Notes From The NRA Annual Meeting

Conservative estimates of roughly 70,000 attendees, and 620 vendors. Attendee count may be as high as 100,000.

Our President would have us believe that 90% of Americans support expanding background checks, yet only five people could be found to stage an anti-gun protest. Seriously, they were well outnumbered by the press filming and interviewing them, and the small gaggle of NRA members engaging them in polite debate. Some of our gunblogger friends, namely Breda and Alan, left them slack-jawed and stammering, unable to respond to a logical counter-argument to their talking points.

Meanwhile, at the show:

  • Everybody -and I mean everybody - is making AR15 platform rifles these days. I saw substantially more brands and vendors selling AR15s than at last year's meeting. Another trend I'm noticing is makers positioning the AR15 as a hunting and sporting arm in their advertising. Everywhere you looked, their was some photogenic model bedecked in camouflage wielding an AR15 in the woods. Smart marketing? I think so. Broadening the gun's appeal can't hurt.

While most vendors are still struggling to meet demand, prices seem to have dropped from "OMFG, are you friggin' serious?" to a mere "Say, that's a little steep."

Also, Black Rain Ordnance makes some schweeet lookin' AR15s:


  • I coon-fingered a Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P, with a lightened and crisper 4.5 pound trigger and a supposedly improved trigger reset. As far as TOTWTYTR and I could tell, the only difference between that and the standard M&P was the lightened trigger pull. Frankly, the trigger reset still sucks. I mentioned as such to the rep, and inquired whether they had considering just licensing Apex Tactical trigger parts for the Performance Center guns. That suggestion was met with a disdainful sneer and a backhanded comment about inferior aftermarket conversions.

I've got news for you, Mr. Performace Center Director. Apex Tactical makes better trigger parts for your guns than you can.

  • Looks like I'll have some T&E guns for Blogorado this fall, including a sweet custom 1911 and a hot new rimfire varminter. More news to come as negotations continue…
  • Nothing says "coexist" like a restored VW Microbus fitted with a GE 7.62 minigun. Bravo, Magpul, Bravo.

The hula girl wielding an AR15 was a nice touch.

  • Anybody familiar with the Shooter's Arms Corp 1911 pistols imported from the Philippines by American Tactical Imports? This one is their Thunderbolt model:

From what I saw, it was nice and tight, trigger was crisp and adjustible. Other features included forward slide serrations, Picatinny rail, ambidextrous safety, extended slide release, fully adjustible sights, checkered mainspring housing and front strap, bobbed hammer, beveled magwell, and extended beavertail, all for a MSRP of $875.95. For $25 more, you can get the Enhanced version with ported slide and barrel.

Didn't look like the feed ramp was polished, and the thing has a damned full-length guide rod that makes baby JMB cry, but the interior of the gun seemed devoid of obvious tool marks, as least as far as I could tell without field stripping it.

It likes like a nice gun for the price, but the proof is in the shooting. Anyone with direct experience with them, chime in with your comments, please.

They also had a nice double stack compact 1911 with 12+1 capacity, the Fatboy:

The finish was not gorgeous, but it looks worse in the photo than it really was. MSRP was $699.95.

Headed out to the Gunnie Prom right now, where hopefully I will find food, booze and good conversation in abundance. More to come tomorrow!

  • Lokidude

    I’ve got one of the ATI 1911s. Mine happens to be the Commander model. Fit is better than my Series 80 Colt, and it runs every bit as good as the gun from Hartford. I’m a thousand or two rounds into it, and haven’t had any failures thus far. Also, the base model guns run a proper plug and spring configuration, not that accursed FLGR.

  • Old_NFO

    LOL, I think all of us have loved that Veedub…

  • MSgt B

    Weren’t the crappy old RIA 1911′s made in the Philippines too?

    • Ambulance_Driver

      My Rock Island Armory GI 1911 was indeed made in the Philippines, and has been rock-solid reliable and accurate for over 4,000 rounds now.
      I think that when it comes to the 1911, the more you stray away from the original design, the more problems you have and the more stringent quality control must be.
      In RIA’s case, their Philippine guns were made with machining equipment from Colt.
      After doing a little research, the manufacturer, Shooter’s Arms Group, appears to be the old Charles Daly folks.
      Kelly Grayson

  • Sigivald

    but the interior of the gun seemed devoid of obvious tool marks, as least as far as I could tell without field stripping it.


    Do interior tool marks keep it from working?

    They don’t make my old Norinco 1911A1 Not Shoot…

    • Ambulance_Driver

      Agreed. The proof is in the shooting.

      Empirically, it’s my feeling that if a maker takes the time to polish the parts of the gun that don’t show, that speaks to a greater attention to detail in fitting the parts that do matter.

  • mpatk

    At the risk of starting a flame war (feel free to delete post if you think it’ll cause too much trouble)…

    What’s the general opinion of these (IMHO) grandstanding idiots, and what’s your opinion?

    • Ambulance_Driver

      Well, I can only speak for myself, but I don’t think they’re grandstanding idiots.
      Any unconstitutional law is, by definition, not a law. That is the position taken by the Kansas Secretary of State, as well as a large number of Colorado Sheriffs and a few in New York state as well.
      As to whether it’ll actually work, it would take a far better legal scholar than myself to say.
      I hope it does. It’s high time someone told our Attorney General and his boss that the law actually applies to them as well.

      • mpatk

        It’s pointless grandstanding if the bill actually uses the phrase “unconstitutional law” because that phrase is an oxymoron. In that case, the laws already exist: they’re laws prohibiting abuse of authority.

        IMHO, this is an attempt to go beyond that and for Kansas to decide what is “unconstitional” and what isn’t. The Obama administration certainly needs to be held accountable to the U.S. Constitution; but it is IMHO presumptuous for the Kansas Secretary of State to assume that power to himself.

        I have three problems with Kansas’s Sec. of State’s remarks:
        (1) It’s a clear violation of Article III, where the U.S. Judiciary has ultimate authority on the Constitutionality of federal laws, and “…to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party…” It’s especially presumptuous given that no laws have been passed, never mind the Judiciary given a chance to exercise it’s Constitutional authority.
        (2) Since the Kansas law attempts to bypass the Judiciary, it is a clear violation of Article VI. In fact, the Sec. of State explicitly rejects Article VI in his comments.
        (3) “Fast and Furious” has absolutely squat-all to do with this legislation. A challenge to federal action succeeds or fails on its own merits; it doesn’t matter if the President is Obama, Nixon, Lincoln, or Jackson.

        There is a big difference between the discussions in Kansas, Colorado, and New York State. In Colorado and New York, they are talking about refusing to enforce the orders (civil disobedience). Kansas is taking it a huge step further into the realm of Nullification (see by making the federal actions a crime subject to arrest.

  • Snowdog

    I remember that type 2, last year in STL my wife (who’s a bigger VW nut than me, and hopes to one day have a Westfalia camper bus) took more pics of that bus than anything else.

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Kelly Grayson


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