According to my calculations, which I came up with by reading a story someone sent me, the recent NRA Annual Meeting, held at the Something R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, drew a record 86,228 attendees. But I went in and came out and went back in, so that figure might be off.
The convention, as you can imagine, featured a lot of guns, but my friend, Mike Nischalke, of Hunter Outdoor Communications, made an interesting observance. He said that, with over 86,000 NRA members at the venue, the number of legally carried firearms probably exceeded the number of guns on display by, uh, a lot. And he’s probably right. And nobody shot anybody. Go figure.
Mike and his fiance, Karen Lutto, represent Steyr and Can Cooker and Sea Life and a bunch of other great companies that make outdoor products. I managed to get hold of a Sea Life camera a while back, and loved it. It was waterproof down to 160 feet, took great pictures and video, and was almost indestructible. You can go to the Sea Life website and watch a video of the camera filming while a Jeep runs over it.
I broke mine.
My son, Paden, and I were canyoning in Oak Creek outside of Ouray, Colorado last May, in ice water, and I opened the long, narrow door on the bottom of the camera, where the battery and SD card go. I managed to bang the door on something while it was open (and frozen) and it broke off. My fault, really, but you won’t catch me admitting it in print. It’s kind of embarrassing to break something, without trying, that can be run over by a Jeep with no damage.
But I sent the camera back to Sea Life, and they didn’t fix it. They sent me a whole new camera. It’s companies like Sea Life that make America great, and enable people to take pictures of one another rappelling in 70 foot icy waterfalls.
But Sea Life wasn’t the only fine company represented at the NRA show. Linda Powell, at the Mossberg booth, demonstrated Mossberg’s Flex stock system for me. It’s been available for a while, but I hadn’t had a chance to see it up close before. I think Linda heard about my camera and was afraid I’d break her guns.
The Mossberg Flex thing is about the coolest idea that’s come along in a long time. It allows people like me, with limited finances and limited mechanical ability, to change out the buttstock, fore end, and barrel on a Mossberg 500 or 590 shotgun and have an entirely different gun, for an entirely different purpose. And honestly, the whole system is tough enough to hold up to people like me.
The Mossberg 500 shotgun is one of the most dependable and popular shotguns ever made, and with the new Flex system the user can put a camo stock and fore end on the gun for hunting, along with a long barrel with interchangable chokes. For home defense there’s a pistol grip and a railed fore end, and a shorter barrel can be installed. The changes are quick and easy, and nothing wiggles, shakes, or rattles. There’s even an AR-style, adjustable buttstock, so the gun can be fitted for smaller shooters, as long as they don’t live where such useful items are banned, as they are in communist countries like California and Chicago.
The Flex system is also available for rifles, which I think is a new thing. It’s a fantastic idea, and allows Dad to shorten the stock and teach his kids to shoot with the same rifle he uses. And then Dad can extend the stock again, and take the rifle hunting. Unless the kids won’t give it back, which is likely.
My friend, Eddie Stevenson, was also at the NRA thing, in the Trijicon booth. They have an impressive new product available, the ACOG 3x30, with its 300 AAC Blackout reticle. If you don’t know what the letters stand for, I’ll tell you. As soon as I find out.
The 300 AAC Blackout cartridge is a 7.62x35mm round developed by Advanced Armament Corp., to offer our troops a heavier bullet than the .223 for the M4 rifle. It’s a fine short range round, and can be made subsonic for ‘quiet’ use with suppressors. But with the heavier 30 caliber bullets, the impact point changes quite a bit. And if I shoot the gun, the impact point is anyone’s guess.
So Trijicon developed their 3x30 ACOG specifically for use with the 300 BLK round. It’s got the same fantastic light gathering capabilities of their other battle sights, but the reticle is designed so the shooter doesn’t have to re-sight his rifle when going from supersonic to subsonic ammo and back again. All he has to do is line up a different stadia line on the target and pull the trigger. The Ballistic Drop Compensator stadia lines also allow for positive aiming with regular ammo out to about 600 yards. Or meters if you have any idea what those are. I use yards. I’m that way.
I keep thinking everything I need has been invented, and then more stuff I need gets invented, and it just keeps going. Obviously I need a lot more stuff than I have, I just don’t know what it is yet . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who needs a rifle that also makes pizza. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org