SHOT Show 2022 Recap - The Top Three Things I loved and The One Thing I Hated.
After a one year hiatus, SHOT Show returned to its home in Las Vegas. However, for those who have attended SHOT Show in years' past, this year’s show was literally and figuratively the shell of the show it used to be.
Many couldn’t make the show this year for a multitude of reasons. For some, the fear of COVID and the Omicron variant still loomed large. For others, travel restrictions and quarantine guidelines kept them at home. For the few who did make the pilgrimage to Las Vegas, sadly it was not the return of the prodigal son that so many had hoped for.
Personally, I was hoping SHOT Show would return with a vengeance, giving attendees an experience like they’d never seen before. However, within the first five minutes of walking around the show, I quickly realized that not only was there no “big change” nor “big reveal”, but rather the mood and the experience was even more subdued than years' past.
The typically bustling aisles were sparse. Exhibitors were standing in their booths twiddling their thumbs, aching for human contact. And due to the addition of “extra” exhibition space at Caesar’s (accessed by a newly constructed foot bridge), there were vast amounts of open space throughout the exhibition halls that made the trade-show-flow look and feel even more empty than it actually was. My estimate is that there was roughly 20% of the volume typically at SHOT Show in years' past. Personally, this was the one thing I absolutely hated that they did. And I’m willing to bet they are deeply regretting the move. It made the show look and feel dead.
That said, I was determined to find the silver lining to this event. After all, I had made the trip and was eager to meet with many of our dealers and distributors who were at the show. My goal was to find one thing at the show that was new and innovative, and that would give me hope that the tactical industry wasn’t quite dead yet.
So here are my top 3 finds of SHOT Show 2022.
#1. Body Armor
One of the things that continues to impress me year after year are the innovations in the domain of body armor. Companies like Spartan Armor Systems are continuing to push the envelope with it comes to lighter body armor that can still stop high velocity threats.
Even more incredible is that the price of these new lighter, stronger body armor plates is not going through the roof as one might expect. On the contrary, the price on many of the plates I saw throughout the show are the same or lower than years' past.
As technology continues to grow in this space, expect to see thinner, lighter and stronger body armor at prices that won’t break the bank.
#2. Custom Firearms
Watch out Daniel Defense! For 2022, it was the year of the smaller, custom weapons manufacturers. One of the companies I was totally blown away with this year was Angstadt Arms.
Rich Angstadt has been innovating some absolutely incredible weapons out of the northeast. I remember first seeing Rich and his weapons in the lower, back rooms of SHOT Show years ago in a little 10x10 booth. Well this year Angstadt Arms was a premier manufacturer on the main floor of the show and his weapons did not disappoint. When I say they were show stoppers, I mean that literally and figuratively. It was hard to pass by his booth without stopping and staring in complete awe.
If you’re looking for a company that is actually innovating in the firearms space (not just machining a different kind of rail), you have to check out Angstadt Arms.
#3. The New Faces
One of the best parts of SHOT Show is seeing old friends and familiar faces from the industry. The firearms industry is full of so many incredible people that over the years many have become like family.
This year, however, SHOT Show 2022 brought some new faces into the mix from industries outside the firearms space. In particular was the welcome addition of people from the fitness and nutrition space.
There are so many incredible men and women in the fitness space that have a passion for firearms as well. To see some of these people walking the show and taking in all that the firearms' world had to offer was just so cool to see. If you look closely you’ll notice just a few of these people in the photo above. To think that their collective MILLIONS of followers on social media were seeing them walking around Shot Show, checking out guns and tactical gear, is a major win for the firearms and tactical space.
SHOT Show 2022 was the shell of the show it has been in years' past. And truth be told, I’m not sure if it will ever be the same. The days of people getting on planes and traveling to a large conference center to walk around for days, checking out new products may very well have come to an end with COVID. But I do know this; more and more people that are not from the firearms' space are becoming more involved in shooting sports than ever before. And in the end, that’s a huge win for the industry as a whole.