2014 was yet another interesting year for the shooting community. While we regained some of the sanity lost in 2013 with astronomical prices and negative product availability, we still had a slightly tumultuous adventure.
Let’s take a look, in no particular order, at some of the year’s highlights and lowlights.
1. Monkeys flew out of my butt on their way to Chicago!
I’d always joked that monkeys would fly out of my butt before the state of Illinois had concealed carry. Well, in 2014, the monkeys took flight. The City of Chicago and the entire state of Illinois now have concealed carry. Sort of. There’s plenty of work yet to do as Rahm and friends are trying their darnedest to make things difficult. I’ve even seen some of the actual permits!
2. The SHOT Show find-a-new-partner jamboree!
In one of 2014’s biggest kerfuffles, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) fired their longtime trade show vendor, Reed Exhibitions. The NSSF had good reason though. You see, Reed got all uppity about the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show and decided that they wouldn’t allow any display of “assault rifles.” Coming from a British company, that was pretty funny. To expect the folks who are actively banning kitchen knives to make rules about that, is, well, it’s just comical.
To make a long story short, the National Rifle Association took over the Eastern show and now calls it the Great American Outdoors Show. Yeah, ’Murica!
I’m proud of the NSSF for sticking to their guns on this issue. Having a nanny company run SHOT Show and impose their hoplophobia on the premier industry event would have been silly. Next time you see an NSSF employee, thank them. Their decision to find and train a new vendor for such major show was bold and caused them a lot of late nights at the office.
3. Crimson Trace turned 20.
While still a year away from legal drinking age, the company hit the two-decade milestone in 2014. If you want to mark the occasion, check out their 20th Anniversary Master Series Lasergrips.
4. Glock released its model 42 compact chambered in .380 ACP.
Too little too late? Or worth the wait? Seemingly years after everyone else figured out that folks want compact .380 pistols for personal protection, Glock entered the party. It’s a nice little gun to shoot and people are buying them like crazy, so I guess it’s never too late to offer a product people want.
5. Sheep queued up in Connecticut.
The State of Connecticut’s new and draconian gun laws took effect. As expected, a small minority of Connecticut gun owners started lining up outside of government offices to “register” their firearms and magazines. Hundreds of thousands of other Connecticuters gave the finger next to the ring one and completely ignored the new, and quite unconstitutional, laws.
6. .22 LR ammo came back—at a new price.
While lots of folks are refusing to buy .22 LR ammo until the prices “come back to normal,” I’m not sure we’ll ever see the days of $0.03-a-round bulk ammo again. As we all know, guns are still selling in record numbers. Tens of millions of new shooters have entered the market. They’re also shooting .22 LR guns, but production capacity is more or less the same as it was before because it’s no small feat to build a .22 LR ammo plant. The bottom line is that more demand with fixed supply equals higher prices. Love it or hate it, you can buy .22 LR ammo any time you want, but at a cost of $0.08 to $0.09 per round. Ah, the good old days…
7. Smith & Wesson shipped a .22 pistol beauty.
Speaking of .22s, Smith & Wesson shipped a beauty in 2014. The M&P22 Compact is one sweet little honey. Measuring about 85 percent the size of the original M&P22, this one is made entirely by Smith & Wesson and features a complete redesign. I’ve been shooting the bejeepers out of one for months and it likes to eat pretty much anything you feed it. Since it comes with a threaded barrel, adding a super fun toy like a SilencerCo Sparrow suppressor just amplifies the goodness while reducing the noise. Love this one.
8. AR prices dipped to seven to 10 barrels of oil.
Is the price of oil related to the price of AR-15 rifles? I don’t know, but you have to admit that falling oil prices and a return to rational gun prices in the same year is a pretty freaky thing. After the Great Rifle Rush of 2013, you can now buy an AR-type rifle without taking out a second mortgage on your home. Better yet, you can afford the gas to drive to the gun store.
9. Nanny Pants Bloomberg remained unemployed, and more pesky than ever.
Shifting his efforts to a new partnership with Moms Demand Action Blah Blah Blah, he’s now dumping millions into state- and local-level gun control initiatives since he’s failed so miserably at the national level. Unfortunately, money talks, as evidenced by the recent passage of I-594 in Washington State, which imposes unrealistic and ineffective background check processes.
10. I found what might be my favorite 9x19mm pistol.
The Sig P226 has been around for a while and earned a well-deserved reputation as a reliable self-defense gun. What’s new is the P226 Elite SAO, or single action only. Wow. It more closely resembles Sig’s match guns and features single action operation with ambidextrous safeties. I shot it in the 2014 Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun event and it’s a soft-shooting honey.
11. Legal concealed carry in California.
In a bizarre turn of events, California’s state ban on concealed carry enabled five San Diego County residents to sue successfully to fix the concealed carry system. Previously, one had to show proof of need, like being murdered five or six times, in order to get a concealed carry permit in many counties. Courts ruled that the state must have some provision for citizens to carry guns outside the home (that “bear arms” part) so the “may issue” permit system began its rapid demise.
12. Beretta shipped the ARX100 rifle.
In a long-awaited move, Beretta started shipping the ARX100 to the US commercial market. A truly ambidextrous MSR-type rifle, this one features piston operation and enough tool-less configuration options to keep you tinkering for months. Not only is it flexible, it will shoot into an inch at 100 yards with the right ammo.
13. NRA membership topped 5 million.
Wow. That’s a big number of people voluntarily sending membership dues. But we still have a long way to go. If only half of gun owners joined the NRA, we’d have 50 million or so members and gun control battles would be a moot point.
I could go on, and on, and on. Simply put, with a few exceptions, 2014 was a pretty good year. New products, lots of new first-time gun owners, and some big wins on the gun rights front.
Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon.
Images by Tom McHale