No Fear Nor Loathing

While still caught up in all of the excitement of Las Vegas, I wrote a short piece to give you a taste of what was happening at SHOT Show 2023. Now that I’m back home and have finally shaken off the last of my jet lag, I’m bringing you my full-length report on SOFREP’s take on SHOT Show 2023. In case anyone was wondering, SHOT is an acronym describing the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show. Pretty clever if you ask me.

SOFREP Editor-in-Chief (EIC) Sean Spoonts and I braved Sin City to bring you information on the latest and greatest in the world of firearms and outdoor adventure.

They boast some truly impressive stats. Graphic from NSSF (the firearm industry trade association).

Warming Up and Cooling Down

The EIC himself takes a brief break to admire the Nevada scenery as we approach the snow line. Photo by the author.

We arrived in town a day early to field test some products in Nevada’s Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, just a few miles outside of Las Vegas. Only a few hours after leaving sunny Florida, we found ourselves at about 5,000 feet in the Mojave Desert with temps in the low 50s and plenty of gusty winds. We were both rocking (pun intended) ultra-lightweight Garmont 9.81 Heli tactical footwear, providing us with mountain goat stable footing on the sometimes loose and rocky terrain. Under my Garmonts, I was sporting a pair of Legend All Weather Compression Merino Wool Tactical Boot Socks, the same ones provided to our SEAL Teams. I can honestly tell you that these were the most comfortable socks I’ve ever worn, and they kept my size 11s toasty, dry, and stink-free all day. The mild compression helped to keep my feet and legs from feeling fatigued. Additionally, the Chameleon Softshell Jacket 2.0s provided to us by our friends at 5.11 kept our upper bodies warm while keeping the frigid Nevada winter wind out. Stay tuned for more about all of these products in the future.

Home on the Range

Sean (right) is seen here with Buck Steele of Alpha Silencers. Buck hands down wins the award for the coolest name of anyone at SHOT Show, plus he’s one hell of a nice guy. Photo by the Author

If you are a firearms enthusiast (as all of us at SOFREP are), Range Day at SHOT Show is the stuff dreams are made of. It’s also the stuff hearing protection is made for, as dozens of ranges are going at once, some with automatic weapons. After throwing a few rounds downrange, I quickly headed out to the FalCom booth, where Galen was kind enough to let me try out some of their SOF quality state-of-the-art hearing protection. After donning a pair, I could immediately hear his voice clear as a bell over the constant din of thousands of shots and voices sounding off at once. He showed me an impressive demonstration of how you could easily determine the direction and distance of sound, even on a noisy battlefield. Reluctantly I had to give the headset back and make do with the set of triple flange earplugs I had brought.

I could write a 10,000-word piece just on the range, but I’ll concentrate on the most impressive thing I experienced that day, and that is the almost unbelievable silencing ability of an Alpha Silencer on a 300 Win Mag. As he pulled the trigger, I was standing fewer than 3 feet away from Sean (convinced by everyone that I would not need hearing protection). The report was no louder than someone closing your typical refrigerator door. It was so quiet that I almost missed hearing the shot, and I thought the Alpha guys were playing some kind of gag on us. But it was no gag; the titanium silencer is touted as the best in the world, and I do not doubt that it is.

Maybe I was closer than 3 feet, but the sound was no louder than closing your fridge door at home. Jawdroppingly quite. Color me impressed with Alpha Silencers. Photo by the Author.

Of course, it wasn’t all firearms out there in the desert. There was an excellent track for off-road buggies and electric motorcycles. The SOFREP crew opted to take the wheel of a Segway Villian, and it had us grinning from ear the ear as we cranked the fun factor up to 10 by throwing the cool little cart into dirt-churning powerslides. They say they’ll do 75 mph, but my company-sponsored co-driver made me back off before I got the pedal the whole way down to the metal.

Check out the suspension travel on that baby. You can traverse almost all that terrain you see in the background of the photo with little body roll. Believe it or not, these things are street-legal in my home state of Florida. I have a new number one request on my Christmas list for next year. Photo by SOFREP.

The Big Show

The more typical indoor convention part of SHOT Show began Tuesday, and this writer was awed by the sheer magnitude of it. And trust me, I’m not easily impressed. Image the biggest airport you can think of, stuff in double the number of people that are usually there, and throw in booths containing every conceivable type of firearm, knife, and related outdoor accessory, and you’ll get a rough idea of the experience. Also, crank the volume up to about 10. It was almost as loud as a rock concert from everyone talking. It’s quite an event. They told us the total square footage on the exhibit floors was about 18 acres, large enough to park 547 F-16 fighter jets. If you were to walk down every aisle of the show, you’d cover 13.9 miles…more than half a marathon.

You could probably park two 747s inside this one exhibit hall. Photo by the author.


Of course, the guns were the stars of the show, and we saw some spectacular ones. You’ll be reading more about them in detail in the not-too-distant future. The Barrett firearms sign drew me to their display like a moth to a flame. The folks there were kind, knowledgeable, and eager to tell me all about their amazing line of rifles.