From the April issue

Every year tens of thousands descend upon Las Vegas in what truly is more than another trade show. The January show not only ushers in a new year, in a way it ushers in new beginnings, too — something of a refresh after a solid year of grinding away in the business world. Even if that grind does take place in the greatest industry in the world it is still, after all, work and losing sight of trends, new innovations and the overall pulse is easy to do between February and December. In our industry, SHOT Show is the launch pad of that new year, new beginning, new innovation and even renewed focus on what’s cool, what’s not, what’s trending and what is on the way out … or dead altogether.

Beginning with CMG’s Industry Day on the Range, followed by four days of non-stop trekking through 650,000 square feet of floor space with more than 60,000 visitors and 2,500 other media guys tends to lead to some pretty great finds. Whether I’m searching for high-tech optics, low-tech holsters, a crowning achievement or epic failure, SHOT Show never disappoints. With a customer mix of new firearm owners, avid hunters, recreational plinkers, precision shooters, personal defense enthusiasts and demanding collectors, a diverse array of shooting and outdoor products just might be the key to making 2017 your best business year yet. Here is a handful of great SHOT Show gear and gadgets sure to catch the eyes and hard-earned dollars of the diverse array of customers sure to cross your threshold.

Swagger Bipods

At face value, the idea of further innovating bipods seems like a dead end. Beyond simple employment, rock-steady stability and fast leveling, what else should a bipod do? Depending on your customers’ intended uses for bipods, maybe plenty. For precision shooting, micro-adjustability is critical to accuracy, even minor cant effects long-range shot placement. For hunters, swinging, leading or otherwise traversing ground on a horizontal plane, especially with varying elevations can make using a bipod more of a hindrance than a tool for effective shot placement. While bipod innovation has catered to precision shooting needs, hunter needs have largely been ignored … until the Swagger Stick strolled in.

Swagger has changed the bipod game with two models, Field and Treestand Blind, designed for hunters and shooting enthusiasts engaging targets on extreme terrain. While the Swagger bipod is not necessarily the perfect choice for long-range target shooting where even minor cant may compromise precision accuracy, it most certainly takes the top spot for versatility.

Sure, the Swagger is designed for rapid telescoping deployment and micro-adjustability but its greatest strength lies in mobility while maintaining solid stability. The Swagger bipod allows hunters to swing side to side, up and down, forward and backward without compromising stability. Even target shooters benefit from Swagger when engaging multiple targets at varying distances and elevations. I had the pleasure of testing a Swagger Bipod at Industry Day at the Range. Swagger delivers the most versatility I have experienced and is sure to be a popular choice among consumers tired of the same restrictive nature of traditional bipods.

Real Avid Carbon Boss and Bore Boss

Real Avid Carbon Boss

When it comes to innovation, Real Avid is as devoted as movers and shakers come to developing game-changing firearm related products for cost-conscious consumers. Not only are Real Avid’s aggressively designed products eye catching, they are practical and great accessory add-ons to firearm sales. For 2017, two products caught my eye and are sure to be perfect accessories for AR owners, the Bore Boss and Carbon Boss.

Real Avid says it best. “Most guys love guns and hate cleaning them.” For me, “hate” is truly relative to how much carbon build up I find on the bolt-carrier group. Carbon buildup is the consummate party foul, even for a guy like me who considers CLP to be the perfect cologne (my wife disagrees). The Carbon Boss has been a saving grace when it comes to removing carbon, one of my most time consuming rifle cleaning endeavors.

Sure, some people may not be concerned with carbon buildup, but I am and so are countless AR-owning customers. Not only does the Carbon Boss make cleaning the bolt tail a breeze with a 360-degree phosphor bronze brush, every other area of build-up is also considered in the Carbon Boss’ multi-tool design. Other Carbon Boss tools include bolt tail interior and exterior scrapers, a firing pin face scraper, bolt face scraper, extractor scraper, cam pin scraper, bolt lug scraper, small and large firing pin scraper, bolt carrier scraper, bolt brush and a retracting cotter pin puller.

When all customers have time for is a quick bore cleaning, the Bore Boss is tough to beat. For less than $10, shooting enthusiasts can have a multi-tasking bore, ultra-convenient bore cleaner. The Bore Boss includes a quick-connect dual action cable, washable bore mop and phosphor bronze brush stored neatly in a flex case that doubles as an ergonomic handle. This is the kind of innovation and price point perfect for your counter space. The Bore Boss is available for a number of popular calibers.

Liberty Safe Lincoln LX25 Gun Safe

From single-handgun to robust collector-sized safes, time and technology has been good to safe manufacturing and consumers alike. Like new cars, today’s safes come in all shapes and sizes, from stripped-down base models to feature-rich luxury types. However, with each passing year, more and more of those luxury features seem to land in lower-level models without gross jumps in price points. What does that mean for dealers? More features in more affordable safes mean easier sales, especially when opportunities arise to have open dialogue about security, perhaps along with a new firearm sale.

Along with the obvious, Liberty Safe’s new models reminded me of the peripheral benefit of a gun safe. I can’t imagine I am the only one who keeps critical documents in a gun safe. After all, as a standard most premium safes, like those manufactured by Liberty, offer fire protection for at least 30 to 60 minutes or more with extreme temperature ratings. Consumers today are after products with a diverse range of applications. Safes answer that call by being the ideal place to store firearms, family heirlooms, jewelry, pictures, passports and other vital documents … and the ideal nightmare for thugs to deal with.

Walking the SHOT Show floor, it was great to see a Liberty Safe, a trusted safe manufacturer deliver big on luxury accoutrements while also capitalizing on more practical storage of personal valuables. Traditionally, jewelry and other valuables are simply stacked on an interior shelf to be lost, soiled or damaged by handguns, ammo and accessories on a shelf. Several Liberty Safe models now include a roomy jewelry/valuables drawer. Other premium Liberty Safe features I noted included full padded-fabric interior lining, interior lighting, dehumidifiers, convenient handgun and document pockets, and an array of heights and widths to fit the right amount of valuables, right space and most importantly, the right budget for your customers.

Among the many vault options in the Liberty Safe booth, my personal favorite was white marble Liberty Lincoln LX25. While MSRP on the Lincoln LX25 is $2,500, less than the cost of many precision rifle scopes, Liberty safes in general start at an MSRP of about $519. Liberty has a security solution to fit nearly any budget. The Liberty LX, however, comes packed with luxury features including a power outlet, dehumidifier, five-wand LED light kit, velour interior, velvet lined jewelry drawer and premium accessory door panel complete with pistol pockets and a Cool Pocket for documents designed to keep contents 50 degrees cooler during a fire.

Plano Tactical Rifle Case

Nearly twice the case at almost half the price of some competing models, the Plano Field Locker Double Long Mil-Spec Hard Gun Case continues to make a splash at SHOT Show and remains one of my favorite products. While the case’s presentation on the SHOT Show floor was simply a reprisal, it continues to turn heads. Why wouldn’t a Mil-Spec 810G case with a meaty, easy-to-operate locking system, numerous padlocking points to appease TSA officials, rubberized wheels and two folding handles be a hit? At an average price of about $185, the Plano Mil-Spec Field Locker is a homerun in almost every sense of the word. The one drawback? It’s a tad on the heavy side. But then again, I would expect it to be with the level of protection it offers.

To be honest, just previous to SHOT, I purchased this case myself. It has now taken several plane rides and I couldn’t be more pleased. Most recently, it carried two AR-15s and an AR pistol and is now the only case I trust to protect my world-class match-grade McRees Precision BR10 .308 rifle. When it comes to a case offering that kind of protection, at a price point most consumers can afford, it’s sure to be a homerun for your customers, too.


A Handful of Hunting Gear

When it comes to outfitting your retail business, product selection has the power to keep customers like me browsing for hours. I’ve had numerous discussions with retailers over the years and one thing is clear: just like many bowhunters also like to shoot guns, many who like to shoot guns like to hunt in general. What does this mean? It means adding a few hunting-related products to your inventory is never a bad idea! In that spirit, here are a handful of hunting products worth their weight on your shelves.

Tink’s #69 Hot Bomb Synthetic Buck Lure

The world’s most popular whitetail buck lure just got better. Tink’s #69 Hot Bomb Synthetic Buck Lure delivers a heated variant of the brand’s most popular attractant in a disposable system. Each pack contains two four-hour pouches designed to deliver heated scent much further than traditional lures. Seasoned hunters would tell you it’s no secret that heat improves scent dispersion. For years, ThermaCELL capitalized on this truth with their highly effective ThermaSCENT system designed to attach to their standard personal ThermaCELL mosquito repellent device. Tink’s improves heated scent dispersion by making it a convenient, disposable mess-free part of your hunting strategy.

SpyPoint Link-S LTE Trail Camera

Trail cameras have become a staple scouting tool for hunters far and wide. However, the two greatest deterrents to trail camera use are battery life and stirring up a hunting spot by continuously checking for photos. SpyPoint Trail Cameras has solved both issues and put plenty of smiles on SHOT Show attendee faces with the Link-S LTE Trail Camera. The Link-S LTE incorporates the solar panel system SpyPoint introduced in 2016 with their industry leading LTE network cellular system, compatible with both Verizon and AT&T. The benefits of the two technologies should be an obvious win-win. Battery life issues are a fading memory and users no longer have to worry about shaking things up at their favorite hunting spot. With invisible LED technology, the Link-S LTE is perfect for scouting as well as surveillance. While battery life and cellular technology are a money and time-saving boon for consumers, SpyPoint offers another — SpyPoint trail cameras with cellular technology include free cellular service!

YETI Hopper Flip 12 Personal Cooler

While I am a huge fan of the Yeti Hopper on my outdoor adventures, my wife has been vocal about one glaring fault when she uses it for my son’s swim meets. The opening is a bit narrow and quite rigid. I chalk it up to heavy-duty, high-quality construction; however, my wife complains that the zipper scratches her arm as she digs for my son’s drinks and snacks. I can’t argue, but it just doesn’t bother me like it does her. No matter what side your customers might be on, YETI has a new solution — the YETI Hopper Flip 12.

I ran into the YETI Hopper Flip 12 at Industry Day at the Range and was immediately drawn in. It was, after all, the Hopper void of everything my wife complained about! The more traditional soft-sided cooler design was obviously one I was more accustomed to with a zippered Wide-Mouth flip-top lid but steeped in the kind of impeccable quality and rugged construction, complete with the DryHide shell and ColdCell insulation I appreciated in the Hopper and have come to expect from Yeti. The Yeti Hopper Flip 12 boasts waterproof, puncture-resistant reliability, a HydroLok 100 percent leak-proof zipper and HitchPoint Grid to attach MOLLE accessories. YETI Flip 12 dimensions are 12.625×11½x10 inches