Brownells 75th Anniversary - A Shooting Heritage

SHOT Show Report - 2007

By Larry Weeks

Another SHOT Show has passed and the Brownells crew survived pretty well. Meeting and greeting 30,000-40,000 of your closest friends makes it easy to pick up every flu bug and cold from all across the U.S. and world.

We normally don’t expect much traffic when the show is any place but Las Vegas but this year in Orlando we were absolutely thrilled, or T-Totally delighted as our founder, Bob Brownell used to say. Tim Dillon did an excellent job of picking the booth space and somehow had our main booth just one row away from the main, center entrance. Folks walked in, turned right, went past the Outdoor Channel and ran into Brownells. We talked to tons of customers, met loads of new people and had a great show in the booth. The Mil/LE section was filled with electricity, you could feel the energy when you walked into that area. Again, the location was great. We were right across from Knight Armament and Tim, Mark and Tony made some more excellent contacts.

I suppose it sounds like a broken record, everything’s great, we did great business, blah, blah, blah. But it’s true.

As far as the floor, traffic seemed light as I walked around, but the exhibitors I talked to all seemed pretty pleased. Some said the traffic was less but more serious. One gun writer told me he had a hard time interviewing people at booths because they were so darned busy. Don’t know if you’ve read about the three Italian women who are running Fausti, a high grade shotgun company. Pretty bold of them to come into a male dominated business, in a country that is the very definition of macho. Their booth was on my route between our “main” booth and the Mil/LE booth and they were always busy writing orders when I went past.

I did see lots of refinements in products. Ceiner is coming out with dedicated upper receivers that include his rimfire conversion for the AR-15 in .22 WRFM, .17 HMR and the .17 Mach 2. Remington is going to make a big push on their new centerfire .17 Fireball cartridge (the old .221 Fireball necked down to .17 caliber). Something else I discovered, the high dollar optics like Swarovski, Kahles, Zeiss, etc. are really fantastic. I’d never paid much attention to them since I figured they were out of my price range. This year I took the time to look through some of those superb optics. Things were so darned crisp and clear, objects seem to jump right out at you. At the Orange County Sheriff’s Range, on the shooting day before the show, I picked one of them up (as scope only, no gun attached) and looked out into the trees nearby. I spotted a hawk at the top of a pine tree. The definition on his feathers and eyes was spooky. I’d have guessed the distance at 200 yards or so. I want one of those scopes! Something to think about if you’ve always bought the $25 to $75 scopes at the big box stores. The difference is staggering! Speaking of scopes, Leupold had a great new ad campaign going; “It’s Okay Germany, You Still Make the Best Beer.” Darned clever

Also had the opportunity to shoot Benelli’s new Ultra-Light shotgun. It’s a 6 pound, 12 gauge autoloader with a trick looking, carbon fiber rib. With normal power, 2-3/4” shells, the gas system soaked up most of the recoil and this light gun was very comfortable to shoot. Heck, it didn’t even fit me, and still didn’t bite very hard. If you’re closer to “normal” size the felt recoil should be even less.

Comments on the town/facility. Orlando doesn’t know how to move people nearly as well as Vegas does, so cabs were difficult to find at times and International Boulevard was a traffic jam when the show let out. Restaurants were everywhere and prices weren’t any more outrageous than you find at any show/tourist town. The Orange County Convention Center is one, huge building which makes it easier to get around than the Las Vegas building, there are far more chairs around the food court than in Vegas and more variety in the food which is nice. Things are no closer, “across the street” is still ¼ to ½ mile. In a way, it doesn’t matter how nice the Orlando hall is, we’re in Vegas for the next eight or nine years. And, I’ll bet most exhibitors are thrilled by that.

No matter where it is, the SHOT Show is a great place to get pumped up about our industry and the coming year.