Case: Back for another round of SHOT Show

Contributed photo / "Guns & Cornbread" columnist Larry Case tried out a Ruger Super Redhawk chambered in .22 Hornet on the range as part of his visit to Las Vegas for this year's SHOT Show.
Contributed photo / "Guns & Cornbread" columnist Larry Case tried out a Ruger Super Redhawk chambered in .22 Hornet on the range as part of his visit to Las Vegas for this year's SHOT Show.

Hope you don't think I am complaining, but coming back to you after a trip to the SHOT Show, I am even more trail weary than usual.

Yes, I ventured once again to beautiful, wonderful, exciting and awful Las Vegas.

Vegas is, you will recall, the site of the annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show -- and SHOT, as we have discussed before, is THE place for all things in the shooting, hunting and firearms-related world.

This was the 45th in-person SHOT Show (it was virtual in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic), and while the inaugural edition in 1979 was in St. Louis and eight cities have hosted over the decades, no city has done so more often than Las Vegas. This was the 24th in-person show in Vegas, which hosted for the first time in 1988 and has been the site of every one from 2010 to now.

How big is the SHOT Show? It is immense, and it keeps getting bigger.

Here are some figures on this year's show from the organizers:

There were more than 2,500 exhibitors on the show floor, including the Suppliers Showcase, which is off the main trade show floors.

It's the largest event held at the Venetian Expo, and since 2022 it has also used space at the Caesars Forum. The show's total exhibit space across these two venues was more than 816,000 net square feet -- that's 18-plus acres, or enough space to park 547 F-16 fighter jets. (Back in 2016, it was "just" 13-plus acres.)

If you walked every single aisle, you would cover 13.9 miles, or more than half a marathon.

So maybe you get the idea that SHOT is big, and I am glad to report this in that it shows the firearms, hunting and shooting industry is doing well. In truth, by the second day of the show, it seems that I have walked those 14 miles of aisles at least twice. Your feet hurt, your back hurts, and you would really like to go somewhere and lay down, but there is always something new to go see and check out.

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SHOT is immense, overwhelming, exhausting and wonderful, all at the same time. It is in fact the source, the fount of all things new in the shooting and firearms industry. So for a humble guns writer like myself, it is the place to be, although the trail getting there and back is not for the faint of heart. (Did you know you had to go through Seattle to fly back to Atlanta? I didn't either.)

I left the great state of West Virginia during the arctic cold front, which of course caused several delays that morning, but somehow I made it to Atlanta for my connection and on to the balmy climate of Vegas (with highs of maybe 50 degrees). Although the official show was a four-day event, I arrived early to take in "Industry Day at the Range," when you are transported by bus to a huge shooting facility in the desert, the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club, near Boulder City, Nevada.

Like SHOT itself, range day can be equally intimidating as there is a lot of walking and a lot to see. The good part is you can visit the booths of dozens of companies and shoot the firearms they are offering for the new year (and shoot their ammo). Since I have never been overly bashful about shooting other people's ammo, I took a deep dive into what was offered. As I will nowhere near be able to tell about all I saw in this single column, I will try a couple of highlights.

It would be an outright lie if I didn't say how pleased I was to see the new handgun from Ruger, a Super Redhawk model chambered in .22 Hornet. It just struck me as very cool that they chose this caliber to put in this big revolver. The handgun has a 9 1/2-inch heavy barrel, and because the .22 Hornet has a negligible recoil to begin with, it makes the Super Redhawk a pleasure to shoot.

I started noticing that while talking about the Hornet on the range, I may have got a few strange looks. It dawned on me that many of the younger shooters have no history with the Hornet and know little about it.

Back in the day (at least 50 years ago), there is no telling how many deer the .22 Hornet accounted for. As we are in a time when some are routinely hunting whitetail deer with .300 Magnums and the like, some will just be aghast at the thought of hunting deer with this little cartridge. While I am not really advocating using the Hornet for deer, believe me when I tell you it has taken more than its share of venison. Good bullets and bullet placement mean everything.

This Ruger Redhawk in .22 Hornet will be an excellent choice for small game, varmint hunting and different competitions such as NRA Silhouette matches.

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While I saw many shotgun goodies at SHOT, I must say that the new offering from Mossberg, the International Silver Reserve Eventide, is something. This over-and-under turkey gun is so sexy, mostly because of its 20-inch barrels, which will make it light and fast-handling and decrease the chances of that sapling or limb being in the way when you are taking a bead on that gobbler's head this spring.

Long ago, I told you how Jim Crumley (the inventor of Trebark camouflage) first enlightened me to the advantages of using an over-and-under shotgun for gobbler hunting with two different choke tubes -- one for close shots, one for farther away. This new Mossberg shotgun decked out in Mossy Oak Greenleaf camo will be perfect for all of that.

Like I said, we wouldn't have room this time for all the wonders at SHOT Show, so we will take it up next time.

For now, boy, am I glad to be home!

"Guns & Cornbread" is written by Larry Case, who lives in Fayette County, W.Va. You can write to him at larryocase3@gmail.com.