Another SHOT Show is in the books, and it’s time for a roundup of some of the products and news that will interest you as RevolverGuys (and Gals–I hope you know you’re always included in that general description, when I use it). So, without further adieu, let’s get to it!
setting the stage
First, a bit of commentary about the show, itself. I know it’s a little bit of “inside baseball” to talk about the mood on the floor, but I get lots of questions from our readers about it, so I think it’s worth a detour to do a temperature check of the industry.
The good folks at the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) are the ones that bring us the show, and they worked hard all year long to get the industry to go “All In” for the show, which was heavily marketed as “A Big Deal.” On the heels of a canceled show in 2021, and a spooky-quiet, 2022 show that many companies and attendees stayed home from, it was very important for both the NSSF and the greater industry to prove that the SHOT Show was still relevant. If the aisles and booths were empty this year, it would have confirmed the doomsday speculations from the plague years that, “trade shows are dead,” and driven a stake through the heart of the SHOT Show.
I’m exceptionally happy to report that they succeeded. The show was very well-attended, by both exhibitors and attendees, and the floors and halls were full of vibrant activity. It was very clear that the people in our industry appreciated the opportunity to conduct business in-person, and cement the relationships that would carry them through the year. The masks were almost completely gone, and the art of the handshake had returned, banishing the stupid fist bump (and the even dumber elbow bump) to oblivion.
Personally, after doing this for roughly 14 to 15 years (I’m starting to lose track), the 2023 show was my favorite yet, by a wide margin. Even though attendance was actually quite high (at 52,000+, according to NSSF), it didn’t feel like the uncomfortably crowded shows of the past (which ran into the mid-60s). This was certainly due to the significantly expanded floor space of the show, which included the Caesar’s Forum addition that debuted last year. There were enough folks on the floor to make it feel busy, without it feeling overcrowded. The booth traffic was steady, but you still had enough room to maneuver, see the products, and hold conversations, without feeling like you were stuck in an elevator with a football team.
The invitation-only, Industry Day at the Range for media and buyers was a success this year, despite Mother Nature’s efforts to spoil it. Cool temperatures, occasional sprinkles, and strong winds (about 25 knots steady state, with 5-10 knot gusts) put a damper on things for some folks, but we still got a chance to throw some lead downrange, and figure out the products that deserved a follow-up later on, on the show floor.
Social events were planned each night by NSSF, including a special Wednesday evening concert that featured performers Eddie Montgomery (of Montgomery Gentry), Don Barnes (of .38 Special), and Billy Gibbons (of ZZ Top), who, collectively, put on an outstanding show! What a neat addition this was to the SHOT Show atmosphere! It was an important step towards affirming that life was “back to normal” in the industry and we had things to celebrate, together. Bravo, NSSF!
Every SHOT Show has its own vibe and trends, and this one was no different.
The staples of today’s market were certainly there. The show floor was awash in versions of “America’s Rifle,” the AR-15, as well as the compact and subcompact auto pistols that rule the concealed carry scene, these days. They all blurred into the background for me–I knew they were there, but I honestly paid little attention to them. Call it “black gun fatigue,” or whatever you wish, but while I like these guns, appreciate their utility, and recognize their importance to a majority of the market, they didn’t capture much of my interest.
I did sense a definite 1911 strain at the show, this year. Many of them were double-stack variants [the Staccato CS, the Springfield Armory Prodigy, the EAA (Girsan) Witness 2311, some Cosaint Arms customs, a new 9mm Baby Rock from Armscor, and others I probably missed], but there were plenty of new single stacks as well [including several from Armscor, several from Tisas (such as their M45 copy, the Raider), the Emissary and Garrison from Springfield Armory, a Military Armament Corporation JSOC model, and one from a company that caught me quite off guard–Savage Arms]. That doesn’t even count all the additional new launches in 10mm, from a variety of makers.
Lever actions were back in force, as well. The biggest news here was the long-awaited addition of the Model 336 to the Ruger-Marlin lineup, which I enjoyed shooting VERY much. It should be available near the end of the first quarter, with the equally-anticipated Model 1894 following behind (it’s uncertain when we’ll see that gun, but there were hopes of late 2Q). A prototype Model 1894 was on display at the booth, and it looked wonderful–I personally can’t wait to see it make its return!
Ruger-Marlin also had a new, blued, Model 1895 Guide Gun version that will make a lot of folks very happy, and Henry Repeating Arms had three different versions of their classic lever gun (plus a single-shot) chambered in the new, Remington .360 Buckhammer straight-wall cartridge. Taylor’s & Company showcased some Taylor-Tuned 1873s with exquisite actions and beautiful, classic looks, while at the opposite end of the spectrum, Patriot Ordnance Factory made a splash with its 9mm (!) Tombstone lever gun that turned a lot of heads (and left others scratching), with its non-traditional looks and features.
Unfortunately, I missed the equally radical Bond Arms concept lever action, but understand it was quite interesting well. The gun has a patent pending for a cam system that enables feeding from a 30-round AR magazine, and is designed to be compatible with AR bolts, barrels, mags, and uppers, as well as Remington 870 stocks. Caliber exchanges can be readily accomplished because of the interchangeability of parts. You won’t shoot this at your next cowboy match, but it could definitely have some utility. It will be interesting to see how this one moves from prototype to production.
The Turks were coming on strong at the 2023 show, too. We’ve seen a steady rise in the quantity and quality of Turkish products over the last half-dozen years, but I think the tipping point occurred during the “Great Gun Rush of 2020-2022.” When the most popular choices were sold out, a steady supply of affordable Turkish shotguns and handguns kept gun dealers in business, as new customers (often, first-timers) were desperate to buy anything that went “BANG.” Along the way, a lot of folks discovered the Turkish guns were darned good, especially for the price. The increased interest and demand for these guns prompted a slew of new pistol entries from companies like Stoeger, SAR, Canik, SDS Imports (Tisas), EAA (Girsan), and others at this year’s show.
Long range shooting was also another micro-trend of the show, but since that’s not my game, I didn’t pay much attention to it. There were plenty of new chassis-style rifles to choose from, though, if that tickled your fancy, including one from Colt, of all things.
Smith & Wesson and Ruger each had new 5.7x28mm guns in their catalog, and Fiocchi promised a new Range Dynamics load to feed them. It seems like the guns have been leading the ammo in this case.
A final trend I noted was the number of older designs making a comeback. As I noted on-air, with American Cop Editor Erick Gelhaus, a lot of the “new” gear at these shows looks pretty familiar, when we strip away the bells and whistles.
I already mentioned the slew of 1911-style guns (not bad for a gun that’s over 100 years old–JMB knew what he was doing, didn’t he?), but we also saw Beretta dust off a few older models (with an updated Cheetah, and a return to the original, frame-mounted safety on the 92-series), and even saw Lipsey’s bring a “Generation 1” Glock back, in its original “Tupperware” box. The “Class of 2022” Hi-Power variants (some of which were absent at last year’s “Ghost Show,” and finally made a public appearance, this year) were still hot, too.
With all this retro fever, I got to thinking that if we’re going to bring back some of these older pistols, I’d sure like to see Smith & Wesson resurrect some of their Third Generation autos, someday. Alas, their new metal-frame guns (the striker-fired M&P 2.0 and hammer-fired CSX) come from a different lineage, entirely.
I can’t leave the revivals without mentioning one of the neatest of the bunch, which really caught me off guard. Palmetto State Armory is going to resurrect the StG-44 this year–how neat is that? I think we need more Storm Rifles out on the range.
what about the revolvers?
I’m pretty sure you didn’t mind the detour through the other guns, but this IS RevolverGuy, after all. What about all the revolver products at SHOT 2023?
Rest easy, friends. One of the other trends–and perhaps the most significant, from our perspective–is that the Revolver Renaissance is still alive and well! In fact, I think the 2023 show made it clear that revolvers are a growth category in an industry that has already picked most of the low-hanging fruit off of the striker-fired, polymer auto tree.
The accessories are lagging a bit, but there’s significant interest in bringing new revolver designs to market, upgrading older ones to incorporate new trends in technology, and even resurrecting some dormant brands.
The future for RevolverGuys just keeps getting brighter, so let’s look at some of the revolver news and developments that caught my eye. Ready? Good, let’s go.
While Colt’s new bolt gun got a lot of attention in the booth, the bulk of the new items for 2023 were revolvers. In fact, the famed 1911 manufacturer almost seemed to downplay their signature auto in favor of their popular revolver family–a situation none of us could have predicted just a few short years ago.
The massive, .44 Magnum Anaconda led the pack, with a new version that sported a 4.25″ barrel. I found this to be a particularly good handling gun, despite its considerable size. The weight is well-distributed, and the gun was nimble as I practiced presentations and target transitions. I found the trigger reach to be more comfortable than that of the S&W N-frame, which can sometimes feel a tad long, even with my long fingers.
A King Cobra Target .22 Long Rifle was a bookend for the .44 Snake. Although the caliber is only half as big as the Anaconda’s, the King Cobra Target .22 LR promises to deliver twice the fun. This 10-round, small frame gun sports either a 4.25″ or 6″ barrel, and the same kind of pebbled, rubber, closed backstrap, finger groove stocks that are found on the Anaconda.
I finally got my mitts on the 3″ Python that was introduced last year, outside of the show. I was immediately smitten by the shorter barrel, and hope to report more about this gun, later in the year. This could easily be my favorite barrel length of all, for this wonderful gun.
The Colt Custom Shop had a beautiful, “B Coverage,” engraved Python on display with the old, checkered walnut, service-style grips, and a three-inch barrel, that was quite a stunner. It was complemented by an equally beautiful 4.25″ Python with “C Coverage” engraving and the standard, walnut target grips. The new Python is a worthy canvas for the artwork of the Colt engravers, and it made me happy to see they still had such talented artisans in their stable.
Diamondback Firearms had a bird’s head-gripped version of their double action Sidekick revolver on display, featuring a short, 3″ barrel. The Birdshead Sidekick is a convertible, with a .22 Magnum cylinder and yoke assembly included with each gun. The double action trigger is nothing to write home about, but you could spend a fun afternoon with a brick of .22s shooting this gun in single action.
The big news at Federal wasn’t new product introductions, but rather a promise of improved supply for revolver calibers that have been neglected during the “Great Gun Panic” of the last couple years.
Calibers like .32 H&R Magnum, .327 Federal Magnum, .38 Special, .357 Magnum and .44 Special will finally get some production time, and Federal will be able to start filling some of those backorders that have been piling up, while the world incessantly demanded as much 9mm and .223 as factories could produce.
We’re looking forward to seeing loads like the .38 Special Hydra Shok Deep, and 2022 introductions like the .327 and .357 Magnum HST, and .44 Special Punch, on the shelves in 2023!
Heritage had a revolver that sure turned heads at the Media Day! Their Tactical Cowboy sports a 6.5″ barrel that’s threaded for suppressor use (using a 1/2 x 28 tpi pattern), a fiber optic front sight, and an integrated Picatinny rail for optics. The grips have an attractive carbon-fiber pattern.
The sample I shot was fitted with a Bushnell RXS 100 red dot sight and a suppressor from GSL Technology–their 2.7 ounce, Woodland model, which boasts a 40 dB reduction.
Most of you are probably curious if the suppressor actually worked to reduce the signature, and I honestly can’t tell you. I wasn’t about to take my hearing protection off, amidst the din of the “Mad Minute” that was going off around me, at Media Day, to test the effectiveness of the can. I didn’t notice any reduction, compared to the Ruger Wrangler I had just fired a short while before, but I’d have to guess that the suppressor does something. I’ll have to leave to someone else to analyze how much of a reduction you can actually get if you throw a suppressor on this popgun.
What’s it good for? Outside of having fun, I’m not sure, but isn’t that a good enough reason to spend a few hundred bucks (prior to the can and optic, of course)?
Talk about going from one extreme to the other! The custom Korth revolvers offered by Nighthawk Custom were on full display again, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to raccoon-finger them (thanks Tony, for the phrase!).
Of interest, the Korth revolvers lock up the cylinder in three different places: At the front, on the tip of the extractor rod, as with Smith & Wesson; At the yoke, as with the Smith & Wesson “Triple Lock,” Ruger GP/SP revolvers, and some others, and; At the rear of the cylinder, with a S&W-style center pin extending into the frame. Of course, there’s also a cylinder stop that locks the cylinder at the 6 O’Clock position.
The Korths are highly-engineered, precision machines that are assembled to a high degree of fit and finish, but they have a very “European” look to my eyes, and I’m frankly more smitten with the looks of “our” guns. That’s probably a good thing, as the price tags on these marvels would make my eyes pop.
We caught up with our friend Grant Cunningham–an accomplished gunsmith, firearms trainer, and author of many excellent books–at the Lubriplate booth during the show.
Grant explained that, back when he was in the gunsmithing business, he was unsatisfied with the lubricants he was currently using, and began a search for a product that would offer superior performance. He was turned onto Lubriplate by a trusted industry veteran, but, as Grant explained, “it wasn’t readily available, back then.” The product was marketed to industrial users and wasn’t sold through retail outlets, at the time. “You wouldn’t believe what I had to go through, to get some,” said Grant.
Fortunately, Grant did obtain some of the product and was immediately impressed with it. Not only did it provide excellent lubrication, it didn’t dry out and crust up inside the guns. Lubriplate didn’t oxidize quickly, like some popular lubricants did, which prevented it from gumming up, and its anti-corrosion additives protected metals from rust and corrosion.
Grant told me he has stuck with the product ever since, and heartily endorses it. Fortunately, we don’t have to work as hard as Grant did to get some–it’s now readily available, in quantities and packaging suitable for the individual user.
A RevolverGuy reader with gunsmithing experience tells me that he recently had a new-production Smith & Wesson revolver with a rough action. He took the gun apart, cleaned the action components, and applied some Lubriplate in the right spots. The effect was dramatic, he said, producing a reasonable action, without any polishing.
That sounds like good performance to me, and if Grant is willing to give it a thumb’s up, I’d say that’s an excellent endorsement. I’m looking forward to using it on my own guns.
In 2021, Beretta USA began importing the world-famous, Manurhin MR73 revolvers from France. These guns were designed to provide an accurate platform that could withstand the continuous use of full power, .357 Magnum loads, and they developed a bit of mystique as the issued duty weapon of France’s GIGN police tactical teams, as well as the Gendarmerie.
The guns on display at SHOT were both handsome and rugged. They mostly follow the Smith & Wesson L-Frame size and pattern, but exhibit a higher degree of fit and finish, and some design tweaks under the hood that make them more robust. I thought the actions were excellent, and wished we could steal the rear sight design for the new Colt Python revolvers.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get a chance to shoot one of these guns, but I’d sure be excited to. The price puts the gun out of reach for most of us, but frankly, if I was going to splurge, I’d much rather spend the money on this gun than one of the Korths.
north american arms
Our friends at NAA didn’t have any new releases yet for 2023, because they’ve been busy trying to keep up with demand for their existing product line.
However, they did have a casting of a new Pug model in .22 Long Rifle that was kind of a sneak preview of things to come. The Pug has only been available in .22 Magnum up to this point, but they’re planning to release a Long Rifle version later in the year. We’ll be sure to keep you updated, as we learn more.
Big Green was busy cranking out ammunition for a thirsty shooting public last year, but they still had time to plan some new products for 2023.
We’re very excited to hear that Remington will bring both a High Terminal Performance (HTP) load, and a Performance Wheelgun load, in .32 H&R Magnum, to the market this year. The HTP load will feature an 85 gr. JHP at 1,120 fps muzzle velocity, and the Performance Wheelgun load will be topped with a 95 gr. lead semiwadcutter, at 1,020 fps.
We think the .32 H&R Magnum is an underrated cartridge, and know the supply really dried up in the past few years, so we’re happy to hear that Remington will be making more of it. Owners of .32 H&R Magnums will obviously be happy to have something to feed their guns, but there’s a bunch of .327 Federal Magnum owners who will be equally excited to see these loads on the shelf at their gun store.
The biggest surprise of the show for me–and a great one, at that– was the resurrection of the Rossi line of revolvers!
Readers may recall that while Rossi has been making long guns for export, they haven’t shipped handguns to our shores for several decades. Taurus purchased Rossi and consolidated the brands under the BrazTech umbrella in 1997, and it didn’t take long before the Rossi revolver line was discontinued entirely, in favor of the Taurus products.
However, they’re back now, and I was really impressed with the samples that I fired at Media Day. The guns had good looking lines, comfortable rubber grips, good sights (click adjustable, on the six-inch gun), an attractive stainless finish, and much better actions than I expected from a gun at this price point.
Rossi had a three-inch, fixed sight, RP63 model and a six-inch, adjustable sight, RM66 model available for us to shoot. Interestingly, both models had their firing pins mounted on the hammer. I shot them both with 158 grain, .357 Magnum loads (in double action, only) and was really pleased with their performance. We’ve come to expect a certain level of performance from “bargain” revolvers, but these new Rossis are a different beast, entirely. Really, a pleasant surprise. Great work, guys!
I’ll be eager to spend more time with this family of guns, and we’ll do our best to get some to put through their paces. Stay tuned.
Ruger’s Wrangler has been a runaway favorite for the company, and for good reason–it’s the best of the affordable single actions on the market. Justin was very pleased with the sample he evaluated, and my experience with them has been entirely positive, too.
The bargain six-shooter will now be available with 3.75″, 6.50″ and 7.50″ barrel lengths in Black, Silver, and Burnt Bronze Cerakote finishes. I shot the 3.75″ and 6.50″ guns at Media Day, and didn’t want to give up my position for the next shooter, because I was having so much fun with them.
We were teased that Ruger has some more revolver tricks up their sleeves, which will probably be revealed later in the year. We’ll keep a sharp eye out for them, and will let you know as soon as there’s something to report.
shoot like a girl
I was pleased to meet with the ladies of Shoot Like A Girl, and learn about the launch of their new personal safety program, Safe LivinG.
For those unfamiliar, the Shoot Like A Girl program is designed to introduce women to the shooting sports and instill the confidence necessary to actively participate in them. In addition to their web-based instructional tools, the organization conducts outreach via their mobile, trailer classroom, which houses a sophisticated simulator that allows women to “shoot” a 9mm pistol and a .223 rifle after receiving appropriate instruction. The trailer also contains the necessary equipment to set up a live archery range, and hosts a collection of firearms, holsters, knives, optics, less lethal tools, shooting accessories, and outdoor goods–all supplied by supporting manufacturers–to help women discover what works for them.
Based on the success of the program, a decision was made to expand the concept to focus on personal security for the entire family and the community they’re part of. With the establishment of the new Safe LivinG program, women, men and children can participate in training and education programs centered around first aid, firearm safety, shooting, less lethal tools, and outdoor skills, in a similar fashion to Shoot Like A Girl participants. The program will have its own mobile trailer to bring these programs to communities near you, and will also provide web-based instruction via articles, videos, and daily tips.
For information on tour dates and stops, please visit the Shoot Like A Girl and Safe LivinG Events Schedules, on their respective websites or social media pages.
smith & wesson
There was only one new revolver product at the Smith & Wesson booth this year, but it was a large one!
The Model 350 is chambered for Winchester’s .350 Legend cartridge, which is designed as a deer cartridge for use in states that limit the use of non-straight-wall cartridges for that game.
To harness the power of this rifle cartridge, the X-Frame Model 350 has a 7.5″ ported barrel and a curb weight of 71.5 ounces. The massive cylinder holds seven rounds, and incorporates a lock on the yoke, up front, instead of locking up on the tip of the extractor rod. This (combined with the center pin lock at the rear, and the bolt stop) should keep the cylinder in place during recoil.
Standard Manufacturing was displaying their “Switch-Gun,” a .22 caliber, single action, mini revolver with a folding grip. When a release button on the grip is pressed, the folded gun springs open into the firing position.
When folded, the Switch-Gun has a footprint about the size of a cell phone, and the trigger is safely covered to prevent accidental discharges. Capacity is five rounds of .22 Mag or .22 LR.
Taurus hit SHOT Show with a loud snort and an aggressive charge this year! The new, Bainbridge, GA operation has hit its stride, and is turning out some neat guns for RevolverGuys.
The guns that probably got the most attention were the optics-ready, T.O.R.O. (Taurus Optic Ready Option) versions of the Model 856 (a six-shot, small frame, .38 Special) and Model 605 (a five-shot, small frame, .357 Magnum) revolvers. Each of these guns comes with a three-inch barrel and a frame that is milled to accept optics that fit the Holosun K footprint.
I’m not a red dot shooter (yet!) so I went through the typical newbie pains of trying to locate the red dot when I first presented the gun, but once I found it in the Holosun’s window, the appeal of shooting an optic-equipped gun was obvious.
As the first, factory red dot-ready small frame revolvers on the market, much of the crowd’s attention was focused on the optic end of things, but I was looking closely at the guns themselves, and liked what I saw. We’d heard reports from readers that the new, Bainbridge guns were better products than we’d seen in the past from the brand, and I have to say I think they’re onto something. The actions were better than those of the Taurus revolvers I’d previously shot, and it appeared that the guns were assembled to improved standards of fit and finish. I’ll be eager to get a more detailed look at them in the coming months, but from what I’m seeing, I think Taurus has upped their game.
That was certainly the case with the Model 856 Executive Grade revolver, which was announced last year. I hadn’t seen one of these until now, and I was mightily impressed with it. The gun was built to a high standard of fit and finish (the polished satin finish was very appealing), and featured a very smooth action. The cylinder’s chambers were chamfered, the hammer was bobbed, and the checkered walnut grip was well-contoured. This handsome, well-built gun is actually assembled on a separate line, by a separate team, and ably demonstrates a higher level of care. It shot very well and looked great. It’s the nicest gun I’ve ever seen from Taurus, and I’m really looking forward to getting a more in-depth look at it, in the coming year.
For those so inclined, an Executive Grade Judge was a new product for 2023, and it boasted the same special treatment as the Model 856 Executive Grade.
Taurus also released a series of Raging Hunter revolvers in .460 S&W Magnum, featuring barrel lengths of 5.12″, 6.75″, 8.37″, and 10″, in both black and two-tone (stainless frame, black cylinder and barrel) finishes. The 10″ model received a lot of attention at the show, due to its long tube that was topped with a muzzle brake at the end. I didn’t shoot the gun, but it looked like the brake did its job. It was certainly LOUD.
There was also a .500 S&W Magnum expansion of the Raging Hunter line, with 5.12″ barrels and either black or two-tone finish.
taylor’s & co
Taylor’s & Co. formally introduced the TC9 version of their 1873 revolver in 2022, after the SHOT Show, and we were excited to get our hands on it this year.
The 1873-pattern revolver is chambered for a unique cartridge–the 9mm Luger! Purists might initially scoff at chambering a gun like this for an auto pistol cartridge that doesn’t even begin with “4,” but there is absolutely no doubt that the move will make it easier for shooters to enjoy shooting these wonderful revolvers. There’s no centerfire pistol cartridge that is as readily available, and as economical, as the 9mm, and I think a lot of folks who might have been put off by the expense and recoil of shooting the traditional big bores will thoroughly enjoy this combination.
The Taylor’s TC9 will be available in several finish and grip combinations. A casehardened frame with a black plastic grip, and a nickeled frame with an ivory birdshead grip will be offered, but my personal favorite was the blued model with the larger, “Army” grip frame (borrowed from the 1860 Army percussion revolver), which fit my hand much better than the traditional 1873 plow handle.
Taylor’s & Co. sources their firearms and parts from the same factories that supply many other brands, but through special manufacturing agreements, the guns receive extra attention at the factory, and are given even more attention by a talented team over here, before they are ready for sale. The Taylor-Tuned models receive even more work, with skilled artisans tuning the actions for optimum performance.
We’ll be trying to get a TC9 for test and evaluation, and look forward to reporting on it here, in these pages, later in the year. Stay tuned!
Winchester announced a new line of Big Bore Centerfire Pistol and Revolver cartridges, featuring “a newly engineered semi-jacketed, concave hollow point that controls and delays expansion to achieve massive shock and lethal wound channels.”
The hollow point on these deep penetrators is just a shallow dish, that will certainly delay expansion and encourage penetration. The Big Bore loads are going to be offered in 10mm (200 grain), .357 Magnum (157 grain), .44 Magnum (240 grain), and .45 Colt (250 grain).
We close our roundup with a bit of a puzzle.
In the lead up to the show, we saw images of an interesting, bullpup-style revolver that made us curious to learn more about the design. Unfortunately, the manufacturer, Zenk LLC, told us they were unable to obtain timely permission to import samples from their home country of Armenia, so we were left with examining a basic, 3-D printed model, which lacked detailed features. Additionally, representatives were unable to answer our technical questions about the design.
The press photos of this gun were equally vague, and looked like they could have been artist concepts, or images of a model, rather than photos of a working sample. Is the RZMK-357 real, or just vaporware? I’m not sure, but we’ll be looking out for this one at next year’s show, and hope to examine a working sample of this interesting concept.
that’s all, folks!
Well, that wraps it up for the 2023 show. There was a lot more to see that we never got to, and many products that deserved more attention than we were able to give them, but there’s only so many minutes in the day, and the show keeps getting bigger every year.
We hope this gave you a good idea of what’s ahead for RevolverGuys though, and look forward to bringing you more detailed reviews of some of these products in the months ahead. Let us know what you think of these new products in the comments, and stay safe out there!
36 thoughts on “SHOT Show 2023 Roundup”
This is such an excellent recap of this year’s Shot Show that I almost felt like I was there.
A lot to digest in this review, but here are a couple standout themes for me:
Rossi and Taurus revolvers apparently are showing much improved fit, finish and action work. A number of folks I’d encountered over the years who owned those brands reported sloppy workmanship, malfunctions and poor customer service that turned me off. Perhaps these new (and better) offerings are the result of the Georgia-based manufacturing. Now I’ll have to take another gander at those products, which just might be better than what a certain somnolent U.S. manufacturer offers, that is, the one that insists on including janky, unattractive internal locks on its revolvers.
Marlin (now owned by Ruger) is slowly resurrecting their classic lever-action rifles. Hopefully in the not-too-distant future, a lever-action .357 Magnum carbine in stainless steel will come out. Such a long gun would cover a lot of needs–medium-sized game, self-defense, survival, etc.
Spencer, we’ll be getting some samples from Taurus and Rossi to put through their paces, and will be able to report in more detail, later in the year. It’s always treacherous to make definitive statements about products and brands, based on what you see from SHOT Show samples, but it looked to me like things have been changing for the better. I’m excited.
The Marlins were wonderful, and they will have their hands full, trying to keep up. A stainless 1894 would make a lot of people happy, and I’m sure the catalog will eventually have one, but I’m personally tickled to see them launch in blue steel.
It will be educational to learn your future evaluations of the new Taurus/Rossi wheel-gun lines and compare them to the (possible) puffery I’ve run across lately. Until then I’ll keep my eyes wide open–and hands on my wallet.
Another review (at least I don’t think you’ve done one) could be the Armscor/Rock Island Armory .22LR and .22 Magnum revolvers, which have been getting positive writeups. My understanding is those firearms are made in Czechoslovakia and seemingly are a big step up from the boat anchors made in the Philippines and marketed by Armscor.
Usually it takes a few years of real in-the-field use, and customer and gunsmith feedback, to get an accurate picture of any new/”improved” firearms.
We’ve been testing one of the RIA .22 Magnums, and will have an article forthcoming, soon!
Make sure to check out the reviews of the .357 Magnum AL3.1 and 9mm AL9.0 versions that we did.
I hope Federal will bring back their 125gr SJHP 357mag (357b) however I doubt they will with the HST coming out. Thanks for the info , I always look forward to the next issue of The Revolver Guy!
Thanks for reading, R.M.! I’m glad you’re enjoying it.
I’ve got good news for you. Even though the C357B load isn’t catalogued any longer, you can still find that load in the Train & Protect line. Same product, new packaging.
Ruger “more revolver tricks” for later this year—-hint, hint,
hint, a Speed Six, a Service Six?
Huh, huh, huh?
Oh no, nothing that adventurous. Although, I did bend someone’s ear about that again. Still trying to plant seeds, in the hopes they will grow someday.
Still waiting for Ruger to release a LCRX 9 mm with adjustable sights and three inch barrel to go with the pair of LCR 9mm I already own.
Very excellent report Mike. I have high hopes for more manufacturers to get on board with the .327 & the .32 H&R Magnum loads. From the buzz I hear there is a healthy demand for new revolvers and also rifles chambered in those calibers.
Reading your story and looking at the images remind me of SHOT shows in the 80s, lots of Ghosts of fine fellows from those fun times reading over my shoulder.
Careful that you don’t pick up too much of that ol Ozark slang or they will banish you from Califas.
Don’t throw me in the briar patch,Tony!
Glad you enjoyed the writeup, my friend. We’ll keep pushing for more .32s!
I have two pairs of Trausch grips. One came with one of my S&W Model 10s, which had been a French police trade-in. Very nice grips!
And I hope I can acquire a Marlin 336 some time later this year. I already have Rossi .357 and .22 leverguns, but they don’t make a .30-30.
Also, very intrigued by the Taurus 856 optics models.
I’m sure S&W has valid, market-driven reasons to release its .350 Legend revolver but I really wish they’d invest in classic revolvers again (literally, their classics line that has withered over the years). Retro products obviously sell in 2023.
Thank you for a great SS23 review. I enjoyed being there (vicariously) through your feedback. ONLY 50,000 people there ? Try visiting Bike Week in Daytona Beach (FL) some time
Alas, you reflected my feelings about ARs and polymer wonders. There are only so many ways to take designs of John Browning, Eugene Stoner, and Gaston Glock and remake the formulas. With the patents on the Gen 3 Glocks expired, everyone and their brother is now on the Make A Clone merry-go-round: 1911s, ARs, Glocks. (snore)
Glad to see Colt getting full swing back into the revolver game. If they get the prices more in line with S&W and Ruger, they can be more competitive.
Speaking of Ruger – Marlin 1894 in .357 Magnum — please, purty pleeze !!
Grant Cunningham’s observations on Lubriplate are quite accurate. It has been available at NAPA auto parts stores for decades, and makes for an excellent revolver action lubricant. It takes very little – as in a thin film so thin it only has one side – to coat and lube the contact moving surfaces to slick things up. It is useful in non revolver platforms for any metal to metal contact such as rifle locking lugs, bolt cam surfaces ( think M1 Garand type bolt to operating rod ) and any surface subject to high impact contact.
As you aptly noted, revolver ammunition supplies are slowly coming back to life. The more revolvers that are sold, the more ammunition is required to keep things going, and there is no such thing as too much ammunition.
“A film so thin it only has one side.” I love it! A perfect description!
Remington .32 H&R magnum ammo? Federal revolver ammo in (did I see?) .44 special?? I drool…
Very interesting article. Regarding the 3-inch Python: I’ve always (well, since about 1980) thought the 3-inch barrel was the sweet spot for concealed carry revolvers. Back when I carried revolvers for a living, I carried fixed-sight 3-inchers or adjustable-sight 2.5-inchers (both 66 and Python). Later on, both the Model 66 and the Python were made with 3-inch barrels, but at the time I didn’t have the dough to spare for either of them. (I’m also a big fan of 3-inch J-frames and [theoretically] 3-inch SP101s.)
That Diamondback revolver looks like the old Hi-Standard Double-Nine, the “Old West” styled version of the Sentinel, another revolver that I lusted after but never owned. Is the similarity only skin-deep, or is it a new iteration of the Sentinel?
This website is a national treasure. Keep it up, please.
I haven’t seen under the hood of the Diamondback to know if the actions are the same, but when it was first released, I immediately thought of the Double-Nine. Operation is identical, with the spring-loaded extractor rod being the cylinder release. Wouldn’t surprise me a bit to see they’re identical inside. The only Sentinel I’ve shot had a better DA trigger, as I recall. Thanks for the kind words about the site! We’ve got more good stuff coming your way.
If you have a contact at Beretta, I would love to know who is making the Trausch grips for those Manurhins and whether there is any chance of getting them to re-introduce their SP101 grips. I almost bought a pair of those at one point, but decided to wait and when I looked again, Mr. Trausch had passed away, and his wife had closed up the business.
Sorry Greyson, I have no contacts there. I’ll ask next year.
Thanks, Mike, for the AAR on the show. It’s heartening to hear that our options for carry/fighting revolvers are increasing! I agree with Riley on the ammo warm and fuzzy, too. I’m looking forward to seeing Ruger get the 1894 Marlin back out in .357 Magnum. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen one, (or a Henry .357 levergun) in my country. I was sure hoping S&W would heed our call for carry revolvers and grace us with a new Night Guard or some such…
Maybe Ruger will finally make the D frame size SP-101 with something besides a J frame cylinder?
I commented when your article first came out, and it never showed up here. (I blame global warming.) I’ll try to reconstruct it here:
Re: the 3-inch Python: Three-inch revolvers are the sweet spot for concealed carry. When I was carrying concealed revolvers for a living, I carried 3-inch fixed-sight revolvers (K-frames and agency-proprietary Speed-Six) and 2.5-inch adjustable-sight revolvers (66 and Pythons), and 3-inch J-frames (S&W made 3-inch Model 36s back then). Later on, both the 66 and the Python came out with 3-inch versions, but I never bought either one (they were rare and expensive; I only ever saw one of each).
So I’m happy to see that 3-inchers are coming back. I’m reserving judgment on the Taurus and Rossi guns, since I had bad experiences with them. But since the bad experiences were during the Reagan Administration, I’m willing to give them another look, if I read good things about them from sources I trust (like Revolverguy).
Looking forward to seeing your reviews of them.
Thanks 1811! It looks like your post is up above, from February 1st? The one I responded to? Your thoughts are worth repeating though, so I’m happy to see the reprise. I’m eager to get you some detailed reports on the new Brazilian guns, because I’m as curious as you are about how they compare.
Amazing. Of all the companies to finally make dots on revolvers a regular thing, it would be Taurus. Sometimes I think our wheel guns have been handicapped on purpose. It would be interesting to see, say, a 686 with a top strap milled for a dot and a Picatinny rail. Looking forward to your review, especially of the.357 Magnum. And finally, FINALLY, a 4.25 inch Anaconda. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!
The new crowd at Taurus is really trying to shake things up. I think we might be seeing a brand reinvent itself.
I don’t know if you saw the DL Sports Sights article, but he’s doing some good work adding rails to revolvers. See the photo in the article. I know you’re asking for OEM, but in the meantime…
Mike, good report. I was one of the first to get a Colt King Cobra in .22 LR. It is a very well finished revolver. Mine had excessive end shake (.006″) and I could not get a .001″ feeler gauge between the forcing cone and the cylinder on several chambers (when pushed forward). After a near two hour conversation with Mike Heffron of Heffron Precision he said on the new ones more end shake was normal and .004″ to as much as .005″ but might be fine. I failed to catch it before buying, even though I took a bore light and magnifier with me, the guys at SW are accustomed to the crazy old guy….
I sent mine back in early December. Another shooter was having light strikes and send his back in January. Colt called him back and said they would send him a new gun in about two months. Sounds like a possible change of some type. I had heard that the 6″ versions would be coming up in March or April, so might be just waiting for another run. But seems odd to replace a gun with a light strike issue.
My .22 LR was very accurate, never had a single misfire of any kind. But tended to have some slightly bulged fired cases (CCI Blazer, CCI Mini Mags, SK Standard Plus), which I suspect might be due to the way the case is supported (it does not have recessed chambers).
The good: the barrel and forcing cone were as good as any I’ve seen, looked almost lapped. The timing was perfect and the fit and finish was excellent.
Jerry, that’s a great report! I really appreciate you taking the time to share the details. I hope you get your gun back soon. Was the endshake causing cylinder binding, with that small b/c gap?
Mike it didn’t cause any binding, even after two hundred rounds of various ammo brands. I wasn’t very clear on the B/C gap issue..it was as much as .006” to a tight .007” when pushed all the way to the rear, with .001” or touching the forcing cone when pushed to the front. I was concerned that the frame would eventually be damaged (even with a .22) from the ejector star hitting.
One other thing, when pulling the trigger the cylinder moves forward slightly and tightens up the B/C gap which Mike Heffron told me is normal for the new KC’s in .22. I’m not a Colt guy but sure learned a lot from Mike, he was very generous with his time and has a wealth of knowledge concerning the new Colts. The internal parts are made by Pratt and Whitney, with the frame cylinder and barrel made of some super hard stainless, that’s the reason for using Loctite on the screws, they won’t crush fit like the old ones. The hammer and trigger are MIM unlike the ones hot rolled steel used in the Python.
It’s not the Diamondback of old, but it’s a really nice revolver plus it’s only 34 ounces a nice weight for a holster revolver.
Thanks Jerry, for the extra info and clarification. It appears that Colt’s new method for affixing the cylinder to the crane (with bearings) may result in extra movement of the cylinder. It’s not what we’re used to seeing in previous designs, for sure. Whether or not it’s a problem to be concerned about is a little unclear, right now. There’s a theory that the new design may actually prevent the endshake from increasing further, but I’m not certain yet, if that’s the case. I guess we’ll see.
I actually asked the people who know, at Colt, about the Pratt & Whitney connection, and it appears that info is incorrect. I’m told it’s a different company supplying the revolver internals to Colt. I’m not at liberty to share who, but it’s not Pratt & Whitney, according to the people who make the guns.
It’s common on Colts for the cylinder to move forward a bit, at lockup. It’s a function of the way the hand bears on the ratchet. If there’s any fore-aft cylinder travel, the hand will push it forward. Very Colt.
I’m honestly a little dubious of the “crush fit” theory. Properly fitting screws don’t normally get deformed. The Loctite is a reasonable precaution that keeps the sideplate in place—especially critical on the Colt design, because it holds certain action parts in place. You may recall the story about the malfunctioning Pythons from the early production runs? Well, those were caused by sideplate screws that backed out to the point that action parts were misaligned. After that experience, Colt was quick to ensure Loctite was used during assembly. It’s a good move, because most users don’t understand that checking screws is part of routine maintenance on revolvers.
Hope your gun performs the way you want it to, when it comes back. Please keep us posted!
Mike I think the cylinder retention was pretty ingenious. Clearly someone gave it a lot of thought. And I do think it adds a bit of end shake in retrospect, just not .005 to 007”.
Maybe I’m being too picky, my 617 and 648 have less than .003”.
The screw situation is just an observation, they don’t “give” that last 1/8 turn like the S&W’s. I noticed S&W has been using Loctite on the cylinder retention screw in my last few new ones we have.
Here’s hoping I see my gun back before April….
Well, you DID say the gun was 100% reliable, accurate, had perfect timing, one of the best bores and forcing cones you’d seen, and had excellent fit and finish . . . there doesn’t seem to be anything to complain about, there! ; ^ )
I don’t know what’s been going on at Taurus the past several years, but they seem to have really stepped up their game. I’ve had Taurus revolvers before, and I’ve never had a problem, but I bought one of their 856 revolvers and it’s been excellent. Solid trigger, locks up like a vault, great grip; the Executive Grade I bought for my mother is even better, aside from the way-too-big-for-most-speed loaders wood grips.
I’d like to see Federal bring back the Nyclad line.
You’re not alone, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. We may see more Syntech offerings for target use, but they probably think the self-defense corner is adequately covered with HST, Punch, Hydra-Shok, and the other offerings.