Coming off the NRA Convention

Tim LesmeisterThe NRA convention was held April 13-15 in St. Louis and I attended it with my brother, Dave. Both of us were like kids in the candy store. So much to see, touch and covet and not enough time to do the show justice. It was also an enlightening experience because one can tell the direction of the industry while touring all the booths in the exhibit hall.

The most noticeable trend in firearms is the burgeoning sport-utility rifle market. It would seem that everyone is building an AR-style rifle and where once your options were a .223 or a .308 caliber rifle, now they’re available in a lot more calibers.

The thought behind this expansion is that the AR-style rifle is what the military uses and that is what new gun buyers are comfortable with because it is what they’ve been using in Iraq and Afghanistan. But then military personnel are not the only ones buying the modern-sporting rifles. Military is probably a small percentage of the buyers for these guns. So it must be something else driving AR-style gun sales.

I believe it is just that the guns are cool. Yeah, cool. An AR-style rifle shoots straight, holds a lot of bullets, can be modified and accessorized easily, and when you hold one you feel cool. Why wouldn’t I want one?

Of course you have your old-timers who say the modern-sporting rifle doesn’t serve the hunter well. Oh yes it does. I have a Remington R-25 in a 7-08 and I love it as a hunting rifle. I also have a DPMS Panther is a .223 and a .308 and both of these rifles are efficient and affective in the field. I especially love the .223 for varmint hunting. I used a bolt-action rifle for coyote and fox in the past, and the semi-auto AR-style rifle that is the DPMS is far superior when you need to get off a few shots fast.

Also noticed at the NRA convention was the proliferation of carry pistols. Compact, lightweight pistols to conceal on one’s body were everywhere. I believe this is due to a widening of the permit to carry regulations that have become prominent in many states. It’s now easier than ever to get a permit to conceal a gun on your body, but one quickly discovers that most pistols are big and bulky and heavy and uncomfortable to carry. The market is going all out to compensate for these problems.

Which means that holster companies have to come up with better ways to conceal your new easy-to-carry pistol. Holsters that are built into clothing were prevalent at the event. The CCW Breakaway pants have pockets specifically designed for carrying firearms. The NRA Total Concealment Holster is worn under your pants and carries the firearm below your belt right up front. No one will be looking there, was the main selling point.

Suffice it to say the firearms business is alive and well, proven by the attendance, over 70,000 NRA members. It may be changing, but the changes all seem good.

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Firearms, Tim Lesmeister

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