By Mike Keleher

OK, so it’s 2021 and all that 2020 weirdness and onerous COVID stuff is still here- yes just about a year ago we were told we had to restrict ourselves for two or three weeks to “flatten the curve.” I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty flat by now.

The world’s largest firearms trade show, the SHOT Show, had to throw in the face mask-towel and admit they could not hold the traditional 2021 show in Las Vegas where over 70,000 living/breathing human beings would gather to ogle all things related to firearms, the word “tactical” and any fabric item that was either black in color or had some Velcro sewn on to it.

Show organizers Just could not get around the whole “We the scientists/government/medical professionals know what we are doing and are telling you how to behave to keep Covid from spreading-again, in a new way-not the same way we did earlier in the year when everything we said was wrong or contraindicated” and “Wait, if masks work, why can’t we eat in a restaurant, and why were all the mask wearing prisoners being let out of jail?”

Sooooo anyway, Shot Show 2021 was reorganized into a new Covid free product “Shot Show on Demand”, which started today somewhere in the Ethernet. It consists of some viewable product content online by gun media such as your less than esteemed humble scribe, and I would like to show off some of the new items they feature – with a lot less fan fare than travelling to Vegas and walking for three days to try and see it all. On the plus side, my feet don’t hurt, and it is cheaper to stay home and look at gun stuff on the internet-looks a lot like a normal day for me.

Some companies are doing their own online “show” and I really liked Adam Weber’s sale title “Thank God we don’t have to go to Vegas” and Brownells calling their website exposition the “Not-Show e-vent.”

Photo credit: Brownells

A few companies jumped the gun and let their big items out before the actual digital show began. Winchester and Browning announced a brand-new joint venture called the 6.8 Western rifle cartridge, the ammo will be made by Winchester and sold by both brands and chambered in Browning rifles. Coming in on the heels of the success and demands for the 6.5 Creedmore.

Winchester designed this new round to carry a heavier bullet over long distances to exceed the hunting capability of the 6.5 Creedmore. They cited Creedmore users doing fine on deer sized animals, and were straying into Elk, but Winchester felt their new 6.8 Western is much more suitable for the larger animals since it uses heavier bullets like Winchester’s 165 gr and Browning’s Long Range Pro version with 175 gr Sierra Game Kings and a polymer tip.

Photo Credit: Winchester

Why jump into another short action round? Well, as stated the bullets are ideal for long range and big game hunting- heavier than 6.5 Creedmore, 6.5 PRC and .270 WSM. They also state it has more energy than those three cartridges-yet has less recoil than .300 WSM, 300 Win Mag and 300 PRC.

Browning also introduced an innovative new hollow point self-defense oriented pistol bullet line called X-Point Defense. The difference in this hollow point and all others is the interior has a patent on this new bullet which has an X-shaped divider inside the hollow point to increase the chances for expansion into all those lead colored flowers you have seen in every hollow point advertisement ever published.

Photo Credit: Browning

Looking into the tip, it appears a Phillips Screw Driver tip is embedded inside the bullet. One of the problems with hollow points is clothing material can clog the hole and prevent expansion, and this X-Point is supposed to make expansion much more consistent upon impact. It is being marketed by Browning in .380 at 95 gr and 1000 fps, 9mm at 147 gr and 1000 fps, .40 S+W at 180 gr and 1025 fps, 45 ACP at 230 gr at 920 fps and 10mm at 180 gr and 1225 fps.
Browning is also bringing out a new shotshell line for waterfowlers called “Wicked Blend” which contains bismuth shot and steel shot mixed in the same shell to create interesting pattern density and power. They are hoping to make this load unique by getting the best of Bismuth and Steel (all non-toxic) into a combined payload. They have come up with a new wad , the Wicked Wad System to handle the load and maximum effective distance.

Photo credit: Browning

Timney Triggers also jumped the opening gun for the digital Shot Show last Friday by releasing a sneak peek of a Glock slide and “New Year New Pew”. Today they showed a picture online of an apparent Timney made Glock trigger which they will show off later in the week on January 20th. Yet another Glock trigger? Well, it is still interesting to me-and maybe a little exciting, because it is made by Timney-one of the hands down best rifle trigger makers in the business. Much like when Chip McCormick brought out a Glock trigger system last year, it will be worth looking at, especially since drop in match grade triggers can be installed by anybody with an IQ over room temperature.

Biggest announcement of the Digital Show so far? Well, it’s an oldie but a goodie-with a twist. Back in 2008, I was at the SHOT SHOW and stood in line to get my hands on a Glock pistol/carbine looking thing that folded up into its own case. You gave it a shake by the carry handle and it unfolded into a pistol with a shoulder stock. When folded it was about the size of a hard backed book. People and the gun media could not get enough of it. For me I am pretty sure I owned something quite like it back in the 1960’s either from the Mattel Secret Agent Zero M line, 007 toys or the Man From Uncle. The Magpul version’s coolness factor was off the charts in 2008.

But they never moved it into commercial production. This week, the big announcement was Magpul has combined with ZEV (maker of very high-quality Glock items and completed pistols) to produce a similar fold up carbine item using the ZEV 0Z9 operating system and a Magpul chassis. They will produce two versions, the FDP-9 and FDC-9, one of which is a civilian version that is a “pistol” with brace and not a Short Barreled Rifle (SBR). The FDC-9 will be a SBR subject to NFA rules.
Oh and the twist? They won’t sell it until 2022.

Photo Credit: Magpul

SIG Sauer is bringing out yet another variation on the ultra-successful P320 with their P320MAX, a competition tuned pistol-most likely done in conjunction with their in-house shooter Max Michel- get it P320MAX? He has set many records with the P320 platform. This one will sport a X series grip called XFULL which features tungsten weights in the polymer grip module and a flat trigger. The slide is redesigned by the SIG Custom Works with a 5” match grade barrel and a SIG Sauer 6MOA ROMEOMAX red dot sight and 21 rd magazines. Price was not yet available.

Brownells has been using the SHOT Show to tout their latest and greatest inventions for the last few years and I wonder what they have up their sleeve this year. A year or so ago they used the show to announce they were going to make retro M-16 looking AR-15’s….whee. I was underwhelmed last year ( I am rarely “whelmed”) when they showed off new AR uppers based upon the piston system Armalite AR180’s designed by Eugene Stoner as the next rifle after he designed the M-16.

This week at the “Not-Show” on their web site Brownells are showing off new items daily for five days in a row and offering discounts on some established in stock items. They have a daily giveaway you can sign up for with two prizes a day going out. Monday’s items were an AR rifle and a PCC carbine. Good prizes!

Just before the show opened Brownells leaked word about their new Match Precision Optics (MPO) Scope, a 1-8x power 24 mm tactical style scope. The MPO should be a great set up for 3-gun or precision shooting and comes with an $800 price tag.

Brownells is also featuring new Magpul products like the lighter weight PRS stock which weighs 10 oz less and priced half as much their regular PRS stock. They are also offering a new larger pistol grip for people with bigger hands- it is 25% larger than a regular grip. One of the in-house sponsors with Brownells is Polymer 80, and on Monday they listed the Polymer 80 Glock 43 frames for $120-an unheard-of price, especially following recent BATF actions trying to suppress Polymer 80.

Brownells also showed off “something new” in AR magazines, the THRiL Inc PMX 30 round magazine. It is built with a new method using the THRiL polymer matrix which should result in better durability and function. External texture is also provided for a good grip even with wet or dirty hands. Sale price was only $12 each. Get ’em while you can boys and girls, there is a new regime showing up in Washington later this week, and they hate high capacity magazines like they hate the current president.

Photo Credit:

Well, that’s about it from the virtual SHOT Show. I have to get downstairs now to the virtual Vegas style buffet in my kitchen, and maybe go to a show later in the evening-in the living room. I am sitting in front of a stack of chips right now-but they are Doritos. (Yes I miss Vegas this time of year!)

I am also used to bumping into an attractive Show Girl at my house too. She shows me the garbage to take out, shows me stuff to be cleaned up and shows me the cat litter to be scooped. I appreciate Show Girls as I am an experienced married man, and like living indoors when it is cold outside.

I will be sure to write again if I see something interesting later in the week.