If I could use just one word to describe SHOT Show, it would be "wow!" When I heard it was large and that lots of companies would be there, it still didn't prepare me for what I would experience. Not only was every big name gun, knife, and hunting apparel company there, but also plenty of companies I had never heard of, many of which were from Europe and beyond. SHOT Show is literally a "Toys R Us" for people who are into firearms, edged tools, and hunting related products. Trying to see it all in three days, though overwhelming, was one of the most exciting and memorable experiences I've ever had.
One of the first things you notice when you walk into SHOT Show is the sheer enormity of it -- 1,600 exhibitors on two different levels spanning 630,000 square feet, along with an estimated 60,000 attendees. Just figuring out where a particular company is located can be a real challenge. An eight hour day of this kind of trekking makes you feel like you've gone on a high endurance mountain hike!
Since this was my first SHOT Show, I was overwhelmed by not only the number of exhibitors and new products, but also by the sheer number of big name "movers and shakers" in the outdoor industry. Each year, SHOT Show is attended by a veritable "who's who" of outdoor celebrities, CEOs, Industry PR Reps, knife and firearms designers, as well as major press outlets\bloggers. Trying to stay focused on covering the show, along with checking out any bushcraft-friendly products, proved much harder than I anticipated.
Some of the celebrities in attendance included Steven Seagal, Ted Nugent, Les Stroud and Mykel Hawke.
A wide range of industry leaders were also in attendance. I was lucky enough to meet some of them, including Leatherman founder Tim Leatherman, Julia Kalthoff (CEO of Wetterlings Axes), Yvonne Caruso (President of Grand Forest/Gransfors Bruks USA), Paul Scheiter (Founder of Hedgehog Leatherworks), Bob Carpenter (President of Puma Knives USA), and Scott Glaser (CEO of Lansky Sharpeners), among others.
I was able to send most of these head honchos/honchoettes on their way with a nice sample of Colorado Ponderosa and Douglas Fir fatwood fire tinder. Lucky for me, it was a popular gift, with a typical "wow, this stuff smells great!" response. Hah, I will turn these bigwigs into bushcrafters yet!
Julia Kalthoff, CEO of Wetterlings (yes, she's wearing the Ponderosa pitchwood necklace I gave her!)
I think I made some corny joke about Swedish bushcrafters
The lovely Yvonne Caruso, President of Gransfors Bruks USA
Paul Scheiter, founder of Hedgehog Leatherworks and designer of Ontario's Blackbird SK-5 Survival Knife. Paul was a great guy to talk to and admitted that he's getting into axes lately (yes!).
Paul is going to send us one of his cool leather survival sheaths to test soon, and we will be including it in our upcoming Blackbird knife field review. Here is Paul showing me his personal Blackbird SK-5 and Hedgehog sheath:
Below is Joe Flowers, outdoor writer extraordinaire and knife/axe/machete designer for Condor and TOPS Knives, showing me some of his new designs. Joe and I have corresponded in the past, so it was nice to finally meet him in person.
A couple of years ago, I was rather critical of Condor axes' design and quality control, but I have to say that lately, they are making some really quality stuff. For 2013, Joe is making their axes with thinner bits, better quality control, and more consistent handle grain.
He also showed me a new Condor Parang Machete with a nicely shaped, comfortable polymer handle. I'm more of an axe\hatchet guy, but this Parang really impressed me as a potential wood-processing tool for summer bushcraft excursions. Check back as summer approaches and I should have a review posted on this cool new tool.
Below is Amy Terai, marketing manager for Filson Clothing, and Travis Gillet, Filson's new Social Media Specialist. Amy and Travis are very enthusiastic about Filson products and were a blast to talk to! They even let me try on a new, hip-looking prototype wool jacket, due to be released later this year, that might interest bushcrafters. Check out some of our Filson reviews here.
Harald from Puma Knives Germany showing his incredibly tiny Puma fixed blade:
Joe Teti's knife, the TOPS SURV-TAC 7 (thanks to Leo at the TOPS Knives exhibit for allowing me take this photo):
More cool stuff
It turns out Billy over at Lansky Sharpeners is a fan of our blog and quite an adept woodsman/bushcrafter. Billy is a really cool guy and hopes to market more products geared towards bushcrafters and axe enthusiasts in the coming years. I also ran into a couple of LAPD SWAT Team members who read our blog. Very cool!
WHAT'S NEW IN EDGED TOOLS FOR 2013
Are hatchets making a comeback? Based on the number of them I saw on display at the show, it certainly seems that way. Bear Grylls is even releasing his own signature hatchet next month- who'd a thunk it?
Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet- Have hatchets gone wild?
As mentioned in a post here last month, Benchmade has introduced a new knife called the "Bushcrafter."
Below is Ryan McGinnis of Benchmade showing me the Bushcrafter. My first impression was favorable, and I really liked the feel of the handle. Benchmade has promised to send us out a Bushcrafter for review, so make sure to keep checking back to see our field test of this interesting new bushcraft knife!
Mora Black Carbon Bushcraft knife now comes with Mora's Survival Sheath
Even a few days later, thinking back on the products, the people and the sheer enormity of SHOT Show, all I can say is "WOW!" Can't wait till next year........
For more information about the SHOT Show, visit www.nssf.org/SHOT/
About the author
Jason Schwartz is the founder and senior editor of Rocky Mountain Bushcraft. He is a former Red Cross certified Wilderness & Remote First Aid Instructor, and has taught bushcraft and wilderness survival techniques to the Boy Scouts of America, interned with the US Forest Service, and studied wilderness survival, forestry and wildland firefighting at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville, Colorado. Jason has also written for magazines such as The New Pioneer and Backpacker, including writing the "Tinder Finder" portion of Backpacker's "Complete Guide to Fire," which won a 2015 National Magazine Award (NMA). Email him at rockymountainbushcraft @ hotmail.com (without spaces)