SHOT Business | Jan/Feb 2022

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Shoot United™ is a dynamic initiative celebrating the excitement and wholesome and healthful benefits of the shooting sports, while promoting responsible firearm ownership. Spend time outdoors with family and friends. Join in competition. Be part of one of the fastest-growing and safest recreational activities in the country. We invite you to learn more about the shooting sports and Shoot United. © Olin Winchester, LLC 2021

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SHOT Business | January/February 2022




18 • A NEW STANDARD By Wayne Van Zwoll


22 • AMERICAN TREASURES By Robert Sadowski

16 • FYI














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Cover image by SCCY


The new striker-fired DVG-1 9mm


30 • DEEP COMMITMENT By Peter B. Mathiesen 36 • SOCIAL MEDIA MASTER CLASS By Michelle Scheuermann

12/13/21 8:24 AM


26 • BEST OF BOTH WORLDS By Slaton L. White




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A LEVEL OF DISTINCTION ALL ITS OWN. With the introduction of our first-ever micro-compact 9mm, the all-new Taurus GX4™ boldly outclasses anything else in its class—reaching unprecedented new heights in concealed carry firearm engineering, ergonomics and innovation. On the outside, there can be no doubt that every streamlined inch of this rugged striker-fired semi-auto was meticulously crafted for EDC readiness and reliability. While a game-altering combination of full-sized capacity, accuracy and power resides within its ultra-concealable one-inch-wide reinforced frame. The exceptionally affordable Taurus GX4™ is backed by our Limited Lifetime Warranty and industry leading customer service for added peace of mind when it matters the most.


Learn more at

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18.5 OZ.



BOOTH #13038

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This issue’s cover brought to you by:

The All New DVG-1 Is Engineered for Everyday Carry SCCY Firearms officially dropped the hammer when they premiered their first striker-fired handgun, the DVG-1. Chambered in 9mm Luger and weighing in at 15 ounces, the DVG-1 is a striker-fired subcompact pistol giving gun enthusiasts everywhere plenty of reasons to “Reach for the SCCY.” This model features the Roebuck Quadlock Barrel Locking System, a 10+1 doublestack capacity, flat trigger, and 5.5-pound pull, all in a subcompact footprint. Like their earlier CPX models, the DVG-1 is engineered and manufactured for everyday carry in Daytona Beach, Florida. If you’re looking for even more features, check out the forward slide serrations, a common sight cut that provides a variety of aftermarket options, a new enhanced grip texture, and a reduced grip circumference. If you’re not familiar with SCCY Firearms, you should be. SCCY is on a mission to protect the American people with quality firearms, and at its core the manufacturer believes that every American should be able to access affordable personal and home defense. They believe it is a right that should not be reserved solely for those who can afford it. The DVG-1 is priced with an SRP of $329.99 and is currently shipping to distributors across the U.S. In addition to the DVG-1, SCCY will also be introducing the DVG-1 RDR, which is a red-dotready version with an SRP of $359.99, featuring a Shield RMS-c footprint. Attendees of SHOT Show 2022 will receive the first look at their newest model.

As a trailblazer in the world of American-made everyday carry, SCCY has loaded their newest model with numerous desirable features and upgrades, exceeding the expectations of many. SCCY Firearms has seen enormous success in their 18 years in the industry –– the DVG-1 is yet another incredible value that elevates them to a whole new level. Whether you’re practicing on the range or training for self-defense, the DVG-1 is built for those who aim for their personal best and dare to be bold.




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12/15/21 1:47 PM


NEWS FOR YOU! Live from Davidson’s! Davidson’s own live streaming broadcast event, exclusively for Davidson’s dealers. Each episode is hosted by Kevin Wilson and covers topics such as, new products and training, live Q&A with industry experts, upcoming promotions and even a chance to win prizes!

See you at SHOT Show! Davidson’s will be attending SHOT Show 2022. Visit us at our new booth, #72317, at the Caesars Forum.



Your satisfaction is our commitment.

America’s Leading Shooting Sports Wholesaler











New robust product search filters Updated Communications Center

Additional photos and videos per product Modernized website interface and user experience


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12/13/21 9:09 AM


High Standards

When you set the bar high, good things happen.


a young editor I was fortunate to have been mentored by an older hand, one who showed me the ropes and helped turn me from a raw recruit to a seasoned professional. I’ve always tried to live up to the high standards he set for me—and himself. He was an incredible role model. For Skyler Thomas, his role model was a former Navy SEAL who imparted to him a deep commitment to developing leadership skills. But, as he relates to SHOT Business on page 30, the real “aha” moment in his career occurred when he visited a firearms store while he was working as a professional firearms trainer. He asked to see a Glock. The older gentleman behind the counter scoffed at his request, and in a surly tone told him, “Why would you or anyone else want a plastic gun?” He then shook his head in disgust as he handed him the pistol. The interaction deteriorated from there, and a stunned Thomas thought, How does this store stay in business? What would it be like for a firsttime purchaser? What would that shooter do for training? Go see this guy? No!

It was a pivotal moment in his life, and it set him on a course to sell firearms and teach firearms training to the public. A few years later, after assembling a group of investors, Thomas founded Freedom Shooting Center by taking over an existing Virginia Beach facility in 2018. That was the first step. The second was realigning the staff. “There were staff members who were single-task focused and not always very friendly,” he says. “There was often a sense that each staff member had to one-up each other. I saw barriers at every turn that could stop a sale dead in its tracks. The store and range were neither customer or team focused.” What to do? Thomas quickly transitioned the team to a customer-focused approach and began crosstraining every staff member. “There are five basic jobs in our store—sales, customer service, range work, memberships, and rental,” he says. “I wanted every staff member to be able to do any, and all, of the five. Today, when a customer asks or needs something in a different department, no one has to say, ‘That guy is out to lunch; you’ll have to wait an hour.’” Thomas made it clear that he expected all staffers to focus on the needs of the customer. “I insisted that the staff treat every customer in a manner that would make them feel wanted and appreciated,” he says. As the new strategies evolved, the staff members who didn’t buy into his program departed on their own terms. But many did stay, and with new hires he now has 85 full- and part-time employees. Freedom Shooting Center now sees 4,000 clients a week come through the doors. It’s an incredible success story, one based on great leadership and an unwavering commitment to customer service. When you set high standards, good things happen.

EDITORIAL & CREATIVE EDITOR w SLATON L. WHITE GROUP MANAGING EDITOR w HILARY DYER ART DIRECTOR w TOD MOLINA ADVERTISING SALES TEAM w AUTUMN IFLAND w KEN BYERS w DON HARRIS w TOBY SHAW COLE PUBLISHING ADMINISTRATION PRESIDENT, COLE PUBLISHING w JEFF BRUSS PRESIDENT, GRAND VIEW OUTDOORS w DERRICK NAWROCKI NSSF ADMINISTRATION PRESIDENT & CEO w JOSEPH H. BARTOZZI SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT & CCO w CHRIS DOLNACK VICE PRESIDENT, MARKETING w BILL DUNN SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT FOR GOVERNMENT & PUBLIC AFFAIRS, ASSISTANT SECRETARY & GENERAL COUNSEL w LAWRENCE G. KEANE VICE PRESIDENT, HUMAN RESOURCES & ADMINISTRATION w DEB KENNEY VICE PRESIDENT & CFO w JOHN SMITH MANAGING DIRECTOR, MEMBER SERVICES w JOHN MCNAMARA SHOT BUSINESS is published six times a year: January/February, March/April, May/June, July/August, September/October, and November/December by COLE Publishing, Inc. , 1720 Maple Lake Dam Road, Three Lakes, WI 54562 and is the official publication of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Flintlock Ridge Office Center, 11 Mile Hill Road, Newtown, CT 06470-2359. All rights reserved. Contents may not be printed or otherwise reproduced without written permission of COLE Publishing. Postage paid at Three Lakes, WI 54562 and at additional mailing offices. COLE Publishing is not responsible for researching or investigating the accuracy of the contents of stories published in this magazine. Readers are advised that the use of the information contained within this magazine is with the understanding that it is at their own risk. COLE Publishing assumes no liability for this information or its use. COLE Publishing assumes no responsibility for unsolicited editorial, photography, and art submissions. In addition, no Terms and Conditions agreements are recognized by COLE Publishing unless signed and returned by the Editor. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: SHOT BUSINESS P.O. BOX 220, THREE LAKES, WI 54562. ADVERTISING: Advertising inquiries should be emailed to No responsibility will be assumed for unsolicited materials. SHOT BUSINESS is a registered trademark of NSSF. Contents copyright ©2022 by NSSF. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part is prohibited unless expressly authorized by publisher. MEMBER/SUBSCRIBER SERVICES:

Slaton L. White, Editor



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12/15/21 9:58 AM





Big Horn Armory Expands Facilities


with most industries, the firearm industry has seen an impact on suppliers and vendors due to COVID-19 restrictions and limitations. In addition, there has been an increase in product demand as American citizens turn out to support their 2A rights with a record-setting number of background checks the past two years. The delays from suppliers and vendors, as well as the increase in demand, have resulted in extended lead times for Big Horn Armory (BHA) firearms.

However, Big Horn Armory, makers of big-bore firearms, is implementing several changes that will work to improve product lead times. These changes include hiring more employees, obtaining a new and larger building, increasing manufacturing capacity, and doubling BHA’s sourcing suppliers. “We hope to increase our manufacturing capabilities two to three times over the next year,” says Greg Buchel, owner of Big Horn Armory. “Much of this will involve new personnel in our assembly and quality control departments. We have a core workforce of excellent people right now, and we intend to use these people to train and orient our new personnel to create more of the fine products that we currently produce for our customers.” BHA will be doubling its workforce in the next few months in the manufacturing department. A new building will increase the manufacturing space by 500 percent. In addition to providing more manufacturing space, the new building will also offer better facilities for constructing BHA’s firearms and for maintaining inventory. New machinery will include CNC mills and lathes and barrel-making equipment, all of which will help lessen the dependence upon outside vendors. “Our firearms are not purchases made on a whim, but thoughtful investments in heirloom-quality


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 Customers can upgrade their rifle with a Collector Grade walnut stock.

rifles aimed at giving our customer the biggest bang for their buck,” Buchel says. “We know our customers want these rifles, and we want to give them to them. We’re working our hardest to get our firearms out the door and into our customers’ hands. We appreciate our customers’ patience as they bear with us as we continue to fulfill our orders and implement these changes.” Big Horn Armory was founded in 2008 with the expressed intent of designing a Browning-type lever-action gun chambered in the 500 Smith & Wesson Magnum. The Big Horn Armory Model 89, made in America, closely follows the work of John Browning, with refinements courtesy of modern metallurgy and machining capabilities. The first rifles began shipping in September 2012, and since then BHA has added to its big-bore lineup with a Model 90 Carbine in .460 S&W, the Model 90A in .454 Casull, the Model 90B in .45 Colt, the Model 89A in .500 Linebaugh, and the Model 89B in .475 Linebaugh. In 2017, Big Horn Armory took a departure from its lever-action series and developed the AR500 Auto Max, the most powerful short-range, semi-auto based on an AR .308 platform. (




12/13/21 8:38 AM



SAR USA by Sarsilmaz, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of firearms, has released the new SAR9 Compact pistol. Built on the same platform as the legendary SAR9, it is a rigorously tested pistol, one that is proudly carried by NATO and elite forces around the world. “The SAR9 Compact was inspired by feedback we received from elite shooting professionals, dealers, and consumers,” says Todd Pearson, COO of SAR USA. “We listened to the shooting-sports community when they asked for the same incredible durability and performance of the SAR9 in a more-compact version.” Chambered in 9mm, the SAR9 Compact points naturally and offers a perfect balance between a micro- and a full-size pistol. It’s small and light enough to be easily concealed and comfortably carried, yet it has the capacity of a full-size pistol. Other features of the lightweight polymer-framed, striker-fired SAR9 Compact include a hammer-forged barrel with recessed crown for increased accuracy, interchangeable backstrap and side plates, and a black-oxide slide. It comes standard with a 15-round magazine, but there is a 10-round option for sale in capacity-restricted states. Like all other SAR pistols, the SAR9 Compact has a live-round indicator. With a choice of three insertable back straps to customize fit, a low barrel-axis-to-grip ratio (to lessen muzzle climb), and a 20-degree grip angle that provides superior control and fast second-shot recovery, the SAR9 Compact is a top choice for personal protection. SRP: $452, black; $484, stainless.

ALAN MOSSBERG, CHAIRMAN OF O. F. MOSSBERG & SONS, INC., DIES AT 89 On November 6, 2021, Alan Mossberg, Chairman of O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc., passed away at his home in Tierra Verde, Florida, surrounded by close friends and family. He was 89 years old. “On behalf of the executive team and over 500 U.S.-based employees, we extend our deepest sympathies to Alan’s family during this difficult time,” said Doug Bell, Mossberg’s President and COO. “A great leader, visionary, and champion of bringing high-quality, innovative firearms to the masses, Alan was a tireless advocate for gun rights and gun safety while always working to ensure that the American traditions of hunting and shooting sports live on for many years to come. More importantly, Alan was a devoted husband, father, and friend. He will be greatly missed.” Grandson of O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc. founder, Oscar Mossberg, Alan started working for the Mossberg organization at a very young age. For the better part of the last 50 years, he was a major pillar of the global firearms industry by successfully leading Mossberg to grow into one of the world’s largest and most respected smallarms manufacturers. A staunch proponent of conservation and shooting sports throughout his career, Alan was heavily involved with organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, National Rifle Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, North American Hunting Club, Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute, and the U.S. Olympic Shooting Team. Under his guidance, Mossberg has been (and continues to be) a substantial contributor to these and other organizations that promote the safe and healthy future of hunting and shooting sports.

Alan was also a pioneer in the areas of firearm safety and security. In 1989, Alan directed Mossberg to ship a gun lock with every firearm that the company sold, which is now a common practice across the entire industry. His contributions alone help ensure that America’s hunting and shooting traditions are safely passed down from generation to generation. Alan is survived by a large family, including his children, Iver Mossberg, Jonathan Mossberg, Gretchen (Mossberg) Highsmith, and Linnea (Mossberg) Helalat. Iver Mossberg is currently CEO of O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc. (




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12/15/21 10:00 AM

CHAMPION CONTINUES KIDS & CLAYS PARTNERSHIP TO SUPPORT RONALD MCDONALD HOUSES Champion Traps & Targets, makers of interactive and challenging target systems and trusted eye and ear protection, is continuing its support of the Kids & Clays Foundation for the second year in the row to help raise funds for Ronald McDonald House Charities chapters. Kids & Clays supports participating Ronald McDonald House Charities chapters through shooting sports to improve the lives of critically ill children and their families. As a national sponsor, Champion sent a team to participate in the 20th annual sporting clays tournament fundraiser held by Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Iowa. In all, 54 squads participated. Two local Ronald McDonald Houses were the beneficiaries of the fundraiser, supporting their mission to provide a home away from home for families

so they can stay close by their hospitalized child at little or no cost. The sold-out event raised over $110,000, money that provides thousands of room nights and other comforts to critically ill children and their families at a time when they need it the most. “The program has made an incredibly meaningful impact over the years, thanks in part to the strong support we have from partners like Champion,” said Doug Jeanneret, Kids & Clays executive director. “Champion’s commitment to positive change extends well beyond their passion for shooting sports. It has resulted in critically ill children and their families seeing more compassion in their lives.” Eliza Graves, Champion’s senior brand marketing manager for shooting accessories, was part of the Champion team at the tournament. “We’re

honored to continue this tremendous partnership with Kids & Clays,” she said. “Not only was it a fun event, but it truly makes a difference in the lives of so many people.” (championtarget.COM)



fter setting the global standard in lesslethal technology with the original FN 303 system, FN America, LLC, the world leader in developing law-enforcement technology and training, has released the FN 303 Tactical Less Lethal Launcher. FN answered requests from law enforcement officers and agencies to make key improvements to ergonomics and adaptability while extending service life. “For nearly 20 years, FN has been in front of the ever-changing landscape of less-lethal product development with the FN 303 Less Lethal Launcher,” says Charles “Bucky” Mills, Sr., director of law enforcement and federal sales for FN America, LLC. “From the original FN 303 to a recent upgrade with the FN 303 Mk2, and now with the FN 303 Tactical, the constant evolution of our less-lethal product designs ensures users have the most versatile and innovative solutions to meet the dynamic needs of federal, state, and local agencies.” With the new, modular chassis system in the FN 303 Tactical, operators and armorers can quickly customize the buttstock, grip, and sighting systems. The included FN SCAR buttstock is adjustable for length of pull, cheek rise, and foldability, enhancing the ergonomics and sight alignment for patrol and civil-disturbance-unit officers. Optional stocks, such as the Drop-Down Folding Visor Helmet Stock, can be changed out easily for officers wearing full riot gear. A telescopic PDW Stock can also be added


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for compact transport and close-quarters applications. A standard mil-spec A2-style pistol grip is included with the FN 303 Tactical Less Lethal Launcher, but is fully interchangeable with aftermarket A2-style options. Fully adjustable polymer sights are mounted to a continuous Picatinny rail with 60 MOA of compensation to ease zeroing. The MIL-STD 1913 top rail accepts red-dot sights and other sights and lights. Upgrades to the air-operating system improve handling of the FN 303 Tactical and cuts department maintenance in half. The new, shorter air tank and compact 7.6-inch barrel transfers the weight balance farther back between the hands, allowing officers faster handling, sighting, and less fatigue. Built from lightweight, rugged polymer and driven by the new, compact, compressed-air tank, the FN 303 Tactical upgrades deliver fin-stabilized projectiles with speed and accuracy. An optimized operating system doubles the service life of the FN 303 Tactical. Agencies can fire 5,000 projectiles before first routine maintenance is required. The fin-stabilized, .68-caliber FN 303 projectiles deliver optimum accuracy with maximum effectiveness and safety. Officers can quickly change projectiles, choosing between inert, marking impact, or irritant projectiles. The clear, rear magazine cover allows officers to see the projectile type and remaining count in the 15-round magazine. SRP: $1,439. (




12/14/21 11:05 AM


Real Avid’s New Sweet Spot


s an industry leader in gun-cleaning products, Real Avid is focused on continually developing new tools, cleaning equipment, and chemicals that upgrade the entire experience. Its corporate DNA leads it to create what it calls “disruptive products that obsolete old thinking, eliminate work arounds, and ultimately define the best tool for the job.” In line with that thinking, it recently unveiled the Bore-Max Speed Clean System, a line of brushes, jags, and patches designed to make bore cleaning a much faster and easier process. When it considered the design of a new brush, the company took a long look at the bristle configuration. “In order to achieve maximize effectiveness, we found there needed to be an optimal balance between bristle density and bristle flexibility,” says Howard Tripp, Real Avid’s chief innovation officer. “In our testing, we recognized very quickly that having too few bristles was a waste of time. At the same time, too many wouldn’t provide enough flexibility to navigate the lands and grooves of the bore.”

"We believe the s y n t h e t i c m at e r i a l s i m p ly o u t p e r f o r m s cotton." The bristle configuration of the Bore-Max Speed Brush is the result of finding that sweet spot, achieving maximum scrubbing density while retaining enough flexibility to effectively reach down into the lands and grooves, removing more carbon with each pass of the brush and getting maximum results faster. Nickel-plating, Tripp says, was added to enhance the durability of the brushes. “Phosphor bronze has proven to be an ideal bristle material, with one exception—it reacts poorly to bore solvent. Nickel-electroplating these brushes solved that problem and increased their useful longevity as well.” By applying some new thinking to an old process, Real Avid has also created a line of jags and patches developed in tandem to be paired for perfect, caliber-specific bore fitment. Sized to account precisely for both the jag diameter and the patch thickness, this combo provides the optimal compression to reach into the lands and grooves thoroughly and consistently.



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“The challenge in creating the Speed Clean System was how to get more patch material in the bore, eliminate bunching, and maximizing the effectiveness of each pass-through,” Tripp says. “In looking to develop a minimalist patch shape that would cover the jag completely without any overlap or wasted material, we created a jag-and-patch combo that would fit perfectly into the bore.” Patch material was also a big consideration in the development of the Speed Clean System. Real Avid selected a synthetic material that has shown superior absorbency over cotton and minimizes the remaining fray and excess solvent in the bore. “We believe the synthetic material simply outperforms cotton,” Tripp says, “The other benefit of using a synthetic material is the ability to create a quilt-like textured surface that is more effective at picking up and trapping crud as it passes through the bore without fraying or dropping lint.” When Real Avid took a close look at bore surface contact, it believed traditional patches weren’t up to muster. “To get the job done faster, we wanted to limit the number of times it took to run through the bore in order to achieve the desired result, which in this case is a clear patch,” Tripp says. “So, we elongated the jag and eliminated the taper found on traditional jags. Then, we created multiple compression rings along the entire length of the jag. Since we shaped the patch to fit the jag precisely without any wasted overlapping material, we no longer needed to accommodate for the patch bunching and could utilize the entire jag length.”

As a result, with the Speed Jag and Speed Jag Patch you can get the same results with only one pass instead of the usual four passes required with traditional square patches. Think of it as running four or more traditional jagand-square-patch combinations through the bore at the same time. “In testing the Real Avid bore-cleaning process, the Speed Jag and Patch combinations took, on average, four to five pass-throughs to achieve a clear bore,” Tripp says. “Traditional jag and square patches took, on average, more than 20 passthroughs to achieve the same results. Those results indicate a significantly faster way to clean a bore with less effort.” (


12/13/21 8:39 AM

TenPoint Continues to Lead in Crossbow Safety


enPoint Crossbow Technologies may be the foremost manufacturer of innovative, made-in-the-USA crossbows and accessories, but the technology behind the speed, power, and unmatched accuracy never comes at the expense of safety. Both TenPoint and Wicked Ridge crossbows boast an unmatched combination of safety features. In fact, TenPoint has pioneered many of today’s safety features that have become standard on crossbows, including the Dry-Fire-Inhibitor and safety wings that help keep the shooter’s hand safely below the flight deck and out of the string path while shooting. Upon listening to consumer feedback and recognizing the need for a safe way to de-cock a crossbow, TenPoint recently launched the only safe de-cocking system on the market: the ACUSlide Silent Cocking and Safe De-Cocking system. The revolutionary ACUslide cocking and de-cocking system allows the hunter to silently cock the crossbow with a mere five pounds of force. In the event they don’t take a shot during the hunt, they can then safely de-cock the crossbow by simply backwinding the handle. “Crossbow hunting continues to grow in popularity, which brings forth a wide range of experience levels in the woods,” says national sales manager Keith Arnold. “With these changes, it is our responsibility to continue to manufacture safe products, and we are proud to lead in the safety category.”





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12/13/21 8:40 AM


By Christopher Cogley



he age-old business adage, “adapt or die,” has never been more applicable than it is in the uncertain, ever-changing times in which businesses are operating today. Throughout the industry, businesses and brands are changing at a more rapid pace than ever to keep up with the evolving demands of their customers. One of the most prominent examples of this necessary new business model is Bianchi holsters. Since 1958, Bianchi has earned a reputation as one of the premier manufacturers of leather holsters. As the popularity of more modern materials began to skyrocket, however, more and more of Bianchi’s traditional customer base began turning away from classic leather holsters. Bianchi still had a strong following with law enforcement and Cowboy Action Shooting enthusiasts, but its popularity with the general carry population had started to wane. “Bianchi has always been about quality, craftsmanship, and passion. But over the last ten years, Bianchi has been dormant, and in that time, the world in which we live has radically changed,” says Tim Drnec, vice president of marketing and commercial sales. “I believe citizens are looking at the idea of carrying a firearm through a different lens.



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And with over 10 million new gun owners, the brand had to find a way to connect with those individuals.” Bianchi’s solution was simple—give those customers the best of both worlds by bringing together the classic appeal and reliability of leather with the functionality of more contemporary materials. “From a brand perspective, we want Bianchi to be approachable and inclusive. The brand has to be for everyone. First-time carriers, off-duty officers, campers, competition shooters, hikers—the list goes on,” Drnec says. “From a product perspective, we want people to fall in love with leather. It’s organic and imperfect, just like we are. Every crease, scratch, and stain tell a story. No two holsters are the same, and that is what makes leather beautiful. You don’t fall in love with plastic.” The first step in Bianchi’s mission to get people to fall in love with leather again is the new Shenandoah holster. The holster features an exterior made of the kind of premium leather for which Bianchi is known, but the interior of the holster is injected-molded with a suede liner. This combination creates the kind of classic look and versatile functionality that will come to define Binachi’s new brand direction.

“The Shenandoah was based directly on the needs of today’s concealed carrier by delivering a fully convertible holster. The Shenandoah can easily convert from an IWB to an OWB holster in a matter of seconds,” Drnec says. “We have a new line of weathered holsters that give some of our trusted models a vintage look and feel.” The launch represents more than just a new product. It represents a new awakening of a trusted brand. It’s a transition for Bianchi from a manufacturer of specialized law enforcement and Cowboy Action holsters to a legitimate lifestyle brand that connects with ordinary, everyday people. “The brand direction for Bianchi is rooted in the very idea of its inception—craft the world’s best leather holster for those who desire to live life protected,” Drnec says. “The future is bright because this community is filled with the most passionate and humble individuals who define what it means to carry every day. Bianchi is a chance to celebrate the individuals who make it great.” (


12/15/21 9:59 AM


THE SILENT AUTHORITY IS BACK Advanced Armament Corporation (AAC), known as “The Silent Authority” and a pioneering leader in firearm sound suppression since 1994, recently announced a major organizational relaunch and restructure of the brand. This initiative represents a fresh, new chapter for the organization and its loyal consumers, as well as for the advancement of firearm suppressor technology, service, and innovation in the military, law enforcement, and civilian markets. JJE Capital Holdings, which owns several brands in the shooting and outdoor industries, purchased Advanced Armament Corporation with the mission to strengthen the brand and to reaffirm its dedication to customer support while building on its core strengths of producing reliable, premium-performance suppressors for the modern military warfighter, defense professionals, and shooting enthusiasts across the nation. To maintain brand continuity and to ensure forward engineering and customer service under the newly established Advanced Armament Company brand, AAC will be staffed with a deep bench of suppressor industry professionals and AAC alumni, including senior program manager Ben Bachmeier. “We are fortunate to have acquired the former Advanced Armament Corporation’s intellectual property and brand name,” says Bachmeier. “This has given us the opportunity to start fresh with people who have been involved with, and have been passionate about, this brand for a long time, including


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myself. It is my intention to take care of the people that have, over the years, helped propel the AAC brand to its leading position in the industry.” With the establishment of the new Advanced Armament Company comes a renewed commitment to quality manufacturing and attention to customer needs. AAC will provide service and repair of all legacy suppressors from the Advanced Armament Corporation brand and provide a new lifetime warranty for all new suppressors manufactured under the relaunched Advanced Armament Company brand. As part of the brand relaunch, AAC will be updating its website and standing up a new customer service center at its corporate and operational headquarters in Huntsville, Alabama. “The consumer is our main focus, whether it is servicing current AAC products already in the field or developing new products based on what our customers need for their specific professional, competitive, or recreational shooting endeavors,” Bachmeier says. “And to our existing customers, we want to say that AAC hears you, and we are going to do everything we can to take care of you, now and in the future.” (




12/13/21 8:41 AM

by robert FIVEa sadowski MINUTES

WITH ...

created for a hunting trip, but it quickly became an obsession to provide wingshooters with topperforming ammunition. APEX Ammunition soon pioneered the commercial application of ultra-high-density Tungsten Super Shot to create hard-hitting, accurate shot loads. The driving principle behind the company’s continued quest for innovation and better performance is its deep commitment to delivering a hunting experience like no other.

SHOT Business: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the industry in the next five years?

Jason Lonsberry: As an industry, we need

to assist and help educate the millions of new gun owners while continuing to serve experienced hunters and shooters with excellent customer service and innovative products and programs, all while keeping up with the unprecedented demand for ammunition. For APEX, growing our brand recognition, market share, and production capacity while continuing to handcraft our premium Tungsten Super Shot (TSS) loads will be the key to success in the years ahead. Our goal has always been to deliver the ultimate hunting experience for our customers—and that drives us every day.

SB: What opportunities do you see? jl: New hunters entering the outdoor space

Jason Lonsberry CEO, APEX Ammunition

Driving Principle APEX Ammunition is totally committed to hand-crafting superior shotgun loads.

J 14

ason Lonsberry launched Mississippi-based APEX Ammunition in 2017 with two hunting buddies, Jared Lewis and Nick Charney. Lewis is now COO, and Charney, who is still on active duty in the Air Force, handles sales. (Lewis is also a veteran of the U.S. military and their wives are Air Force pilots.) The enterprise started with a few handmade shells


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present a tremendous opportunity for us. Engaging and educating these new hunters in meaningful ways is critical. Doing so also provides intrinsic value to any brand. Education is key on so many levels. First, we need to make sure these new hunters know how to hunt safely. Second, we need to impart the importance of practice in order to hone one’s shooting skills. In the case of hunters, that means helping them learn the ways in which they can improve their chances of making clean shots. With wingshooters, we emphasize that the choice of load can make the difference between clean, quick kills and wounding birds.

SB: When you get up in the morning, what gets you excited about working in the industry? jl: Besides getting up before shooting light,

which I enjoy, the excitement of bringing tangible value to APEX and our customers. We are constantly experimenting and innovating with performance and customer experience in mind. The daily victories, challenges, and opportunities that we encounter keep me coming back for more. ❚


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by slaton l . white

SB: How will you meet the expectations of your customers? jl: APEX was built on the foundation of customer experience, and by that, I mean customer service and incredibly effective shotgun loads. For example, we design our handloaded TSS line for superior patterning and knockdown power as well as consistent performance. To ensure that these objectives are achieved, we have created a system to guarantee that each shell that leaves our facility has gone through proper component selection and quality assurance. As for customer service, our team is on the phone through the entire business day answering questions, taking orders, and listening to the hunting stories our customers share with us. SB: Creating a successful business from scratch is hard work. What was your motivation to start APEX Ammunition? jl: We felt there was a huge hole to fill, both in product and in customer service. Before we started producing TSS loads for the commercial market, there was no clear top-performing shotshell for wingshooters. As more and more hunters are learning, tungsten is the gold standard for hardhitting loads. It is significantly denser than steel, lead, and bismuth. We also saw an opportunity to handload to such precision that we could produce superior patterning. We also felt customer service in our space was severely lacking. We set out to do that better than the competition. SB: Please explain the Small Batch Series. How does a customer order this ammo? jl: Similar to the traditions of small-batch handcrafted whiskeys, we run a “Small Batch” of certain ❚


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shot sizes or combinations of shot in a very limited run. Under our Small Batch line, we also offer a Private Label that allows the customer to select their preferred gauge, shell length, and shot sizes. They can customize their own shell (under the safety guidelines we provide), and they receive their shells in a handwritten custom box with their name and shell recipe on it.

shooting round while getting as many pellets down range as possible to maximize the harvest. So, our team set out to make both speed and pattern density meet in a way to create our deadly Upland and Waterfowl ammo. Our Turkey Ninja line is another great example; we tested and perfected the 8.5 shot load for a year before introducing it to our customers.

SB: What properties differentiate your product from the mass-market products available from larger manufacturers?

SB: How has the military experience of you and

jl: One word: handmade. The process of our

meticulously handcrafted shells is the secret to producing what we believe are the best TSS shells on the market today. When using Tungsten Super Shot (instead of blended or steel shot), handloading is the only way to ensure that every shell that leaves APEX is within the tolerances we require, and our customers expect.

your partners contributed to the company’s success?

jl: Adaptability and overcoming adversity is the first and foremost experience that is synonymous with the military and APEX. The veterans who work with us bring the experience of working within a chain of command, and there is a level of discipline that is ingrained in our team that keeps us moving forward. (

SB: You say your turkey load delivers the best patterns of any ammo now on the market. How did you do this? jl: By conducting a tremendous amount of

testing and research. We have put a lot of TSS into our backstop, adjusting our shell recipe for maximum consistency and performance.

SB: You’ve said, “Our enduring commitment to design, test, evaluate, and introduce new ideas that better capture the experience is the driving force of our continuing innovation.” Can you provide an example of how this commitment led to a specific product? jl: Our TSS Waterfowl and Upland lines are a great example of this. Hunters need a fast-




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by robert by shannon farlow FYI a sadowski

The Mantis system connects the firearm to a smartphone via Bluetooth.

Practice Makes Perfect

compiles and analyzes thousands of data points per second for instant feedback. With incredible accuracy, the Mantis X10 records every movement of the gun before, during, and after the trigger break. It displays the data in simple charts and provides advice on how to correct any problems. The kit includes a barrel mount for shotguns and rifles, a universal Picatinny rail adapter for most firearms and bows, and a USB charging cable. Everything is tucked inside a protective case that’s small enough to stow in a typical range bag. Getting started is quick and easy. Simply mount the X10 Elite sensor on a firearm’s Picatinny rail and download the Mantis X app on your smartphone. There are multiple drills to run, including shot timer, primary versus support hand, compressed surprise break, reloads, and hostage rescue. Concealed carriers will appreciate the detailed holster-draw analysis. It breaks down the holster draw into phases from the starting beep to gripping the gun, drawing the gun from the holster, rotating the gun to horizontal alignment, steadying the gun on target, and, finally, the shot. The longer X10 Elite training courses feature multiple levels of marksmanship, basic combat, and advanced combat. Mantis also offers creative daily challenges such as “Wrong Side of the Bed,” which begins with the shooter in bed. At the sound of the timer, the shooter retrieves

Mantis offers a smart, affordable way to improve your customers’ shooting skills.


irearms instructors and experienced shooters understand the importance of dry-fire training. It’s one of the most effective methods for improving proficiency and eliminating bad habits. In this age of ammo shortages and rising

prices, dry-fire training can also save shooting enthusiasts thousands of dollars. Although traditional snap caps still work, Mantis Tech has developed a smarter way to train. The Mantis X10 Elite and Mantis Laser Academy are two digital training systems that help shooters quickly sharpen their skills. The affordable systems are ideal for both new and seasoned shooters—and FFL dealers who want to encourage their customers to train. Based in Oswego, Illinois, Mantis offers an ever-expanding lineup of training systems and



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accessories for pistols, rifles, shotguns, and archery. Mantis systems are used by the U.S. military and special forces, law-enforcement agencies in all 50 states, and shooters in more than 60 countries. Their products are endorsed by several professional shooters and instructors, including John Correia, Ryan Cleckner, and the legendary Jerry Miculek. “With the ammo shortage and high prices, many shooters don’t know the value that dryfire training can provide,” says Mantis president Austin Allgaier. “Professional shooters do 80 to 90 percent of their training with dry-fire practice. It is safe, effective, and affordable.”

Mantis X10 Elite The Mantis X10 Elite (SRP: $249.99) represents the latest generation of Mantis X systems. It

The Basic Marksmanship Course offered by Mantis helps new shooters gain command of their firearm.


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Shot-by-shot analysis helps a shooter determine what he is doing right, as well as what he is doing wrong.

their bedside weapon and then dry fires five times on target for speed and accuracy. The Mantis X10 app stores the results of each session, enabling the shooter to track their progress. The Mantis X10 is also designed for live fire training. A “Recoilmeter” tracks the firearm’s movement before and after each shot to help correct flinching and other unwanted motion. “Practice leads to improvement,” Allgaier says. “We’ve collected and analyzed millions of shots to understand the correlation of data-driven training.”

Mantis Laser Academy Training System The Mantis Laser Academy (SRP: $149) offers a completely different—yet highly beneficial— training experience for shooters. It converts virtually any room or space into a training facility, allowing shooters to get high-quality reps in at home. This is especially important for those millions of first-time firearm owners. “With so many new shooters, it is essential to train,” Allgaier says. “Many purchase a gun without thinking about training. Mantis products enable shooters to master the fundamentals quickly and efficiently.” The Laser Academy employs a laser training cartridge, multiple “smart” targets, and a smartphone app that uses a phone or tablet to track each shot. The portable kit includes full access to the online Mantis Laser Academy, a laser cartridge


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and extraction stick, a set of 5x7-inch smart targets, mini tripod with smartphone holder, and a protective carrying case. To set up the Laser Academy system, insert the training cartridge into the chamber of the gun. Then attach the targets (using non-marring, removable sticky pads) to a wall, door, or other structure. Finally, set up a smartphone on a tripod near the targets. Each time the firing pin strikes the cartridge, a laser beam shoots down the barrel. When the beam strikes a target, the smartphone app records and scores the shot. The Laser Academy offers a variety of training modes, such as duels with a training partner, close contact from holster, compressed surprise break, holster draw, and multiple shots on multiple targets. Both the Mantis X10 Elite and Mantis Laser Academy provide measurable benefits for shooters looking to improve their skills. The two systems complement each other with a broad mix of dry-fire training capabilities. Best of all, Mantis continues to improve their products and bring new ones to market, providing economical, proven training options for FFL dealers and their customers. The ammo shortage presents dealers with an on-going customer relations issue, and the frustration on both sides of the counter is palpable. Rather than simply telling a customer to “come back and try again next week” you can recommend a training system that allows them to gain

expertise without expending a valuable resource at the range. Your recommendation for dry-fire will go a long way toward creating that allimportant bond between retailer and regular customer. (

The Mantis “Pushing” screen lets the shooter know his dominant hand is pushing the gun up (often in anticipation of recoil).




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Standard by Wayne van Zwoll




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How did the 6.5 Creedmoor become a superstar? Start with old-fashioned American ingenuity. Add marketing aplomb. Voila!


n 2008, Hornady Manufacturing Company announced a new product—the 6.5 Creedmoor. To many shooters, the choice of cartridge seemed odd, but Hornady rolled the dice because it believed the cartridge would set a new standard in long-range performance. The architects were a pair of expe-

rienced long-range shooters: Dave Emary, who at the time was Hornady’s senior ballistician and is now a consultant to the company, and Dennis Demille, a former member of the U.S. Marine Corps Rifle Team and one of the top High Power rifle shooters in the country. As accomplished competitive shooters, they were looking for something off the shelf that was match ready. “We decided then to use the .30 T/C case and rifling twist that would stabilize a long bullet,” Emary says. “My colleague Joe Thielen helped with the project.” Emary admits the cartridge had a slow start. “But once we advertised hunting loads, it really took off. Our marketing was spot on.”


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Not long after its introduction I got my first look at the 6.5 Creedmoor in the field. Todd Seyfert at Magnum Research provided a Remington 700 action with a Kreiger-cored carbon-fiber barrel. GreyBull Precision added a stock and a 4.5-14X Leupold scope with an elevation dial matched, in 1⁄3-minute clicks, to the arc of 129grain Hornady SSTs. “Dialing to the distance,” I was soon pocking the centers of steel plates to 500 yards. That fall, prone with a taut sling on a New Mexico ridge, I watched the crosswire bump gently to my pulse in dead air. Bang! Spot-lit by the evening sun, a very distant bull elk dashed in a tight circle and collapsed. It is still the longest shot I’ve attempted at game. “That was likely the first elk taken with the 6.5 Creedmoor,” Emary says. Hornady’s tests had focused on deer and pronghorns. Demille and his pals were using the 6.5 Creedmoor on 1,000-yard paper.


Though the 6.5 had a long history in Europe, here the .30-06 was king. But if any company had the pluck to design a fresh 6.5 for American use, it was Hornady. Its new-projects roster for the first decade of the 21st century was longer than that of all other major U.S. ammo firms combined. With Marlin in 2000, it had fielded the .450 Marlin. Two years later came the rimfire .17 HMR, a huge gamble that proved hugely profitable. Its offspring, the .17 Mach 2, struggled a bit, but Hornady engineers kept to an ambitious schedule. The .308 Marlin Express, with Flex-Tip bullets, was devel-

 The author shot this 100-yard target with a Burris-scoped Ruger RPR and Hornady’s 140-grain A-Max loads.




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oped in 2006. The .338 Marlin Express on the .376 Steyr case followed. The .30 T/C came in 2007, the .300 and .338 Ruger Compact Magnums in 2008. The Creedmoor label dates to an 1874 long-range match between U.S. riflemen and an Irish team fresh off a Wimbledon win. A newly formed National Rifle Association joined the cities of Brooklyn and New York to fund range construction on Long Island’s Creed’s Farm, provided by the State of New York. The six-man teams fired at 800, 900, and 1,000 yards, 15 shots per round. Remington’s Hepburndesigned .44-90 “Creedmoor” target rifle figured heavily in the 934-931 U.S. victory—and wins in 1875 and 1876. Fast-forward a century and a quarter. Hitting steel plates at four-figure yardage with hunting rifles had piggy-backed on long-range bullseye matches. A requisite: bullets with high ballistic coefficients. In ordinary cartridges, some of these long bullets had to be seated so deep to fit short rifle actions that the bullet ogive wound up below the case mouth. Solution: make the case shorter. “That’s what we did with the .30 T/C,” says Emary. “It bucked the trend to bigger cases to hold more powder to hike velocity.” Unveiled in T/C’s Icon rifle, the .30 T/C “took advantage of efficient new bullets to improve downrange performance from a modest case.”

Thielen has described the cartridge as one that “lets the bullet do the work.” An early form of the high-energy, double-base powders in later Superformance loads hurled bullets about as fast as did .30-06 factory loads, though the .30 T/C had 3.5 percent less capacity than even the .308. The 6.5 Creedmoor is a necked-down .30 T/C, identical in length (1.920 inches) and shoulder angle (30 degrees). Its design permits use of long 143-grain ELD-X hunting bullets in short-action rifles. Hornady now offers 10 factory loads, with bullets of 95 to 147 grains. Starting speeds are 3,300 fps for the 95-grain V-Max to 2,695 fps for the 147-grain ELD Match. Distance favors the efficient ELD Match. At 500 yards the 95 V-Max clocks 2,068 fps, the 147 Match 2,092. The tortoise has passed the hare, so to speak, and the speed gap will only widen. At 500 yards the 147-grain bullet carries half again as much energy as the 95-grain.


“The success of the 6.5 Creedmoor at market,” says Emary, “owes much to its light recoil, inherent accuracy, and effectiveness on game with Hornady loads.” It has a standard .473 case head and stacks readily in magazines for the .308, so its popularity triggered a tsunami of rifles of various brands across a wide price spectrum. In lightweight, inexpensive rifles, it’s challenging the .243


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t h e s u c c e s s o f t h e 6 . 5 c r e e d m o o r at market owes much to its light recoil, i n h e r e n t a c c u r a c y, a n d e f f e c t i v e n e s s on game with hornady loads.

The author with possibly the first elk taken with the 6.5 Creedmoor. This New Mexico bull fell to a single 129-grain Hornady bullet at very long range.

The 6.5 Creedmoor’s ballistically efficient bullets and fine accuracy suit it to open western terrain.

as a go-to round for beginning hunters. My Ruger American in 6.5 Creedmoor prints .8-inch groups, with noticeably less kick than a same-weight .308. Like the .270, which edges it a bit out of the gate, the 6.5 Creedmoor excels on deer-size animals. It might be called marginal for elk. In Africa it handily downed all the game I shot until a quartering eland took a bullet sent from middle ribs to off-shoulder. It was a lethal hit, but the bull led us on a long track before I killed him with a spine shot going away. The first bullet hadn’t driven quite deep enough or minced quite enough of the big animal’s lungs for a quick kill. All major ammunition firms now offer myriad hunting loads for the 6.5 Creedmoor. It’s become the go-to cartridge for hunters after deer-size game, eclipsing perennial stars like the .243, .270, .308, and .30-06. “It’s our top-selling rifle round,” Hornady’s Seth Swerczek confirmed recently, with stronger returns than even the .223, hurried through autoloaders and used by the pallet in western rodent shoots. It consistently takes home the hardware at long-range matches, too. Well into its second decade, the 6.5 Creedmoor has yet to falter at market. Perhaps that’s because rifle enthusiasts have yet to find anything it does not do well. (


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ic Old West Creating authent equires r s m r a e ir f a ic l p re detail, o t n io t n e t t a e l incredib seen in every e b n a c s il a t e d e and thos on Firearms. gun from Cimarr somest Coast, West Coast,irlorin us, and Ea e th on e liv u yo if er cowg doesn’t matt have a little cowboy and where in between. Wethallthe spirit of the Old West. It’s a uniquelyhas we all can connect wiindependence, one that Cimar ron Firearms American feeling of r nearly 40 years. been tapping into fo after Mike and Mar y Lou Harvey began 84 shortly s. “We started Cimar ron began in 19fir store in Houston, Texa eir th at s rm ea luding ca inc pli n re selling Old West Harvey, “but soon bega ike M s say s,” Colt e rm th ea s fir wa on all with percussi idge gun that started it rtr ca e th d An s. rm ea fir cartridge A).” of his original Colt Single Action Ar my (SA had legs, so he took one


makhis fledgling company Uberti. “Uberti was already Early on, Harvey sensed order to work with Aldo in and ly p Ita gri in y the d tor fac nge i ert cha SAAs to the Ub replica,” he says. “I I wanted a more authentic ative solution to hide ing a Colt-style SAA, but ngs, and even found a cre rki ma ct rre -co iod per c instructions regardtic hen rvey also had very specifi Ha s.” frame shape, developed aut lica rep lian Ita the that covered the numerous proof marks ny , and case-hardening. ing ish er manufacturers) for ma pol ss, ing metal hardne with Uberti (as well as oth arron ned Cim alig t, y fac sel In clo n t.” bee We’re more than tha . ter por And though Cimarron has im an as us of rve built to Ha y’s t “you can’t just think it ensures that the guns are and , cts years, Harvey stresses tha du pro ir the p elo facturers to dev works closely with manu s. ion exact specificat



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iStockPhotos/StockSolutions ❚


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Cimarron’s Hollywood Gun collection is a dream come true for fans of Western movies. It includes a wide range of replica guns, such as John Wayne’s Rooster Shooter (True Grit) and the Wyatt Earp Buntline pistol (Tombstone). You name the movie — Fist Full of Dollars, Wild Bunch, 3:10 To Yuma, or Quigley Down Under — and Cimarron can offer customers a piece of cinematic history to own and shoot. “Pale Rider must have come on TV a lot last year because I got it in my mind that Cimarron really needed to offer a dual-cylinder Model 1858,” says Harvey. Cimarron calls this model The Preacher. My favorite Cimarron Hollywood gun is the Man with No Name 1851 Navy Conversion, which is a replica of the gun used by Clint Eastwood in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. It’s complete with the silver inlaid rattlesnake in the grip. I might just need to complete the set with the Tuco Special, an 1860 Army Conversion, and Angel Eyes, an 1858 Conversion. “At Cimarron we take a lot of shots at new products,” says Harvey. “Not all are blockbusters, but we really like what we do and enjoy coming up with new things that we would want to own.” Hits far outnumber duds, and Cimarron’s catalog continues to grow. Just recently the company launched the Lonesome Dove Walker revolvers in .44, honoring Larry McMurtry’s best-selling Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel about the end of the Old West.

 Mike Harvey, Jamie (Harvey) Wayt, and Mary Lou Harvey

mike harvey's love of history and w e s t e r n m o v i e s g u i d e s c i m a r r o n ' s e v e ry e f f o r t, c r e at i n g p r o d u c t s p e o p l e n o t o n ly wa n t t o o w n , b u t t r e a s u r e . Cimarron’s customer base is more varied than you might expect and includes SASS competitors, Old West enthusiasts, and hunters. (SASS is the acronym for the Single Action Shooting Society, the governing body for Cowboy Action events.) “Cimarron has been lucky to be involved with SASS since it began,” says Harvey. “We helped the sport to grow, supporting the sport as one of its main sponsors. Old West enthusiasts, historians, and collectors enjoy Cimarron’s authenticity and unique products.” I do, too. I’ve hunted with a Model 1873 Deluxe Sporting Rifle in .44 WCR. Life is too short to hunt with an ugly rifle. This ’73 has brought back the tradition and challenge to me. It’s also comforting to know the quality of this firearm. I can use the rifle to hunt for the rest of my life, and then pass it on to my son. If you have customers who are SASS competitors or buyers who simply appreciate a fine-tuned revolver, make sure they know about Cimarron’s Competition SAA revolvers. These guns feature fine details, like a wide square-notch rear sight for fast target acquisition, slimmer checkered grip for a better hold, a wide low hammer for faster shooting, and a tuned action that is smoother so the trigger has no creep and is consistently crisp.

CREATING A LEGACY  Mike and Mary Lou Harvey



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Customization is another aspect of Cimarron’s business proposition. A variety of available finishes and laser engraving allows your customer to create a

one-of-a-kind gun that reflects their personality. If you want a six-gun worthy of being a BBQ Gun (a term from the old Southwest for a gun that is not worn daily), Cimarron has got you covered. Most of Cimarron’s dealers get three percent off when they buy three guns. If you move more Cimarron product, the incentives get better. Like any successful brand, Cimarron wants to better understand their customers in order to meet their needs. Customer service representatives track where customers hear about the brand, resolve any issues they may be experiencing with the website or products, and determine which products that people are ordering that may be out of stock. It is a constant cycle of learning and responding. And yes, as much as Cimarron is rooted in the late 19th century, the company participates in social media and chat rooms. Even though Mike Harvey is now 77 years old, he still can be found every day at the office (now located in Fredericksburg in the heart of the Texas Hill Country). His daughter, Jamie, and her husband, Bryce, have been helping run the business for the last few years, and they intend to keep to the pace that has been set by Mike and Mary Lou Harvey. And that pace is fostered by Mike Harvey’s love of history, hunting, shooting sports, and Western movies, all of which guide Cimarron’s every effort. The end result is a product people not only want to own, but treasure. (


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 Mike Harvey, Jamie Wayt, Chuck Norris, and Bryce Wayt

 Angel Eyes  Lonesome Dove Walkers


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12/13/21 8:51 AM


WORLDS Federal’s Terminal Ascent combines match-grade accuracy with all-range performance. by Slaton L. White


any ammo companies have the talent and experience to build fast-expanding bullets for hunting big game. And many of these same companies can also create sleek, accurate, match-grade bullets for long-range target shooting. But creating a bullet that can do both is a good deal more complicated.

Federal, however, decided the effort to create just such a product would be worth it. It was a tall order, sure, but the company didn’t exactly start from scratch. Why should it? Not when it had years of experience creating such successful designs as Trophy Bonded Bear Claw, Trophy Bonded Tip, and Edge TLR. Federal took the lessons learned in developing those time-tested bullets and then poured all that knowledge and experience into creating what it believes to be is its best hunting bullet to date—Terminal Ascent. The new Terminal Ascent blends the features of top match-style bullet designs with the high weight retention, deep pen-




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etration, and lethal terminal performance, both up close and at extreme distances, of superior hunting ammo. The foundation of Terminal Ascent’s performance rests on three pillars: a solid-shanked and bonded bullet construction; AccuChannel grooving; and the Slipstream polymer tip. Let’s take a quick look at each. A bonded bullet has a lead core bonded to the copper jacket around that core. A solid shank means the bullet has a thick, solid copper base at the bottom of the bullet to support that lead core. And this, in turn, means the bullet retains its weight downrange for deep penetration. Furthermore, a large hollow cavity in the bullet nose, along with exterior jacket skiving, further aids expansion and penetration. Such penetration often means the difference between hitting a deer or elk and having it go down or having the wounded animal run off where it can’t be recovered. Like many versatile bullets, Terminal Ascent features grooving along the shank to improve accuracy across a range of rifles. These grooves also help decrease barrel wear and fouling. But such grooves typically cause aerodynamic drag to the point where the bullet experiences


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S ❚


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more drop and wind drift while in flight. Federal’s Great Leap Forward here, though, is that its AccuChannel groove technology—accomplished through meticulous experimentation in the number, location, and configuration of the grooves—achieves these goals with only a minimal increase in drag. The patent-pending polymer Slipstream Tip could be considered Terminal Ascent’s piece de resistance. A small cavity runs the length of the shank all the way up to just below the point itself. That point breaks free upon impact, allowing fluid to enter the hollow core, where it generates pressure and easy expansion, even at low velocities. The Slipstream Tip’s hollow core sets it apart from all other polymer tips on the market—but it’s also unique in its high resistance to the elevated temperatures a bullet experiences during flight. Federal engineers arrived at the unique design after extensive testing of other tipped bullets. They

learned these tipped bullets failed to expand consistently at distances past about 600 yards. Obviously, a new approach was needed to ensure all-range performance. The inspiration came when the Federal engineering team drilled a hole through the center of the tip. Upon impact, that hole would allow target media into the front end of the bullet to initiate expansion. When the engineers tested that concept, they found it to be an elegant solution that worked perfectly by extending the performance range by a few hundred yards. In addition to the AccuChannel and Slipstream Tip, Federal engineers incorporated other important features to boost ballistic coefficient (BC), delivering flat trajectories and less wind drift. Finally, Terminal Ascent also features nickel plating that resists corrosion while providing a hunter with ammo that will run smoothly through his rifle. The end result is a package capable of delivering accuracy and reliability

 The design of Terminal Ascent's bullet allows it to expand easily, even at low velocities.

both at close ranges (higher velocity) and at long ranges (lower velocity). And since it will expand reliably at even a low velocity of 1,400 fps, the bullet will appeal to hunters using shorter-barrel rifles or hunting handguns. “It’s true that this new ammunition was initially designed with long-range shooting in mind. However, retailers need to know and understand that the engineers who created Terminal Ascent accomplished this goal without sacrificing short-range performance. The result is simply the best all-range, allvelocity hunting ammunition available,” says Federal Ammunition centerfire rifle product manager Eric Miller. “Its design outperforms everything else in the vast Federal catalog of options. In our opinion, it also outperforms our competition’s best hunting loads.” Federal clearly believes Terminal Ascent stands alone in the marketplace, and Miller stresses that retailers should emphasize that when talking with customers about ammo choices. “In a marketplace filled with competitor loads that make tradeoffs, such as sacrificing short-range terminal performance for long-range expansion or toughness for accuracy, Terminal Ascent does it all,” he says. “That versatility may be its greatest asset.” Federal’s goal was to produce a target-grade match bullet that had best-in-class terminal performance. Does the company believe it met that objective? “Not only did we reach that goal, we even surpassed our expectations on the overall performance of the bullet,” says Miller. “We take a lot of pride in this bullet, and we will continue to expand the lineup into new calibers and heavier-grain bullets where we can.” The new line of ammunition is available in 11 cartridge options, including 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 Win., .308 Win., and .30-06 Spring. (

 The polymer Slipstream Tip point, which breaks free upon impact, was specially configured for this new cartridge.




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6.8 LBS

6.8 LBS

7.4 LBS








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MITMENT Freedom Shooting Center puts customer service front and center. by Peter B. Mathiesen


wo critical experiences brought Skyler Thomas, a former Naval Security Specialist, to the shootingsports retail and training

world. First, his mentor Al Clark, a former Navy SEAL firearm instructor and founder of Blackwater, imparted to him a deep commitment to sharing and translating leadership skills to the private sector. The second was an epiphany he experienced when he visited a gun store as a professional firearms trainer. “I was working as a training instructor at Blackwater while I was in college. Al and I visited a gun store in the town our training was scheduled in. It was eye-opener,” he says. He walked in and asked to see a Glock. The older gentleman behind the counter scoffed at his request, and in a surly tone told him, “Why would you or anyone else want a plastic gun?” He then shook his head in disgust as he handed him the pistol. The interaction deteriorated from there, and a stunned Thomas thought, How does this store stay in business? What would it be like for a first-time purchaser? What would that shooter do for training? Go see this guy? No!


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It was a pivotal moment in his life, and it set him on a course to sell firearms and teach firearm training to the public. A few years later, after assembling a group of investors, Thomas founded Freedom Shooting Center by taking over an existing Virginia Beach facility in 2018. Although the facility’s footprint was ideal, the existing staff created challenges for the new managing partner. “There were staff members who were single-task focused and not always very friendly,” he says. “There was often a sense that each staff member had to oneup each other. I saw barriers at every turn that could stop a sale dead in its tracks. The store and range were neither customer or team focused.” Thomas quickly transitioned the team to a customer-focused approach and began cross-training every staff member. “There are five basic jobs in our store—sales, customer service, range work, memberships, and rental,” he says. “I wanted every staff member to be able to do any, and all, of the five. Today, when a customer asks or needs something in a different department, no one has to say, ‘That guy is out to lunch; you'll have to wait an hour.’” Thomas made it clear that he expected all staffers to focus on the needs of the customer. “I insisted that the staff treat every customer in a manner that would make them feel wanted and appreciated,” he says. As the new strategies evolved, the staff members who didn’t buy into his program departed on their own terms. But many did stay, and with new hires he now has 85 full- and part-time employees.


These days retailers are finding that younger buyers are nowhere near as brand loyal as their parents. Technology has completely changed the buying experience. “Why should they align themselves with a brand when click-and-swipe buying habits put a product on their doorstep the next day?” Thomas says. “But that package often has the web giant’s name on the box instead of the name of the product that’s inside. So,

The floor plan at Freedom Shooting Center is clean, uncluttered, and inviting, allowing customers to browse at their leisure.




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 Skyler Thomas, managing partner at Freedom Shooting Center.

ask yourself ‘Are they buying the product or the service? It can be exceptionally blurry.’” One way Thomas builds brand loyalty is to give “a reason for that customer to come through door. We do that by providing the customer service most consumers crave.” Another way to bring in and keep new customers is to offer them something they simply can’t get online. Freedom Shooting Center offers a wide range of training programs, including CCW and home defense, as well as a full retail operation that features new and used handguns, shotguns, and rifles and popular accessories such as holsters, ammo, and the like. The ranges are open to the public, but here Thomas has taken it up a notch. Freedom Shooting offers a variety of range membership options tailored to both the serious shooter as well as the weekend plinker. The facility has 34 25-yard lanes that can be adjusted to a wide variety of scenarios. Handgun rentals start at $17 an hour, and lane rentals start at $20 an hour. Memberships start at $32.95 per month, and one of the perks here is unlimited use of the range as well as discounts on ammo purchases. Members also receive discounts on FFL transfer fees and training.


The ongoing pandemic and political turmoil have stressed retail operations across the country. At the same time, both have combined to create new opportunities.


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“In general terms, 80 percent of the population does not own a firearm,” Thomas says. “Our future as an industry relies on fundamentality changing that. While I truly appreciate the customer base that is purchasing their fifth handgun, it’s the new shooter who will sustain us by expanding our numbers and, more importantly, changing the narrative about gun safety and positive firearm ownership.” Like many retailers, Freedom Shooting Center has experienced the greatest influx of first-time shooters in its history, and Thomas is adamant about the company’s commitment to this new customer. “They require our best efforts in customer service and a sincere desire to embrace them,” he says. “They don't look like us. Often, they are of a different race, belong to a different culture, or have a historically different political persuasion. That said, what they represent is an extraordinary chance to engage a powerful new customer.” Thomas emphasizes that his staff is all about freedom, not the politics of freedom. He also notes that fearmongering is not something in which the store participates. “We do not engage in political narratives with our customers,” he says. “Our retail store is simply all about exceptional service and an honest desire to drive excitement about the shooting sports. Our goal

is to instill a sense of safety and confidence in our customers.” Thomas views training as one of the best ways to move this experience forward. “We commit to our new shooters with training at reduced prices or, in some cases, even at no charge,” he says.


Managing inventory over the past couple of years has been a difficult endeavor for firearm retailers and range operators. For Thomas having enough ammo on hand is job one. “We operate a shooting range. It’s what we sell, and we must have ammo.” He admits this has been a daunting task, and it has required creative, out-of-the-box thinking. At times, this has meant sending an employee to pick up ammo 100 miles away; at other times, it has required making a few calls based on a referral from someone “who knows a guy.” He and his staff have done whatever it takes to keep enough ammo in stock. In the process, Thomas says obtaining that inventory has cost a lot, but having that ammo on hand is vital to maintaining the customer base. “I’ve learned a couple of things operating this facility,” he says. “We have 4,000 clients a week come through our doors, and I've simply never

Dealer and distributor programs available


Rifle cases and backpacks for today’s modern warrior.


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had a problem getting rid of 9mm ammo or Glock 19s. Ever. I can’t say that about a size XXXL jacket.”


Although the internet will continue to offer a sometimes-cheaper, snappy buying experience, Thomas loves to quote Amazon founder Jeff Bezos: “What else can we do for you?” He has taken the retail giant’s words personally by expanding his store’s role in the customer continuum by increasing inventory to capture the soft goods and the lifestyle accessory needs of its outdoors-focused customers. The recently launched has allowed Thomas to add many popular SKUs to a new site. “The goal is to keep our members thinking of our store as the supplier that’s concerned with every aspect of their outdoor experience,” he says. “We’ll offer the same service, and we promise to help them, whether it is with getting their product delivered or making sure something fits right.”

opportunities at existing indoor range and retail businesses. Thomas has come a long way from that encounter with that grumpy old man behind the counter. But that irascibility has proven to be a catalyst of a new and invigorating business model for the industry.

BY THE NUMBERS The Freedom Shooting Center features 34 25-yard lanes that can be adjusted to a wide variety of scenarios. Handgun rentals start at $17 an hour, and lane rentals start at $20 an hour. Memberships start at $32.95 per month. Freedom employs a staff of up to 85 full and part-time employees. It operates seven days a week: Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-9 p.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.


The retail world continues to evolve at light speed, and this range-retailer has found traffic to be the name of the game. But at the same time, you must offer first-class service. Thomas notes that customers like to come to a place where they feel safe and wanted. “You’ll find no toxic sales staff here,” he says. “Our customers know they are always welcome at Freedom Shooting Center.” The operation is so successful that Thomas says that many customers have told him they wished they had a Freedom Shooting Center near them. So, last summer the operation announced that it is looking for acquisition




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Successful social media efforts require attention to detail. Here’s a plan to help you align your goals with your staff. by Michelle Scheuermann


as business grown so much in the past year or so that it is finally time to add to the social media team of “one” to help with the workload? Or perhaps it’s time to add outside help to shoulder areas that have become an intolerable burden to your staff. From managing

multiple social media accounts to answering customer inquiries and, of course, creating viral videos in any spare time, how do social media departments best plan to carry this all out? What protocols should be in place? What are other NSSF members doing? During my NSSF virtual seminar last year, titled “Social Media Masterclass—Social Media as a Team” (now available at for NSSF members), I dived into this large, and sometimes overwhelming, topic. The class was part of SHOT University, which NSSF is hosting again at the 2022 SHOT Show. What follows is a synopsis of the class. It can help you negotiate the seemingly infinite shifting sands of the social media landscape.


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When considering the decision to add more members to social media staff, the budget is always the first hurdle. Budget doesn’t always mean financial resources; it often means time resources as well. Is hiring internally an option? Perhaps external help (such as an agency or a consultant) offers more flexibility? Either way, consider all the items needed for proper social media management. This includes (but is not limited to) obtaining quality photos; developing, writing, and posting content; and responding to queries. All of this can be incredibly time consuming. Your particular budget will determine if there’s room to buy photos or if you will require staffers to take quality images with their mobile phones. Budget will also determine if a social media manager’s job includes responding to customer inquiries, which can be a 24/7 job, or if there’s room to employ third-party management software.


Here’s the rub: There really isn’t a single definition of just what a social media manager does; the particular job duties will vary from organization to organization. That said, the biggest mistake I see by management is immediately assuming that younger staffers, many of whom have grown up with social media and use it in their personal lives every day, are the perfect candidates for the position of social media manager. Thinking so is dismissive of the responsibility social media managers shoulder for their businesses on a daily basis. The better approach is to identify those individuals in the organization who already have a passion and propensity for social media and who also demonstrate the maturity to handle this key responsibility. Typical roles within social media management include: Strategist, who sets the plan and strategy for all social channels; Content Creator, who develops content from written word to photos and videos for each platform; Community Manager, who answers customer’s direct messages and comments on posts and inquiries; Paid Advertiser, a group or individual who handles all paid advertising in Facebook, Google, etc.; and Analyst, the one who digs into analytics and churns out reports to help with key performance indicators. Let’s review a real-life example of a NSSF member, Nosler, to see an example of what I’m talking about. As director of digital marketing at

 When you fill the site with engaging content, you'll find that visitors will stay longer. The "voice" of your site matters, too. Robotic corporate-speak is not the way to go.

Nosler, Cheryl Valdez has seen many changes in her seven years of leading the social media accounts for the manufacturer. But she still runs a lean team; it’s just her and one other individual who lends support as needed. “I manage day-to-day content creation, scheduling, partner collaborations, and community engagement,” she says. “Anyone who manages social for a brand with a large volume of fan interaction knows that unanswered DMs [direct messages] and comments can get out of control quickly if neglected. We view these interactions as an extension of our customer service efforts, so we’ve made it a priority to stay on top of these as best as we can. In keeping with this goal, we have a marketing team member who serves as an extra set of fingers for responding to messages and comments from our fans.”


Next, it is up to the business owner or department head to determine the goals the social media department need to meet. A few options

C o m pa n i e s t h at h av e c r e at e d s u c c e s s f u l s o c i a l m e d i a e f f o r t s h av e l e a r n e d t h at i t r e q u i r e s a c o m p l e t e commitment from the top down. 38



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here include increasing brand awareness, increasing traffic to a website, lead generation (to obtain more emails), or increasing engagement and impressions. Social media can also be used as a hiring tool, for social listening and customer engagement, and for public relations efforts (disseminating news). One big misconception is for owners to simply say, “I want more likes,” as this really isn’t a key performance indicator (KPI) that necessarily leads to sales. I like to call likes on a page or post “vanity metrics” that only make bosses feel good (temporarily) when they see their brand increase in likes. What is most important is that everyone on the team is on the same page. You all agree what your goals are for this quarter, or this year, and you are all striving to find ways to meet or exceed those goals. Valdez agrees and says Nosler places more emphasis on content engagement over anything else. “Our philosophy has always posed the question: If someone were to land on the Nosler Instagram or Facebook page for the first time, would the first post they see be something that gets them to engage and hit the follow button? Our goal is to inspire maximum engagement, fan acquisition, and retention. While some brands focus on audience size as a primary goal, we tend to pay less attention to this number. We know that with great content, our


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audience will grow organically over time. Having millions of followers with mediocre content engagement isn’t our focus.” At Nosler, Valdez says the team has agreed their social voice is conversational. “Our fans are our family, and we aren’t interested in having robotic, corporate-sounding conversations with them. At the end of the day, we’re all real people behind the screen and we try to be as real with our community as we can.”


Every business should have a “Social Media Playbook,” which is a guide that walks through all the accounts the business holds, their respective passwords, Admins/managers who have access to the sites, and expectations of each. This playbook can show post cadence and tone of voice when dealing with customer queries. In addition, the playbook speaks to third-party apps that are approved by the business for use on the account, whether free or paid versions, and logins for those tools as well. The playbook also should cover processes and procedures for day-to-day activities. For example, how long should a customer comment sit on a post before receiving a response? And when a response is given, how should it be handled? To me, the best part of a playbook is how it can double as a training guide for new hires or

BREAKING DOWN A SOCIAL MEDIA PLAYBOOK 1. A List of all Company/Brand Social Media Channels a. Best Practices. Spell out tone of voice, style guide, use of logos, and even the use of emojis in social posts and when responding to customers. 2. Roles, Responsibilities and Expectations. These three key areas need to be clearly defined for each social media manager involved with the channels. a. How often do you communicate as a team? Huddle every morning? A weekly sit-down meeting? b. What do you use to communicate and manage projects? Trello, Basecamp, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc. 3. Escalation and Crisis Management. a. Response Protocol. This establishes acceptable length of time to answer customer questions/complaints, how to react to them, tone of voice, how to take it off-line for a private conversation, and when it is necessary to escalate to upper management for support. b. Crisis Management. If a post or comment becomes viral (positive or negative), how it is handled? 4. Reporting. Who does it, what format is it in, how often is it compiled, and how it is delivered. 5. Customer Service. Who does it. Include examples of how to answer typical customer questions. This is a good area to offer responses to typical customer questions. 6. Appendices. If needed.

Social media management is a serious job. Don't assume that the task should automatically go to a young staffer just because they grew up with social media.


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when someone is out on leave. You can hand the new employee this guide and have them dig into it. This playbook will save you and your business wasted time, energy, and—let’s face it—very public errors. Companies that have created successful social media efforts have learned that it requires a complete commitment from the top down. Half-hearted efforts are seen for what they are and are commonly dismissed with snarky online comments. You need to go all in.

 Succesful social media efforts involve more than simply having a

WHO SHOULD ATTEND A SHOT UNIVERSITY SEMINAR? SHOT University offers seminars for retailers and business owners who manage all aspects in the hunting, shooting, and tactical worlds. From compliance issues to management strategy to social media issues, as my seminar covered, SHOT University strives to offer best-in-class speakers and sessions for those attending SHOT Show. For the 2022 SHOT Show I will be moderating a panel discussion: “What is (and Isn’t) Working in Social Media Today.” It is scheduled for January 20, 2022, from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. The panel will consist of retailers, manufacturers, influencers, and social media experts in the firearm and hunting industries. They will discuss what is (and isn’t) working currently on social media, what to avoid, what to pay attention to (and why), what happens when trouble brews online, and much more. Each panelist will provide real-world examples—from the hits to the misses—to help attendees plan their 2022 social media strategy. Attendees will have plenty of time to ask questions of the panelists during the presentation. To register for this, or other seminars, go to

staffer do a daily post. You need to set goals and create a plan.




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12/16/21 10:10 AM

 This is where it all started, a base-level Smith & Wesson Victory .22 pistol.






Helping customers build “hot-rod” rimfire pistols is healthy for a dealer’s bank account. by Phil Bourjaily


imfire .22 pistols are designed to make you money. Maybe they weren’t intentionally drawn up to fill your register, but the Smith & Wesson Victory, the Browning Buck Mark, and the Ruger Mark IV allow their owners to endlessly customize them with aftermarket parts, presenting you with a money-making opportunity. Take my Smith & Wesson

Victory, for instance. I paid $400 for it. In the year that I’ve owned it, I’ve added nearly $400 worth of aftermarket parts—and my pistol is just a plinker, not a serious competition gun. For the money I’ve spent on my Victory, I could have bought one tricked out by the S&W Performance Center in the first place. But what fun would that be? Tinkering with



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a gun and making it your own is almost as enjoyable as taking it to the range. The gun was inexpensive to begin with, and none of the individual parts cost much, either. I had no idea how much I’d spent on the gun until I added it up. And, I’m not sorry I did spend so much, either. It functions and shoots much better than it did out of the box. Like an AR 15 or a Ruger 10/22, the Victory, Mark IV, and Buck Mark offer you the chance to sell a gun, then keep the customer coming back for parts forever. There’s a thriving industry in aftermarket accessories for all three, including barrels, and for the Mark IV, frames. In theory, you could start with a stock Mark IV and replace every single part until none of the original gun was left. As a retailer, you can sell parts and, if customers want, you can do the installations even if you don’t have a gunsmith in house. All three guns are easy to work on. Even switching barrels takes only a few minutes. And, by the way, I can tell you that every time I added something to my gun, I couldn’t wait to get out and shoot it to see how the new part performed. Hook someone on a .22 and you’ll sell them parts and ammunition for a long time to come. Out of all the parts available, what should you stock? Here are a few ideas, based on the extras I have added to my gun. You can find all these and



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 The popular Ruger Mark IV benefits from a Tandemkross Halo ring, trigger, and Picatinny rail.

many more among the various booths at the 2022 SHOT Show.


Pulling the slide back to clear a malfunction with a .22 pistol isn’t easy for anyone, and it’s especially tough for those with weak fingers or new shooters who aren’t familiar with handling guns. There are several charging handles for various .22 pistols on the market, and it’s the first thing I added to my pistol. I chose the Tandemkross “Halo” ring, which clamps to the back of the slide with a single screw. Now anyone can clear the pistol easily by hooking a finger in the loop and pulling back. If you stock nothing else for .22 pistols, stock these.


Out of the box, my Victory worked fine with some ammunition, but stumbled when I asked it cycle some of the cheap stuff. A Tandemkross firing pin and a Volquartsen “Exact Edge”

extractor reduced misfires to practically nothing and eliminated stovepiping and extraction failures. It was a dramatic change for an investment of about $40, and both parts were simple to install. The gun now gobbles up anything I feed it. I’d carry these for all three guns.


The Victory initially appealed to me because it had a decent trigger out of the box. The Tandemkross Victory trigger (“Victory” is also the name for their Mark IV and Buck Mark triggers) improved and lightened the pull, and it adjusts for


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hook someone on a .22 pistol and y o u ' l l b e s e l l i n g t h e m pa r t s a n d ammunition for a long time to come. pre- and over-travel to make the gun even easier and more fun to shoot. Of the additions I’ve made to my pistol, this one was the trickiest, even with the help of the Tandemkross video, but I got it done in 30 to 40 minutes despite a wrong turn halfway through the process. The new trigger pull is worth the effort.


Aftermarket rails abound for .22 pistols. The Victory comes with iron sights that you can replace with a rail supplied with the gun. It’s cheap and plastic and begs to be thrown away. I chose a two-piece rail from DIP with integral iron sights and a bonus vent-barrel rib. You can add the vent rib or leave it off. How could I skip it? It does nothing functional, but it makes the gun look very cool. You should definitely offer rails for the Victory. Some Buck Marks and Mark IVs come equipped with good rails and iron sights. Some have iron sights only, so you might want to have a few rails on hand.

I added a few other odds and ends to my gun (enlarged magazine pads, an aftermarket guide rod with captured spring to make disassembly easier). There are a few others that somehow I’ve been able to resist: enlarged magazine-release buttons, springs that allow a magazine to hold an extra cartridge, and, most of all, barrels. It’s easy to change barrels on the Victory, Buck Mark, and Mark IV, and there are any number of options: fluted barrels, carbon-fiber barrels, integrally suppressed barrels, and more. However, having spent roughly the price of my Victory on parts for it, I think I’m done. I have to confess, though, I am starting to eye a Ruger Mark IV thinking it might be time for a new project.


Once I had a solid Picatinny rail on the gun, I wanted an optic for it. I went with a moderately priced ($160) Truglo Ignite red dot powered by an easily accessible AAA battery. It’s not the open reflex style that is so popular on all handguns right now, but a much bulkier full-tube model. I chose it because I find it’s easier for me, and much easier for new shooters, to find the dot if they are looking into a tube. Most people will probably want a smaller reflex-style sight, such as the Vortex Venom.

 Ruger Mark IV with a compensator from Tandemkross.


The plastic grips supplied with my gun worked, but felt cheap and bulky. Replacing them with the Tandemkross Hivebrid grip took a couple of minutes and improved the looks and the feel of my pistol. Hogue also offers an assortment of grips, from rubber to custom wood, for the Victory, the Buck Mark, and the Mark IV.



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 Browning Buck Mark outfitted with a Tandemkross Victory trigger.


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New thermal- and night-vision products promise to raise the bar in 2022.

by Kevin Reese


mage. Quality. Although this tagline is the foundation of Pulsar’s efforts, neither is a catch-all term. Equally as important is Pulsar’s focus on emerging technologies, product development and design innovations as the manufacturer walks the leading edge of the thermal- and night-vision industry. Liudas Abisala, Pulsar’s chief marketing officer, underscores the company’s commitment when he says, “We pride ourselves in being the innovation leaders in civilian thermal-vision technology. Our status is constantly confirmed by the number of attempts to copy our product designs, features and even our communications. The benefit is simply that constantly pushing ourselves keeps us focused on research, development and implementation of the newest technologies, as well as end-user focused solutions. Once again, for 2022, we are proud to introduce a long list of new devices to widen the gap between Pulsar and our competitors.” That said, Pulsar leaps ahead in 2022 with a handful of advanced thermal- and night-vision products well worth industry buzz at SHOT Show and well into the calendar year. Beginning with a common theme throughout Pulsar’s new lineup, internal and external battery life has been extended via more efficient processing.

um objective lens and 2-16X magnification. The IPX7 waterproof-rated Thermion 2 LRF XP50 Pro also includes onboard video with audio; 16-gigabyte onboard media file storage in .jpg and .mp4 formats; internal and external rechargeable Li-ion batteries; Stream Vision 2 compatible Wi-Fi to use your personal smartphone or tablet as a remote, secondary display, stream content, transfer media files and update firmware; multiple user-identification modes; storage for five rifle profiles with 10 distances each and up to 10 hours of battery life (with video-out off ).


Jumping into the 24-hour digital riflescope game, the Digex C50 digital riflescope employs a HD 1928x1088 sensor resolution, a 1024x768 HD AMOLED display and 1024x768 photo/video resolution for pristine full-color HD daytime and ultra-crisp digital night-vision imaging courtesy of an FHD CMOS sensor. Additional Digex C50 digital riflescope features include built-in video with audio, 16 GB media file storage in .jpg and .mp4 formats, Stream Vision 2 app compatible Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, 3.5-14x magnification and up to 10 hours of battery life from dual Li-ion mini power system. The Digex C50 is available with 940S and 850S IR illuminators and detection ranges reach 550 and 600 yards, respectively.

AMOLED display, <50 NETD sensitivity and up to 10 hours of battery life. The Photon FXQ30 features 1024x768 HD AMOLED display, <40 NETD sensitivity and up to 6 hours of battery life. Both models include built-in video with 16 GB of internal media storage in .jpg and .mp4 formats.


A perfect choice for discriminating thermal monocular users with a penchant for compact systems, the Axion XQ35 provides crisp image resolution courtesy of a <40mK NETD sensor and 384x288 resolution.


Pulsar’s latest, greatest flagship Thermion 2 thermal riflescope boasts an integrated laser rangefinder, accurate to within +/- 1 yard, out to nearly 900 yards; adult-size heat-signature detection range up to 2,000 yards; <25 mK NETD sensor; 1024x768 HD AMOLED display; full 8-color display palette; 640x480 microbolometer sensor resolution; 17-micron pixel pitch; 50mm enhanced F1.0 germani-


Designed to attach on the forward end of a daytime riflescope, Krypton and Photon clip-on thermal devices add thermal imaging to your traditional optic, eliminating the need to switch scopes. Krypton is Pulsar’s flagship clip-on device and it boasts 640x480 sensor resolution with a 12-micron pixel pitch. The Photon clip-on thermal utilizes 384x288 sensor resolution and a 17-micron pixel pitch. The Krypton FXG50 also boasts a 1746x1000 HD


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The Axion XQ35’s 640x480 display resolution and 1,400+ yard heat-signature detection range further enhance your field of view. The Axion LRF XQ35 also boasts rangefinding capability out to 1,100 yards (+/- 1 yard). Both LRF and non-LRF Axion XQ35 models include built-in photo and video with 16 GB of media file storage in .jpg and .mp4 formats, Stream Vision 2 app compatible Wi-Fi, Bluetooth connectivity, enhanced F1.0 germanium glass, up to nine hours of battery life, 2X magnification with 2-8X digital zoom and IPX7 waterproof construction. (




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by robert a sadowski W H AT ’S SELLING


Sporting Goods, UTAl’s Logan

Stocking an average of 1,000 firearms, this general hunting and fishing retailer is one of the oldest independent retailers in the western states. Although sales are not as high now as they were at this time last year, traffic is still brisk. “Not only have turns stayed impressive, but now we can get what we want for our handgun department,” said assistant manager Bo Nelson. Glocks, primarily 43s and 19s, have a narrow lead over all others at the handgun counter, but Smith & Wesson Shield EZs and J-frame revolvers are doing well, too. Nelson says Springfield’s entire line is hot, especially the Hellcat. Sales of Modern Sporting Rifles remain consistent, at five per week. Springfield Saints and S&W M&P Sport IIs are also selling well. Bolt-action gun inventories remain good after big-game season, but popular rifle cartridges remain in short supply, with no relief in sight.

Sporting AKBoondock Goods, Eagle River

Keeping a mix of home-defense and hunting firearms and accessories, this store sits in between the cities of Anchorage and Wasilla. The retailer also stocks an assortment of camping and fishing gear. It’s been a busy year for this retailer, and the staff is pleased to see sales for late 2021 were still high. “While MSRs have slowed, daily sales have remained high for handguns,” said manager Shawn Johnson. At this counter, the Springfield Hellcat is in first place, followed by Glock 43s and Springfield XDMs. There are multiple standing orders for the new SA35. Demand outpaced supply for boltaction rifles, but the store has been able to keep Tikkas, Ruger Americans, and Browning Hell’s Canyons on the rack. Popular calibers continue to be .300 Win. Mag. and the new 6.8 Western. MSRs are moving at more than two a week, with Ruger 556s in the top slot.


new and used guns in stock, this small shop is located 20 miles northeast of Des Moines. Handguns sales are steady. Glocks sell best, but their overall numbers are down from last year. Other fast movers include Springfield XDMs and Ruger SR22s. Sales of MSRs are flat, turning just three a month. Here, the Ruger 556 does best. “There’s no question that MSR numbers are down, but sales of higher-end rifles, like the Ruger Precision, are starting to improve,” said buyer Dana Schoppe. Getting enough ammo remains a big challenge. Schoppe said shotgun slugs and anything in .30 caliber is especially hard to get.

square feet in metro St. Paul. Glock 19s and 20s and the Taurus model 709 top the high-demand list at the handgun counter. The store is also moving some Sig P365s. “It’s been a busy year, and I’m pleased that we’ve been able get through it,” said owner Rick Kay. The store has plenty of MSRs in stock. It turns one per week. Springfield Saints deliver the most consistent sales. Shotgun demand has fallen, and Kay has been left holding a larger number of SKUs from Turkey. “The whole Turkish shotgun shipment was great when they showed up. Now our customers will not buy them unless they are priced below cost,” said Kay. Ammo stocks are better than expected with 9mm, .40, and .223 in good inventory.

H Kay Firearms, St. MNRPaul

Masters, ColumMOTarget bia

Daryl’s Gun Shop, State Center Keeping more than 300

This home-defensefocused retailer stocks an average of 300 firearms in a tightly inventoried 500



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A serious contender in this town for more than 21 years, this store has a ten-lane 25-yard range. Big-box stores

Ammo stocks are okay for handguns, but rifle calibers remain a challenge to stock.

MTShedhorn Sports, Ennis

This retailer, located just 70 miles outside the Yellowstone Park entrance, has been in business for 34 years. Twelve employees are kept busy stocking over 1,000 guns. Handguns continue to rule; the high turns go to Colt Pythons and Anacondas in .357 Mag. and .44 Mag. Glock 20s and Kimber 1911s in 10mm are also in high demand. Bolt-action rifle sales are up, and this retailer is managing inventory more than a year out. “Rifles are the major part of our business, and it takes advanced ordering to be sure we have a strong selection when fall arrives,” said owner Melissa Glaser. A mix of models from Christensen Arms and the Savage Axis are getting the most turns. MSR sales are slowing; Daniel Defense and Ruger 556s command the high ground.

surround this retailer, including a Bass Pro Shop just a few miles away. This has been a tricky time for ammo at this retailer-range. “We are just not willing to gouge our customers. We can sell 9mm for 45 cents per round all day long, but we would rather send them to a box store. If we can get a range round below 29 cents, we’ll stock as much as we can get. We just don’t want our customers to feel like we are taking advantage of them,” said manager Thomas Wright. At the handgun counter, Glock 43Xs top the list. Springfield Hellcats and Sig P365s are also turning daily. MSR sales have slowed significantly to just two a month. The largest turns are going to Smith M&P Sport IIs. There is an expectation that MSRs will pick up as winter varmint season gets moving. “Our MSR sales always find new owners in the winter. Either it’s a first time .223 shooter, or someone looking to upgrade their distance accuracy with a higher-grade rifle,” said Wright.


12/13/21 8:45 AM

by peter b . mathiesen

Trail Range Gun Store, CTBlue MEHowells Guns, Gray Wallingford In existence since 1945, this family gun shop and range keeps 800 guns in stock and has over 120 covered outdoor shooting stations. The store has range events for young and old, and there’s even a picnic area. The post-hunting selling season has focused on a few lever-action Marlins in .30-30 and .22 rifles from CZ. Ammo stocks are tricky for this range retailer. “We are doing fine in 9mm, .556, and even 10mm. It gets real challenging with more traditional rifle cartridges. While we have some .308, we tend to only have one SKU,” said counter salesperson Amr Maclad. Wheel guns have gained popularity at this store, and the demand includes both new and used models. Other top sellers are Sig P365s, Glock 19 and 20s, and Smith Shields. A few shotguns are also turning, mainly Mossberg 500s and Turkish-made guns. Gamo air rifles remain popular, and a few new Anschutz guns are also crossing the counter.

Located just 15 miles north of Portland, this 27,000-square-foot store sells a mix of archery, soft goods, and firearms. The retailer keeps an average of 2,000 guns in stock and has 12 shooting lanes at their facility. Handgun sales are on the rise; Glock 19s and Sig P365s hold the highest slots. Used Smith and Colt revolvers are in especially high demand this year. “MSRs are slowing from twenty to fifteen a week. Bolt-action guns have gotten hard to stock, and of course, sporting rifle ammo is even tougher. At the same time, handgun ammo is getting much easier to get and is dropping in price,” said manager Tom Ventresca. M&P Sport IIs, Ruger 556s, and rifles from Windham Weaponry are the top sellers. MSRs in .22 caliber are especially in demand. The firearm deer season has wrapped up, but a handful of bolt-action guns are still selling. Ruger Americans and the Savage Axis in 6.5 Creedmoor, .308, and .243 command the most attention. As January pro-



Mitchell’s Country Store, Jackson

This small, rural general store sells groceries and sporting goods. It has an average of 100 guns in stock at any one time. And, it just may be the only gun shop in the South where you can get a cheeseburger, an RC Cola, and a Moon Pie with your ammo. Handgun sales remain consistent. Glock 43s and Shield EZs are the strongest sellers. Smith revolvers are in higher-than-usual demand. Although ammo stocks for handguns are good, the rifle ammo selection is especially poor. “We are a super-small store, and my access to high-demand rifle ammo is just okay. That said, we do have plenty of .308 and .223,” said owner Roy Mitchell. Sporting long-gun sales are good, and there has been a lot of demand for .22s for the holidays. As a result, the store is moving a lot of Henry .22s. The Savage Axis in .243 is also crossing the counter regularly. Pump shotguns sales have slowed dramatically.


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Gun Doctor, Monk Corner Keeping more than 150

hunting guns and handguns in stock, this retailer maintains high traffic by retaining a full-time gunsmith who can do work for other local gun shops. Shotguns are still selling. A few used Browning A5s in 12 gauge and Remington 1100s are the top sellers. “You stock a used 1100 or A5 Browning, and it’s usually gone the next day,” said owner Christy Elan. Lever actions, including Henrys and Marlins, are turning. Although this store stocks new guns, it continues to lean on gunsmithing and used firearms for its primary profits. Handgun sales are steady. Glock 19s and a few Springfield XDMs move the most.

GASidney’s Guns, Augusta

Founded as a haberdashery in the late 1800s, this uniform and softgoods company started to handle firearms in the 1960s to fill duty-belt orders from

gresses, Ventresca says sales will turn more to varmint calibers such as .243 and .223.

VATown Guns, Collinsville

Located in mid-south Virginia, this 1,600-square-foot store has nearly 4,000 guns in inventory, divided between two locations. Serving a rural clientele, the store evenly mixes hunting and home defense. Winter is handgun time for this retailer with strong numbers of anything conceal carry. Smith EZ Shields, Sig P365s, and Springfield Hellcats are trading evenly at this counter. “Inventory has finely caught up, and except for revolvers, we can get just about anything we need,” said manager Brandon Motley. Sales of MSRs have slowed to three per week. S&W M&P Sports hold the top slot, followed by Daniel Defense. During November and December, hunting rifles turned faster than at any time in the store’s history, with a mix of Savage Axis and Bergaras in 6.5 Creedmoor and .243.

their local police department. Today, the store stocks more than 1,500 guns and a total of 10 million SKUs. January is one of biggest firearm sales months for this retailer. “A lot of our customers spend their seasonal bonus or buy gifts this month,” said owner Steven Fishman. “And, fortunately, they spend it with us.” Handguns have been hot all year. Used 1960s and 1970s vintage Smith and Taurus revolvers are in high demand. Glock 19s and 43s and Smith Shields are also moving well. Fishman also said January can be a serious time for quail guns. As a result, Franchi Affinitys and Stoeger 320s are turning. Other strong sellers include high-school competition youth guns for trap and skeet clubs. A few bolt-action rifles are still moving. Here, Sakos in .308 and 6.5 Creedmoor sit atop the list. Ammo stocks are good, but selling at all-time high prices. Sales of MSRs are slow and are going at low to moderate price points.




12/13/21 8:45 AM



Keeping shells, chokes, and other gear organized, protected, and readily accessible in sloppy waterfowl hunting conditions is one of the keys to a successful, frustration-free hunt. The new ALPS Outdoorz Pit Blind Bag does just that through carefully selected materials and intelligent construction that meets the needs of experienced waterfowlers. The Pit Blind Bag features a large pop-open main compartment with a removable divider to customize the content load. Additional interior pockets keep smaller items separated and within easy reach. Outside, the Pit Blind Bag boasts two hold-open pockets. These are designed to hold different shells organized and quickly accessible when switching between shot loads. An extra-large exterior pocket is also included to provide storage for a thermal beverage container or for use as an additional gear-storage option. Two sewn-in carry handles flank the rugged zippered top while a removable, adjustable, and padded shoulder strap offers hands-free carry. Rounding out the key features is a waterproof, molded bottom panel to provide added support and content protection when the bag is sitting on wet ground. The 9.7-inch-deep bag is 18 inches wide and 11 inches high. It weighs 3 pounds and is available in Realtree Timber or Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Habitat. SRP: $79.99. (



Designed for light travel and quick day trips, the Spear 3-Day Backpack offers versatility and a multitude of storage options in a lightweight and water-resistant bag. Utilizing the toughness and durability of 600D PU material, this 30-liter-capacity bag offers more than 1,860 cubic inches of storage space, a perfect size for carrying the essential equipment to the range. With customizable digital MOLLE points, you’ll have plenty of options for gear layout. Features include a front accessory pocket with organizer, side compression straps to keep gear secure, padded shoulder straps with adjustable sternum slide, a triple-thick padded back panel, and D-ring attachment points. Available in black or tan. SRP: $64.99. (



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12/13/21 9:05 AM

by slaton l . white




Inspired by traditional-style hunting boots while drawing design and technology cues from Danner’s best-selling hiking boots, the Recurve Moc Toe delivers the next generation of performance for use on any type of hunt. The Recurve Moc Toe features a Vibram SPE midsole and TPU heel clip to ensure long hours of comfort on preseason scouts and extended treks. In addition, the Vibram Recurve outsole with Megagrip technology uses adaptive lugs and flex lines for superior grip in wet and dry terrain. The boots are seven inches high for improved ankle support. Other features include waterproof, full-grain leather and nylon uppers, a breathable mesh lining, Thinsulate Ultra insulation, and a cushioning open-cell Ortholite footbed. SRP: $200. (



Birchwood Casey, the industry leader in targets and shooting-support gear, has released a soft-padded case ideally suited for AR-15 and AKM-pattern rifles. As the name implies, the Single Gun Case 36” is designed to accommodate rifles up to 36 inches in length. It is also lighter and easier to transport than conventional hard cases. Made of rugged 600D polyester, the case has a dual-zippered main compartment for securely stowing a carbine and padded side panels for optimum protection during transport. In addition to the secure main compartment, the case includes three large exterior storage pouches for carrying magazines, ammunition, or accessories such as cleaning supplies, gloves, and ear/eye protection. A generous strap-and-buckle system allows shooters to cinch the case snug to prevent contents from moving around. Finally, the Single Gun Case 36” comes with padded and adjustable shoulder straps for hands-free carry to and from the shooting range. SRP: $69.99. (


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12/13/21 9:05 AM



The Hydra QE features Hatsan’s patented Versi-Cal Technology, an interchangeable-caliber system that allows a user to trade calibers with a single thumbscrew. The VCT system couples a caliber-specific receiver and barrel into a single interchangeable module. Now, a user can switch out the receiver and barrel, enabling the use of another caliber, without disturbing the scope. A knurled screw located at the rear of the receiver locks the upper module onto the lower receiver, allowing these caliber changes in just a few seconds. The Hydra QE also utilizes Hatsan’s S/Roto Index magazine system, a caliber-specific self-indexing rotary magazine made from a lightweight-yet-durable synthetic polymer. Each module features Hatsan’s QuietEnergy shrouded barrel that reduces downrange noise by up to 50 percent. The Turkish walnut stock is laser engraved with ample texturing on critical grip surfaces that enhance the feel and control of the rifle. A fixed 165cc air cylinder fills to 2,900 psi, providing up to 35 shots. Weighing in at just 6.8 pounds, this modular platform airgun will be easy to carry and shoot. The Hatsan Hydra is available in .177, .22, or .25 caliber. Additional barrel/receiver modules are available separately. SRP: starts at $499.99. (




The NoSho Gusset XT waterproof boot was developed to withstand extreme cold and wet hunting conditions and to do so in comfort. Because cold weather means that thick, layered clothing is often required to stay cozy for hours in a treestand or duck blind, the NoSho Gusset XT is built with an adjustable gusset to accommodate tucked-in heavy clothing or to better fit hunters with large calves. In addition to its ready-for-cold-weather fit, the NoSho Gusset XT tackles freezing temperatures with six layers of insulating warmth and protection. The 5.5mm Densoprene bootie is backed by 2mm Densoprene XD (extreme density) foam for maximum environmental shielding. Next, a 2mm airmesh layer promotes air flow to prevent heat-robbing moisture buildup while a 2mm fleece lining enhances the boot’s natural insulating properties. Factor in the EVA coldblocking midsole and removable molded EVA sock liner, and you have a boot that blocks water and retains heat for all-day hunting comfort. Since extreme cold often means extremely slippery conditions, the NoSho Gusset XT also comes with a DS1 outsole for aggressive traction on challenging terrain. Available in camo in men’s sizes 7 to 16. SRP: $189.95. (



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12/13/21 9:05 AM


Range-Retailer Business Expo™ JULY 11-13, 2022 NEW ORLEANS, LA

A must-attend event for all industry stakeholders Load up on ideas and insights through educational tracks to advance your business. Build and strengthen your industry networks as you explore the EXPO floor and tap into exhibitors’ latest product innovations, services and show specials!




Join Us for the Firearm Industry’s Mid-Year Event Like No Other!

Registration Coming Soon. Learn More at NSSF.ORG/EXPO

If you have any questions, contact Zach Snow, or 203-426-1320 ext. 224

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12/7/21 2:14 PM 12/16/21 10:11 AM




Hawke Optics is adding two first focal plane models, which are aimed squarely at the long-range shooting market, to the Sidewinder riflescope line. Both the 4–16×50 SF and the 6–24×56 SF take advantage of the new FFP MOA reticle. The FFP MOA reticle is specifically designed for first focal plane optics with MOA-spaced aiming points. The MOA reticle has crosses etched on the lower half that work as windage aiming points. They can be used for the counting method of zeroing in on target, with each cross positioned 4 MOA apart. On the outside of the reticle, non-illuminated posts with MOA spacing can be used for extreme holdover and for bracketing for distance calculations. The FFP MOA Sidewinders, like all the models in the line, have a 30mm main tube and are loaded with new H5 optics (with an ultra-wide 24-degree field of view) that offer unparalleled clarity in a value-priced package. The low-dispersion Crown glass has 18 layers of multi-coated optics for superior light transmission and clarity. Each Sidewinder also has four inches of eye relief, letting the shooter get on target faster and easier. Sidewinder FFP MOA models have resettable, precision-locking turrets with 1⁄4 MOA clicks that now have a witness window that provides instant visual confirmation of your turret position. You can sharpen up your sights with the index-matched, removable side-wheel focus adjustment and keep your eye on the target while adjusting the zoom with the removable magnification throw lever. The reticle is illuminated with high-intensity, adjustable multi-LED lighting for accuracy in every lighting condition. SRP: $799 to $819.



The base of the Master Gun Vise features an articulating ball-and-socket joint with the adjustable Speed-Cam Lever that applies pressure to the joint, allowing the vise and gun to be positioned and repositioned in any orientation the user desires. Although the amount of adjustable compression applied with the Speed-Cam to the ball-and-socket joint is substantial, an additional element has been added to the vise for heavy torque applications. The removable Torq-Lok pin intersects the ball-and-socket joint, locking it into the base. The locking pin can be inserted every 90 degrees with the vise in either the vertical or horizontal position. The Accu-Level leveling knob allows the vise to be tilted three degrees to either side for making micro adjustments when leveling guns for optics mounting without having to remove or reposition the firearm. The vise also comes with reversible Gun-Fit sleeves that can be easily installed or uninstalled with pins that lock them in place. One side features a high-density foam pad providing a compression fit to firmly grip cosmetic surfaces. The other side is rigid nylon with grooves to secure gun parts, Picatinny and Arca Swiss rails, barrels, silencers, and more. Two critical tools for building guns, in particular AR15s, are upper and lower vise blocks. Sold separately, the adjustable Smart-Fit AR15 Lower Vise Block and the Lug-Lok Upper Vise Block (available in two versions, AR15 and AR10) integrate seamlessly with the vise jaws and firmly lock into place. The jaw plates have a recess along the lip that perfectly matches the Smart-Fit side profile, providing extra hold. The Lug-Lok holds firm with the help of the dual-purpose Gun-Fit pins that intersect the vise jaws and the Lug-Lok, eliminating slippage within the jaws when applying heavy torque to barrel nuts and muzzle devices. SRP: $299.99. (




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12/13/21 9:06 AM


Your Fight Is Our Fight

From the largest manufacturers to the smallest retailers, NSSF® fights to preserve our legacy and secure our future as a critical member of American industry. We fight with resources that promote legal gun ownership. We fight with initiatives that educate the public about responsible firearm ownership and safe participation in hunting and the shooting sports. And we fight on Capitol Hill and in state capitols nationwide—right alongside you—to ensure your ability to operate as a lawful and important business in your community is not infringed. DON’T STAND ON THE SIDELINES. JOIN THE FIGHT BY JOINING NSSF TODAY.


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Visit us at booth #VL 270

12/6/21 12:46 PM 12/16/21 10:12 AM


by miles hall

Hidden Treasure

The old box contained a treasure beyond belief, one that changed lives forever.


ne of the earliest “truths” we learn is, “Honesty is the best policy.” After all these years, the wisdom of this adage is worth remembering. Honesty


allows you to lead an honorable life, one that helps you make your community a better place. Here is one such story. A longtime guest (as you know by now we like to call our customers guests) came into the store. His wife had passed, and his only child, a daughter, was, as he told me, in California “trying to find herself in this life.” He was carrying an old box about half the size of a briefcase and just about as thick, and I could tell something was not right. He asked in the humblest way, “Can I bother you for a few minutes in private?” We went into a side room that doubled as my office. He sat the box down on the table and apologized for being out of sorts, but his daughter had gotten into some trouble, and he was leaving later that day to go see her. I immediately said, “What can I do to help you?” He didn’t elaborate on his daughter’s troubles (“it’s a Dad thing,” he said), but asked me if I could sell what he had in the box. Inside was a very old blackpowder revolver he bought years before for $25. He needed to sell it to help with the cost of the flight. I told him I wasn’t sure of its value, but I would take care of it for him. “It would be great if you could get $400, but any amount will help a bunch,” he said. And then he left for California. After he departed, I took a closer look at the box and its contents. The display box was common for that era. Beside the gun were slots for the various parts needed to shoot it. There was even a tool used to cast the bullets.


I was sure there was some sort of history here and something of value. But I didn’t know exactly what. Here’s where the story takes an interesting turn. The school bus would drive right by the store, and the driver was kind enough to drop our daughter Anne off every day. She would come in and sit in the side room and do her homework. She would also share all the news of the day from school. She looked at the box and said, “Daddy, I wonder if that box has a secret compartment like the story my teacher was telling us about in school today.” I stopped and looked closely at the upper edges of the inside lid. I spotted a small brad on the top center where a leather tag would have been, but I could not see any place where I could pry it open without damaging it. By now the adrenaline was rushing and because I get a bit emotional, I was shaking a bit. In an act of sheer frustration, I took my finger and snapped it against the top, right on that brad. It popped open. I gently pulled it back; inside was a very old looking piece of paper. Luckily, I had enough sanity left and grabbed my leather gloves. Gently, I lifted it out. It was a handwritten note from Samuel Colt to the original buyer. I called another guest of the store who worked at the Oklahoma Historical Society. He verified that what we had was special and that he knew of an honorable man who collects such items and might be willing to buy it. After several discussions, we agreed to a price of $55,000. To make sure I knew he was serious, he sent via FedEx a cash down payment of $5,000. Given that the gun was an antique, we could send it direct to the buyer, which we did. When this guest came home and dropped by the store, he shared all his hopes he had for his daughter before asking about the gun. Here’s how that discussion went. Guest: Were you able to sell the gun? Me: Well, yes. It took a bit, but yes. Guest: Did you get $400 for it? Me: No. Guest: Well, it was an old gun. We used to play Cowboys and Indians with it. Did you get close? Me: No. (At this point, I was trying very hard to not smile. Truth is, I would be a lousy poker player.) Guest: Well, that’s okay. Like I said, it was old and I only had $25 in it. So, what did you get for it? Me: 55. Guest: Hey, 55 is twice what I paid for it. Dealers build long-term customer relationships with superior customer service, and one of the hallmarks of that service is dealing honestly with each customer.



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Me: No, not $55. $55,000! At that point, things got pretty emotional. I handed him the FedEx envelope, and we all laughed, cried, and celebrated. The money not only allowed him to take care of matters in California, but it let him pay off his house. He donated the balance to his church. We enjoyed his visits for several more years until he passed. I’ve told this story many times over the years, and more than once someone has remarked that since the deal was in cash I could have easily kept some of it for myself. True. But doing so would have changed the arc of this story. Many years later I heard from his daughter. She told me that his visit to her was a turning point in her life. She enrolled in college, graduated at the top of her class, and was now married. When she gave the commencement address, she told the assembled crowd that a family-run gun range had helped make an impact not only her dad’s life, but on hers as well. I was glad that I had been of help, but the credit really goes to both of them. They did all the hard work. All I did was honestly broker a deal. But the proceeds of that deal made a huge impact. The Simple Truth is to be honorable. It allows you to make a difference in many lives.

Author bio: Miles Hall was founder and president of a multi-million-dollar firearms retail store and gun range in Oklahoma for 36 years. He is now a senior advisor helping FFL dealers around the country run more efficient, profitable, and impactful businesses. (


12/13/21 8:44 AM

SIG SAUER worked with Avient to develop their first-of-its-kind P320 TXG tungsten infused grip module to deliver perfectly balanced weight without compromising comfort or performance.

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12/13/21 2:43 PM



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12/14/21 9:26 AM

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