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Man on the Floor - 2018 SHOT Show Day 2 - Show floor
Man on the Floor - 2018 SHOT Show Day 2 - James Swader

The author, left, with James Swader of Forsaken Arms, a California dealer shopping the show to meet the demands for concealed carry guns in his rural Kern County.

The second day is concluded, and during my time on the floor today, I chatted with some folks about the product trends they’re seeing the SHOT Show and are looking forward to putting on their store shelves and in firearms cases in the coming months.

James Swader from Forsaken Arms in California had a specific interest in the new handguns available for 2018. “We’re in a more rural area of California, Kern County to be specific, and there is a huge interest in defensive handguns among our clientele. It’s much easier to obtain a CCW permit in our part of the state, and sales have been very good. The recent laws enacted in California have people a bit upset — myself included — and folks want to exercise their Second Amendment rights.” It was Swader’s second time attending the SHOT Show, and he fully plans to come again next year. “MSRs and handguns are our focus, but it’s fun to look at the diversity of firearms around the show,” he told me.

Man on the Floor - 2018 SHOT Show Day 2 - Abbas Haider

The author spoke with Abbas Haider, left, a manufacturer’s rep for Aspetto, Inc., a maker of high-end bullet-resistant clothing based in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Haider was impressed that the popularity of AR-type platforms appears to be as steady as ever.

Abbas Haider, of Aspetto, Inc., makers of bullet-resistant clothing, was intrigued with the multitude of AR-style rifles that are still so popular at the SHOT Show. “I had a chance to walk around a bit more this year, as we had several meetings cancelled with military contractors due to the recent government shutdown.” Abbas indicated he had plenty of activity at his booth, and that business was going well.

Tom Cruickshank, hailing from Alaska, came to look at some of the new Thompson/Center hunting handguns. They’re a particular passion of his, as many of his Facebook followers know. “Phil, the sheer size of this show is overwhelming. I seriously can’t believe all the stuff that’s here!” Cruickshank and I discussed the AR-style rifles that seem to have no end to their popularity, as well as the trend of smaller long-range cartridges out this year, such as the 6.5 PRC from Hornady and the .224 Valkyrie from Federal Premium. “I love the smaller cartridges, even for hunting in Alaska, though I’d want them in a single-shot handgun,” he said to me.

Man on the Floor - 2018 SHOT Show Day 2 - Tom Cruickshank

Writer Phil Massaro, right, with Thompson/Center aficionado and hunting TV personality Tom Cruickshank and his wife, who come to SHOT Show all the way from Alaska. Not new to the show or the industry, Cruickshank says he feels like a “kid in a candy shop” at SHOT.

It’s always fun to see a hunter’s expression during their first time at the SHOT Show, and while Cruikshank has done plenty of hunting around the world and has a list of television appearances, he had the wide-eyed expression of a first-time attendee. “There are a million new good scopes here, really nice-looking stuff. I probably couldn’t decide on just one. I’m like a kid in a candy store here.”

Overall, and taken both from my own observations and the conversations I had throughout the day, it seems the AR-style rifles are still running strong, and three cartridges being tailored for them are increasing in capability — and garnering a lot of interest. Handguns are always going to be popular, but several new developments — especially those from Sig Sauer, Glock and Walther, among several others — certainly seem to be impressing attendees. As always, SHOT Show has such a broad spectrum, there’s truly something for everyone. Plan your day and make the rounds, there’s a world of top-notch products ready to make their mark in 2018.