Published January 16, 2014
When you have thousands of guns tempting thousands of men shopping for guns, how do you stand out from the crowd?
Booth babes and celebrities are one surefire way to lure guys into your showplace and get them to hang around -- but smart design and responding to the market is also proving effective.
And offering a whirl at a grenade launcher doesn’t hurt either.
Celebrities and Gunny
Last year was a quiet one for SHOT Show, respectful of the recent tragedy in Connecticut.
But the booth bunnies were back in full force this year at the world's largest gun show, taking place this week at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas. They deployed their smiles and siren skills, complemented by revealing tops and short skirts: all highly effective based on the crowds in their respective company’s area.
Also taking photos and signing autographs are the celebrities. Two of the biggest draws this year so far have been fighter Tim Kennedy, smashing stuff at Gerber Legendary Knives, and R. Lee Ermey, also known as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, doing his "Full Metal Jacket" thing at Glock.
The Duck Commanders again had a commanding showplace, but one that was notably absent of any of The Duck Dynasty family this year -- to the disappointment of many.
Grenade Launcher Training
Simulators tend to abound at military gear shows, but they're not such a common sight at SHOT Show.
Heckler & Koch brought a grenade launcher training simulator that has been a huge crowd pleaser, with people jostling and elbowing for a turn. Much to the dismay of some (and the relief of others, given that it is an indoor event), the GMG 40mm simulator did not actually fire real grenades.
In real world application, the GMG 40mm fires approximately 350 rounds per minute. Instead, those having a go got to blow up digital trucks at different digital ranges.
Luring in Lefties
German company Walther may be most familiar for the Walther PPK issued to the fictional James Bond.
But to ambidextrous shooters, the company is known for looking after the lefties. Ambidextrous shooters tend to have few solid options on the market and are quick to refer others to this company.
There was buzz in the fully ambidextrous community pleased to see the PPQ M1 has been brought back for this year. At a price of about $550, it's a great option for a paddle-release gun at a reasonable cost.
At SHOT Show 2013, Walther announced the M2, a new PPQ model, that caused some concern the lefties were going to lose options.
While the original PPQ has a German-style paddle magazine release, with the M2 for the U.S. market the company introduced an American-style push button -- triggering some fear that paddle releases would be discontinued.
A button release can be switched for a rightie or a leftie, but a paddle release can be activated on either side of the pistol.
Big things in Small Semi-Automatic Packages
Beretta seems to have worked out that great things can come in small packages.
Last year, Beretta rolled out the 20-gauge A400 Action that continues to be a very big hit this year. Making a debut this year, Beretta says the scaled down A400 is the first 28 gauge semiautomatic shotgun they have ever made. Hugely popular, people have been lining up to have a close look at it and find out more.
Bodyguard by Smith & Wesson
By going smaller, Smith & Wesson also generated some big noise.
The M&P Bodyguard 380 is a 6+1 single-stack subcompact .380 and another very popular option at the show.
Smith & Wesson revealed this direct rival to the GLOCK 42 and its design reflects that listened to market demand for this popular handgun model without the laser sight.
Fans debating over the two are quick to note the differences.
GLOCK 42 uses their standard safe action pre-set striker trigger while the Bodyguard has a double action only second strike trigger and a manual safety.
The Bodyguard also has a smaller slide and barrel, for example.
Ballet dancer turned defense specialist Allison Barrie has traveled around the world covering the military, terrorism, weapons advancements and life on the front line. You can reach her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @Allison_Barrie.