Brownells 75th Anniversary - A Shooting Heritage

Brownells 2008 Shot Show Recap

The annual Shot Show in Las Vegas was simply amazing this time around, surpassing everyone’s expectations with record-setting attendance, heavy traffic in the booths, and an overwhelming optimism about the state of the firearms industry. In short, it was bigger, better, and busier than previous years. This was particularly true at the Brownells booth during the four days we were there, where the action was often non-stop. Luckily, this year’s Team Brownells was the largest group we have ever fielded and visitors did not have to wait long to speak with one of us. In addition to the Brownells staff, we also had Bill Gravatt and his people from Sinclair to answer all of the precision reloading questions as well as any concerns about Sinclair becoming part of the Brownell’s family of companies. Long time customers were happy to learn that not much is going to change at Sinclair anytime soon and quality products and service are still the norm at the Indiana facility. We also had representatives from First National Bank of Omaha and United Parcel Service to explain the Brownells Business Advantage program that was unveiled at the show. The program is designed to help business owners save money on credit card transactions, UPS charges, and Insurance for their business. Find out more information on BBA. Working an event like this can hard work but with all of this activity the days seemed to fly by.

In addition to the Brownells Business Advantage, we had plenty of new products on display, including the new Magna-Tip® Adjustable Torque Handle (#080-000-515) and the HK-Style 360° AR-15 Rear Sight (#080-000-510) will be available March 2008. As always, most visitors to the booth seemed to have the same question: “What’s new this year?” They were not disappointed.

The number of new products at Shot impressive was as always, but there are a few that really stood out for me. Smith and Wesson had their new/old revolvers on display. The original Model 29, 24, and others are again available in with both blue and nickel finishes. While examining a beautifully finished nickel 44 Magnum I told the S&W rep how I would love to see the Model 27 brought back into the line. He said” No problem” and reached into the display case for a brand new, immaculately-polished and blued Model 27 complete with checkered top strap and a 6” barrel. Then he produced its twin in a nickel finish. The old style square thumbpiece is back and the only really visible difference in the new guns is the current style rear sight that differs slightly from the earlier design found on the originals. For me this was the highlight of the show.

Moving on, I found an 80 percent scale copy of the famous Sharps single shot rifle being carried by Taylor’s and Company and Legacy Sports. These smaller and graceful guns are available in calibers ranging fro the diminutive 22 Hornet up to the 38-55 Winchester with many stops in between. There is even a straight brass tube telescopic sight available that looks right at home perched atop the long barrel.

The other find that stands out is the new Ruger pocket pistol, the LCP. This tiny .380 caliber automatic is truly impressive; holding 7 shots in a package that weighs less than 10 ounces and fits comfortably in the palm of my hand. This potent little package created quite a stir; not surprising with the increasing popularity of concealed carry these days. With Ruger’s reputation for ruggedness and reliability this latest offering should do very well indeed.

One annual highlight of the Shot Show is the State of the Industry dinner put on by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. This is where each year the movers and shakers of the firearms and hunting business get together to honor their own. Many awards were bestowed that evening, but the one that stands out for me was the Grits Gresham Shooting Sports Communicator Award, an honor given this year to the great Jim Carmichel; a man who has spent his life promoting our sports and way of life in an articulate yet down to earth manner. Not only is he a great writer but he has also done a good bit of gunsmithing over the years and has passed much of that knowledge on to his readers. Sadly, Grits Gresham, the namesake of this award, passed away this month. He will be missed.

One of the best perks of attending Shot is getting to meet people from all over the country and from all facets of the industry. You never know who is going to drop by the booth. Roy Huntington, the editor of American Handgunner dropped by to say hello, as did John Barsness, a really good writer whose byline you may recognize from Handloader, Rifle, and Successful Hunting magazines. Ron Power of Power Custom dropped in to talk about new products he has in development and Tom Gresham of Gun Talk Radio and co-host of Guns and Ammo TV stopped in to chat with Frank and Pete Brownell about upcoming projects. Plenty of longtime and new customers came by to tell us what they liked about doing business with us and to make comments and suggestions on how to improve the operation. We got a tremendous amount of useful feedback about current products and the new catalog layout, and returned home with a huge box full of new product samples and prototypes. Other exhibitors I spoke with also reported very high traffic levels at the show and considered this show to be the best one they had seen in years. All in all, a good, and more importantly, a very productive time was had by all.