You’d have to look hard to find a trade show with more of a split personality than the Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) show. In recent years, it has developed into two shows, really. One is a sporting show that features such things as duck hunting shotguns and new deer skinning tools and the other is a military and law enforcement gear show that includes grenade launchers and fully automatic weapons.
This year’s SHOT, held at the end of January, was a vivid example of how important this exhibition has become to the law enforcement community. The SHOT show has for some years now included a special law enforcement section for police equipment. That’s nothing new. But what was remarkable about this year’s show was how much law enforcement and military gear was exhibited in the general interest section of the floor.
The reasons for this are easily explained. Some law enforcement equipment companies register late and are forced to take whatever show space is left. But there’s a more interesting reason as well. As businesses, many gun manufacturers, holster makers, and even ammo companies are mature. The only way they are going to add substantially to their bottom lines is through acquisitions of existing companies or expansion into new lines.
This is why it seemed that every gun company at this year’s SHOT had a tactical knife suitable for police or military duty, and it’s why if you wanted to see a great radiation detector for law enforcement applications, you had to ask to see it in the booth of a major munitions company.
With all the money being spent by the government on the war and on homeland security, just about every company at SHOT had something to show soldiers and cops. Here’s a quick look at some of the more interesting patrol and tactical products on display at this year’s show.
Hands down, the coolest law enforcement product at this year’s SHOT show was Remington’s Eye Ball R1 wireless 360-degree mobile display system. That’s a terrible name for something that’s easily understood. Basically the R1 is a throwable, rollable tactical camera with a range of 200 yards. Need to see what’s in the hallway around the corner? Roll the wireless R1 down the hall and look at the display. It can be thrown through windows. It can even be bounced off concrete. This is one tough and versatile tactical camera.
Small and Powerful
Officers who are intrigued by the power and accuracy of the Glock G37 .45 G.A.P. but prefer smaller pistols will want to take a look at the new compact Glock G38 and sub-compact G39. The G38 is similar in size to other Glock compacts, and is designed for concealed carry. It holds eight rounds and has a molded-in light rail. The G39 would make an excellent backup weapon for an officer who carries the full-size G37 as a duty pistol. It holds six rounds in a semi-staggered column.
Bianchi is now offering economy-priced, but quality duty gear for law enforcement officers. The company’s new PatrolTek line includes two sizes of belts with liners, and a range of pouches and holders for magazines, cuffs, gloves, radios, and other gear. Each PatrolTek product is constructed of molded trilaminate material that is easily cleaned with soap and water and stays flexible in cold weather.
Shining a Light
Crimson Trace has long offered its Lasergrips sighting system for almost every duty pistol. With one notable exception, Lasergrips were not available for Glocks. Now they are. The new Lasergrips are made of polymer materials that pressure fit to the grip of Glock G17, G22, and G31 pistols. As with all Lasergrips, the new Glock system adds very little weight to the weapon. The laser beams out from the righthand side of the weapon’s slide. Crimson Trace says Glock pistols equipped with the new Lasergrips fit a variety of standard holsters.
Adding a Point
Like several other firearms manufacturers, Heckler & Koch is now offering a line of tactical folding knives. The HK34 AXIS knives were designed by custom knifemaker Mike Snody and feature Benchmade’s AXIS locking mechanism. HK’s tactical folders are available in several configurations, including drop point and tanto point blades with plain and serrated edges. The 3.4-inch blades are constructed of 154CM corrosion-resistant stainless steel.
Dial a Color
At this year’s SHOT Show, Gerber displayed a new line of lights that ranged from standard LED duty tools to an innovative multicolored pocket light called the Recon. Featuring a patented dial that lets the user choose the color of the light, the Recon runs on one AA battery. The Recon offers a white LED for general use, a green LED for map reading, blue for fluid identification, and red to preserve night vision.
Manual Tactical Ramp
One of the more unusual exhibits at this year’s SHOT Show was the Liberator manual ramp system from Patriot3. The Liberator is the manual counterpart to Patriot3’s MARS (Mobile Adjustable Ramp System), and it offers some real cost advantages for cash-strapped agencies. Not only does the Liberator cost less than the automatically deployed MARS, it also fits smaller vehicles. Unlike MARS, which can only be installed on heavy-duty trucks and vans, the Liberator fits a variety of vehicles, including the Lenco Bearcat armored car and standard Ford, Chevy, and Dodge vans.
CamelBak announced the availability of a new tougher reservoir for its hydration system. Called the WaterBeast, the new reservoir is 30 percent stronger than the current CamelBak reservoir, making it better suited to longer engagements in harsh environments. CamelBak says that once the WaterBeast goes into production, it will be the standard reservoir for all CamelBaks.
One of the more intriguing law enforcement products that debuted at last year’s SHOT Show was the Corner Shot. The Corner Shot is a device that literally allows an officer to see around corners and deliver aimed fire from a pistol at a target seen only on a video screen. This year Corner Shot showed a new version of its technology, the Corner Shot 40. Fitted with a launcher capable of firing 40mm or 37mm grenades, the Corner Shot 40 can be used by law enforcement agencies to deliver gas, OC, smoke, illumination, or less-lethal projectiles around corners without exposing officers to hostile fire.
Ready for Duty
One of the more interesting developments at this year’s SHOT Show was a growing relationship between tactical service and training company Blackwater and Michaels of Oregon. Michaels is now producing a comprehensive line of Blackwater Gear, including Modular Lightweight Load Bearing Equipment (MOLLE) gear and a line of Pouch Attachment Ladder System (PALS) gear. The Blackwater Gear line also includes moisture-wicking underwear, hydration systems, rifle slings, and tactical knives.
D-tect Systems showed two models of high-end radiation detectors for first responders. The Mini Rad-D is a personal radiation detector that’s small enough to wear on a belt and sensitive enough to be operated from a moving police car. It can be set to notify an operator audibly or by vibration when gamma radiation exceeds natural background levels. D-tect’s full-size Rad-ID is a much larger model that can actually identify the type of isotope detected. More than 100 medical, industrial, and military isotopes are included in the device’s library.
Agencies looking for a high-quality infrared surveillance tool may want to take a look at Elcan’s new PhantomIR binocular. The PhantomIR can detect the heat signatures of people, animals, and objects in the daytime or at night through smoke, fog, or camouflage at ranges up to 900 meters. It’s powered by four AA lithium batteries and can be operated continuously for more than seven hours.
Shedding Some Light
Streamlight and Thunder Ranch have joined together to create the Thunder Ranch Illumination System. More than just a flashlight, the Illumination System includes a Streamlight TL-2 LED lithium-battery-powered flashlight with a flip-up lens cover, a Streamlight Key-Mate flashlight, and an instructional DVD in which Clint Smith, director of training for Thunder Ranch, teaches low-light tactics and flashlight techniques. One of the more unique features of the system is the Tiger Ring, a loop made of O-ring rubber that aids the user in holding onto the TL-2 flashlight and makes it easier to manipulate the light under stress.
BlackHawk showed its latest Close Quarter Concealment holster with SERPA retention technology. The SERPA system eliminates the need for a thumb break with a lever-released trigger guard lock and aids fast and secure re-holstering. SERPA holsters are constructed of carbon fiber and fit a wide variety of duty pistols. The holsters are available in belt loop and paddle platforms and in a tactical model.
Light and Vibration
There are a lot of different types of patrol flashlights: LEDs, xenon bulbs, full size, compacts, and even the Tiger Light, which doubles as an OC weapon. Tactical Scanners is now offering a new wrinkle in this market, the Tactical Scanlite. Incorporating both a sensitive metal detector and a 15,000 candlepower duty light, the Tactical Scanlite is both an illumination and a search tool. The light, which offers two hours of continuous runtime, is rechargeable and weighs only 12 ounces. Its scanner can detect both ferrous and non-ferrous metal from inches away.