SHOT Show kicks off with good crowds, new guns

Covering SHOT Show solo is a daunting task, so I will acknowledge up front that there’s no way on earth I’ll be able to get to every booth or talk to every 2A activist in attendance.

However, I’m thrilled that we’re able to kick off our on-the-ground coverage by spending a few minutes with The Reload’s Stephen Gutowski, who shares his impressions of this year’s Range Day with us, along with a few of his plans for his own coverage of SHOT this week.

The crowds are definitely a little sparser than in normal years, though the NSSF says there are approximately 41,000 attendees who’ve registered, which would only be a decline of about 15,000 folks. Now, a 1/3 attendance decline may not sound like anything to cheer about, but given that the Consumer Electronics Show drew about 45,000 people this year when attendance is normally around 175,000, and all of a sudden the SHOT Show attendance numbers look surprisingly strong given the circumstances.

Those smaller crowds and missing exhibitors were even a factor on Range Day, according to Gutowski, although it did make it a little easier to actually shoot and not just stand in line waiting to take your place on the firing line. The industry-wide ammunition shortage, on the other hand, even impacted those who made it out to Boulder City, Nevada for Range Day. No shooting 30 rounds on full auto this year; instead Gutowski says it was much more common for companies to limit shooters to five rounds or so apiece.

We’ll have a separate VIP piece coming up this afternoon on the state of the ammunition industry as a whole, but suffice it to say that demand is still sky high at the moment, which is still playing hell on the ability of companies to fill orders in a timely manner.

The absence of some major players at this year’s SHOT Show (Sig Sauer and Beretta are a few of the big names without a significant footprint) could provide an opportunity for smaller companies to make inroads with distributors, but Gutowski is also keeping an eye on one company in particular: SmartGunz.

The Kansas-based company recently unveiled its RFID-equipped pistol and says it will be available for purchase in April of this year, which could trigger a New Jersey’s gun control law that requires gun stores to carry “smart guns” once they’re officially on the market. Whether there’s much market demand for a $2,195 9mm pistol that only works if the gun syncs to a wearable (in this case, a ring that must be worn) remains to be seen, but the gun control lobby is certainly excited about the prospect, and Gutowski says more blue states could soon follow New Jersey’s lead or even attempt to ban non-smart guns from the market (as was the case with New Jersey’s original “smart gun” law).

Be sure to check out the entire conversation with Stephen Gutowski in the video window above, and check back for more coverage of the 2022 Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show all week long here on Bearing Arms.