Houston GRB Dec. 29 2012, Part I

Posted: December 31, 2012 in Show Reviews
Tags: , , ,

This is the first in a two-part review of the High Caliber Gun Show at Houston George R. Brown Convention Center on Dec. 29, 2012.

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I arrived in Houston the night before and stayed at an LQ on 59. There are an abundance of affordable hotels in the Greenbriar area, right off 59. From there, travel to the convention center is a breeze (exit left on Polk). Signage for the show was nonexistent, so I had to work my way around to the front and look for a collection of cars or a line. Eventually, I saw a number of people crossing the street, obviously headed for the ticket area near Hall B. The parking area was near the intersection and the fee was $10. I arrived early enough to get a good spot and then paid my entry fee at the ticket area. A nice feature of this venue is that you purchase a ticket, then stand in line. Although the lines are long, there are no delays to take payment once the doors open.

Did I mention lines? Yes, it was a long one, even arriving 45 minutes early. The entire lower level was already full of people and the real line began at the top of the escalator. This photo shows my place in line (upper level) at at about 8:20 AM.

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Before entry, the line in the hallway was nearly three times as long. Several people could be heard joking about how Obama was the single greatest gun salesman of all time. Fortunately, good conversation with the people in line helps pass the time. If not, you could always go to the circular windows overlooking Hall B and scout out the vendor layout. Many people did and I heard whisperings and murmurs regarding which AR vendors to hit first.

There were a lot of women and couples at this show, but relatively few small children.

The doors opened promptly at 9AM and the line moved very quickly. In addition to the massive indoor line, there must have been one or two hundred people standing outside.  Four officers were checking weapons (mine remained locked in the car safe) and another officer was continually warning about not bringing ammo into the exhibit area, so there were two separate lines to process people into the show.

This was a relatively small show; it’s hard for me to even call it Lewisville-sized, but it was in a very large exhibit hall, so there was more than ample room to walk the aisles. Even with the high level of traffic, it was very easy to move around and there was a generous sitting and vending area at the back of the hall (along with restrooms).

If this show had a theme, other than ‘buy an AR now,’ it was CHL classes. So, let’s take all the CHL vendors first (the list is in random order). It seems like everyone is offering more than just the basic class material in order to better differentiate themselves from competition.

– Thunder Firearms training (private or group, also offer follow-on courses)
– CHL-ANYTIME (single instructor w/30 yrs. firearms experience, class offers free weapons/ammo consultation, 21-point practice plan, and home-defense assessment)
– Tactical Firearms training (private or group, also offer three levels of handgun training)
– STA-SAFE (Austin Arrington, long experience sheet, Glock armorer, follow-on training)
– CHL NOW (single instructor, Glock armorer, best price at $69 new or renewal)
– Guardian Survival Tools (Tactical CHL course, offers tactical handgun training in addition to state-required instruction – also do private or group)
– Big Thunder (only offers private, in-home classes, 1- or 2-day $99 new, $65 renewal)

Knife Vendors

Bayou City Knives had probably the most impressive layout, including multiple tables of folders. Goodman Knives had a cool selection of throwing knives and even sold tannerite. Carolyn Ross represented Knives, Swords, and Martial Arts, which was a good set of tables to get your ninja on. If that didn’t work, the equally impressive set of ninja and martial arts gear at Texas Blade Shop would do the trick. Wasson Knives had a great selection of Ka-Bars and paracord bracelets. I liked the hatchets on display at Wright knives and they had a large selection of Damascus Steel skinners. Beckwidth’s Blades had blades, survival gear, and even Thrive food.

Things That Go Boom

These listings are in random order, although one of my first stops was Texas Firearms Sales. They had an LWRC M6-A3 for $2295 (base model, no extras). They also had a Kel-Tec sub 2000 9mm carbine for $895.

Military Gun Supply was selling Springfield 1911’s for $819. A S&W M&P .40 could be had for $508, however, all Glock prices were marked ‘Ask’. I never ask, I just move on.

AJC Sports had lots of Mossbergs for sale and all Glock mags were marked at $50. If you had enough $100’s in your wallet, you could have walked away with a Barrett 50 BMG for a mere $5000. They also had a wide variety of Tarus, Smith, and Ruger revolvers.

This is where I saw the most impressive thing at the show. A woman was showing a small handgun to one of her daughters. Another young girl (at first I presumed the other daughter) was holding a sub-compact 9mm. This girl had to be no more than 12 years old. She expertly held the muzzle down at all times and when she turned her right hand palm-down, her trigger finger was purposely extended well off the frame. She laid the firearm back down gently, always keeping the muzzle in a safe direction and finger off the trigger, all while unsupervised. I’ve seen a lot of adults who could take lessons from her. Good job, mom!

Talco Arms had several EAA’s and some Bersa’s for sale. I didn’t stop long enough to check out prices.

Black Armament Specialists had custom AR’s on sale for $1800 and up. Highly customized to your particular requirements.

The most impressive display was from Full Armor Firearms with their gold-plated AK that sold for $3K. They had a variety of other long guns for sale including a Kel Teck 7.62 RFB for $3199.

SpreadFire Arms had a Windam Weaponry M4 for $1975, an FN PS90 for $2999, and AR pistols were selling for $1600.

The Gun Zone from Mesquite was at the show and they had a large selection of Glocks from the low to upper $500’s. If you want something that really goes BOOM, then you could have picked up a 4″ S&W 500 revolver for $1199.

BlackGunStuff was a familiar vendor with a familiar layout of AR and pistol lights and accessories.

Rock River Arms had mostly empty tables by 9:45 AM. Noticed a lot of people filling out 4473’s by this time and there was still a large stream of people coming though the entrance.

That makes a pretty good stopping point for the first part of this review.  Tomorrow, I’ll finish off the list of firearms vendors, followed by ammo, safes, and anything that fits in the miscellaneous or ‘other’ category.

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