Promising Self-Defense Picks

New Defense Guns Unveiled At NRA Annual Meeting

The FN Reflex MRD is primed for everyday carry and deep concealment.

When it comes to new product introductions, the NRA Annual Meeting (NRAAM) is second only to SHOT Show in density. Some were announced at the SHOT Show in January, but weren’t coming off the production line until second quarter, and some just weren’t ready for “prime time” until April.

There are never as many new introductions as at SHOT, but none of this means the products debuting at NRAAM are in any way second rate compared to those that came out in January.

Here are some promising picks from the self-defense market side of the house.

Resurgent Revolvers?

In a time when autoloading pistols almost totally dominate the defensive handgun market, we’re still seeing some resurgent interest in double-action revolvers. Kimber’s K6 series now includes a lightweight (sub-1 lb. unloaded) .38 Special snub-nose revolver with enclosed hammer.

The K6 has won rave reviews for its accuracy, smooth and easy trigger and overall functionality. The one complaint I heard about the all-steel ones was the weight, and this new K6xs model should stifle that complaint nicely.

The new revolver that drew, by far, the most interest comes from Henry, whose rifles sell so well for you. The Henry Big Boy revolver is a double-action with swing-out cylinder, in medium frame size and chambered for .38 Special/.357 Magnum.

Now, this one isn’t going to sell to the nostalgia crowd. Looks are the reason. Pundits have variously described it as resembling anything from an old Harrington & Richardson to an RG, and its brass triggerguard and grip-frame strike many as belonging on a cap-and-ball revolver clone, not a modern double-action six-shooter. However, those who got to try the action say it’s very smooth and manageable, and workmanship appears to be commensurate with its price, which is in the Ruger/Smith & Wesson range at $928 MSRP.

The 4″ barrel has an unshrouded ejector rod; sights are fixed; and the walnut stocks can be had in square butt or bird’s head configuration. The Big Boy Revolver will be an interesting companion gun to the Homesteader, the semi-auto 9mm carbine Henry introduced at the SHOT Show this year, with a silhouette resembling the old Winchester Model 1907 autoloader.

The Henry Big Boy Revolver was one of the biggest new product announcements
to come out of the 2023 NRA Annual Meeting.

Semi-Auto Standouts

Among the autos, SIG was showing the female-oriented Rose iteration of the super-popular P365, which has been getting attention since the SHOT Show. The P320-AXG Legion was new for NRAAM, though. It has a high-tech “John Wickish” treatment that will particularly appeal to anyone into high speed/low drag pistol shooting.

This 9mm comes optic ready (a given, it seems, in 2023) and boasts slide lightening cuts, a flared mag well, a skeletonized flat trigger and extended (21-round) magazines. MSRP is in the $1,200 range. SIG also introduced a P320 M17 with a new ROMEO optical sight which appears as if it grew out of the slide (The ROMEO-M17).

At SHOT, Beretta introduced an updated version of the Model 84 .380; for NRAAM, they have a single action only variation, the 92X1. It boasts an ergonomic frame-mounted thumb safety.

Staccato has set a trend with high end double-stack 1911 9mm pistols. Springfield Armory followed a while back with their less expensive Prodigy version. Nighthawk is offering a Bob Marvel double-stack 1911 with a two-tone finish, an upscale entry in the same race, and Kimber has followed the Prodigy with a more economical double stack 9mm 1911, named the KDS9c.

The SAR line from Turkey expands into an affordably priced SOCOM 9mm full-size combat 9mm, and a micro-size version, both optic ready. I’ve had good luck with the SARs I’ve tested and the one I own.

Also from EAA, the Girsan MC 14T is a reincarnation of the tip-up Beretta .380. It’s another approach to selling functional self-defense pistols to those of us whom age or decrepitude have made it hard to rack conventional pistol slides. The Girsan guns are earning a great reputation among those who appreciate both thrift and good workmanship.
Glock is just about all in with MOS variations designed to take carry optics.

The market continues to be filling up with subcompact double-stack “micro” pistols. FN introduced one, the Reflex, complete with optic cut and an 11-round and extended 15-round magazines. More interesting with the Reflex is, despite its external resemblance to striker-fired FN pistols, this one is internal hammer-fired in design — in hopes of getting a better trigger pull. We saw the same with S&W’s Equalizer introduced at SHOT Show. And, speaking of FN …

The EAA Girsan MC14T is a reincarnation of the tip-up Beretta .380. It’s another
approach to selling functional self-defense pistols to those customers who struggle
to rack conventional pistol slides.

Long Guns

There didn’t seem to be anything startlingly new in the defensive shotgun arena, but in home-defense carbines FN has introduced a new AR-15 variation. This FN-15 is designed to retail for $999 but still has desirable features. It’s hard to go wrong when you can sell an iconic brand name synonymous with champagne quality at beer (well, maybe premium beer) price.

Shield Arms now offers the SA-9, a side-folding AR-platform 9mm carbine ideally configured for ready-access storage in small spaces.

We’ve mentioned the Henry Homesteader 9mm carbine already. Hi-Point introduced an economy-priced carbine in the .30 Super Carry chambering, named the Model 995.

Hi-Point Model 995 — a carbine chambered in .30 Super Carry.

A Big Loss

We in the industry were saddened to learn our friend and fellow writer Tiger McKee had died over the NRAAM weekend — suddenly and unexpectedly.

A true Southern gentleman, Tiger was a master instructor of self-defense shooting whose skills with his favorite guns — AR15s, 1911s, Browning Hi-Powers and K-Frame S&Ws — were awesome. Tiger’s wisdom and his kindness will be greatly missed.

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