By Massad Ayoob
In what the NSSF called the second best-attended SHOT Show in history, nearly 65,000 industry professionals showed up at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas to see what was new for 2017. As always, there was a mix of new products making their debut at the show, which created a substantial buzz — an indicator some of these defensive firearms may be particularly hot sellers.
The semi-auto pistol that got the most buzz on the net — and had long lines at their booth at SHOT and on the firing line on Media Day — was the new Hudson Mfg. H9. Picture an all-steel 9mm with a 1911 frame under a striker-fired GLOCK top end, and with the dust cover lowered to bring the recoil spring assembly (RSA) down level with the triggerguard. The pistol has a GLOCK-like, low-bore axis and the lowering of the RSA brings the “recoil axis” down lower, too. Trigger pull is very easy, and so is slide manipulation. The all-steel weight (mid-30 oz. range) and low-bore axis combine with the radical design to create minimum muzzle rise and recoil. Everyone I talked to who shot it after waiting in those long lines loved its shooting characteristics.
The H9’s 15-round magazine, I’m told, was cloned from the old Third Generation S&W Model 5906 to allow for minimum grip girth with still-reliable feeding. MSRP is $1,100 plus, but your serious performance-oriented shooters will happily pay a premium for faster accurate hits, not to mention your customers who want the hottest new thing — and the Hudson is absolutely the hot new thing, if the attention it received at the show is anything to go by.
GLOCK didn’t have anything new this year (their M-series 9mms, touted as the coming Gen5 under that brand, are rumored to be going to FBI and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police before they hit the “civilian market”), but the second biggest seller in the striker-fired polymer pistol market is the S&W Military & Police, and there’s definitely news there. The S&W M&P M2.0 is here. It answers a complaint you may have heard from your more discerning customers — a less-than-perfect trigger pull. The M2.0 I tried at SHOT was totally different on the trigger: lighter than previous, with a very crisp and distinct reset and pull. The M2.0 trigger is going to make this newest M&P an attractive option for your self-defense customers.
Another huge seller for you is going to be Ruger’s LCP II .380. This wafer-thin pistol is essentially cocked and unlocked, creating a light and easy trigger pull. This along with its bigger, easier-to-see sights will definitely enhance hit potential. Those taking CCW classes who have to constantly lock their slide back to “show clear” to range officers will appreciate this is the first LCP whose slide locks open automatically when the magazine runs dry. As noted in my column last month, however, be sure to advise your customer it’s essential to carry it in the Ruger-provided pocket holster it comes with, or some other holster that covers the triggerguard.
Hudson Mfg. H9
The big buzz as far as new revolvers is definitely the reconstituted Colt Cobra. This is partly because it’s the first small double-action wheel gun the company has produced since the 1990s, and partly because of its old claim to fame of six shots instead of only five in a small-frame snub-nose .38. It’s an updated version of the last of the Colt Detective Special series going back to 1927, rendered in all stainless steel with its triggerguard elongated and the trigger straightened. Weight is about 25 oz., putting it in direct competition with small five-shot all stainless models like the S&W 640 series and the Kimber K6s, introduced last year.
On the firing line during Media Day at SHOT, I found the action was as light and smooth as promised, better than the originals. The sights are wonderful: red fiber optic interchangeable with night sights, etc. via a setscrew and a big-enough-to-see rear notch. If you sell guns in cold climates, the elongated triggerguard is a huge selling point. The reason is, when a hand with a winter glove on fires a small-frame revolver, the thick glove material often blocks the trigger return and a five-shot revolver becomes a single-shot. When shooting the Cobra, I wore winter gloves and the only time the trigger didn’t return was when I didn’t let it come far enough forward from the last shot. At $699 MSRP, this much-talked-about gun is going to get lots of interest from your customers.
Just before SHOT, Ruger announced a snub-nosed, eight-shot .357 Magnum Redhawk and a five-shot GP100 .44 Special with 3-inch barrel. No, they won’t sell in the same volume as GLOCK 19s, but I bet you can just picture which old gunnies who have pictures of Elmer Keith and Skeeter Skelton next to their gun safes are going to want to buy one of these.
Colt Cobra .38
Defensive Long Guns
How about long guns? MSR and AK variants continue, but there’s nothing really earthshaking this year. Savage is bringing out their MSR (Modern Savage Rifle) with a useful difference. Instead of the usual Stoner-designed T-handle charger at the back of the receiver, the MSR has a side-mounted charging handle — like a conventional sporting autoloading rifle or shotgun — but mounted on the left side like the classic FN FAL and SLR. Many shooters will find this easier to manipulate. I first saw this feature on the American Spirit MSR produced in Arizona, which is still available and is an excellent rifle. However, Savage’s advertising prowess is probably going to bring customers in asking for it specifically. It wouldn’t hurt to have one or more right there in stock.
On the defensive shotgun side, Benelli’s Slug model in the Raffaello series stood out. The 20-gauge semiautomatic is an undiscovered secret in home-defense shotguns, delivering the power of two .44 Magnums in a buckshot load with barely more than half the recoil of a same-weight, full power 12-gauge. With a relatively short 22-inch barrel, this variant is so light it handles like an M1 carbine, and there’s the legendary Benelli reliability. It’s costly, but your consumers familiar with the Benelli brand will take it in stride.
There were thousands of products at SHOT Show 2017. The ones receiving “the buzz” from potential customers are the ones you’ll want to have ready to sell to them.