By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
I was lucky enough to go to SHOT Show 2019 as part of the Alien Gear Holsters team. Go ahead, be jealous, but along with the experience came aching heels and knees from six days of walking on concrete and the cold I seemed to have picked up while I was there. But such is life.
SHOT Show is big. Really big. You just don’t know how big it is. Imagine a space the size of four to six football fields, filled with exhibitors. Now imagine six of them stacked around each other on four floors. You could walk around it in the four days of the show, but you couldn’t really see everything. It’s enormous. Therefore, you have to stick to what you know you can get to.
The first thing is that I think we’ve hit Peak AR-15. I get why people like them. I get why so many different makers offer their own take on the platform. (Partially due to market demand and also because the plans are public domain, so your design work is kinda done for you.) However, there is an absolute surfeit of AR-15 makers. Granted, I understand that there are multiple tastes and sensibilities, and every producer is catering to a different one, but at a certain point it’s getting to be a little much.
Perhaps there will be a contraction, perhaps the opposite will happen. With that said, if it isn’t out of hand, it’ll do until it is.
But with that said, one producer of AR-15 platform rifles caught my eye, those of Brenton. Brenton makes AR-platform rifles for hunting rather than plinking, competition or military/police roles, so mil-spec isn’t exactly their style. My co-worker was able to hit 4 of 4 from 800 yards with one. While they offer varmint chamberings (.22 Nosler, .224 Valkyrie, .223 Remington/Wylde and a couple more) they also offer their guns in 6.8mm SPCII, 6.5mm Grendel and .450 Bushmaster, which are better-suited for big game. Their rifles are of exceptional build quality and accuracy, so keep an eye on them.
Also, the obsolescence of the 1911 pistol is greatly exaggerated. What’s clear seeing all the different handgun makers and their wares plus aftermarket parts and accessories on display is that Ol Slabsides isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The only pistol(s) that enjoy the same support and popularity are Glocks, and plenty of people out there enjoy both.
Additionally, much more is being done with the platform than just plain Jane Government frames these days. You can get a 1911 pistol to suit any purpose or tastes. So long as you can put up with the single-action operating system, you can find one that will do what you need it to. 10mm model with an RMR for handgun hunting? Easily done; Springfield Armory and plenty more besides make them. Double-stack 9mm competition gun? Easily found and at multiple price points. An easy-packing compact? Easily sourced as well.
For the competition set, look out for a producer called Bul, an Israeli pistol maker. Their guns are custom-shop guns ranging from concealed carry guns to full-on IPSC race pistols. The government shutdown was preventing them from being certified to sell in the USA, so let’s hope they can get to market soon.
I would also recommend looking out for Charles Daly 1911 pistols, which are quietly some of the best appointed and made 1911 pistols at a sub-$1000 price point.
Definitely keep your eye out for guns made by Sarsilmaz, or SAR. Their guns are made in a NATO-spec facility in Turkey (Sarsilmaz is actually one of Turkey’s oldest gunmakers, having been in business more than 100 years) and they are gearing up for a big push this year. All of their products, including semi-auto pistols, revolvers, and every kind of shotgun you can imagine, are smartly designed, exceptionally well-made and are set to be uber-competitively priced.
I got to handle my dream rifle, the Montana Rifle Co.’s exquisite American Standard Rifle. Based on the Winchester Model 70, they are classic bolt-action rifles made to incredible standards. Machining is cleaner and crisper than I can describe, and the walnut stocks are gorgeous. I said as much to the rep and he said that I was handling a run of the mill gun, and handed me one with a special stock. It was a left-handed safari model in 9.3mm Brenneke made by Montana Rifle for Craig Boddington, which was nothing short of jaw-dropping.
If you appreciate fine rifles, they are incredible. The saving of pennies starts now.
Among many, many, many other things I could mention.
I would also say that the gun business is in a state of good health, though our gun rights are going to face challenges. Several states – including my home state of Washington – are proposing the curtailing of our Second Amendment rights even further. We must do what we can to ensure that they are not infringed. Whether guns, to you, are just a hobby or a sacred part of our constitutional rights or somewhere in between, it is just as vital as ever that we make sure that the voices of panic are countered by those of reason.
And invest in good insoles. Those make a difference.
Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.