Archive for December 11, 2012

This is the second installment in a three-part review of the Dec. 9 Premier Gun Show in San Antonio, TX.  In part I, I reviewed the location and completed about half of the vendor reviews.  In this part, I’ll complete the commentary on all the vendors I visited (in no particular order) and summarize the show as a whole.  Part III will contain a description of some of the stops you can make just off the highway to enhance your visit from the north Texas area should you wish to visit this show in the future.  And yes, there will be pictures of Russell, the gun show dog 🙂

At the risk of repeating myself, I was very pleased with the variety of vendors at this show, including those not directly associated with firearms.  The number of jewelry tables was much higher than I expected including native American and exotic jewelry that I had never seen before.  The most interesting vendor in that category was Precious Moments with their display of Ne ‘Qwa art.  The variety really reinforced the sense of something for everyone at the show.

I saw lots of familiar faces at the show, one of which was Austin Davis from Kangaroo Carry.  He was happy to see me wearing the Air Marshal 3 rig, although empty since my Glock and ammo remained locked away in the car safe.  We talked for several minutes on a variety of topics before I moved onto some non-familiar faces.

Among the many new survival-related companies was Survive and Defend.  Lots of traffic when I walked by and they don’t have a web site on their card.  Well, that makes someone to visit next time …

It seems like every other company has ‘tactical’ in their name, like The Tactical Man Store.  Lots of nice tactical goodies for the tactically-inclined man.

If you’re not into tactical weapons that go bang, there are plenty of vendors selling non-lethal SD items such as Spider Stunguns.  Stun guns, batons, all varieties of sprays, ninja stars, and general mall ninja goodies are available for purchase.  Just make sure it’s a ‘tactical’ knife or stun gun 🙂 Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Now, for someone without tactical in their name, the preppers would have enjoyed the display at Doomsday Outlet.  Everything you need to prepare for TEOTWAWKI.

One of the coolest and most subtle displays in the entire show was from Maverick Trading Post Co.  They had the most awesome display of stuffed rattlesnakes spread across multiple tables.  Some of the snake photos (including rattler mating) were worth the time to peruse.  A small, drab, box was positioned at the end of one of the tables with the handwritten note, ‘Free Cigars – Take One Only.’

My wife and I flipped through the photo collection and noticed at least three people nearly jump out of their pants when hearing the rattle after the box was opened.  It contained a miniature layout of a field and an actual rattle that was mechanically activated when the box lid raised a certain distance.  Best gag ever!  Also makes me glad I don’t smoke and have no interest in cigars 🙂

A couple minutes later, my wife and I passed by Tactical Outdoors/Air Soft featuring tactical vests and gear for the tactically minded, mostly kids it appears based on the tacticool kid wearing a tricked out tactical vest, tactically positioned behind the table.  My wife mentioned that he looked like Rambo and the kid had no idea what she meant.  What?  You’re a tactical-minded kid and you’ve never seen Rambo?  WTF?  What crap do kids watch these days?  Never mind, I don’t want to know.  Come to think of it, what was my wife thinking?  Rambo never wore a vest, much less a tactical vest.  Most of the time, he never wore a shirt.

And, to show you I’m not exaggerating, the next business card I picked up was In The Bag With Tactical Gear – Hunting, Sporting, Tactical Gear, Body Armor, Tannerite, and Ammo.  Tannerite is a binary explosive used in exploding targets.  These folks did have some good gear on display and probably one of the better (if not best) show-only deals.  An unbelievable price on a plate carrier with IIIa soft armor and a level IV rifle plate.  If I was not about to put money down on a custom shotgun build – no, sorry, I meant a tactical shotgun – I might have been tempted to hit the ATM.

I really had to get away from all the tactical stuff, so I wandered over to Prestige Optics and drooled over the wicked optics they had on display, including some interesting night-vision gear.  Ah, if only I could win the lottery …  I took a few minutes to drown my financial sorrows by talking with Oscar Broca from Republic Arsenal.

Next, I wandered around some more, made a few purchases of cleaning supplies, then went back to drooling when I walked by the Talon LLC tables.  Here a rifle, there a rifle, everywhere a wonderful, suppressed rifle.  Name your caliber.  9mm SBR, 5.56, 300 Blackout or .308.  I’ll have one of each, please.  Well, that puts me back to winning the lottery again …

I stopped at the Goal Zero display to take a hard look at some solar chargers.  The one unit that really caught my eye seemed perfect for cell phone, small computers, and similar devices.  It was also the only one that they did not have priced.

I thought On Your 6 Designs had an interesting collection of holsters.  Not tactical holsters, just the plain useful variety.

On the subject of real tactical, I liked the Alamo Tactical display.  Gear and training from people with real tactical backgrounds.  I’d like to stop by their store the next time I’m in town.  Wish I could have talked more with them, but my wife grabbed me and hauled me over to the Roberts multi-table display of coins and Indian jewelry.  It was quite interesting, but can I please go back and talk with Alamo Tactical?

Sometimes, taking your wife to a show is not a good idea.

Eventually, I came across the neon orange shirts from Crazy Guns (Crazy Gun Dealer in Alvarado, TX).  It seems every time I walk by this dealer at any show, someone is buying a gun.  Maybe it’s because I walk by?  Where’s my commission?

I don’t have time to think about that because my mind is still burning with the image of the ultimate bug-out vehicle, a tricked out build from Hill Country Conversions, advertised as your ‘one stop truck stop’.  Okay, the vehicle was designed for hunting, but take off the rooftop deer stand and replace it with a turret.  It’s now the ultimate bug-out vehicle.  I must have one.

Meanwhile, my wife was talking to one of the It Works vendors (weight loss products).  It appeared to be run by a husband/wife team and the wife actually used the product and documented her results.  They were really giving my wife the hard sell, so I turned around and talked with the nice ladies at Mama Grizzly.  It’s really cool to see an organization that promotes shooting sports and self-defense to women.  When my wife finally walked over, they politely shooed me out of the way 🙂

I then wandered back and forth across several aisles.  Eventually, I stopped and listened to a conversation with a rep from Viking Tactical (there it is again) as they demonstrated a FN PS90 to a prospective customer.  I wanted to listen to more, but the sign for 18% pepper spray at the back wall caught my eye.  I thought they might have the Wildfire Fogger on display, but when I got there, I only saw a few 15% sprayers.

I turned around and walked back past my dream bug-out vehicle and looked over the Airsoft vendor whose products were not displayed on a table but inside a trailer similar to a street vendor that sells concessions.  Interesting.  I quickly walked past the vendor that sold IT and web site development services (that’s a first for a gun show).  I wonder if they develop tactical web sites?

I didn’t have time to find out.  My 3-hour time budget was exhausted, so I returned to the main room to pick up ammo and other purchases I left at the vendors to avoid carrying all over the Expo Hall.  One my way out the door, I stopped and talked with Parabellum Research.  I like the fact that they have both regular and value lines (once-fired brass) and their 357 Sig value line was very attractively priced.  They also supply boxes of 100, not 50 rounds.  The Sig ammo seemed a bit on the soft side and I like something with more punch, so I decided to pass on a box for now.  Might do a review some time in the future.

I’ll let my wife do the summary.  “This was a great show,” and that’s from a person that is not really a gun show enthusiast.  There really was something for everyone and the attendance was excellent.  I walked out to a nearly full parking lot on a day with rain in the forecast and a Sunday afternoon where football competes for everyone’s time and attention.

From a vendor perspective, my three hours may not be representative, but I saw more lookers than buyers.  This is in stark contrast to Lewisville the prior Sunday where almost everyone in attendance was holding a new gun case or a sack of merchandise.

Overall, I thought three hours did not do the show justice.  It was a big show – I’m guessing a thousand tables and not something you peruse casually.  Definitely worth the drive, although the organizers need to do a better job setting up multiple concession areas and some better sitting areas.  Next time, I plan on driving to San Antonio on Friday evening and stay at least 4-6 hours on Saturday.  I hope to see you there.