NRA Annual Meeting Wrap Up Post

  1. If you get a chance to purchase some Flatboat Bourbon Cream, do so. It’s a perfect balance of bourbon, cream, sugar and chocolate. Kahlua was always too cloying for my tastes, but this one is perfect.
  2. Meeting John Hollister was cool. Meeting Col. Robert Boyd was cool. Meeting Anette Watcher was cool. Meeting David Yamane was cool. Meeting Andrew Branca was cool. Meeting the guys from Active Self Protection was cool. Meeting Stephen Gutowski was cool. Meeting Kevin Boyd was cool. Chatting at length with Jim Geraghty and Charles C.W. Cooke about gun culture was really cool.
  3. Bourbon Barrel Ale is one of the best beers I’ve ever had in my life, but watch out, it has a higher alcohol content than most beers.
  4. Meeting Erin Palette was cool. Meeting Unc was cool. Meeting Old NFO was cool. Meeting Rob Morse was cool. Meeting Melody Lauer was cool. Meeting Tam in-person was cool. Meeting Daddy Bear was cool. Meeting Joshua Gideon was cool.
  5. If I had to pick a trend for new products, I’d say it was AR-style pistols in pistol calibers and new suppressors from companies new to the suppressor game. We are rapidly approaching a point where CCW is no longer the driver of gun sales, and I’m not sure we know what’s next.
  6. Hanging out and having dinner with Anthony and Matt from Lucky Gunner was really cool.
  7. Downtown Louisville is a crash course in American urban architecture. In just a few hours, I spotted excellent examples of Greek Revival, Victorian, Gothic, Art Deco, Modern, Bahaus, Googie, Brutalist and Post-Modern buildings, all within walking distance of each other.
  8. Yes, the buttermilk pie at Mark’s Feed Store was all that. Might be some of the best custard I’ve ever had. The fact that it came wrapped in a flaky pie crust made it even better.
  9. The new My Outdoor TV app looks pretty good. For all of you waiting to watch Outdoor Channel without having to pay $$$ for cable, this is what you’ve been waiting for.
  10. Alf gave me a sixer of a locally-made scotch ale. Dude, I owe you!
  11. I know so many people who are so much more generous and friendly than I am that I’m sometimes, I’m embarrassed by my own boorishness.
  12. Speaking of which, I might have been Patient Zero for the con crud. Sorry about that.

Next year, Atlanta!

Gun Culture 3.0 Is Just Around The Corner.

Let’s review:

Gun Culture 1.0 is/was built around buying guns for hunting and the target sports. It sprung up shortly after World War II, supported by written magazines like Guns&Ammo and Field&Stream. These publications mainly talked about guns in the context of outdoor pursuits such as turning Bambi and his many woodland friends into tasty meals and other such things. The act of shooting was, at best, the final link in the experience.

Gun Culture 2.0 is about buying a gun for concealed carry and practical shooting. It sprung up after the NRA asserted itself as a force to be reckoned with (rather than a sportsman’s organization) and the concurrent liberalization of concealed carry laws across the country. Focused on pistol bays and shooting ranges, it brought guns in from the farms and ranches and into the modern home. Shooting is the primary focus of the activities in this culture, with the gun (usually a concealed pistol) used to secure a person from harm rather than secure a source of food.

Gun Culture 3.0 will be an extension of Gun Culture 2.0, but it will be about how do you integrate the gun that you’ve already purchased into how you live. Pick up a copy of Field and Stream: How many of the articles in the magazine are about guns, and how many are about what you DO with a gun once you bought it? Now pick up a copy of Recoil or Shooting Illustrated or Guns. How many of the articles in those magazines are about the latest and greatest Blast-Inator 3000 firearm and how many are about how you can fit a gun into your lifestyle? How many of the ads in those magazines are about guns, versus all the other things that happen in your life?

Concealed carry is still huge, and hunting is still going strong. Gun media, however, is fixated on the idea that the reason to buy a gun is the gun itself, not the reasons why you want to own one beyond “It’s a gun”. Gun Culture 3.0 will talk about how guns and the security they provide, integrate into our larger life. Enthusiasts buy guns because they are guns, everyone else buys a gun to do something with it, and that’s what Gun Culture 3.0 will be about.

The gun owners of Gun Culture 3.0 are part of the mainstream of American culture, and it’s high time we start acting like it. We’re not on the fringes of American society, it’s the cultural elites in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles who are out-of touch with what makes America, America.It’s time to make gun ownership as common and accepted as motorcycle ownership and make a trip to the (gun) range as controversial as a trip to the (driving) range.

We live our lives. We own guns. We carry them. Deal with it.

UPDATE: When I got my concealed carry permit 10+ years ago, my instructor said that only one in three of us would actually carry our gun. Gun Culture 3.0 is what happens when that changes. Gun Culture 1.0 was/is fairly respectable and respected: You could (well, until recently) own a gun for hunting and not be considered a “Gun Nut”. No one blinks at a copy of Field&Stream or Outdoor Life in a doctor’s office waiting room. Gun Culture 3.0 will be when no one blinks at a copy of Front Sight or The Tactical Journal in a waiting room.

NRA Annual Meeting, Day Three

Or, God invented caffeine with this sort of day in mind.

Thankfully, the show opened up a bit later than usual today, and crowds were light, so I didn’t have to repeat yesterday’s grid-locked-induced cross-country trek. I had the distinct pleasure of finally meeting David Yamane, a sociologist chronicling “Gun Culture 2.0”, along with Andrew Branca, the guy who literally wrote the book on the law of self-defense.


Speaking of gun notables, how about a picture of Michael Bane, Larry Vickers, Bill Wilson and Col. Robert Brown? That’s an awful lot of modern gun history there in that photo. The rest of the day was spent walking the show floor and meeting people. I didn’t make it to the John Lott seminar as I had planned because I ran into Melody Lauer and ended up talking about the needs of an armed parent in the context of their everyday life instead.

All in all, it was a tremendous show. It wasn’t as gun-centric as SHOT is, but it is definitely more people-focused and to me, that makes it a better show. I need to go through my cards and sort out the people I need to hit up for T&E samples and list out the bloggers/media people I met, but now I have a long, long drive ahead of me and a wife and family waiting for me when I get home. In between then, I’m looking forward to stopping in Atlanta and having a meal with my Zero-To-Hero cohort Alf Sauve.

Thaks, everyone Stay safe and have fun.

NRA Annual Meeting, Day Two

Yesterday was a whirlwind of long walks, new guns, seminars and meeting old friends.

I got caught in the traffic outside the meeting yesterday, and I quickly determined that my best option was to park outside the venue and take a ten-minute walk into the Expo center and avoid the lines.

I managed to get a few minutes to walk the floor and see what’s new, and because all the manufacturers are busy selling all the products they can possibly make so there’s no real reason for them to introduce new products to increase demand.


New from Smith&Wesson is a .45ACP version of their tremendous little compact pistol. I was pleasantly surprised to see that despite using a larger-diameter round than the 9mm version, it loses only one round of capacity.


Also new is the exquisitely built Nighthawk revolvers from Korth. These guns combine the engineering passion that Germans are famous for with Nighthawk’s scrupulous attention to detail. If an AMG GT S could spit .357 rounds, it would look like this gun.


One unique feature of this revolver is that it has an optional cylinder that takes 9mm ammunition without with moon clips, The gun has a smooth trigger that’s a joy to pull.

In the afternoon, I ducked into Col. Dave Grossman’s “Sheepdog!” Seminar. As the originator of the “sheepdog” concept, he is to gun culture what Col. Jeff Cooper is to gun training, however, I was tried, sick and to be honest, wasn’t hearing anything from the Colonel that was knocking my socks off, so I went back to my hotel and took a nap.

Saturday night was the “Michael Buys The Beer” party, and I had a great time hanging out the likes of Paul Erhardt, Joyce Wilson, Mike Seeklander and a bunch of others.

Today, I’m waiting for the show floor to open and items on the agenda are meeting up with David Yamane and later, a seminar taught by John Lott.

2016 NRA Annual Meeting, Day One

I was fortunate to arrive to the venue really early, because I had heard from others that there was.a THREE HOUR wait to drive into the entrance of the Kentucky Expo Center this morning.


I spent the morning walking the show floor with Tam from The View From The Porch. If you ever get a chance to do something similar, take it. Tam’s… zesty sense of humor and jaundiced view of humanity made for a delightful tour of what the gun industry has to offer these days.

Product-wise, there really wasn’t a whole lot new that came out for the show. Smith&Wesson introduced the Sheild in .45ACP (why they would want to do so is something to be discussed at a later date) and the new Nighthawk!/Korth revolver.

Speaking of revolvers, I spent the morning catching up on the new products introduced at SHOT earlier this year like the Kimber revolver and the Ruger ‘Murican pistol. The Kimber feels solid and seems to be the equal of a similar S&W Performace Center revolver, so Mission Accomplished, Kimber. The Ruger ‘Murican, though, was good but kinda… meh. Tam rightly pointed out that the purpose of this pistol is to get Ruger in the game for the Army’s Modular Handgun System contract, and I think she’s right.

Other than that, it seemed that the trends at the show were suppressors and pistol-caliber carbines. I saw at least three new manufacturers of each on the show floor, and that’s not counting new items from Sig Sauer and others.

I did go to the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum to hear Trump speak: The line to get through security was over an hour long (and in the rain), but the venue looked to be pretty much sold out. That’s loyalty, people, that’s loyalty.

More tomorrow and Monday.

When The Levee Breaks

We’re in the midst of a huge gun-buying bubble right now, and have been for almost eight years. All bubbles burst. All of them, ever since the days of the Dutch buying tulips. What happens when the gun market cools off?

  • If you’re not Smith and Wesson, Ruger, Sig, or similar you’re probably boned.
    I remember what happened after the PC market crashed, and the smaller players who didn’t have gobs and gobs of capital stashed away quickly went tango-uniform.
  • If you’re Smith and Wesson, Ruger or Sig and you can’t adapt quickly, you’re probably boned.
    Yahoo! and AOL were the bee’s knees of the early days of the internet, now they are both struggling to exist.
  • If all you sell is guns, you’re probably boned.
    Compared to other consumer products, guns have a phenomenally long product lifecycle. I go out and buy a new computer every three years or so (and even that is long time compared to others), but if I did my homework and bought a gun that met my needs, I probably won’t have to buy another one for a long, long time. Heck, I have three guns that are going into their sixth decade of service, the M1903, 870 Express and K-22 I inherited from my father-in-law, and they show no signs of slowing down.
  • If you sell accessories, you’ll do ok.
    Add-ons like grips, sights, lasers and whatnot are an easy way to improve an initial gun purchase, and they’ll be needed as all those new gun owners figure out new ways to enjoy their new guns.
  • If you sell ammo, you’ll do more than ok.
    Guns require ammo in order to be anything other than an awkward club. Unlike floppy disks, which were replaced by something else, there is no replacement for the self-contained cartridge on the horizon. Demand may wane a bit has the dilettantes drop out of gun culture, but if you’re an ammo maker, you have more incentive to make guns a permanent part of our lifestyle than just about anyone else out there in the industry.

And let’s go with the Kansas Joe McCoy/Memphis Minnie version of the title, not the Led Zeppelin version.