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"Golden oldies: a handgunner's tour of the SHOT Show." (Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show) (Lethal Force) (Column)

When it comes to self-defense handguns, nobody knows more about the state of the industry than Massad Ayoob. This year, Shooting Industry turned Ayoob loose in the SHOT SHOW -- the largest and most comprehensive gathering of the shooting industry in the world. We asked him to take a look around and tell SI readers about the trends he saw in the industry and predict which products customers would be asking for in the coming year.

The Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show is supposed to be the preview of things to come. In so far as the defensive firearms market is concerned, that means that the shape of things to come is largely the shape of things that have been.

With the noticeable exception of the USP from H&K, new models in this year's lineup seem to be largely recycled old guns. If new 1993 guns were months, they would comprise a calendar of Golden Oldies.


The wee Ruger Bearcat wheelgun of single-action persuasion, always liked for its ease of carry and accuracy out of proportion to its size, is back. It has the current Ruger lockwork that allows safe carry of live rounds in all six chambers. For those who want a modicum of defensive capability in their light trail guns, a .22 Magnum cylinder can replace the one in .22 LR, thanks to a lengthened frame.


S&W's Mountain .44 Magnum is back. Originally designed by Tom Campbell for Ross Seyfried, it has a round butt and tapered .44 Special-like 4" barrel. Superb for field use, and the ideal carry gun for the customer who has a shrine to Elmer Keith in his gun room.


Colt's Detective Special is back on duty. A limited number are to be produced; the ones at the show had desirable Pachmayr Compac grips with Colt Medallions. This most sensible of all small-frame snubbies should retain its famous accuracy as surely as its 6-shot cylinder, but only time will tell if it also retains the old-fashioned Colt D-frame workmanship. If nothing else, your collectors will be interested.


The peacemaker rides again, in the form of Ruger's Vaquero. Modern lockwork ("safe for six,") great workmanship, excellent trigger, .45 Colt chambering, and fake case hardening that will fool all but the experts. Price is right, especially if yours is one of the areas where Old West shootout simulation is becoming the hot sport.


Mazel tov! Israel's Sirkis is born again. This incarnation is the Category Nine from Intratec, a single-stack 9mm Parabellum that's double action only and literally small enough for carry in the trouser pocket. It's the best rendition I've seen of this design. Retail will be extremely affordable, and quality should be disproportionately high; so should customer interest.


Browning's .40 S&W version of the venerable High Power is scheduled for mid-year delivery. The slide has been beefed up to about the heft of a Colt Government Model's. This means that A) the gun should now withstand the tremendous slide velocity the .40 generates, and B) you can sell the same customer a Government Model holster without having to special order a scabbard.


S&W has a new 442 for you. The frosted finish looks better than the earlier 642 stainless Airweight Centennial, the customers won't find the price at all out of line, and the new "true boot grip" in soft composition, designed by Craig Spegel for Uncle Mike's, will apparently come with it. The S&W Centennial has proved to be one of the hottest-selling defensive handguns for almost every dealer I've spoken with. The design concept goes back to the Safety Hammerless of the last century.


A standard H&K defense gun gets better. The jury is out on the USP auto handgun in its many variants, but much interest was generated by the new Tactical Super 90 12-gauge shotgun. Its 18 1/2" barrel puts it between the police-only 14" barrel Entry Gun and the standard 20" Super 90 defensive shotgun. Your serious combat shooters will be seriously interested in this serious scattergun.


Think .356 for 1993. The .356 TSW elicited only yawns except among the Team Smith & Wesson shooters it was built for a few years ago. Yes, it makes major with 9mm bullet, but serious IPSCers will stay with 1911 or CZ systems instead of the S&W pistol, and with the 9x21 and .38 Super cartridges. But the tactical-style guns (check with the S&W Performance Center and Lew Horton Distributors) offer the potential of concealable 16-shot pistols that could launch 115-grain bullets at over 1,500 fps and 124-grain hollowpoints at 1,400 plus. How many of your customers seek the elusive "ultimate manstopper" with lotsa bullets? If they've got the money, you've got the product.


Colt's 2000 may see its best year ever in '93. Introduced a couple of years ago to what may have been the most intense gun media blitz ever, sales of the 2000 have been a little soft. The new design of 1993's All American 2000 will change that, having been subtly redesigned in a baker's dozen ways to answer shooter's needs.


Ruger's P-93 is an old superstructure on a new platform. Its hi-tech plastic frame lightens greatly the 9mm Ruger introduced in 1985, and a .40 S&W version is in R&D. As Glock and Ram-Line have shown, the plastic gun that would have gagged your old customers will excite many of your new ones.


Old "customer" for Springfield Armory becomes New "standard" for Springfield Inc., as a compact 1911A1 with "street compensator" and a five-inch gun with conventional recoil compensator become out-of-the box items. An affordable approximation of custom tailoring at off-the-rack prices; remember, Springfield .45s always sold well.

Sure, there were more than 12 at the show, but these indicate where calendar 1993 is running. The months, by the way, don't match the guns, some of which are available now; all should be available no later than the third quarter of the year.

Whoever said "the Nineties are a time for return to the old values" may have been talking about the defensive handgun market.
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Article Details
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Author:Ayoob, Massad
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:Column
Date:Apr 1, 1993
Previous Article:The SHOT heard 'round the industry.
Next Article:Merchandise updates for the discerning customer.

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