Larry Case: Guns, goodies and the NRA

The NRA recently held its annual meetings and exhibits in Atlanta, where outdoors columnist Larry Case took in the sights and sounds, including a speech by President Donald Trump.
The NRA recently held its annual meetings and exhibits in Atlanta, where outdoors columnist Larry Case took in the sights and sounds, including a speech by President Donald Trump.

There was no turning back now. I watched as the runway sped past and felt the lift as the little commuter jet jumped off the ground. I was on my way to the National Rifle Association's annual meetings and exhibits for 2017.

Next stop: Atlanta.

In a typical show of bad judgment, I had gone turkey hunting that morning (no luck, of course) before racing home to pack before heading to the airport. I never claimed to be the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Thankfully, I had a few hours to relax that evening before convention-related activities began. After the taxi ride from the airport, I was glad of it. Considering the traffic and most of the cab drivers in Atlanta, it is best you just look down and hold on, because you don't really want to see what is coming.

The next morning when I entered the convention site, the Georgia World Congress Center, I was pleasantly surprised. This facility has more than a million square feet of exhibit space, and with more than 800 gun- and hunting-related companies on display here, it was all put to good use. The first thing I noticed, however, was the people. The ushers, crowd movers - or whatever the NRA called those employed to help with the mass of people attending this year's convention (just shy of 83,000) - were the friendliest I can remember seeing at such an event. Southern hospitality was the theme.

I think you have heard my NRA speech before: If you believe we should keep our right to own firearms, like to hunt with firearms, enjoy target shooting or just keep and carry a firearm for protection, you should be a member of the NRA, period. The NRA boasts a membership of 4.5 million, but the numbers I have seen say we have 100 million gun owners in the United States, with 40 to 45 percent of households possessing guns.

Part of the draw of an NRA convention is the celebrities who attend, and this year none other than President Donald Trump gave a speech, along with several others of note, including Sen. Ted Cruz, Col. Allen West and Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clark. President Trump is the first sitting president to attend an NRA convention since Ronald Reagan three decades ago.

Although they may not be on the level of fame as Trump and Cruz, I was glad to see some celebrities from the outdoors and gun world I have become acquainted with. Longtime friend Jim Zumbo was there and told me he had just been selected to write the back-page item for Petersen's Hunting magazine ( That is great news, and many will enjoy reading his ramblings there.

I also got to spend time with Jeff Quinn of Along with his brother, Boge, Quinn is the undisputed king of the internet gun review world. That site's readers know they will get an honest, no-frills review of a firearm, along with no little amount of homespun and sometimes earthy humor. Trust me, you've never met anyone quite like Quinn, who appears to be a curious mix of an outlaw biker and a Tennessee farmer.

What most people want to hear about when they learn you have been to the NRA convention is what you saw there - were there any guns and goodies you thought were really great? For guns and many other things, beauty is often in the eye of the beholder, but here are a few I looked at more than once:

' Remington Model 870 Tac-14. Remington ( unveiled this nifty little shotgun in Atlanta. There is no doubt this gun is very similar to Mossberg's 590 Shockwave, but the Remington still garnered lots of attention at the convention. At first glance, this gun appears to be illegal because it has a 14-inch barrel. But with an overall length of more than 26 inches, the weapon is legal to purchase over the counter, and due to the gun's construction, no National Firearms Act tax stamp or registration is required.

' CZ-USA 455 ULTRA LUX .22. This company ( has been associated for many years with deadly accurate .22 rifles. Like its predecessor, the Model 452, the 455 is one fine .22 rifle. In the interest of shooting open sights (which may be becoming a lost art) the Ultra Lux has a 28.6-inch barrel, offering a long sighting plane. The gun also features a tangent rear sight that is quickly adjustable for elevation, a beech wood stock and a 10-round magazine. This is a rifleman's .22.

' Burris FastFire optic and SpeedBead mount. I've written about red dot-type optics for shotguns before. For many types of shooting, including turkey hunting, they provide an easy-to-see sight with quick target acquisition, and I like that. What I don't like is when the optic appears large and cumbersome on top of the gun and we must raise our head from the stock in order to look through the optic. Burris ( came up with an ingenious mounting system, the SpeedBead, which is simply a metal mount that inserts between the stock and receiver of many models of shotguns. The compact Burris FastFire red-dot optic mounts on the SpeedBead, and the shooter looks through the optic and down the barrel, as he should. I am betting you are going to like this rig.

"The Trail Less Traveled" is written by Larry Case, who lives in Fayette County, W.Va. You can write to him at

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