Between The Berms: Notes From The NRA Show

Apr 30, 2014
Comp-Tac's Dave Wisby, who had been on his feet non-stop for three days in his company's packed booth, celebrates the close of the 2014 NRA Show. Photo by P. Erhardt
Hurray, it's over, and Comp-Tac's Dave Wisby, on behalf of all of us that worked the 2014 NRA Show, gives two thumbs up in celebration of this very fact. This year's show was packed - as expected - and at times it was difficult to move down the aisles without nudging, shoving or trampling those in the way. That got even worse when lines formed for celebrity autographs around booths like Glock's, for R. Lee Ermey, and Smith & Wesson's, for the clan Miculek. To efficiently navigate the show floor you had to know not only the booth layout but when a celebrity was making an appearance.
Julie Golob was among a number of S&W team shooters signing autographs in the booth. No matter when you stopped by there was a blue shirt celeb giving out autographs, shaking hands and posing for pictures. Photo by P. Erhardt
Alas, it is with great sadness though that I must report that nobody stopped me for my autograph, despite having written The Shooting Wire's most popular column (as judged by me) for the last three years now. Well, I guess I'll have to somehow get over the disappointment and humiliation. Meanwhile, elsewhere on the less self-absorbed show floor... Safariland's IDPA Membership Drive... Thanks to Safariland's support through a special promotion, IDPA membership numbers for new and renewing members spiked at 35% over the same period last year. And this year's promotion outperformed the one conducted last year by nearly 37%. This explains why IDPA Executive Director Joyce Wilson stopped by to personally thank Safariland for their continued support of the organization's now 23,900+ members.
Flanked by Bobby McGee (L) and James Dawson, Joyce Wilson presents Safariland with a plaque expressing IDPA's appreciation for all the support the company has given to growing participation in IDPA. Photo by P. Erhardt
From 'For Sale' To 'Sold Out'... One of the things you see at the NRA Show that you won't see at the SHOT Show is a number of booths set up to sell directly to attendees. A good portion of the smaller exhibitors are selling on the floor, just as they would at any other gun show or expo, but at the NRA Show you'll find that many of the larger companies have set up shop as well. The Springfield Armory booth was mobbed from start to finish, including a line outside their show store. Chatting with Comp-Tac owner Gregg Garrett, whose booth was right in front of one of the main entry points to the floor, the Texas-based holster maker sold out of several models as early as Saturday afternoon. Blade-Tech managed to keep from selling out by nearly doubling the amount of product they brought compared to last year's show in Houston. In the Apex booth sales were reportedly up 150% over last year's show with customers seeking them out simply due to the word of mouth advertising from fellow shooters.
The NRA Show is like a giant shopping spree for gun enthusiasts that have money burning holes in their pockets. They were ready for the flood of shoppers at the Federal Premium booth where staff was all but buried behind mountains for branded gear. Photo by P. Erhardt
Unicorn Spotted... At SHOT Show it was just a rumor. An apparition hidden high up on the wall of Para's booth. And though it had been spoken of for many months now, this unicorn known as the Travis Tomasie signature 1911 has yet to be seen. That is until now. Amazingly the new Tomasie model was on display - on actual display - by Para at this weekend's NRA Show. And, I must say, it's pretty nice. The 'Tomasie Custom' has a tri-top slide for reduced weight, a giant 'I'll reload as fast as Travis' magwell and aggressive VZ G10 grips among other desirable features. I played with it a little and it feels real good in the hands, but at $1,999 it doesn't feel so good in the least not mine. I'm sure, though, there are many who will gladly line up for this .40 S&W race gun. Unfortunately, you may have to wait a while. Magazine availability issues mean that shipment of the new gun might not take place for some time. For those of you of a betting nature, Vegas bookmakers are setting the over and under on delivery at six months. I'm putting my money on a spectacular 2015 SHOT Show introduction. Kinda like this year's introduction, except with an actual gun on display this time.
The long rumored Tomasie Custom from Para made an appearance at the NRA Show. How long it will take for this race gun model to make an appearance at your local dealer is anybody's guess. Photo by P. Erhardt
Judgement Day... Thursday night we got the release on the new Taurus First 24 Judge Kit which Jim Shepherd referenced it Monday's edition of The Shooting Wire. Like what I assume many of you were wondering, I wanted to know how you get $1,500 for a Taurus Judge. However, since I am (to my great pleasure) friends with the Taurus CEO, Mark Kresser, and know how he thinks when it comes to product development, I knew there was a lot in the actual gun to justify the price tag. Once you get past all the added items in the kit - all great, by-the-way - the revolver itself is pretty sweet. Michael Shain from Aimpro Tactical, the company that did the custom work on the Judge, walked me through the customization. He explained that the Judge is dehorned (light melt). The action components are hand de-burred and hand polished for smoothness in both double action and single action modes. The trigger is radiused to remove any sharp edges and both hammer and trigger are polished and jeweled. The barrel is chamfered at 45 degrees and the forcing cone is reamed and recut at 11 degrees. Each chamber is honed and polished for maximum extraction and ejection reliability. Each chamber is chamfered at 45 degrees to enhance speed and ease of reloading. The ejector is blended. The frame, side plate, crane and cylinder are finished in Flat Dark Earth XCoat which is a non-reflective milspec protective coating. Each gun is reassembled, function checked and test fired for reliability before leaving the Aimpro shop. All just big words until Michael lifted up the cover of the display case to give me a chance to dryfire the First 24 Judge. I believe the word I'm looking for is smoooooooooth. I later found out from Mark that the first batch of this model, and the First 24 617 Kit, have already been sold which means they are available from dealers right now. Taurus, once famous for introducing a plethora of new models only to bring a couple to market two or three years later, now only announces new products when they are on the shelf and ready to ship. Being friends with the CEO has some added advantages as I got an early preview of the next product in the First 24 line-up. This is likely to be a very popular category of product offerings from Taurus.
This has absolutely nothing to do with the First 24, but if you were on the floor after the official show close this is what you would have seen in the Taurus booth. That's right, the famous Jessie Duff, star of TV and competition podiums everywhere, was busy cataloging and packing away show guns. Easily the most tedious task of any show suddenly seems quite appealing. Photo by P. Erhardt
It's All Over But For Shipping Home The Boss... Apparently at Apex they focus all their resources on designing and manufacturing great products, not on luxury travel accommodations. This probably explains why they tried to ship home CEO Randy Lee instead of buying a plane ticket. Airfare costs too much these days, especially when a certain Apex employee who shall remain nameless [Scott Folk] may or may not be required by airlines to purchase two seats.
Randy Lee, the boss over at Apex Tactical Specialties, heads home in his custom shipping container complete with workbench and a full complement of Brownells gunsmithing tools. He'll have three or four new products to introduce by the time he gets delivered back at the shop. Photo by P. Erhardt
Next year the NRA Show will be in Nashville. As we all know, Tennessee is a gun friend state. It's an even friendlier barbecue state. That's why I'm making the selfless sacrifice of volunteering to take on the awesome responsibility of being the editor of the all barbecue edition of The Shooting Wire. If you have a fondness for barbecue, and a credit card to pick up the tab, you can be part of The Shooting Wire's Barbecue Evaluation Team. Send your name, along with the credit limit of your card, to me at the email below. - Paul Erhardt, Editor, the Outdoor Wire Digital Network Got shooting sports news? Send us an email at