Airgun Fun at the NRA Annual Meeting and Expo
By Tom McHale

 

What’s got 160,000 feet and spends over $50 million every time it goes somewhere? Hint: you really don’t want to poke it with a stick, and if you protest it, it will only become larger.

That would be the National Rifle Association Annual Meeting. Hosted by the city of Dallas, Texas, the event drew men, women, and children to check out the latest guns and gear, participate in the leadership forum, and learn from dozens of seminars. According to the folks over at the NRA, it was the largest annual meeting in the history of ever.

“87,154 patriots and 800+ exhibitors came together for the biggest Annual Meeting yet, featuring a jam-packed schedule of seminars, workshops, special events, and more! For the first time in the organization’s history, both a sitting President and Vice President of the United States addressed NRA members during the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum.”

One of the big hits of the NRA Annual Meeting was the Pyramyd Air Indoor Range. It featured at least 17 billion stationary and moving targets.

While the NRA Annual Meeting is about all types of guns and outdoor products, airguns and related products were well-represented. We checked in with Umarex, Crosman, AirForce Airguns, Pyramyd Air, and Daisy just to name a few.

Not too long ago, AirForce Airguns put together a deal with Rapid Air Weapons to produce the line here in the United States. They seem to know a thing or two about making a solid air gun.

It takes exactly one .177 pellet to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. I verified this at the Pyramyd Indoor Air Range.

I had the opportunity to shoot the RAW HM 1000 at the Pyramyd Indoor airgun range. As a side note, this rifle is particularly well-suited to disintegrating Tootsie Pops at a distance. In case you’re wondering, it takes just one .177-caliber pellet to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. Seems way more efficient than licking them.

Range safety officers were on duty at each shooting station.

While we’re talking about the Range, it was chock full of a wide variety of airguns free to all to test on the 17 billion (my rough estimate) stationary and moving targets down range. Fully staffed with a range officer at every single shooting station, the indoor range was one of the most popular stops at the annual meeting, at least judging by the continuous line. As a side note, the Air Venturi folks supplied a few metric tons of their new Dust Devil BBs for use in the full-auto airguns. That’s a perfect solution for shooting hard targets with improved safety. No word on whether the world CO2 cylinder supply has been depleted.

The Benjamin Traveler is light, portable, and can run off batteries. Attendees could pre-order one for just $389 at the show.

The folks at Benjamin created a stir with their sub-$400 show special on the new Traveler Air Compressor. As we reported earlier this year, the company is hell-bent on figuring out to make high-pressure air compressors available for a few hundred bucks. Attendees could pre-order the Traveler on-site for just $389. That’s pretty amazing considering the price point of stand-alone compressors just last year.

USA Shooting also had a booth filled with competitive rifle, pistol, shotgun, and airgun shooters. I had the pleasure of meeting Kellie Foster and her parents. She’s an ambitious teenager charting her course to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Starting in the local 4H program, it didn’t take Kellie long to track down USA shooting and make her way to the international competitive stage. We had the opportunity to interview Kellie and will be sharing that in an upcoming weekly feature.

The preferred choice of modern gentlemen who need to defend their honor. We'll be using the Daisy 499B Champion to show those guys over at Guns Magazine what airgunning is all about.

Sometimes, you just have to defend your honor, whatever it takes. After running into American Handgunner and Guns Magazine Editor Roy Huntington, I had no choice but to do just that. Wanting to respond to Roy's stream of micro-aggressions and to get in the spirit of the upcoming Daisy National Championship, I threw down the proverbial Air Gauntlet and challenged his Edit-ness to a postal match using Daisy’s Model 499B Champion - the exact rifle used by competitors in the Daisy Championships. Since I suspect (meaning know with absolute certainty) that Roy will cheat like a mangy dog at a one-trip-only self-serve bacon buffet, I recruited some more reputable employees of FMG publications, and more importantly, his wife Suzie, to monitor his results. We’ll see. While on that topic, we’re producing a regular Airgunning column in Guns Magazine so you can follow the bloodsport match there and right here at the Airgun Wire. I don’t think those smoke and flames guys know beans about BBs, but time will tell.

Sig Sauer Airguns has been busy with new product development this year. One surprise at the booth was pre-production air pistol number one of the P365. It’s just like the fire and brimstone version and runs off a 12-gram CO2 cylinder just like all the rest. As it turns out, the engineers were just barely able to squeeze the CO2 supply into the small-framed design. If you have a real one, this little guy will make a great training companion. Availability looks like early next year at this point.

Sig Sauer showed prototype number one of the forthcoming P365 air pistol.

We pestered the Sig team for some updates on availability of some of their new offerings. Here’s how things are looking as of now. The M17 ASP will hit the streets in the December or January timeframe. One nifty thing about this one is that is has a removable plate so you can mount an optic. We’re not sure that the first models will have the option, but that feature should roll in at some point. The 1911 We the People BB pistol is ready to go as we speak. In fact, I received one the day before leaving for the NRA. It’s a different design than the 1911 Spartan, so we’ll take a close look and share a full review soon. One notable feature is that it field strips just like a centerfire 1911 pistol. The single-stroke pneumatic Super Target pistol should show up in stores this fall, and the X-Five ASP is available in retail channels now. Last, but not least, the long-awaited ASP-20 Break-Barrel Rifles will hit the streets in July in both synthetic and wood stock versions.

The folks at Gamo were showing off their monster bore TC-45 rifle. That one propels giant hunks of lead downrange and can deliver up to 700 foot-pounds of energy depending on the projectile you choose. We’ve been testing it with a broad array of, umm, “pellets” from Hunters Supply ranging from 138 to a whopping 411-grains. More on that in an upcoming issue.

There was far more to do and see than we can possibly cover here, so we’ll be posting stories in upcoming issues about new products. Stay tuned.

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