2024 Marks my sixth year as a cool guy writer, and my fourth year attending SHOT Show. If it wasn't for an expectation of cancelation in 2022, it would've been fives year running, but that's neither here nor there. This year I opted to only attend three of five days of SHOT, saving time off for events coming later in 2024. Over the past few days I've been thinking about the events of the show. With thoughts covering products, people, and more, I thought I'd give a short debriefing here.
A Different Approach to SHOT Show 2024
I approached SHOT Show differently this year than I have in the past. Typically I show up with a specific game plan. I'm going to see these booths in this order on these days, with time available for ad-hoc stops. For 2024, I had a handful of places to go, but no formal plan. Instead I let my eyes guide me, stopping at things that seemed interesting. If there were products in a booth I didn't care for, I didn't cover them, focusing only on my interests. This certainly resulted in a loss of information, but freed up a lot of time and energy for me.
Rather than focusing on products as I walked, I looked for friendly faces. Everything I wrote this year was from notes taken on the first day on the floor, with Wednesday being entirely social for me. In some cases I spent up to an hour chatting up other attendees, often times about things far removed from SHOT Show. Spending time with people like the Haught's, Bryan Eastridge, Freddie Blish, Daniel Easterday, Adam Roth, and more.
Instead of 20+ articles for the week, I got about 10 written. I don't feel bad about that. This was absolutely the most fun I had at SHOT Show, and the relationships I nurtured will go much further than the latest press release. Sure, new guns and gear are cool and fun to learn about, but I know how I'm handling the show moving forward. If you've been to SHOT more than once, give it a try. The human element is something that gets lost at these events, and we need to bring it back.
The Year of the Lever Gun, Shotgun, and Wheelgun
This year was an unusual one in terms of product releases. While I couldn't make it to every booth during my short stint, myself and several others began noticing a trend. Most years the focus is on some AR or Glock "killer" set to dethrone the Kings of the gun industry. In the past it's been the FN509, Walther PDP, SIG Sauer MCX SPEAR, or other special snowflake shooters. In 2024 we instead saw a ton of companies jump into the lever-action rifle, shotgun, and revolver markets. Culprits include newcomers Aero Precision, Smith & Wesson, and Palmetto State Armory, plus old timers Henry, Colt, and more. Strange for sure, but not unwelcome.
Why the sudden shift in products? Sure, these folks aren't dumping their more tactical product lines, but why the jump to "lower speed" options? I have a few ideas that we will explore.
I'm Tired of this Grandpa
The United States has been involved in the Global War on Terror for over two decades now. During this time we've seen an explosion in popularity of tactical guns and training. Virtually everyone makes an AR15 variant, and there are more Glock derivatives than you can shake a stick at. Just about everyone who wants a wonder-blaster 9000 has one or two already, and the market is heavily saturated. The people want something different, and retro is in. Even places like Primary & Secondary, once known for the Roland Special and night vision is now spouting the Gospel of the Gauge and snubby revolver. Hell, Chris Costa has been slaying steel with .45-70 for years and now the market is catching up once again.
These guns are cool. These guns are functional. We can bolt cool guy stuff onto them to get likes on Instagram, or we can use them as an escape from min/maxing our hot rod black guns. Maybe we'll learn something along the way.
Dark Times on the Horizon?
If you weren't aware, 2024 is an election year. This November we'll complete ballots for the next President of the United States. While former president Donald Trump is doing well in polls, some states have already tried to remove him from the ballot. It's entirely likely that we will see a win for the incumbent Democrat party. Gun control is a major aspect of President Biden's reelection campaign, not to mention efforts at the state and local levels across our nation.
We may see a reduction in gun rights in the coming months to years. It wouldn't take much for another Assault Weapons Ban to be enacted, leaving many high and dry. Unlike the AR-15, Glock, and similar guns, tube-fed shotguns, lever action rifles, and revolvers are often relatively safe from these attacks. Are manufacturers posturing themselves to survive draconian gun laws? Only time will tell, but it isn't unreasonable when looking at the current political landscape.
Be a good advocate for the Second Amendment. Get involved locally and make your voice heard nationally. Go vote.
Closing Thoughts on SHOT Show 2024
SHOT is more than just a place to see new products, pick up swag, and generate content. If you do it right, you'll build and nurture relationships that can grow into great friendships. You can help secure our rights for generations to come, and bring new people into the fold.
Sure, there are plenty of badass things to see, but the human element is what really matters. If you find yourself walking the floor, take an extra few minutes to have a real conversation. Maybe you'll meet someone from your neighborhood, or that person from a forum or Discord server you frequent.
Each year I dread the chaos of this week as the first day draws closer. When I leave the floor for the last time I'm always exhausted, but smiling and glad I went to SHOT Show.
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