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Wednesday, February 2, 2011 • Posted February 2, 2011

Mr. Webster defines ‘tactical’ as "of or relating to combat tactics." At the SHOT Show in Las Vegas, the word ‘tactical’ was used to describe a section of the Sands Convention Center, which encompassed, I would say, maybe a fifth of the total venue. When I walked into one of the two largest rooms dedicated to ‘tactical’ merchandise, the one where Gordo’s KNS Precision booth was located, I said, "Wow, this place would hold a lot of hay."

That’s what us hicks say when we go to a city and enter a really, really, really big room. This room was about the size of two football fields, and the ceiling was about 20 feet high. Which means that, if you filled it with hay, it would hold a lot.

And that was only about a third of the total area taken up by the tactical section at the show. There was another room the same size, plus several smaller rooms, which would each hold quite a bit of hay themselves.

But I didn’t know that when I walked into that room. I thought that room held most of the booths at SHOT, and I was wondering how I would be able to see most of it in the time I had. And then I found out that room held only about 8 percent of the total SHOT booths, and I realized I was in way over my head.

No way you can visit all the booths at SHOT; there’s just too much ground to cover. What you have to do is get a map and make a plan, looking up the booths you want to visit and devising a route to get around to most of them before the end of the show. This doesn’t work, either, but it gives you hope.

The tactical section alone is really too big. Actually, just the booths with the word ‘tactical’ in their names would make a pretty impressive display. It seems everyone wants to be tactical this or that these days. There were at least 20 companies there with ‘tactical’ in their names, such as Salt River Tactical, and BDS Tactical, and Bill Tom Bob’s Tactical, and Tactical Tactical. Not to mention all the business names with ‘tac’ or ‘tech’ or something else in there. Which is impressive, considering that just a few years ago the type of stuff in the tactical booths was not even allowed at SHOT.

There were several booths I definitely wanted to visit, so I made a list and tried to locate them on my map of the Sands. The map, the size of four sheets of notebook paper, was not big enough, and the booth numbers were so small I could hardly read them. I had to constantly stop young people at the show and hold my map out to them and ask them to tell me if I was pointing to booth 11662 or booth 11882, or maybe some other booth. Most of the young people were nice about it, but I could tell they were annoyed. They were pressed for time, just like I was.

I did finally manage to visit most of the booths on my list. At the Smith & Wesson booth I watched my friend, Matt Rice, being videoed explaining the new Smith & Wesson Governor pistol, which is similar to the Taurus Judge, and is very impressive. Later I saw the video of Matt on You Tube, which was really weird. Like déjà vu all over again.

Umarex was there with new .22 caliber versions of the HK MP5 and the Colt 1911, and I wanted to talk to the folks there, but they were all busy. I did manage to see Chuck and CJ Buck at the Buck Knives booth, but just briefly. They were on their way to a meeting. Likewise, Pete Brownell was busy when I went by the Brownell’s booth, so I missed him completely. I’m sure he feels real bad about that.

Armatac didn’t have a booth that I could find, but I did see one of their new 150 rounds AR magazines at another booth, and it’s about as impressive as an AR magazine can be. If you need an AR mag that holds 150 rounds, you won’t find one anywhere else. Get one of those and you only have to load your gun once a month, unless your teenage son gets hold of it.

One booth I ran across by accident offered a brand new product called Frog Lube. I had no idea frogs dried out, so I stopped. Frog Lube is actually gun lubricant, and is top notch stuff. You can eat it and it won’t hurt you, although I don’t know why you’d do that. If you lube a rifle or pistol with it, it doesn’t burn off and evaporate after 20 or 30 rounds like oil does. Plus it actually dissolves powder residue, so it’s sort of cleaning your gun while you’re still shooting it. I never saw anything like it.

The main problem at SHOT was the vast area, and the endless walking involved. I estimate I walked about 827 miles per day, at least. And the only thing I didn’t see in all those miles was a pair of tactical orthopedic shoes . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who should be walking again in a couple of months. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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