In the new year, the firearm industry, like many other industries, is racing to spread the word on up-and-coming products, announcements of which are heavily anticipated by industry professionals, and more so, consumers. And as many 2A followers know, coverage of the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s SHOT Show has become an expectation, but it is a private, industry-only exhibition. But what if I told you that your NRA hosts an outdoor consumer show, the largest of its kind in the world, similar to SHOT?
This nine-day event, dubbed The Great American Outdoor Show (GAOS), is hosted yearly in early February following SHOT Show in Harrisburg, Pa., and is a place anyone can go to see the newest products of the year, handle new firearms and purchase ammo, clothing and more. I recently spent two days at this year’s GAOS, poking around the seemingly endless corridors of cubicles stacked with products to find five of the most interesting.
As I turned the corner of the large Osprey Global booth, I became immediately drawn to a much smaller display and product demonstration being performed by TACRIG company president Tim Silva. Several patrons had crowded the display space, so I patiently waited from afar to ease up and inspect more closely what I had witnessed. It was at this time I couldn’t help but notice the company motto: “Flex Your Guns.”
I’d asked Mr. Silva to give me a quick rundown of the products on display, even though the product(s) explained themselves rather quickly. You may have noticed TACRIG featured before here on AmericanRifleman.org and in the print magazine, however, the company appears to be evolving, quickly, and is offering enhancements to the “system.” If you’re new to the brand, TACRIG offers holsters, but these aren’t your ordinary types made of Kydex, the TACRIG FLEX system utilizes a gun-specific shell made of a thermoplastic called Boltaron. From that, is where things get different.
The FLEX is, well, flexible, and now the company offers a wide range of configurations, which is what I found most interesting. Rather than being stuck with the investment to one specific type of carry, TACRIG’s unique quick-disconnect system uses made-in-Germany fasteners that allow the end user to pop four pins free of the Boltaron shell—simply merge your handgun’s dedicated shell from a IWB configuration to OWB belt carry.
If those details weren’t enough to intrigue most, the TACRIG FLEX can be configured to AIWB style carry and more, of course with the purchase of additional accessories. In addition, the FLEX goes even further to MOLLE mounts, magnetic mounts, hook and loop backers, binocular harnesses and even a chest rig. The price for the TACRIG Holster Shell is $70, and FLEX Packages start at $110, with fitment for most of today’s popular pistols. For more information, visit TACRIG.com.
Rick Young Outdoors Steady Stix
Over the past 10 years, I have hunted, hiked and enjoyed the outdoors all over my home state and across the U.S. with a simple and lightweight binocular harness from Rick Young Outdoors (RYO). I much prefer the system, as being a larger male with meat on my bones, I need not worry about extra bulk hanging off my front side. So, without further ado, I’d like to introduce another RYO product that I can’t wait to put to use in the field.
As an avid hunter and shooter, I can’t always rely on the prone position, or an ultra-stable bench to make accurate shots on target. When I saw the new Steady Stix displayed at the GAOS, I had to learn more. Now, if you don’t know RYO, it is important to note the inventor is incredibly detail-oriented and manages to pack the most into the simplest of products, and the Steady Stix illustrate that.
Comprised of heavy-wall 7075 aluminum tubing with a 9.5 mm outside diameter, Steady Stix offer up a multi-use product with strength and rigidity while offsetting weight and lending a helping hand. Seems like a win/win, right? Unlike most aluminum shooting sticks, Steady Stix have a patented provision attached to the EPDM-covered aluminum top "cradle." This head platform swivels and creates a platform to rest hands and binos on for glassing, and anyone who’s spent copious hours behind glass will more than welcome this feature. And because of this patented head and included hook-and-loop strap, the Stix, measuring 40” tall, can be used as an emergency trekking pole.
The Steady Stik continue to be different than most every tent-pole-type shooting stick, thanks to its rugged internal shock cord, stainless steel fasteners inside and EPDM fittings at each external joint, which helps to reduce noise. Once deployed, the sticks rest naturally, so there is no fighting with each leg and the unit adding undue pressure on a gun’s fore-end that can negatively affect shot placement. Taking the Stix even further is the included holster, a simple belt-fastened sheath to drop the Stix in and out of during the hunt. Even more, the holster doubles its duty and once folded up, a pocket is formed so that the Stix have an anchor point to support binos while moving about without the need for full deployment and crouching, sitting, or kneeling on the ground. The RYO Steady Stix retail for $80 and come in either Carbon Gray or Sunset Orange. To learn more, visit RickYoungOutdoors.com.
Vantage Point Armory Compensator
Moving around the firearms hall at the GAOS will reveal an abundance of gun accessories, as you can already tell, from optics to cleaning products and everything between, with many niche-specific products tailored to solve problems. After I left the RYO booth and moved just beyond the Pennsylvania Veterans of Foreign Wars display, I discovered something quite unique. On the table sat a Beretta PX4 Storm pistol alongside a Glock with a compensator attached to both. The Glock I fully understood without second thought, but I scratched my head at the distant sight of a rotating-barrel utilizing a compensator.
General Manager Jeff Schaden was there to help wipe the confused look off my face. Upon closer inspection, it was revealed that the compensator was, in fact, attached to the accessory rail. A truly simple solution for addressing the effects of recoil on a pistol with a barrel that pivots, or rotates in and out of lockup. My first thought was how effective can a ‘divorced’ compensator be, but Jeff assured me that it is effective and pointed me to slow-motion video snippets of the comp redirecting muzzle blast and escaping gasses. I was sold.
Unfortunately, I don’t own a PX4 Storm, but if I did, Vantage Point Armory has the answer. And, if you don’t want to lose your accessory rail to another device, the company offers the Full Light-Mounted Compensator that simply bolts onto a SureFire X300U-A light. Both units are sold at $150. To learn more, visit VPArmory.com.
Tucked in across the large display of Smith & Wesson lever-actions, carbines and pistols, I struggled to gain access to one particular booth. With all the excitement of patrons surrounding, I knew something different was going on, and I had to learn more. As I peered over the tops of folks gazing in amazement, I discovered DA Targets had something new to me, too.
While I do enjoy that instant "ping!" of steel ringing downrange, many times, the shooting range I am on does not allow for that type of target shooting, and it's understandable why; a bullet ricochet can cause bodily harm in addition to unintended property damage. It is for that reason we’ve been witness to the proliferation of self-sealing targets over the last 10 years or more. And there are many other benefits for going this route, too. Obviously, steel targets can be quite cumbersome, especially when trekking with them downrange. And there’s the cost of steel. However, one advantage of painted-steel targets over self-sealing types is where the bullet strikes the target—with a freshly painted target you can sight-in just as you would on paper. This is where DA Targets has taken to the reactive target with a wildly different approach.
DA Targets are made here in the USA and comprised of a patented color-changing material that indicates the exact hole left behind from the hot projectile passing through. Need I say more? I was shocked to see the demonstrations unfold in front of me at the GAOS, as were many other folks. And the color-changing Double Action Targets are affordable, too. There are options for 4” and 6” swinging gongs, as well as 6” knockdown plates and a full-size silhouette. Targets are fully weatherproof, though it is important to note that due to the temperature-sensitive nature of these targets, for proper functionality, you must select the appropriate temperature range that you intend to shoot in: cool weather (45° F to 80° F), mild weather (60° F to 80° F) and warm weather (60° F to 100° F). Pricing starts at $20. To learn more, visit DA-Targets.com.
Grip Force Adapters
While Glock has commanded a large corner of the handgun market, still, many users struggle to get behind the steep angle of its grip frame, and I'm included in that group. Having suffered a series of severe wrist fractures at an early age, my abilities are hampered in this department. This is where Grip Force Products has stepped in to better position Glock pistols in the hand, and I was able to sample the product first-hand at the GAOS.
Grip Force Adapters for Glock Gen1, 2 and 3 pistols are a simple, yet effective, addition that replaces the upper-rear trigger pin near the gun’s beavertail. The lightweight modules are available in black and brown/FDE colors. There is minor fitting involved during installation, along with detailed instructions that also describe how to permanently affix the unit. Two sizes are provided. One has a smooth radius with a slight bump molded in along with square-dot texturing. A larger, more aggressive adapter contains deep upper serrations and a longer profile, all of which are designed to help lower the natural point of aim. The price for the Grip Force Adapters is $27. For more information, visit GripForceProducts.com.
Among the thousands of vendors on display at your NRA’s Great American Outdoor Show, this is just a small sampling of new-for-2024 products that are available to see and purchase. And speaking of purchase, the above listed prices are what you should expect any day of the week from these companies, but if you go to Harrisburg, Pa., for the event you’ll soon discover massive savings can be had with “Show Specials” at nearly every booth. Just as I have over the last 20 years, I hope you can make this a yearly event and that we see you soon at The Great American Outdoor Show.