Opinion: SHOT Synopsis, Future Trends

SHOT 2017 has come and gone. Hopefully we did our duty in providing the best coverage we could put together to you, our readership. I certainly had an exhausting show, staying up many late nights, even unto first light, hustling USBs over to fellow writers to get material online, flying through Vegas traffic trying to get to the Sands on time, etc…

But, although we reported on a HUGE variety of products, I did notice some rising trends that subconsciously struck me throughout the show. Although this is only my personal opinion and all views are my own, I think a number of other SHOT attendees could verify some of these trends I noticed.

Election Ready AR15s

A number of other writers and attendees constantly were commenting on this fact. Springfield Armory banked on it with the Saint. The fact that so much of the industry tooled up, and a number of smaller AR companies increased production in preparation for a Hillary win was so obvious it was undeniable. AR15s are all over the market already because it is one of the fastest growing rifles in popularity in the United States, but to see the huge extent in person at SHOT just solidified the fact that much of the industry was actually prepping for another bad four years of firearms sales.

Restricted/Featureless AR15s 

From Stag Arms with their Featureless Rifles, LWRC with the Cali-Compliant magazine disconnect button, Hera Arms with the oddly shaped stock, and Dark Side Industries with the zero magazine button option, a number of companies were responding to the recent California legislation regarding a complete ban on AR15s with magazine releases. With California being the largest shooting population in the nation, this really comes as no surprise due to the overwhelming customer response these devices have.

Overwhelming Suppressor Display

I noticed much more suppressor companies than were there last year. The older companies seemed to be getting a larger presence, like Gemtech, AAC, as well as Dead Air and Silencerco. But I also saw some much smaller suppressor companies springing up all over the show floor. Companies I had never even heard of before. It would appear to be in direct response to the Hearing Protection Act being renewed under a Republican Congress, or just a much more welcoming political atmosphere to begin with when it comes to NFA items or firearms in general. Even Black Hawk!, a traditionally gear and clothing company has come out with a suppressor lineup!

Rise of the Modular Rifle?

From the Skeli X11, Robinson Armaments XCR, M+M industries M10X rifles to possibly considering the Strike Industries AR, SCAR, or Fightlite’s multi-caliber sub-gun conversion, there just seemed to be plethora (compared to last year) of polymer framed lower, multi-caliber, folding stock, magazine fed rifles on display. Some were AR15 based, others were Kalashnikov, but all had one thing in common, they weren’t another AR15. It was so refreshing to see fresh designs and thought processes in the industry, something that you really don’t see to much of when it comes to overall rifle design.

03s Everywhere 

My final note is that I kept running into and meeting Infantry Marines all over the place. I could have sworn I met a new Marine every third booth or so. From my Scout Sniper Basic Course NCOIC that recognized me even though I only spent a week in the course and then failing out, to various other contacts and other Infantry guys I met over SHOT. Myself and my one buddy kept making jokes about how the shooting industry is really the only place that would take us once we EAS-ed. But on a real note, I want to write a post in the future about this exact topic. I’ve had many people ask me if having a military background makes a difference in the industry. And honestly, I can say that it doesn’t, but I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t helped me at all. But more on that later.


Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at miles@tfb.tv


  • VanDiemensLand

    “SHOT just solidified the fact that much of the industry was actually prepping for another bad four years of firearms sales.” – I think you mean 4 good years of firearms sales.

    • No, bad. The companies were preparing for another panic buy of AR15s.

      • VanDiemensLand

        How is that bad for business?

        • jng1226

          I believe that Miles meant that had Hilary won, there was the expectation she would fulfill her campaign promises and do her best to ban “assault rifles” and all manner of further firearm restrictions – similar to California’s recent “Gunpocalypse” laws. Those were part of her campaign platform and a very real threat. This was triggering panic buying as evidenced by the October 2016 NICS checks being the highest ever in the history of the program. Gun retailers knew this was coming and leveraged themselves to have enough stock of potentially banned items to supply the panic buying sure to come shortly after the election.

          Had she been successful in passing gun-unfriendly legislation early in her term, gun sales (at least certain categories) could have been significantly reduced. I know several dealers and have heard from independent sales reps that many dealers maxed out their credit to ensure they had enough black rifles, ammo, magazines, etc. to keep up with the panic demand. Now that the holidays are over and the new administration has reiterated their gun-friendliness, those dealers are facing cash flow shortages and may have to liquidate inventory at or below cost to continue operations. You can see by CDNN’s recent email flyers that the AR market has started to plunge, and may actually crash very hard this year, with many players going out of business due to the lack of sales. You can see the same thing playing out now in the silencer market due to the rumors/hope that the proposed Hearing Protection Act will pass relatively soon and remove silencers from NFA regulations.

          • iksnilol

            They would have skyrocketed because people would be panic buying.

  • M.M.D.C.

    Judging from TFB coverage, the industry is presenting a pretty conservative offering this year, with very few innovations. Was this your take on what you saw there?

    With the presumed HRC win, I’m guessing the manufacturers were leery of spending money on developing products no one could buy.

    I wonder what next year’s show will look like.

    • The gun industry in general is extremely conservative in my experience. Most of the visionary talent gets snapped up by the aerospace industry, I guess.

      • ^

        Really interesting statement, and propably right.

    • john huscio

      Displays of Swiss arms SG550s, Vector R4s and Steyr RS556s ready for import whole and at volume.

  • SGT_B

    You forgot chassis system rifles chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor.

    • SP mclaughlin

      They should start calling it 6.5 “Mememoor.”

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    “The fact that so much of the industry tooled up, and a number of smaller
    AR companies increased production in preparation for a Hillary win was
    so obvious it was undeniable.”

    “…but to see the huge extent in person at SHOT just solidified the fact
    that much of the industry was actually prepping for another bad four
    years of firearms sales.”

    Come again..? I bet gun companies were Hillarys biggest contributors.

  • Edeco

    I’m underwhelmed this year, apparently not much from my wish list happening. But it’s not surprising in light of recent events (or near-events one might say). Over the year I expect them the industry to spread its wings and make me some new stuff.

    • Porty1119

      Hopefully the industry will be able to put less effort toward producing as many black rifles as quickly as possible, and start putting out innovative systems at fair prices.

  • Black Dots

    Without a fundamental change in propellants (e.g., caseless ammo), or projectiles (“smart” bullets) I think we are going to be in a period of weapons refinement that will go on indefinitely. The major components of firearms tech have, for the most part, plateaued. Materials get better, manufacturing processes get more efficient, but there probably isn’t anything earth-shattering in the foreseeable future. We simply might be in a period where we are technologically limited to slightly better versions of what exists.

    On a gut level, I think most people realize this. I mean, look at what was the most talked about thing at SHOT this year: a pistol with a low bore axis. Wow, stop the presses.

    • The_Champ

      “We simply might be in a period where we are technologically limited to slightly better versions of what exists.”

      You may well have been able to make that statement, accurately, in the 1950s. ARs, AKs, fancy bullpup EM-2s, and a slew of .308 cal battle rifles. What’s changed? 🙂

      • Optics?

        • You can get a (civilian-use) serviceable RDS for sixty bucks on sale these days; we’ve definitely come a long way from OEGs being so futuristic they were a staple of sci-fi blasters in the late ’70s.

        • Jonathan Ferguson

          At least some of those optics existed in the ’50s, if we’re talking about the cutting edge of technology rather than widespread adoption. The Stg44 had a combat optic in the ’40s. The EM2 would have been issued with a 1x optic as standard, had it been issued.

        • Black Dots

          Of the items you will see at SHOT, I think optics have been the primary beneficiary of improvements in manufacturing. You can get a lot of glass for not a lot of dough nowadays.

        • The_Champ

          Certainly optics have come leaps and bounds, and continue to be improved upon in significant ways.

          The firearms themselves, and the ammunition they fire. I can’t say it has changed all that much in decades. Maybe affordability has improved?

    • Bucho4Prez

      “Peak Firearm” to be sure. Well said.

    • 010100101

      “Plateaued” no, i absolutly know how you mean it but thats only true for whats on the marked, not for what is coming. In therms of “foreseeable future” yes, but… how about the inforeseeable future? Incredible things are coming, but only extremly few people currently know about it.

      And i absolutly share youre opinion on this years SHOT.

  • Sasquatch

    I am ready for next year!

  • Dougscamo

    Just want to know one thing…..who’s the cutie in the middle?….(Had to use the location for that question…. tough crowd on this site)….

    • Stan Darsh

      I believe that is Manca from Polenar Tactical.

      • It is. It was their first SHOT Show. Great buncha guys (and lady)!

    • V

      The cutie? Its Nathaniela.

      • Dougscamo

        Like I said before….tough crowd….

  • Phillip Cooper

    Gang signs?

    Seriously? Goddamn gang signs?

    GROW UP!

  • USMC03Vet

    03 is best 3!

    Now the challenge is to list the battalions these people come from.

  • Phillip Cooper

    Well then, my apologies.

    I was a dumb ARMY Grunt, not a dumb Marine Grunt, so I was apparently talking out my ass on that one.

    Many apologies, and thanks for edumacating me. 🙂