I was quite disappointed. Not a single Mauser in the place. Nor was there much in the way of competitive target guns or rifles. I can summarize the show with three words: tacticool, tacticool, tacticool. Not my cup of tea.
What is “tacticool?” Tactical guns and gear are designed for specific military and police purposes. Usually these items are geared for “CQB” or close(d) quarter battle. Think of a SWAT team busting into a crack house, or soldiers street fighting in Afghanistan. There are weapons configurations specific for those purposes. For example, a rifle may be configured as a “carbine” with a shorter stock and barrel so the “operator” can maneuver easily in enclosed spaces. Pistols might have a slightly heavier trigger pull, due to the user’s stress and possibly the fact he might be wearing gloves. Laser aiming devices, red dot scopes, high powered flash lights and other doo-dads are often mounted on the guns.
There is a place for these platforms on the public market. Some configurations are good for home defense. There are shooting sports where weapons so configured are perfect. So I’m not knocking them. But it seems to me that these configurations make up the majority of guns on display in many shops, the magazines, and certainly at the show I went to. The term tacticool comes from the impression that these guns are marketed as being “cool,” as if owning one somehow unleashes your inner Navy Seal.
I guess what I’d like to see is greater emphasis in the firearms industry on marketing guns that real people can use to make shooting a regular part of their lives. I know too many guys with a closet full of tacticool guns and gear they never use. They’re not collectors, but they read the Maxim ad that said buying a DPMS AR-15 earns them their “man card.” If the salesman (and the industry) had steered them instead into a 10/22, they might actually get out and shoot more due to the greater ease of shooting and more affordable ammunition. The reality is that many people will not get into action shooting sports, and their shooting time will be spent picking off stationary paper. Indeed, many public ranges do not even allow rapid fire shooting! So what happens is they show up at the range with their CQB gear, stand in one spot, can barely hit the broad side of a barn, get frustrated, and the hundreds of dollars of gear stays in the closet.
Ah well, give the people what they want, I guess. It just disappoints me that we have a nation of so many gun owners but so relatively few become good shooters. The Obama election definitely boosted gun ownership and has made the public ranges a little more crowded, but when the current fad passes, who will be left?