inch side-zip boots, as well as EVO waterproof boots, will be coming out in 2015 featuring D30 Impact Protection. The boots include Ortholite insoles and appear to be very well made. We look forward to putting these products, as well as many other new 5.11 uniforms and gear, through its paces in Law Officer this year as they become available. For more details, visit NextLevelUniform.com.
Lights & Accessories
Let it shine!
Streamlight TLR-1 installs on a Picatinny rail & can be actuated with an optional pressure switch.
Longtime police flashlight manufacturer Streamlight just unveiled its 775 lumen weapon light. The TLR-1 HPL is a high lumen light capable of delivering light out to 438 meters. The light can affix to any standard 1913 Picatinny rail. Powered by two CR123A batteries, the light can be actuated by a standard door switch at the rear of the base or by a remote pressure switch (available as an option). Those 775 lumens allow the light to penetrate the deepest of darkness, positively identify a suspect, aid in delivering accurate fire in low or subdued lighting, as well as disorienting a suspect in whose direction it is aimed.
I carry Streamlight flashlights in uniform (the Stinger DS LED and the Strion as back-up) and have done so for years. The quality control is high and they've survived some pretty rigorous use over the years. We plan on putting this weapon light through its paces this year so look for a more detailed review.
For more details, visit Streamlight.com.
Viridian Green: A slightly different approach to weapon mounted lights
I've been using the X5L-RS on my carbine for a couple of years. The green laser/white light combo of the X5L-RS affixes to the Picatinny rails of my quad rail carbine and combines a 160 lumen level light (190 lumens in strobe mode) with a green laser. The pressure switch allows the X5L to deliver white light, laser or a combination of both on target. I personally like the flashing green laser and white light. I enjoyed a drink with Viridian Green CEO Brian Hedeen and his staff while we talked about lights and lasers. Brian commented that he believes many lights are too bright and the splash back from interior walls can blind the user. I commented that a SWAT operator from my former team had just mentioned the same thing. Having run his company's X5L in low light carbine shoots, I can state that the light is bright enough to properly identify a threat and the green laser is like cheating as an aiming tool.
Viridian Green has many new products out in 2015 including a new concealment holster, the Hybrid Belt Holster for their Reactor series of light and laser combos which can actuate the light laser on the draw automatically. Hedeen and his staff at Viridian Green are some great guys and we will be reviewing their products this year.
For more details, visit ViridianGreenLaser.com.
Tuff Products Active Shooter bag & full line of well-made, but lower cost, duty belt gear
Tuff Products has developed a unique way for the patrol officer to access and deploy carbine mags, med kits and other items during an active shooter incident. A steel clip affixes to an officer's duty belt at the side. This ½-inch clip can be worn daily without taking up much room. In an incident, the officer accesses the active shooter leg bag, clips it onto their belt, attaches the thigh strap and is good to go. The active shooter bag can carry four 30-round M4 mags, as well a tourniquet, hemostatic agent, scissors and other kit.
Tuff Products makes a whole line of high-quality, but lower cost, police duty belt gear, as well as belts and holsters. They are well worth your consideration and they have already promised to furnish gear for T&E in 2015. For more details, visit TuffProducts.com.
MagPul's Glock 17 magazine
MagPul just unveiled its new magazine for Glock 17 pistols. The GL9 is a polymer mag that will be available in April 2015. The magazine features reinforced hybrid composite polymer construction, fully loaded indicator, high-quality corrosion resistant stainless steel spring, anti-tilt self-lubricating follower and removable floor plate with paint pen matrix panels. These mags are made in the U.S.A. and are compatible with all the 9mm Glock models-17, 19 and 26.
Offered at a significant savings compared to factory Glock mags, these new magazines will be good for the market and may result in lower prices for everyone. Considering the quality of MagPul's magazines for carbines and the impact they had on the market, this can only be a good thing for working cops, who oftentimes pays out of their own pocket. For more details, visit MagPul.com.
DSM Police I.D. wallet includes a pull out police banner.
This last product is something that is small but potentially lifesaving in nature. Don't Shoot Me (DSM) Safety Products was at the show with a couple of new products. First of all, for plainclothes or off-duty officers, the standard belt-worn banner clips to your belt. In an emergency, the banner can be pulled out and looped over your head to provide a luminescent green or red banner with the words "Police," "Sheriff" or other LE identification to reduce the possibility of blue-on-blue shootings. According to DSM, their banners have been issued to several federal agencies.
New for 2015 is a combo unit that incorporates a large I.D. wallet with luminescent green backing, space for police credentials and a badge holder. Designed with a neck chain, the wallet also incorporates a banner for more dynamic situation such as active shooting incidents. The wallet can be carried in a rear pocket or sports jacket pocket and deployed on scene for investigators, plainclothes and off-duty officers. For more details, visit DSMSafety.com.
There was so much to see at the 2015 SHOT Show and these "hot picks" just touch the tip of the iceberg of new guns, equipment and kits for this year. As always, Law Officer will attempt to provide you, the working street cop, tactical, training and plainclothes officer, with the best equipment reviews we can. The old saying of "Buy cheap, buy twice," reminds us to seek out quality equipment and firearms for work on the street, and Law Officer will help you buy smart. Want to see more? Go to LawOfficer.com for product videos from the show floor.
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