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January 17, 2007

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SHOT Show 2007: On Booth Babes and Beautiful Rifles

This year's SHOT Show in Orlando had 1,870 exhibiting companies, was attended by 42,000 people and was, as ever, a nightmare vision of America gone mad. It was the biggest and best-attended show since SHOT began in 1979. (As a high-ranking NSSF official said to me with an ironic smile, "Welcome to a 'dying' industry.") As I understand it, the gun biz is selling everything it can make, and so there was not much innovation this year, with one exception, which is the Thompson/Center Icon bolt-action rifle (below). More on it here.

Thompson/Center Icon bolt-action rifle

In additional to its mind-boggling size, SHOT was marked by the welcome return of booth babes, whose photos you can see elsewhere on this website. They were taken by our intrepid Senior Photo Editor Jaime Santa, who was able to get a bunch of terrific-looking women to pose for her camera. If I had tried, I would have been driven off with kicks and curses.

Return of the Booth Babes: The 2007 SHOT Show

The other major trend in SHOT was the astounding growth of what the Show calls its Law Enforcement (actually paramilitary) section, which is now as big as early SHOT Shows were in their entirety. This phenomenon will be explored in a subsequent rant, guaranteed to offend all right-thinking Americans.

Any way, here are photos and thumbnail descriptions of the rifles I found worthy of your attention.


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so, what line of sporting goods do the hooters girls purvey? once again, "props to my homz" DP for once again recognizing a great rifle from a great riflemaker-savage


“If you can’t make a better pickle, You make a better pickle jar.”

The Booth Babes sorta shows beauty outsells the beast.

Ralph the Rifleman

What a groovy place to be at, now I am even more of an envious SOB, thanks Dave...Just read an article on the T/C Icon-It looks/sounds like a winner, which I have no doubt it will handle nicely in the field.



The girls posed very well for you. I did not have as much luck! Was it the media badge or your sparkling personality that got the attention???


Tom, Dave said they were taken by F&S senior photo editor because had he tried he would have been driven off with kicks and curses.

I'm still bummed I missed the show this year, looked like a great time and you saw some great new products. I am looking forward to making it to Vegas in 08.

Thanks for posting for us that couldn't make it.


Dave, what is your take on the .30 TC? Is it essentially just another cartridge trying to fill a void that doesnt exist or is it actually some-what worthwile?

On a different note I was hoping you could give me some insight on adjusting the trigger on my M70. It's a pre-war 30-06 and the trigger is fine and dandy except the weight is probably in the 6lb range. The adjustment nut is backed off as far as it will go so I was wondering if I could just replace the spring (I'm leaning towards no as I've yet to find a place that carries them) or should I do what is probably the most intelligent thing and have someone who knows more than I do tune it.


Chad Love

Sorry, I just don't understand the reasoning behind the whole "booth babes" thing. Maybe it's just me, but if I wanted to ogle vapid, jiggly plasti-tramps sporting the latest in streetwalker fashion I'd go to a strip club. I'm not a gun writer or a dealer, so maybe my perspective is a bit skewed toward hoping for, oh, I dunno, maybe just a tiny modicum of class.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not an uptight prude (to paraphrase an old Ed Abbey line, I like the wummens, I shorely do...) but really, what do the overt displays of (let's face it) skanky T&A have to do with the firearms industry?
Honestly, must every facet of our culture emulate a light beer commercial?
I see it everywhere now, on those wretched, low production-value "hunting shows" (I don't know about you, but I don't bowhunt to a hard-rock soundtrack), on those "bucks 'n babes" calendars, in the "all-about-the-numbers" mindset of an increasing number of hunters and yes, the increasing paramilitarization of the hunting and firearms industry (I'm anxious to hear the scribe's thoughts on that one).
I don't know if this is all a misguided attempt to try to recruit more members of the X-Games-Playstation generation to the fold or an effort to maintain the flagging enthusiasm (and perhaps the flagging something else...) of the big-talking lecherous, beer-gutted middle-aged Walter Mitty set, but I can't help but feel the cheap, shallow, unthinking sordidness of the whole modern firearms/hunting industry is driving people like myself away.
I don't want this coarse pop-culture Maxim mentality intruding upon the inherent dignity of my chosen sport, but I don't see any way of stopping it.
Am I out of line here? Am I just a crackpot? Vox Clamantis in Deserto? (to crib Abbey again).
I was the product of a suburban, single-parent household, something of a demographic anomaly for a hunting/shooting background. It's not hyperbole to state that hunting and shooting saved me from a slackjawed urban metrosexual existence. They, more than any other external factor molded me into the person I am today. For that I am deeply indebted, deeply grateful and very much aware of how those activites speak to the core of who we are. I just hate to see it debased so completely.
We all have our personal reasons for why we hunt, why we own and cherish our guns. Don't know about you guys, but fake tits never entered into the equation for me.


Chad, Maybe the answer to your question is reviewing why you use so many adjectives in relation to subject-verb in your rant.

This may be something, may be nothing. :-)


After careful study of the booth babes I think I have discovered their primary purpose. They provide a visual way to concentrate the powers of observation after seeing hunters such as yourself and That Guy Who Writes about guns in The Other Magazine wander the hall for days on end.

Chad Love

Now I'm just a dumb Okie, and admittedly a tad slow, but are you accusing my prose of being a bit purple? You aint an editor, is 'ya?
Point taken, and guilty as charged, I suppose. It's always been my failing. However, I think the point still holds, for those few (if any) so inclined to agree with me.
I'm awaiting the onslaught of "lighten up, weirdo, dontcha like girls" posts from some of the more erudite of this blogs readership...
BTW, I do. Like girls, that is.


I'm sure you do like girls (and even if you didn't who cares). The booth babes, calendar babes, car babes, bike babes, hunting babes, hooters babes, sideline sports babes, etc.... They remind all of us mortal guys what we can never have... unless we are rich!!!



By the way not all the girls have plastic parts!!!

What is really interesting is that most of the Girls are very talented in what they do. Most of them actually know the product very well.

I spent 4 days at that show and I was unable to see all the booths. This is a great tactic to bring people into the booth, and possibly create a new customer.

On another note: If you went to the SHOT show from open to close for the 4 days it was there and wanted to stop at every booth, on average you could only spend 65 seconds at each booth....booth babes help!!!

Chad Love

OK I'll concede it's a trade show, meant to generate business deals and nothing more, and the argument will be made that it's just an effective business tactic to get your product noticed and nothing else should be read into or taken from it.
Fair enough. But in my non-industry layman's opinion it just exudes a tacky image the firearms industry and the shooting sports in general don't really need.
Again, I'm not anti-sex appeal and I'm not against using attractive women to help sell your product (anyone ever see a female drug rep at your local doctor's office?) but at least make it semi-classy. A lot of those girls looked like well-used Motley Crue groupies.

Dave Petzal

To Matt WV: I I like the .30TC and think it makes a lot of sense. It's simply a short .30/06, which means it's a very useful cartridge. I think that anyone who wants more power than a .308 can develop in a short-action rifle should consider it.

About the Model 70 trigger. If the spring is backed off all the way and it's still pulling over 6 pounds, that means a gunsmith has to take a stone to it and polish the engagement surfaces where the trigger and sear contact each other. It's a simple job for someone who knows how, and don't try it yourself because you can wreck the trigger with just a few strokes at the wrong angle. Take it to a gunsmith.

Dale M

The new Savage varmint rifle sounds interesting. Is the stock any stiffer than the standard Savage synthetic stocks? I've found those bend a bit much if I use a tight sling. I'd LOVE to see the new Savage in an H-S Precision stock, or something similar.

Dave Petzal

To Dale M: Didn't get a chance to check it; it's probably a standard stock. However, the Model 12 varmint rifle does use an H-S stock.

Ralph the Rifleman

.30TC=A shorter cartridge with 30/06 power, humm...sounds like the .300 Savage. My how history repeats itself.


I for one am VERY much looking forward to your comments on the paramilitary aspect of the Shot Show. I feel strongly that the purveyors of this crap should do it elsewhere. However, I realize that this is no doubt a naive point of view, since the whole show is really about dollars. Can't argue with that I guess. It seems a shame that gear & guns for sporting puposes must somehow be combined with the paramilitary junk favored by folks who probably admire Bush & Cheney. Folks who you would never find volunteering for Iraq for instance. They just like to dream about it over their 6-packs, while other peoples kids go there. Really cannot fathom some of my fellow Americans love for gear designed for nothing but war! Am I alone in this point of view? Am I wrong?


"what do the overt displays of (let's face it) skanky T&A have to do with the firearms industry?"

Nice guns.


What's the deal w/ the 30 TC. I've read that it's 30-06 performance in a short action. I'm confused why we need another short 30 caliber. Doesn't a modern .308 equate ORIGIONAL 30-06 performance even with heavy bullets? Isn't this void already filled with the .300 WSM? I am of the personal belief that if you need more than a 30-06 than you need more than a 30 caliber.

Dave Petzal

To Theyclallmestick: I've never chronographed a .308 thatcould equal an '06. Just doesn't have the powder capacity. And the .300 WSM is a lot more powerful than the 06.



Cool to hear some Abbey quotes popping up these days. Talk about a forgotten writer...

That's not here or there, I suppose. But something else you said, I think, hit the nail right on the head.

You wrote: "I don't know if this is all a misguided attempt to try to recruit more members of the X-Games-Playstation generation to the fold ..."

That's it right there. Hot babes, hard rock, and fast action sequences are designed to hook the short-attention span generation. The old days of lazy guitar picking country music in the background seem to be fading fast.

I'm not so sure it's a misguided attempt, though. The younger generation of future couch potato, video game nuts are going to have to be the future of our sport. If we don't get their attention, and hold their interest, our numbers (and thereby our strength) are gonna plummet.

As far as the booth babes at SHOT, the SHOT Show is and always has been primarily dominated by older white guys on a business trip (not a judgement, just a demographic). You have to get their attention, and history shows that there are a few techniques that always work. Wanna sell me your product? Then you've gotta give me free beer, let me ogle some hottie, or give me free stuff.

I can tell you that after spending four days in that venue, all of those guns and gadgets look exactly the same. You have to have a hook. Marketing 101.

Doing business has seldom been about having class or dignity. It's about tearing the customer away from your competition and keeping him there. When Davidsons (the booth with the Vegas-styled show girls)did their big raffle and free beer bit on Saturday afternoon, every booth for blocks around was practically empty. Heck, even the Marlin reps abandoned their posts for the show (and left me trying hopelessly to find someone to explain the point of the new .308 Marlin Express).

Dave Petzal

To Chad: You're making everyone depressed. I hope you're pleased with yourself. Kindly do a reality check. Thank you.

Chad Love

Phillip, you make good points. Everything you say is true, and I concede it's a bit naive to think a product these days can sell on its own merits rather than the eye candy touting it.
I couldn't help noticing, however that several of the groupie/pole dancers were representing companies that, to my way of thinking, shouldn't even be there.
Taser? It is the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade show, no? And Taser fits in there how exactly?
My counterargument would be that maybe if you eliminated some of the extraneous exhibits then perhaps you wouldn't need the massive juggies to get your product noticed...
Sorry for being such a killjoy, Dave. I'm young and don't know any better yet. That and my meds don't always kick in before they let me have the keyboard...

Wayne R. Husted

Ralph the Rifleman:

I feel the same way you do regarding the paramilitary gear. While it has its place, it can scare the Straights and give the anti-firearm crowd the opportunity to point and say, "See? We're right! They're all kooks and wannabe killers!"

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