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A view of the SHOT SHOW '89.


The Dallas Morning News reported that there was an attendance of 37,600 dealers, buyers and gawking onlookers at the 1989 SHOT SHOW that was staged in the Dallas Convention Center this past January 12th, 13th and 14th. It was the 11th revival and it was the biggest yet. The Center covers more than 300,000 square feet, and the show was held on two floors -- both of which were jam-packed.

Last year's bash was staged in Las Vegas and attendance was rumored to be "about 30,000" visitors. The NSSF sponsored extravaganza has gotten so big, in fact, that there are only a few centers big enough to hold it. For 1990, the show will return to Las Vegas, mainly because the Las Vegas Convention Center is big enough to contain it.

As for the show itself, any idea that this bash was simply confined to guns and the stuff we feed into them would be completely erroneous. Firearms were, in reality, a sort of minor item. There was clothing, treestands, blinds, scents, carmuffs, whistles, horns, bugles, traps, decoys, maps, books and chairs. To name but a few of the articles on display.

Last year at the Las Vegas SHOT SHOW the most fascinating offering was the 10-gauge shotgun with 3-1/2-inch casing and enough pellets to fill all of Lake Superior. Ithaca had an autoloader for the monster shell and Federal was ready with the big casing. Along with this Browning had commenced once again to manufacture the world's most satisfactory pump repeating scattergun the old Winchester Model 12. These were sensational doings in '88, believe me.

At Dallas, this year, the big news was the .416 cartridge. This was verily "The Year of The .416"! Remington kicked off the drama last fall at their annual Remington Seminar at the Hawkeye Hunting Club. The Model 700 rifle would be chambered for the .416. Now this cartridge is nothing new -- the Rigby company of England came up with the .416 Rigby in 1911. It has been extremely popular mongst African safari hunters ever since. The Remington offering was a mite different.

The Remington Custom Shop settled on the 8mm Remington Magnum cartridge and utilizing the casing, simply sized it upward to accept the .41 caliber bullet. Presto! There we have a new round. The cartridge will fire the 400-grain Barnes solid at 2,400 fps and will account for 5,100-foot pounds of muzzle smash. By way of comparison the .458 Winchester Magnum delivers 5,000-foot pounds.

Bill Ruger must have gotten wind of the doings at Ilion (New York) because he was at Dallas, dust-up, with his version of the .416, only the Sturm Ruger rifle was chambered for the .416 Rigby cartridge. It is quite as potent as any with the same bullet velocity and the same thump...i.e. 5,100-foot pounds.

Not to be out done, Kimber (the Oregon arms makers) also had a splendid .416, and like the Ruger Model 77, in Rigby configuration. Andy Cannon (the Victor, Montana gun maker) is also producing the .416 on the big Sako action. Still another is Dave Gentry of Belgrade, Montana.

The most exciting rifle of all, however, is the Weatherby Mark V. This number is chambered for the .416 but it is made up on the .378 Weatherby Magnum cartridge. With more propellant than its rivals, the latest Weatherby will drive the 400-grain projectile at 2,700 fps and will churn up 6,400-foot pounds of muzzle wallop. These ballistics place the .416 Weatherby completely out of a class with the others; and I'd reckon it will be highly popular with those safari sportsmen who are intent on critters like elephant, buffalo and lion.

An amusing development at this year's show is the fact that Winchester and Remington are both offering the .300 Weatherby Magnum cartridge as a regular loading. Too, the finest rifle -- the Model 70 -- can now be had in the caliber; as well the Model 700 Remington. What tickles me is that the .300 Weatherby Magnum, the world's best thirty caliber loading, has only been around for 35 years. Heretofore the big companies simply ignored the round but the demand grew so insistent they were finally compelled to admit its goodness.

The Federal Cartridge hasn't swung over to the Weatherby round as yet, but maybe just as interesting is the fact that the outfit now offers the .416 Rigby and the .470 Nitro Express. These cartridges --both claiming "merry olde England" as the point of origin -- are strictly dark continent fodder. Just how the Minnesota cartridge merchants figure there will be a worthwhile market is a good question.

The Taurus line of auto pistols and revolvers originate in Brazil and are bang up good firearms. The automatic is a faithful copy of the Beretta and the sixshooters follow S&W lines pretty closely. These are quality handguns and I'd be happy to go into combat with either the self-loader or the cylinder model.

The pistol that attracted the most attention at the Dallas bash was the Glock. This gun because it has some plastic parts was given an inordinately high amount of media publicity all throughout 1988. People flocked around the Glock booth to see the pistol. It is a 9mm and the wholly erroneous story that the gun cannot be spotted by the airport X-ray is poppycock. I picked up three of the pistols at their booth and each of them had an abominable trigger pull. Enough said!

Beyond any shadow of doubt the new Third Generation Smith & Wesson auto pistols were the handgun sensation of the Dallas gathering. The S&W folks, with the older Model 52 and the Model 41 pistols as a beginning, came along with a 9mm Parabellum and a .45 ACP -- and the resulting firearms are real beauties to handle. There are seven models or variations and the barrel lengths vary from 3-1/2 inches to 5 inches. All models have wrap-around grips and while the norm is a blued model they are also available in stainless. The double action is probably the best on any auto pistol today and if this were not enough, the trigger guard has been extended so that a fellow can fire with hand in glove. The front of the guard is squared off for a 2-handed hold -- a whale of a good thing!

There is a fixed barrel housing which contributes to good accuracy. A new sighting system with a 3-dot principal and an ambidextrous safety have been added. And with the combat pistol competition in mind the magazine has been padded and the opening to the magazine well has been beveled to permit a faster reloading.


I suspect probably the most interesting crew at a gathering such as the SHOT roundup are the bullet makers. This group who are all youngsters -- and their enthusiasm--accounts for the many new and exceedingly worthwhile bullets the crew turns out each year.

Take the Sierra crowd, for instance. Bob Hayden, the president, has the reputation for making the most accurate rifle bullets in the world. Truthfully, I think, a lot of the credit for their premier slugs should go to Jim Hull who is the design engineer. Hull is a former California state rifle champ, a big winner at the Camp Perry Nationals, and a most savvy individual as to what makes a bullet perform properly. At any rate Sierra bullets virtually reign alone.

Bob Nosler, executive vice president of Nosler Bullets, has just bought out Leupold & Stevens shares of Nosler Bullets. The latter firm held controlling stock of Nosler for two decades but now the company is completely back in the hands of Bob and his father John. The Nosler partition bullet is the best in the game fields of North America in my somewhat long experience.

Randy Brooks and his alter-ego, his hard working little frau Coni, are up to their eyebrows in making the .416 solid for Remington. I have been firing the 400-grain Barnes slug at African fauna for the past ten years. No one can better attest to its great lethality than this old Indian.

The most colorful individual in the bullet making business is Col. Arthur B. Alphin of A-Square Company. This fellow is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and after some years and considerable rank in the Army got out of the service and not only commenced to make bullets--most of them big caliber--but also started the production of hunting rifles. Calibers range from the 7mm Magnum to .500 calibers.

I shot a .425 in Australia last August and the bullet used was the A-Square Monolithic solid. Buffalo was the target and every bull fell to one shot each.


Some of the finest custom-turned stocks are produced by Reinhart Fajen. They were at the show with some of the company's finest American black walnut, English, Bastogne and claro, along with maple, myrtle, mesquite and pecan stocks. The company offers stocks not only for rifles but also scatterguns and single-shot pistols. They also have stocks for target models. As a side note, interestingly, the Fajen company no longer belongs to Reinhart Fajen. He sold it four years ago and now the only family member in the business is Marti Fajen, daughter-in-law to Reinhart. Marti is the executive vice president. Fred Wenig, chief stock designer and plant superintendent is still with the firm.

Foreign Arms Makers

Foreign arms makers were present at the show from Germany, Belgium, Italy and Spain. The most imposing display was the over/under shotguns from Perazzi of Brescia, Italy. This shotgun is a reigning favorite with skeet and trapshooters around the world. The accent is on the superposed model but the company does make a single barrel trap gun and there are several side-by-side doubles. I looked over the rack of Perazzis and the top gun had a sales price of $48,000 (U.S. dollars).

Jack Slack is the long time "jefe" around the Leupold & Stevens scope place. Here, most recently, besides being general manager and executive vice president the highly likeable Man Slack is now president of the firm. When I go in the hunting fields, as an example to Africa, I invariably equip my rifle with a Leupold glass. I have more confidence in it than any other. I have been shooting the Beaverton, Oregon scope since 1947, a small matter of 42 years now. I shall never change.

Once the company was called Leupold & Stevens. The second name has now disappered. At the SHOT debacle this year the company made a point of clarifying the name once and for all. So it is "Loo-pold" not "Lee-u-pold" as many want to say.

In Summary

All in all, there were 1,135 exhibitors scattered over 300,000 square feet of floor space on two levels at the Dallas Convention Center. To have visited, if ever so briefly, in each of those booths would have taken a solid week. I could not do that and indeed my interest in the Indian clubs and the jockstraps was not very intense. I looked in on mostly the shooting irons and the related accessories and what struck me most strongly was the attitude of the folks who are selling our firearms and gear that goes with them. These people were of good cheer, no long faces, no doleful talk about the economy. Everyone I conversed with was enthusiastic, optimistic and full of lots of go and fight for the forthcoming season.

PHOTO : This Kodiak bruin (ten feet tall) is a fixture at all SHOT Shows.

PHOTO : The Glock booth at this year's SHOT Show was particularly popular, as everyone wanted to

PHOTO : see the pistol that was supposedly able to elude the X-ray detection machines at airports.

PHOTO : The S&W booth offered their revolvers in small, medium and large frame models.

PHOTO : Jim Ritter, a dealer from Racine, Wisc., with the new Ruger .416 rifle.

PHOTO : Colt had the new 10mm Model 1911 to offer to dealers.

PHOTO : The Tasco exhibit featured the new World Class scopes which are top of the line.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:firearms industry exhibition, Dallas
Author:Askins, Charles
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Mar 1, 1989
Previous Article:1989 Shot Show review.
Next Article:Notes from the 1989 SHOT SHOW.

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