Can you tell the NRA is in town?
It’s that time of year again.
We’re at the National Rifle Association Annual Meeting in beautiful downtown Indianapolis. I’ve not been to Indianapolis before, but will be back. The downtown area is fantastic. It’s filled with old buildings refurbished with modern interiors. Stores, restaurants and hangouts - it’s a great town for a convention. Indianapolis has clearly rolled out the welcome mat. The people are friendly and there’s been a strong police presence to help manage traffic and crowds. Most of them have been asking attendees about all the new products they saw inside. Officer Friendly lives here.
As there will be a million and seven articles about the newest mainstream products, we’ll be covering the more unusual and interesting offerings here over the next three days, so stay tuned for end of day updates. Let’s take a look at some Day 1 finds.
A Sixpack of Pure Fun From the Target Factory
This booth display stopped me in my tracks. Why? Shooting reactive targets is simply way more fun than shooting holes in paper. While there are plenty of “reactive” targets that are fine for outdoor ranges, I don’t know of many (any?) that are OK to use at indoor ranges.
The NRA Target Bottles are made from a “plasticky” material that allows bullets to pass through, creating only a smaller-than-bullet-diameter hole. Unlike the outdoor target cubes, these are ultra lightweight. You can hang them from a Target Factory frame made of the same material, or, if you shoot at an indoor range, you can use the Target Factory adapter and hang some bottles from those motorized target hangers that zoom back and forth.
These NRA Target Bottles have each been shot about 100 times with everything from .22 to .50 caliber.
You know these come in six packs, right? Spares are packaged just like your favorite long neck beer or glass bottle soda. They’ll handle most any caliber from .22LR to .50 and you can shoot each bottle hundreds of times before it’s destroyed beyond recognition.
It’s one of those “why didn’t I think of that” ideas. Brilliant, and the perfect accessory for a Beretta U22 Neos.
American Suppressor Association Media Shoot
Technically this was a Day -1 event as it took place Thursday afternoon before the show started. If you’re not already familiar, the group is a consortium of companies in the sound suppression business that aim to reduce the noise level of gunfire everywhere.
This event was held at the Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area range – an absolutely fantastic outdoor facility complete with full-time range safety officers, baffles to prevent stray shots from escaping and a Pro Shop that was well stocked with accessories, guns, ammo and… powder. If you’re a reloader, you know what I’m talking about. No one has powder these days! Except the Atterbury range.
The American Suppressor Association is a great example of companies working together to achieve a common goal. In this case it's the growth and acceptance of silencers as a normal part of shooting. Who would think of buying a simple lawn mower without a muffler? It’s the same idea with silencers. Shooting suppressed guns is safe and polite to the neighbors. In their words:
"FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE COMMERCIAL SILENCER INDUSTRY’S 103 YEAR HISTORY, INDIVIDUAL MANUFACTURERS, DISTRIBUTORS, AND DEALERS ARE FORMALLY BANDING TOGETHER TO COLLECTIVELY ADVOCATE FOR THE SILENCER INDUSTRY."
Most states have some provision for citizens to legally acquire silencers for their firearms. At last count, it was 39 out of 50, although that number may increase any day thanks to the efforts of American Suppressor Association activists. Hunting with silencers is a different matter. Regulations are all over the map. These types of inconsistencies are exactly what the American silencer association is trying to fix. One example of a recent win is the passage of legislation in Georgia that allows hunting with silencers. Yay! Another win!
In attendance at today’s event were member companies SilencerCo, Advanced Armament Corporation, GemTech and Daniel Defense. All had a wide variety of products to test. Everything from .22 pistols to H&K full-auto 300 Blackout rifles.
Yeah, it was fun. And quiet.
Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun
I’ve got one of these on the way for testing and competition in the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational later this summer, but I was able to get my hands on one in the Beretta booth here at the show.
The Beretta 1301 Tactical is compact and quick to handle.
The Beretta 1301 Tactical is a beauty. With semi-automatic operation and an 18-inch barrel, it’s easy to handle and light to carry. The standard tube magazine holds four rounds plus an additional one in the chamber. If you want more, there are plenty of aftermarket magazine extension tubes available as the 1301 Tactical uses the same tube threading as other Beretta and Benelli shotguns. The sights are slug appropriate with an adjustable ghost ring rear sight and a front post with white dot. A rail on top of the receiver allows easy attachment of your favorite red dot or scope. An oversized bolt handle and release button are built for speed.
Crazy Quail Trap Thrower Base
Bored with those easy straightaway trap targets? Or the predictable skeet doubles? Check out the trap thrower bases from Crazy Quail. The flagship product is designed on its own trailer and provides a motorized platform to which you mount several individual trap throwers. The base spins and wobbles so clay pigeons are thrown randomly in all directions. The unit is battery powered and can run up to 30 hours on a single charge.
If parts of the photo look slightly blurry, that's because the whole machine was spinning and bobbing - fast!
If the big Crazy Quail is out of your price range, check out the Crazy Quail Mini. Its a smaller base that spins and wobbles a single trap thrower to provide unpredictable target throws.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s NRA Annual Meeting 2014 coverage. There’s plenty more to see.