I’m notoriously bad at predicting the future. Not that I don’t try. There was a time in my life when I could carry everything I owned in a backpack. I was one of those wandering dirt-hippies busking on street corners in Santa-Fe, playing bluegrass for tips. I had no idea then that I’d be here now, gazing into my crystal ball, trying to decipher the future of the civilian firearms industry.
Yet here I am. And I’ve got my finger on the pulse, as they say. If I can look back for just a moment, I’d say that 2013 was a lost year. The crazy shake ups in politics, and the ensuing consumer spending, left the industry trying to keep up with all of their back-orders. While that’s great for business, it slows development.
But 2014 will be different. Here’s my take on what to expect.
The ratio of (more) power to (smaller) size has left the handgun industry on a roller coaster. Single-stack .45s now come in under an inch, like the Springfield Armory XDS. There’s a literal 9mm arms race (Nano, LC9, XDS-9, etc.). But we’re still missing an entry from the undisputed leader in the polymer pistol market. Glock. Will 2014 finally see a single-stack Glock in 9mm?
Maybe. Probably not. Instead, Glock is getting into the .380 race with the 42. Glock has taken some considerable flack from the public for not opening with a single-stack 9mm, but the 42 is going to sell. And why not? The .380 market is still deep. And having a back-up gun that works exactly the same as your primary gun (assuming it is a Glock) makes training much easier. I’ll pick up a 42 just as soon as I see one, guaranteed. I don’t care what anyone says.
Will there be anything truly special for revolver fans? Doubt it. Smith & Wesson has a new nine-shot 9mm revolver, and I can’t wait to get my hands on one, but it doesn’t seem like a gun that will push the limits of the field.
The years 2012 and 2013 saw a couple of rifles that were genuinely innovative. The Ruger American Rifle and Remington 783 brought affordable accuracy to a market dominated by much more expensive options. These rifles are a utilitarian mix of polymer and steel, perfect for unpretentious hunts in demanding environments.
Now, 2014? I’m expecting product creep, more low cost adaptations in more obscure calibers. If there’s a real gem that surfaces at SHOT, it will be a genuine surprise.
Ruger is making news with the reintroduction of their Red Label line of sporting guns. And about time. Ruger, a powerhouse in the American market, makes guns people can afford. They rule the rimfire scene. They have devoted revolver fans, and are edging into the pistol and 1911 markets. Their center-fire line is vast. Why not wrap it up with some scatter-guns?