It’s fitting that the Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show takes place in the home of high-stakes poker. That’s because SHOT marks the moment when the industry shows its hands for the product strategy bets made months, or sometimes years ago.

With more than 1,800 exhibitors present, finding the product trends is a monumental task, so the Tactical Retailer team divided and conquered. Here, we’ll take a look at what’s going on in the ammo, optics and accessories space. After walking more than 30 miles covering range bays and expo aisles (yes, I counted) here’s a look at some of 2017’s big sellers. 

Ammunition:

Colt Ammunition From Doubletap

The Godfather of Boom over at Doubletap Ammunition has been busy. Historically known for making ammo that pushes the envelope for velocity and energy, the company has co-launched new lines of National Match and Defense Ammunition with Colt. Using standard pressure loads, the new rifle and pistol loads are assembled for accuracy and consistent performance.

Federal Premium .38 Special HST Micro

Is there such a thing as a wadcutter hollowpoint bullet? Well, yes. Federal Premium released a new load designed specifically for short-barrel revolvers. The new 130-grain bullet looks like a miniature oil drum and fits completely within the brass cartridge case. The idea of the ultra-deep seating is to minimize excess air space in the cartridge case, thereby helping to generate more consistent velocities.

PolyCase RNP Frangible Ammunition

The folks at PolyCase refined a new process for bullet making a few years back, injection-molding projectiles from a polymer and copper blend. The result is lead-free bullets with lighter than standard bullet weight for caliber. The company’s defensive ammo uses a special shape to harness the rotational energy of the bullet to create permanent tissue damage. Now the company offers a range and training product with a different set of benefits. The RNP line uses the same injection molding manufacturing technique, but features more traditional round nose bullets. Still light for caliber, the RNP bullets are great for training on steel targets.

Sig Sauer Ammunition and Components

Out of the Sig Sauer Ammunition skunkworks comes a new load, an expanding, subsonic .300 Blackout offering. Using a uniquely-shaped tipped 220-grain V-Crown projectile, the load is designed to feed freely from standard 5.56mm magazines. Also, keep an eye out for new Varmint & Predator loads in .223 Remington, .22-250 and .243. Last, but not least, the company is starting to ship reloading components. By the time you read this, rifle brass for .308, .300 Win. Mag., .22-250, .243 and .223 Rem. should be in the channel.

OPTICS, LIGHTS AND LASERS

If there was a theme for SHOT Show 2017 optics, you call it more affordable thermal vision. Sure, there were new optics products across the functionality spectrum, but the newsmakers embraced the plummeting price of thermal optics improvements in miniaturization of the technology.

Bushnell Elite Rifle Optics

The Bushnell Elite Tactical line offers premium optics quality at a rational price point. New this year are the LRTDi and DMR II-i. Both feature integrated throw levers, illuminated reticles, 10 mils per spin adjustment and a zero stop. For zero magnification, the company announced the Incinerate, Engulf and Enrage red dot sights offering improved battery life and new reticle solutions. The AR Optics 3x Magnifier with flip-down mount rounds out the new offerings. 

FLIR Q14 Thermal Mini Monocular and Thermosight C-Series

New offerings from the hard-core thermal imaging folks at FLIR include multi-purpose units designed to operate as handhelds, helmet mounted optics and even rifle mounts to work in conjunction with existing daylight aiming systems. If you’re looking for helmet-mount capability, check out the amazingly small and light Q14 line. If your needs are more rifle-centric, the Thermosight C-Series is optimized to sit in front of a standard rifle optic. While still not cheap, the price-performance ratio continues to become more favorable with each passing year.

Leupold LTO Tracker Thermal Viewer

Thermal vision is finally entering the realm of affordability. One example is the new LTO Tracker from Leupold. A monocular about the size of a Starbucks Double-Shot can, it allows trackers to identify two- or four-legged critters out to 600 yards. With six user-selectable palettes, you can choose from different thermal highlight modes to suit preferences and ambient conditions. The device offers amazing clarity for its shocking price point — somewhere around $699 retail. 

Viridian FACT Laser Camera

The Viridian FACT System aims to make sure that the defender’s side of the story is properly documented. Consisting of a rail-mounted camera and light, the system automatically activates when the gun is drawn and begins recording audio and video from the muzzle point of view. While bystander videos or CCTV camera may capture parts of an event, the company hopes that the FACT System will help investigators see a first-hand view of a law enforcement defensive encounter.

ACCESSORIES:

When the opening bell rings for the SHOT Show Expo, I make a beeline for the basement. The lower level of the Sands Expo Center tends to be the area where new exhibitors with new products get their booth space. This race to the bottom strategy did not disappoint this year either. While it’s tough to identify an over-arching theme in the broad world of accessories, safety stood out as one area of focus across the board.

Blue Force Gear Micro Trauma Kit

While the odds of dealing with a gunshot wound are relatively low in everyday life, the odds of being a first responder to some other medical trauma are not. Blue Force Gear announced a new Micro Trauma kit that mounts on either a belt or MOLLE system. Oriented horizontally, the kit features a slide out organizer that is retrieved from either direction with one hand. You can buy the unit empty or pre-stocked with a surprising amount of gear for its small package including quick clot, airway, decompression needle, gloves, tape, chest seal and trauma bandage.

dB Foam

Suppressors are already a hot item, and if the Hearing Protection Act passes, they’re going to go thermonuclear. Here’s something to ponder: one of the most interesting suppressor products at SHOT 2017 was a can of foam. dB Foam is a lubricant and protective compound that maintains its foam state for up to six months. Spray it into pistol or rimfire suppressors and allow it to fill the interior space. When you shoot, the “wet” interior significantly dampens sound over dry suppressor use. Better yet, the foam helps prevent the suppressor from becoming fouled during use. Neat idea.

Gargoyles Trench Eye Protection

It’s hard to go wrong with hard-core eye protection. The Trench line from Gargoyles offers big-time protection with a host of usability features for those who wear helmets and radios. Designed to direct sweat away from lenses and frames, the glasses also sport removable rubber frame covers that create a low profile mount that won’t interfere with head gear. The frame and lenses both exceed ANSI Z87.1+ for high velocity and high mass impact resistance, as well as the military specification MIL-PRF- 32432(GL). 

Gear Aid Light & Power Station

The consumer gadget has exploded with a myriad of personal device charging systems, so it’s no surprise that the “tactical” and outdoor markets are doing the same. One interesting find was the ARC and FLUX light and charging solutions from Gear Aid. Both systems offer multi-LED light cubes for illumination, storing power for devices like smartphones and GOS gear or both. Depending on how you use them, the units can run up to 192 hours and hold 6 to 10 device charges.

Lead Off

The folks at Hygenall showed a variety of wipe and liquid cleaner products designed to actually remove lead residue from hands and body. According to the company, many traditional cleaners and wipes can actually increase the odds of lead absorption through the skin. Lead Off uses surfactants to float away harmful residue. Sell it in the store, and if you have a range, keep a container handy by the exit for customers.

MantisX Firearms Training System

We’ve seen all sorts of training systems come and go including laser-based, pneumatic recoil trainers, blue guns and the like. Most of those systems allow users to practice and train safely at home without using live fire. MantisX does that too. Where it differs is that it works equally well, and maybe better, on the live fire range. The small and light rail device mounts to any rail and uses some magic inertial sensors to track the movement of the muzzle before, during and after the trigger press, whether you’re dry firing or shooting live ammo. The unit beams data to your smartphone or tablet showing a graphic representation and historical performance data.

Safariland Hardwire Body Armory

Offering a 25 percent weight reduction and plug-and-play fit with a variety of carriers and vests, the new Hardwire line from Safariland offers level IIIa protection in a more convenient form factor. The idea behind the new armor is to use 25 million pounds of force to compress layers of Dyneema into a solid unit, thereby offering improved penetration resistance and shock dissipation. 

SOG Baton Q Tools

Who says multi-tools have to be shaped like a pair of pliers loaded down with fold out tools? As the Baton product name implies, the folks at SOG created four new gadgets shaped more like pens, rods or, well, batons. It’s a creative solution that opens up all new carry and stowage possibilities for pants pockets and pack transport. The Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4 models offer varying combinations of scissors, blades, drivers, openers and yes, even pliers.

Slowly but surely, the industry is making improvements to ensure that products announced at annual events like NASGW and SHOW Show are available in the channel. With few exceptions, you should be able to get your hands on most of the items here. To get a more in-depth look at all the new products displayed at SHOT Show, it’s never too late to review the exhibitor lists at SHOTShow.org.

Photo: SOG Knives & Tools (Facebook)