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The inside scoop.

News Prom SHOT

As I write this column, the 1992 SHOT Show is only one day past; in fact, it's only been a few hours since I stepped off the plane from New Orleans. However, being the diligent, investigative reporter that I am, I've put this column off until the very last second so that I could bring you the latest from the SHOT Show. (Much to the dismay of our printing company, which is waiting for this article so they can finish the magazine.

Of course, the question on everyone's mind is: How was it? The initial response of everyone I've talked with is, big. According to the NSSF, there were over 17 miles of carpeted aisles on the floor of the SHOT Show. That means there were a lot of new products and new companies to see. However, before I start putting together all of my notes for the March Shooting Industry, let me hit the highlights of the show for you.

New Prom Springfield

One of the most exciting new lines of handguns I saw at the show was Springfield Armory's new "Cat" series. (To be honest, I don't know the real name of this four-gun line, and I keep trying to resist the urge to call it the "Feline." The four guns are called the Panther, the Firecat, the Bobcat, and the Lynx. The Panther is a full-sized automatic chambered in .45, .40 S&W, and 9mm, the Firecat is a compact 4-inch-barrel auto chambered in .40 S&W and 9mm; the Bobcat is a small .380 auto; and the Lynx is a tiny .25.

Sound familiar? Yes, in fact this series is manufactured in Spain by Astra, imported by Interarms, and customized by Springfield. These guns are very similar in appearance to the Astra guns, but they have a few extras, like checkered wooden grips, checkered front and back straps, and white dot sights. They won't be available until March or April, but when they hit the market, I have no doubt that these guns will be very popular in the self-defense market.

"I'll Be Back!"

I always have a real soft spot in my heart for laser sights, especially on shotguns, and that's why I went nuts when I stopped at the O.F. Mossberg booth and saw that they have a new line of shotguns with integral laser sights.

One of their new police 12-gauge shotguns (sorry, all of my catalogs are still in transit - I can't give you the model number) features a laser sight built into the forearm which is activated by a light touch to the gun. The gun also has a ventilated barrel guard, an extended magazine, and a synthetic stock.

Similar in appearance and design was Mossberg's .410 Home Defender. Although chambered for the smaller shells, this gun is fairly similar to its 12-gauge big brother except that its laser-sighted forearm has a pistol grip. The most exciting thing about this gun, however, is not the gun itself, but the dealers' program that comes with it. It's marketed toward the non-gun owning, home defense market and it comes with a gun safety video, a trigger lock, and several slick sales brochures on gun care, safety, and home defense. Mossberg highlights the fact that, as home defense guns go, this one offers a "high intimidation factor," and, with the sound of the pump action and the appearance of the laser sight, shooters may be able to scare away criminals without having to fire a shot.

Apparently Mossberg has taken a lot of heat for their Home Defender program; dealers and knowledgeable gun owners think it's ridiculous to sell a shotgun to some unsuspecting housewife as the ultimate defense gun under the pretenses, "This gun is so good, you may not even have to use it!" However, I applaud them. While the program itself may have its flaws, this is exactly the kind of merchandising we need if this industry is going to survive. These package deals are easiest to sell in the home defense market, but I hope it won't be long before we see merchandising geared toward the first-time competition shooter or the first-time hunter. In 1950 the firearm industry could rely on ol' grandpa to teach his grandkids how to enjoy and respect firearms, but in 1990 the anti-gunners are busy destroying our market and if we don't take an active role to create new customers, it won't be long before there isn't any gun market at all.

Whew! It gets a little dizzy up on that soapbox.

Supporting The Market

It was also nice to see the big gun companies supporting gun owners and ownership in ways other than cranking out new guns. Winchester/01in announced the winners of their "Good News About Hunting" contest at the show. The purpose of their contest was to promote the shooting sports and gun ownership by encouraging writers to publish positive articles about shooting in non-shooting-related publications. There were several fine articles which were given awards, including one published in Readers' Digest and one beautiful photo essay from a photography magazine. (For winner's names, see next month's SI.

Also, Smith & Wesson presented the U.S. Shooting Team with a check for $10,000 dollars to support their efforts to bring home the gold from Barcelona this year. Unfortunately, the Olympics are often the forgotten stepchild of the shooting sports because they don't have the glamour and excitement of The Masters or the Steel Challenge, but it is very nice to see the big firearms companies supporting our team. Let's hope more of them follow along.

Airgun Takeover

One of the biggest news items of the show came from Crosman, who announced that they would be taking over the Benjamin Air Rifle Company. This opens up several new markets for Crosman, as Benjamin makes paintball guns and slingshots as well as air rifles and airgun ammunition.

There were many predictions being kicked about at the show that, as the gun market gets tighter in due to gun legislation, many customers will be forced to turn to airguns as an alternative. As evidence to this theory, many of the airgun companies had full-size airgun replicas of several popular models of handguns and rifles, such as Smith & Wesson's 10mm auto.

The Show Is Over ...

That's a lot of news from the SHOT Show - did anything else happen this month? Well, in a word, no. It has sort of been the calm before the storm. The general attitude of the show was subdued but optimistic. A lot of companies are hoping 1992 will be the year of the recovery, and many are gearing up their production accordingly.

Let's hope this upbeat attitude spreads throughout the industry as the year progresses. As for me, well, I'll be more upbeat after a day or two of rest. Right now I'm going home to soak my feet, take a hot shower, and eat a salad. (After five days of nothing but shrimp, crayfish, beignets, blackened redfish, and po' boy sandwiches, I'm ready for some vegetables. Next month we'll take a more detailed look at the products, companies, and events of the 1992 SHOT Show.
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Title Annotation:1992 SHOT Show
Author:Farrell, Scott
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:Column
Date:Feb 1, 1992
Previous Article:Special intelligence.
Next Article:Lethal Force.

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