For more than half a century, the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers has been helping manufacturers, distributors and sales professionals in the firearms and hunting industry do a better job of getting their products to market.

But it’s only been within the last few years that the association’s annual trade show has become a must-attend event that brings together top-of-the-line manufacturers, media and sales professionals to preview what’s in store for next year’s market. The 2014 annual expo held in mid-October in Little Rock, Arkansas, was the biggest ever, hosting 500 booths from 256 exhibitors.

“The uniqueness of this particular group is that they’re all member firms, you cannot exhibit at the NASGW expo unless you are a member,” NASGW President Maurice “Moe” Desmarais said in an interview. “So there’s more of a commitment, if you will, to the industry.”

Two floors of the Little Rock convention center were packed with the industry’s top gun, ammo and gear makers, including many up-and-coming firms who wanted to take advantage of the face time with wholesalers and distributors participation in the expo provides. The event has become a sort of “Pre-SHOT Show” that allows the shooting sports market to debut many of the same products they will showcase to retailers at the National Shooting Sports Foundation-sponsored event in Las Vegas this month.

“This show represents the beginning of the buying cycle for the next year, in this case, 2015,” Desmarais said. “The distributors are the ones for the most part that begin that cycle of getting ready for the next year.”

Shooting Sports Retailer attended the 2014 show and brings you an exclusive look at some of the hottest products that will be this year — before most in the market have seen them. Here we take a look at the must-see ammunition, optics and firearms that the shooting sports public will surely be looking for, so you can prepare ahead of time to meet the demand.

Windham Weaponry Offers 7.62×39 and 300 AAC Blackout Pistols

“Chasing the ammo…” That’s what VP for sales at Windham Weaponry Mark Eliason called it when he told us about the debut of his company’s AR platforms in 300 AAC Blackout.

“It’s what the customer is asking for,” he said.

So that’s what Windham Weaponry is debuting in 2015: a 300 Blackout AR pistol and rifle to satisfy shooters out there who want to take advantage of the cartridge’s performance out of a suppressor or with a shorter barrel.

And AK lovers rejoice (or at least those who like to shoot the 7.62 x 39 cartridge), Windham plans to introduce a pistol version of its 7.62 x 39 AR rifle. This pistol will be a direct gas impingement gun that has all the standard controls of an AR, but uses an AR-Stoner 7.62 magazine instead of an AK one.

For more information, visit www.windhamweaponry.com.

Stiener T5Xi Scope — Made in America

German optics manufacturer Steiner has launched a new scope designed for sharpshooters who bang gongs for fun. The new optic features German glass but is made right here in the U.S.A.

The T5Xi riflescope comes in three different magnifications, including a 1-5×24 version suitable for the three-gunners out there, a 3-15x50mm model suitable for sharpshooters using .308 ARs or precision bolt guns and a 5-25x56mm version for those big bore riflemen wanting to really reach out and touch some steel.

The 1-5×24 model comes with a Rapid Dot Reticle calibrated for 5.56 and 7.62 rifles.

The 3-15x50mm and 5-25x56mm models feature a new Special Competition Reticle located on the first focal plane with an extended illumination area, 2/10-mil windage hold-off lines, ½-mil holdover lines and 1/10-mil brackets for precise distance ranging.

And even with all that high-tech gadgetry, the T5Xi comes with an MSRP below $2,000.

“We wanted to come in at a more competitive price and hit the competitive shooting market,” said Steiner spokeswoman Lori Yunker.

The scope comes standard with Tenebrex lens covers and a throw lever for quick zoom adjustments.

For more information, visit www.steiner-optics.com.

Heizer Defense PS1 ‘Pocket Shotgun’

The original makers of the Double Tap two-shot Derringer-style pistol have just released a single shot concealed carry pistol thats svelte lines make it the perfect backup gun or a pocket carry rig.

Chambered in .45 Colt, the Heizer Defense PS1 is marketed by the company as a “pocket shotgun” since its chambering allows it to be loaded with 410-gauge self-defense loads. At only 21 ounces and .7-inches wide, the PS1 is a bantamweight hand cannon that many shooters might consider a bit undersized for comfort. And given the past controversy over the Double Tap dually, Heizer had to reconsider how to make the PS1 user friendly.

“We made a lot of changes in the grip design to help with powerful loads,” said Heizer Defense sales director Eric Polkis.

And in a move to cash in on the AR craze, Heizer is set to debut a PS1 chambered in .223 that maintains 1,400 feet per second velocity at the muzzle with 55-grain rounds. And the cool thing is that since the barrels on the PS1 are interchangeable, customers can have both the .45 Colt and .223 on a single frame.

At an MSRP of $399, the Heizer Defense PS1 isn’t a bad option for customers who need a good snake gun or backup carry pistol.

For more information, visit www.heizerdefense.com.

Holosun Red Dot Sight Powered by the Sun

Florida-based Holosun makes red dot optics that bear a striking similarity to the Aimpoint Micro T series of sights but carry a pricetag of less than $200. For 2015, the company is introducing a red dot sight that’s powered both by a battery and a solar cell.

That’s right, a solar-powered red dot.

Housed at on the top of the aluminum frame, the solar cell in the HS403C powers the LED-light, 2 MOA red dot and serves as an automatic ambient light detector that adjusts the sight’s brightness as conditions dictate. Because the sight uses an LED dot, the unit has a 50,000-hour run time, with an automatic shutoff at eight hours.

The sight’s brightness can also be manually adjusted.

The HS403C is available with a flush Picatinny mount, or with a built-in Picatinny riser. And with an MSRP starting at $250, the solar powered HS403C is a great option for customers putting together a home defense AR setup that’s ready at a moment’s notice.

For more information, visit www.holosun.com.

 New Loads From Doubletap Ammunition

Doubletap Ammunition is not slowing down on its quest to develop ammunition that pushes traditional performance barriers. A new load offered only by Doubletap is the .450 SMC. Don’t be deceived by the name — this caliber is for use in +P rated .45 ACP pistols like modern 1911s.

Created from a cut down .308 Winchester case, the cartridge uses a small magnum rifle primer. Use of a small primer pocket, as compared to the standard large pistol primer of most .45 ACP cartridges, allows Doubletap to raise pressures an additional 6,000 thousand psi without danger of bulging the cartridge case.

Performance brings the standard 1911 into legitimate bear gun territory with a 255-grain hard case offering clocked at 1,075 feet per second. Self-defense loads are available with 160, 185 and 230-grain projectiles with corresponding velocities of 1,400, 1,350 and 1,135 feet per second.

Also new from Doubletap is a 6.8 Remington SPC cartridge using the brand new 90-grain bonded round point projectile. This bullet reaches 2,850 feet per second from a 16-inch rifle barrel. The Nosler bonded bullet is designed for dramatic expansion without weight loss.

For more information, visit www.doubletapammo.net.

SilencerCo Enters Threaded Barrel Market

Suppressor company SilencerCo removed one more barrier to silencer acquisition by manufacturing its own line of threaded barrels. Perfectly cut and perfectly square barrel threading is critical to suppressor use, as slight alignment problems can lead to dangerous baffle strikes or internal damage to the suppressor. Given the cost of hardware, tax stamps and the long ATF waiting period, destroying a suppressor as a result of a poorly made threaded barrel is a big deal.

SilencerCo barrels are initially available for Glock 17 and 21 models, and the company intends to release barrels for other Glock and Sig Sauer products in the near future.

For more information, visit www.silencerco.com.

Liberty Ammunition Releases New Caliber Options

Liberty Ammunition takes a novel approach to self-defense ammunition development.

Rather than stuffing and bonding lead into copper jackets, the company makes its projectiles from solid copper rods. Each projectile is machined from bar stock that’s shaped to precise dimensions. The hollow cavity is machined to diameter and depth according to caliber requirements and expansion performance objectives.

Where Liberty Ammunition projectiles differ from traditional ammunition is that they’re not designed to expand upon impact. Instead, they are intended to fragment. The solid base of the projectile will penetrate to FBI protocol depth in ballistic gelatin, while fragments will begin to split from the primary wound track within the first couple of inches.

This design also facilitates performance through barriers, as bullets will maintain their shape until encountering liquid resistance, which initiates the fragmentation process.

New for 2015 is the .45 Colt offering for personal protection and hunting applications. For many, the single action revolver and lever-action carbine work as well now as they did back in the frontier days. Like the company’s other products, the .45 Colt is designed with a deep penetrating base and fragmenting petals.

For more information, visit www.libertyammunition.com.

AmeriGlo Expands CAP and I-DOT Sight Lines

AmeriGlo’s popular Combative Application Pistol sights, previously available only for Glock platforms, are now available for Sig Sauer and Springfield Armory XD pistols. The CAP design features a front Tritium dot, surrounded by a lime green photo luminescent outline. The rear sight uses a traditional notch with a twist.

There are no dots on the rear sight, but rather a horizontal photo luminescent bar under the notch. The arrangement allows fast acquisition of the front sight without confusing input from multiple dots in the shooter’s field of vision. According to AmeriGlo, the purpose of using both Tritium and photo luminescent technology on the same sights is to better manage transitions from high to low-light situations.

For example, when shooters are moving from sunlight to a shaded area, or in a law enforcement application moving from outdoors to indoors. The photo luminescent paint provides an immediate focal point before the eye can adjust to a dimmer Tritium glow. The photo luminescent marks are also clearly visible in environments too bright for effective Tritium use.

For the recreational and competitive market, AmeriGlo has produced a new version of its self-defense I-DOT. The new Fiber I-DOT features a fiber optic tube for the front sight. The rear sight houses a standard notch, and there’s a dot underneath formed by the end of a second fiber optic tube.

For more information, visit www.ameriglo.net.

Edge Arms To Release Four-Barrel Defensive Handgun

A new pistol is hitting the market that is aimed at consumers who want a gun for personal or home protection, but aren’t necessarily committed to the shooting lifestyle and learning the ins and outs of semi-autos or revolvers.

The Edge Arms Reliant is an exceedingly simple handgun to load, fire and unload. Like those multi-barrel derringers of yesteryear, four barrels are combined as a single unit. A standard front sight is machined into the barrel assembly. A sliding side latch opens the hinged barrel assembly from the frame, and the user simply inserts or removes the four cartridges. One neat feature is that the grip base pad doubles as a four-round speed loader. Rip the base off the grip and pop four rounds into the changer for an instant reload.

The frame is aluminum, which gives the handgun a shockingly light feel overall. Total weight of the pre-production model is only about 15 ounces. Also surprisingly, the gun is only 0.9 inches wide — narrower than most semi-autos.

The firing pin is part of a rotating assembly and the pin itself always rests between barrels. The firing pin only aligns with a chamber during the act of firing. Pulling the trigger rotates the firing pin wheel, aligning it with the next barrel. Simply pull the trigger four times to fire all four barrels sequentially.

The Edge Reliant will be offered with caliber choices of .32 HR Magnum, .32 ACP, .380 ACP and .38 Special. A laser integrated into a machined recess under the barrels will also be available as an option. As of publication time, final pricing had not been determined, but the handgun will likely retail for less than $400.

For more information, visit www.edgearms.com.

TNW Firearms Aero Survival Rifle and Pistol

Black rifles are everywhere, and most of them are traditional gas impingement designs like the original AR-15. There’s a lot to be said for a standard platform, where parts from different manufacturers are interchangeable. There are also limitations to rigid conformance to the original design. For example, while upper and lower receivers can come apart easily, facilitating compact transportation, other changes like caliber conversion aren’t as simple.

Enter TNW Firearms and its Aero Survival Rifle and pistol. From a distance, they appear similar to the traditional black rifle, but closer inspection shows they are a new design. The receiver is proprietary and built to support the quick-change barrels. Recoil works via a “gentle” piston system, which makes the carbines very forgiving with different calibers and power levels within caliber. The Aero Survival Rifle is available in .45 ACP, 9mm and .40 S&W calibers. In the near future, the company will be releasing models for .22LR, .22 Magnum and .17 HMR.

TNW also offers a rifle caliber variant called the SGP. It’s also modular and you can, in the company founder’s words, “remove anything that’s hot or dirty in the field without tools.” That makes sense for military applications, but reconfigurability also appeals to the consumer market. Caliber changes require no tools and the company sells caliber conversion kits including barrel, bolt if necessary and magazine, again if necessary; for example, switching a 5.56mm rifle to 300 AAC Blackout would only require a barrel swap.

For more information, visit www.tnwfirearms.com.

Crimson Trace Goes Small

Crimson Trace is taking its Rail Master line to the smallest form factors ever with the new CMR-206.

Designed for firearms equipped with standard Picatinny rails, the CMR-206 features tap-on Instant Activation and provides three modes of operation: momentary, strobe and constant on. The breakthrough is the size of the direct green technology unit — it’s one of the smallest lasers on the market. The suggested retail price is $229.

Also from Crimson Trace is a new product for Smith & Wesson M&P full-size and compact pistols. The LG-360G has a master on/off switch and is activated by a touch pad under the trigger guard. It carries a suggested retail price of $299. The company is also updating its offering for Glock 42 owners with the new LG-443G, priced at $299. Offerings for the Ruger LCR and LCR/x revolvers include the green LG-415G for $399 and red laser LG-415 for $299.

For more information, visit www.crimsontrace.com.