LAS VEGAS — Given that the SHOT Show covers 700,000 square feet of floor space devoted to every type of hunting and shooting equipment known to man, it's virtually impossible to see everything there is to see.
Though we're going to try to do just that in the next few days, we thought we'd take a shortcut by asking some of the retailers who are shopping the show for their customers. After all, the purpose behind the SHOT Show is to allow manufacturers to display their wares for the coming year to dealers.
And what these buyers like, you'll probably like when various guns and gear hit the shelves this summer and fall. Here are a few items that caught the eyes of our shoppers:
Joe Parks of Joe's Gun Shop raved about the Swarovski EL 10x42 binocular:
"There are about the best around and will definitely let you see more detail, and for a lot longer during low-light conditions. Swarovski's rangefinder is also an excellent product; very sensitive. Swarovski optics cost more, but I don't think anybody is going to say that you don't get what you pay for."
A stock that fits
The new Savage Warrior rifle with its "Accu Stock" caught the eye of Ed Isch from Ed's Reloading Bench in Terra Bella, Calif.:
"I like the new stock design. The way the action is fitted into the stock is really a cut above what you would expect from a rifle in this price range ($770). It's a custom-rifle feature in a stock rifle."
A sling for long hauls
Mann Mark of the Western New York Safari Club in East Aurora, N.Y., gave The Claw rifle or shotgun sling from Quake Industries high marks:
"Any time you have to walk any distance in rough country, you're always having to keep pulling a leather or nylon sling back up on your shoulder. This sling looks like it would stay put. I also like the fact that it's elastic and won't cut into your shoulder from the weight of the gun."
Two camos in the same vest
The new Browning reversible goose-down vest drew raves from Jennifer Winkelmann, owner of Bexar Community Shooting Range in San Antonio, and range manager Danny Webb:
"This will sell better in our part of the country. Anything with the Browning logos on it sells, but this vest makes a lot of sense for Texas hunters. Most reversible hunting vests you see have camo on one side and hunter orange on the other. In Texas you don't have to wear hunter orange if you don't want to, so a lot of guys will like the fact that this vest is Mossy Oak Breakup on one side, and Duck Blind on the other."
Light weight, deadly force
Smith & Wesson's .380 Body Guard revolver has a built-in laser sight, but that wasn't its best feature as far as Gray Johnson of Mechanicsville, Va., is concerned:
"This is very light handgun and that's the best selling point to me. Weight is everything in a 'carry' gun. If it's too heavy, you're not going to carry it around. Consequently, it's not going to do you any good if you don't have it when you need it."
A Cadillac of a hunting stand
The Mossy Oak Outer Armour Blind that retails from between $950 and $2,000 (depending on finish and options) is made of insulated material stretched over a steel frame, and Duane Lamers of Lamers' Custom Rifles in Ottawa, Ohio, saw its possibilities immediately:
"This is a great blind for a place where you can set it up and just leave it. Where I live, we're looking for something that provides warmth in the coldest part of winter, or insulation from the heat when it's balmy. This would fill the bill there.
"Also, it's very roomy inside and the insulation helps dampen sound. So, this would be a great blind to share with a youngster. As for individual features, I like the fact that the windows can be raised and lowered very quietly, and the blind is sturdy and heavy enough (450 pounds) that it's not going to creak when you shift your weight around. It could be used for turkey hunting, but it's perfect for deer."
Sitka moves east with its line
Carl Hermansen and Rory Nielson of Hermansen's in Ephraim, Utah, have been selling Sitka hunting clothing for the past few years and are glad the company has introduced a Tree Stand series. It's about time, says Hermansen:
"The Sitka clothing has done well for us, everything from base layers to outer wear.
"When it first came out I think there was a perception that it's Western wear, and that was true to some extent, but I think Eastern hunters will especially like the new Tree Stand series. It fits snugly, which is what bowhunters want, but it has enough 'give' so that it's no problem to hike around or climb up to a stand or draw a bow."
Muck boots for the Land Down Under
Australia might be far away, but folks on the island continent still need to stay dry. That's why Joy Harrison of Sports & Togs in Uralla, Australia spent some time in the Muck Boots booth checking out the children's footwear:
"I haven't come across anything like these boots before. I like it that they're not rubber all the way up, but have various types of cloth tops that will be more comfortable.
"In the Tablelands of northwest New South Wales, it's very wet in the winter, what with the dew and mist in the higher elevation, so these boots should be very appealing to parents and children. I don't know that we would sell any with camouflage, but there are so many different colors that I think we will do quite well with the others."