Reviews & articles for shooting sport enthusiasts.

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SHOT Show 2018…

Another January has come and gone, and with it was once again the largest event of its kind in the world… The 2018 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show was held at the Sands Expo and Convention Center from January 23rd through the 26th. Covering nearly 6 hectares (14.8 acres) of flooring, an excess of 2100 exhibitors displayed their products and services for some 60,000 attendees of the 4 day event. 2018 signified the 40th anniversary of the SHOT Show which started way back in 1979 with 290 exhibitors covering a comparatively miniscule 0.48 hectares (1.1 acres).

The 40 year exhibitors

Some companies have been at SHOT since its inception and never missed a single show


This year’s SHOT Show also marks the 20th time that SHOT has been hosted in Las Vegas, Nevada; and city that is larger than life seems to be a prefect fit for the SHOT Show. Last year saw nearly 3.2 million kg (3,500 tons) of exhibits moved onto the show floor. To put it mildly, the SHOT Show is unbelievably huge. However there is always a catch when it comes to the biggest and best; the SHOT Show is not open to the general public. That is correct, it is only open to members of the industry and trade. Manufacturers, wholesalers, importers, exporters, retailers, training, non-profit organization and media, all of which are involved in Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoors are able to apply to attend SHOT Show.

The SHOT Show is preceded by Industry Day at the Range on the Monday before the show. This day allows only exhibitor-invited media and buyers to come out to Boulder City Rifle & Pistol Club and experience first hand the products offered by over 160 companies. Everything from crossbows to handguns, throwing axes to fully automatic rifles and everything in-between. With over 1400 media and 800 buyers potentially being on site during this day, Industry Day continues to be the premier hunting and shooting event in the industry providing hands-on experience for attendees. The one caveat is the same as during SHOT Show itself, members of the public are not allowed.

The wait to get into Range Day

The lineup of Media personalities at 8:00am Monday morning at Industry Day at the Range


Early in the day, the parking is already pretty full and the buses kept coming all day long


1/2 of the Boulder Rifle & Pistol Club

The view to the SE of the long distance area. Ram truck testing at the top, to the upper right is the shotgun area


the other 1/2 of the Boulder Rifle & Pistol Club

Looking to the NW from the top of the long range shooting area


The only permanent cover at the range

View from behind the covered long-range shooting area


Targets galore

The closest steel is 50 yards from the shooting area, with 980+ yards for the ultimate reach. See the orange on the closer hills? Those are/were clays


This was the author’s 12th year of attending the SHOT Show and I was accompanied by some long time attendees who had an additional dozen or more shows under their belts. The SHOT Show is now less fun and exciting than it used to be, likely due to the more structured and business oriented planning now done by the author. However, attending the event has always left the author with a sense of awe at the sheer scale of firearms and accessories that are even out there. In perspective; Canada’s outdoor hunting, sporting market brings in roughly $6.5 billion in annual revenue. SHOT Show has that value of product and exhibits on display. Damned!

Now SHOT Show does bring in companies that have absolutely anything remotely to do with the firearms industry, and that includes law enforcement as well as other enterprises. However in a dozen years this had to be the first time the author noticed certain things that never had been at the show previously or escaped notice. With an excess of 1800 exhibitors, you will always miss something when attending, but some stuff is also new…

The author did a double take after passing this booth at SHOT

Professional equipment to dispose of firearms… See the scrolling “free demonstration”… TPF felt a bit nauseous here


A craft beer we would gladly arms ourselves with!

While it is a purely marketing gimmick, as a Canadian, the author will take the FAL please


Over 60,000 attendees in 4 days, no incidents

A quick series of images showing the scale of the show


Yes that IS correct... over a dozen miles of aisles

The other direction. This is the narrow width of the main room. SHOT is big…


The original Hulk actually likes guns...

Sometimes you can get lucky and notice some celebrities. In the centre is the original Incredible Hulk. Mr. Lou Ferrigno


A sampling of exhibitors at SHOT Show

A sampling of exhibitors at SHOT Show


IF you thought that the Industry Day at the Range would be the favourite of the author’s annual pilgrimage to SHOT, you would be very close indeed. However, it is the now huge Canadian event that keeps the author coming back every year. The Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA) once again stepped up and hosted the 5th Annual Canadian SHOT Show Reception, with the support of the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association (CSAAA). This event has literally blossomed from a dozen people gathered in a hotel room, to a huge event that draws in Canadians from every aspect of the firearms community. Hosted at the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower, the event was held towering above the city of Las Vegas 108 stories in the air. The view was incomparable, the food was great but extremely short-lived, and the casual atmosphere allowed for the Canadian contingent of SHOT Show attendees to unwind a bit and relax and talk to other Canadians about anything including shop talk. This past event hosted in excess of 300 individuals that otherwise rarely, if ever, communicate to each other except through emails and phone calls. However this reception in its current state is only possible through the sponsorship of multiple firearms related businesses and individuals. TPF would like to personally thank each of these for their support and will list each and every one here.

Canadian Shooting Sports Association
Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association
North Sylva Co.
Trigger Wholesale Inc.
Calgary Shooting Centre
Federal Ammunition

Calibre Magazine
Stoeger Canada

T.E.C. Trade Ex Canada
Nordic Marksmen Inc.

Tactical Ordinance Inc.
Shooters Choice
Wolverine Supplies
Double Tap Sports
Holosun Technologies Inc.
XMetal Targets
Outdoor Canada
Firearms Legal Defence
WGT Consulting
Vault Distribution
Korth Group Ltd.
Bowmac Gunpar
Browning Canada
Hudson Supplies

Thanks to these sponsors for making the Canadian SHOT Show Reception possible and for being a part of the event. Here at TPF we will be sure to visit each of the sponsors and look at what they have to offer to our Canadian firearms community. We hope that you would do so as well.

As preparations have already begun for next year’s 41st SHOT Show, which will return to the Sands Expo on January 22-25, 2019; so to have the preparations for the 6th Annual Canadian SHOT Show Reception. Companies and potential attendees are asked to contact CSSA Director Mike Duynhoven.
As a FYI to readers who are not Canadian, or are not familiar with our listed organizations; the CSSA is similar to the USA’s National Rifle Association, only more polite eh? They are the organization that represents the firearms consumers across Canada with training, and political outreach; but only have two decades under their belt compared to the NRA’s 150. The CSAAA represents the Canadian firearms industry and looks after their interests, similar to the National Shooting Sports Foundation which organizes and runs the SHOT Show.

Here is a few images showing some of our Canadian companies that are exhibiting at SHOT Show! Make sure to visit ALL of them and help them all out.

Genesis Enterprises

A decade of producing high efficiency LED products, located in East Ontario


Excalibur Crossbow

Kitchener, Ontario based manufacturer that has helped harvesting game for 35 years


Nanuk Cases

Based in Quebec, this 30+ year old manufacturers tough protective cases



CamPro harkens from Quebec with over 2 decades of manufacturing some of the best plated projectiles available


Vortex Canada

Canadian distributor of some truly fine optics for the last 15 years. Guelph, Ontario


Shooting Chrony

Over three decades of providing reliable speed chronographs to the Canadian market and worldwide. Mississauga, Ontario



Canadians created the loudest, most impressive binary explosive. Manufactured by Gryphon Energetics out of Winnipeg, Manitoba


Vault Distribution

Firearms distributor for nearly 20 years, based out of New Westminster, British Columbia


Tactical Imports

This Toronto, Ontario based firearms importer is one of the youngest with just under ten years in existence

There are currently over 30 Canadian companies that exhibit at SHOT Show with more and more doing so every following year. We at TPF will strive to get you a list and images of every single one of our Canadian exhibitors next year at SHOT Show 2019. Thank you for reading all the way through this small write-up of the 2018 SHOT Show. We will soon have more reviews and look forwards to future events for 2018.

Fun Fact: Canada, while only a tenth of the population of the USA, has a substantial number of legal firearms owners. For every 1000 firearms made in the USA, 95% of those remain in the USA for domestic sales, Canadian markets account for 80-90% of the those exported from the USA. That means out of every 500 firearms exported from US manufacturers, Canadian markets get 400-450 of those. This is the reason that most firearms manufactured have a slightly longer barrel to meet Canadian Restricted status instead of Prohibited, such as Ruger GP-100 is 108mm (4.2″) in length.


Drinking the Blue Kool-Aid… Is it that Good?


In the never ending debate regarding who makes a better reloading press, most are argued by colour. The big three are the green machines of RBCS, Hornady’s red equipment and the focus of this installment of TPF, the blue of  Dillon Precision. Do not let the title fool you as it is a reference to the detractors as well as the supporters of Dillon products, who would be adamant that you, “Do or do not drink the blue Kool-Aid.” Aka, using Dillon’s presses.

As the title and opening lines suggest, Dillon Precision Products are normally painted in a blue colour which sets them as a recognizable alternative to the other press manufacturers. TPF has had some experience with progressive presses from other manufacturers, and has loaded several tens of thousands of rounds on single stage presses, to turret presses, to progressive presses. This would be our first foray into “Blue”. We selected a Dillon XL650 progressive press, as it is considered to be the staple flagship of the Dillon progressive press line. We also decided initially to use .40 S&W as the loading calibre as it is the “bastardized” calibre that usually incorporates parts from both a 9mm and a .45ACP setup, and causes the most headaches for reloaders.

The Dillon XL650 with accessories as tested

The Dillon XL650 as tested with casefeeder, powdercheck, and roller handle options

The setup for reviewing:

  • Dillon XL650 progressive press (MSRP $589.95 USD)
    • 1 primer system with large and small priming parts (appropriate size installed).
    • 1 large and one small primer pick-up tube.
    • low primer alarm
    • 1 loaded cartridge bin
    • 1 set of standard Allen wrenches
    • 1 toolhead
    • 1 powder measure with standard large and small powder bars (small bar installed).
    • 1 powder die
    • 1 caliber conversion kit – installed
  • Dillon .40 S&W die set (MSRP $67.95 USD)
  • Dillon Roller handle (MSRP $47.95 USD)
  • Dillon Case feeder (large pistol casefeed plate) (MSRP $239.95USD)
  • Dillon Powder check (MSRP $70.95 USD)

This time around we are going to change it up a bit and go right to the cons of the Dillon XL650. The reasoning is simple, the two biggest negatives that are outstanding are very important ones that would prevent someone from purchasing this press. We at TPF can sense the pro-Dillon group gnashing their teeth and cursing us for stating this right up front, but please bear with us.  These reasons would prevent someone from being able to utilize a Dillon XL650 period, regardless if they wanted one, it is that important to understand.


The first thing that anyone needs to realize is that the Dillon is a large, tall press which towers roughly 81cm (32″) above the mounting surface. That is without the case feeder system feeding/mounting requirements and the optional strong mount component, which add in 16cm (6.5″) and 21cm (8.5″) respectively and with clearance requirements . Most benches and tables are 0.9m (36″) high, when you add in the additional 1.2m (47″) including assembly/disassembly clearance, you are just a 9mm case short of 2.1m (84″). For many basements in older homes this is a very tall press indeed. especially with ductwork and other stuff which can severely limit ceiling height. However as tested without the strong mount option, this XL650 measured 89cm(35″) above the mounting surface and TPF had no issues at the review location.

Other than the height of the unit, the main drawback of the Dillon XL 650 is the initial starting cost. Many people tend to overlook reloading press costs when talking about reloading, but not everyone will have the funds available to acquire a Dillon XL650 without some planning and budgeting. The base unit has a hefty price tag of nearly $590 USD at the time of this review. What if the reloader wants the ability to interchange calibres fast, have fast primer fillers, storage racks for tools and calibre set-ups, etc…?  Dillon can provide the components and tools to make it happen, but for a price. When you add in the listed add-ons  just solely for this review, the press costs adds up to in excess of $1000 USD. And that is not even the extent of the optional components and add-ones to enhance the XL650 to it’s fullest such as:

There are many more factory options available

  • Strong Mount (550/650) (MSRP $50.95 USD)
  • Low Powder Sensor (MSRP $42.95 USD)*
  • Bullet Tray (MSRP $44.95 USD)
  • Toolholder w/Wrench Set (MSRP $30.95 USD)
  • Dillon Pistol Three Die Set (MSRP $67.95 USD)*
  • Additional Case Feed Plates (MSRP $39.95 USD)
  • Machine Maintenance Kit (MSRP $41.95 USD)
  • Spare Parts Kit (MSRP $27.95 USD)
  • Dust Cover (MSRP $42.95USD)
  • Toolhead Stand (MSRP $22.95)
  • For additional calibres (*optional)
    • Toolhead (MSRP $31.95 USD)
    • Calibre Conversion Kit (MSRP $79.95 USD)
    • Powder Die (MSRP $12.95 USD)
    • Powder Measure (MSRP $84.95 USD)

If you wanted a fully kitted-out Dillon machine with two (2) complete calibres such as 9mm and .45 ACP, your total would be in excess of $1650 USD. That is some serious expenditure for the majority of casual firearms owners. If you are wanting Magnum rifle and exotic calibres, the prices are even higher for those component parts. Space claim, and cost. These are the TWO major obstacles that need to be overcome before acquiring a Dillon XL650 progressive press. That is it. So if you have the ability to fit and afford the Dillon please keep reading on.

While there are a few little quirks and stickling points regarding the press and its usage, they are not reasons for avoiding the Dillon.


Looking at the initial design and the quality, fit and finish of the press when assembled, it is nearly flawless. The main press frame components are cast clean with no flash and a beautiful, even powder coated blue finish. The alloy cast parts are neat and clean as well with minimal parting lines displayed and no burrs or sharp edges anywhere that can be touched. Machined portions are excellent with good surface finished and minimal tooling marks visible. The entire design uses hex head bolts, or hex head cap screws when threaded components are required, the remainder is attached and assembled with E-Clips and various snap rings. A very well engineered design, with good hardware control. Items which are not powder coated, or aluminum are plated to minimize corrosion, which is another added plus. Which brings us to another item. Dillon’s “No BS Warranty!” Every single option and add-on is as well made as the press assembly itself and Dillon stands behind it’s mechanical components for life. Yes for life. You have something break, bend, or otherwise get mauled? Call Dillon, get it replaced.

The instruction/installation manual is extensive and includes all Dillon options for mounting and installation. Loaded with visual images and clear precise methods, the manual includes full part lists and detailed component breakdowns. Bolting and mounting is as simple as can be expected for a progressive press. Set-up of the press is clear and pretty much straight forward thank to the illustrative and comprehensive instruction manual. The manual progresses through the setup of any calibre in an orderly fashion, starting with the re-sizing and decapping, moving on to the primer feed system and powder measure and finally with the seating and crimping portion of the press.

The usage of retaining pins for case keeping at the five (5) indexed positions are very accessible and allow for a simple method of removing/reinserting cases in the middle of the reloading process. A very simple and smart idea.  The finished bullet chute works extremely well at delivering the completed round to whatever size of tray you wish to use for the final catch basin.

Rotating clockwise for operation. The ejection chute runs along the case feed slider

The fit and finish are very, very good

The slider bar powder system is a tried and true design that has been used for many decades in powder dispensing systems. In the case of the Dillon, the bar has an adjustable orifice which allows for the volumetric control of powder to be dispensed on each operation. With this come the first little quirk as setting your desired volume of powder is a very touchy operation due to the simple hex head bolt system. There are numerous aftermarket components or replacements to this adjustment bolt that allow for a finer control over the orifice size. That being said; once the system is setup, it stays consistent and never shifted during our testing.

With the system setup, TPF churned out over one thousand rounds of ammo in a little under three (3) hours. Please remember that this was our initial setup and test run of this press and we observed all aspects of the press to determine the function and traits of the press. Our biggest bottleneck in reloading? Filling primer tubes. Once we had gotten the system all setup TPF decided to try the quick change aspect of the system and acquired a Calibre Conversion kit, dies, toolhead, etc… for 9mm.  Here is where the strength of the Dillon truly shines with the ease of swapping full calibre arrangements back and forth, in under 15 minutes with pre-set toolheads. The new tool head had the powder measure, dies already setup and locked in place, with the only requirements being to remove a few set screws, change the brass plate holder and the pins and VIOLA! The press is ready to go, only for a different calibre. Except for the bending of an Allen-key trying to remove a very secure factory installed insert, the changeover worked very well. We are assuming that this issue will not give us any issues in the future as anti-seize compound was added to the offending thread during the calibre conversion. As long as the primer size remains the same, this is an extremely easy method for swapping calibres.

The first batch of reloading mid-production

With the new 9mm setup, we quickly produced in excess of 1500 completed rounds of ammunition. By quickly we should mention that it was in the same timeframe as previously, three (3) hours.

The ONE stickling point…

The positive indexing primer feed system

The primer system…. This is the only truly detraction that the XL650 has regarding it’s operation. Primers are ejected from the De-Capping die into a small removable tray and occasionally the primers will bounce out of the tray and onto the floor, regardless on the manufacture and design of the de-capping pin. So keep a broom handy and watch your step if you hear the primers fall out and empty your spent primer collection tray on a regular basis. The real issue is when installing new primers into cases. Specifically if there is no case to install a primer into…  The primer feed system is a positive indexing system so it feeds a new primer with every pull of the handle and if it doesn’t use the primer, well… When the primer loading system cycles and fails to install a primer into a case due to the absences of the case, that primer continues on it’s way around in the primer carousel until it gets dropped. This occurs before the next primer tries to take up the same space. That unused primer then takes a trip off what is known as the Dillon Ski-Ramp. TPF installed the 9mm conversion kit and then heard something hitting the wall with nearly every press for a couple pulls of the handle. Turns out to have been live primers launching themselves off a small sloped path located at the front underside of the main ram platform. This shallow, low ridged ramp, actually managed to stop 1 in 5 live primers during our setup of the 9mm, so if you are doing any setup, do it  with an empty primer system.

Spent Primer collection tray and round discharge chute

The Ski-Ramp for launching unused primers

The Options: As reviewed

  • Roller Handle – Very well made, and more comfortable to use that the original handle, but not a requirement for an efficient XL650 setup.

    The roller handle… A nice option, but not necessary

  • Powder Check – An excellent and simple design. Easy to use and to move from one calibre set-up to another. A good addition.
  • Case Feeder – The unit itself is quiet, very quiet. The low and high speed options are excellent and the steel guide panel is an excellent choice to adjust for the feed wheel edge. Be aware that these case feeders are not meant to hold more than a couple hundred cases at a time due to mass, the motor/clutch can be overloaded. A necessity for any volume reloading.

Improvement Suggestions:

These last couple items are more of a general commentary on what Dillon can du to improve their product, or at least include to make their customers even more satisfied.

  • Primer de-cap tray and the ‘Ski Jump’ – add in a small piece of foam in the de-capped collection tray or increase it’s depth to prevent bounce outs. Change the design of the ski-ramp to have larger walls or into a removable barrier that stops unused primers from launching across the room. There are already aftermarket option out here for this.
  • A small tube of lubrication- The greased ramps work well, if a bit messy as if you need to adjust you will come into contact with at least one of these sliding surfaces.  That way Dillon can indicate what types of grease to you and frequency of re-application.
  • Locator arrow – Station #1 should have an arrow on the locator as it can go in backwards, where it will not work. Ask TPF how they know this…
  • The ratchet system – Another company builds a bearing drop-in system that makes the ratchet action as smooth as silk.
  • Mounting hardware – It’s $1 worth of bolts, washers, and nuts. Include it with the basic set.
  • Spare parts kit – Have some of the more commonly broken, smaller items included as spares, such as plastic nuts, pins, etc…

Mounting requires a bit of overhang to clear the armature linkage. The Strongmount option solves this


We have drank the Blue Kool-Aid and have found it a very satisfying… Expensive and not perfect, but a very capable machine for those reloaders who want to maximize their rate of loading with the ability to have multi-calibre stations available to change on a whim. For the shooter who only reloads for one single calibre, there may be other brands which will preform the same for a more affordable price point. However! if you load for two or more (2+) calibres and value your time for setting up a press and appreciate the convenience of fully setup, easily swappable calibre conversions, the Dillon XL650 may be indeed the best flavour of kool-aid for you!

With a base MSRP of $589.95 USD, Dillon Precision’s XL650 reloading press is a solid addition to a reloader’s repertoire of equipment, albeit not inexpensive. Dillon Precision products are available online as well as at physical stores such as the Montreal Firearms Recreation Centre (CRAFM), in Lachine, Quebec. As always, to readers of TPF, the final decision of this product is up to you. Do you think that it falls under the category of Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical?

Some additional images:

The case feeder advancing lever and ramp

The powder check works by lifting the alarm up via the ram/shell plate

If the powder in a case does not bring the groove to the right point, the alarm stub gets depressed

Sliding volumetric powder dispensing coupled is very consistent when set


Quieter than many, the casefeeder worked flawlessly

Lots of clearance around the press for accessing brass, but be wary of the greased surfaces


The CSSA has Officially Moved!

OK… The Canadian Shooting Sports Association actually moved it’s main office from Etobicoke to Oshawa on December 1st, 2017. Some may be asking why the office changed locations, and the reality is summed up by one simple answer. Cost of Operations.

Cost of operations is a no brainer. It costs significantly less to rent space and pay for utilities than in the previous location. We are not talking a couple percent, TPF was told it is in the order of 10% cheaper. The move into the new “digs” actually has the office presenting internally a much more professional atmosphere and can accommodate future growth of staff. The hardest part about the new office location? Finding the entrance…

The new office location is Unit 204 – 1143 Wentworth Street W., Oshawa, Ontario, L1J 8P7, Canada

Stolen shamelessly from Google Maps and edited, CSSA's New Office Location

While the actual address is on Wentworth Street West, the closest entrance to the second floor office is on the Boundary Road side of the building.

The toll free number has remained the same @ 1-888-873-4339, but the local office number has changed to 1-905-720-3142, and the FAX number has become 1-905-720-3497.

The author can almost hear you going “Huh? Why are you even mentioning this months after it moved?” To which we are glad you asked. On Saturday, February 4th, 2017 was the date when the CSSA’s Open House actually occurred to commemorate the change. The open house lasted from noon until 4:00pm in the afternoon and while not quite at the levels of the 2017 SHOT Show Reception, still garnered an estimated 90-100 individuals whom came by to wish the organization well and socialize with several CSSA personnel. Such as:
CSSA President, Mr. Steve Torino
CSSA Executive Director – Mr. Tony Bernardo
CSSA Legal Council – Mr. Edward Burlew
CSSA Office Staff, as well as several Board Members and Regional Directors

Also in attendance were a few notable locals from the region and nearby:
Oshawa’s Member of Parliament, Mr. Colin Carrie
Stoeger Canada‘s General Manager, Mr. Spyros Chrysochou
Firearms Outlet Canada, Mr. Fred Pellegrino
S&J Hardware, Simon Beeson
Spatha Tactical, Andrew Clarke
The Gun Blog, Nicholas Johnson

Plus a multitude of others I have missed. Which when you consider that the attendance at its peak was around 50-60 people in the office at one time is understandable. The gathering was chaotic, warm, and loads of fun! The event was amazingly well attended overall and was a very positive reinforcement that the CSSA has the support of many in the firearms community as well as the firearms industry. Kudos to the Canadian Shooting Sports Association for their past and current efforts and may there be success and even more positive initiatives that firearms owners can look forwards to in the future.

If you were at the open house and TPF missed listing you or you know someone who was missed, please feel free to send us an email on the contact page and we will add you and your website link.

P.S: I have heard that the CSSA’s AGM will be held on the weekend of April 22nd in Saskatoon, Regina. Hopefully we will see you there!

4th Annual Canadian SHOT Show Reception

SHOT Show 2017, Day 2 Evening: Wednesday, January 18th

One of the highlights of SHOT Show for TPF-Online is the event hosted by the Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA) and the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association (CSAAA). Now for those of you who do not know of either organization, TPF will sum it up very simply.

The CSSA is the Canadian equivalent of the National Rifle Association (NRA) of the United States. Fighting for legal firearms ownership and usage for responsible Canadians. Represents the firearms owners of Canada.

The CSAAA is the Canadian equivalent of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) of the United States. Fighting for legal production, distribution, and retail of firearms to the Canadian firearms community. Represents the firearms industry of Canada.

As always, the definitions are subjective as some may not agree with the workings and machinations of either, just like their US counterparts. TPF has been present in some sort of gathering for nearly every SHOT Show for the past eleven years of attending, and it wasn’t until a short few years ago that this event really began to flourish.

Emails were sent out roughly in late August/ early September of 2016 which included an invitation that stated:

The Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA) and the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association (CSAAA) are pleased to present the fourth annual Canadian Industry Reception at the 2017 SHOT Show from 6-10 p.m. on Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at Treasure Island Las Vegas.
As a member of the Canadian shooting sports industry, you are invited to participate in this special networking event by sponsoring, attending and inviting your industry guests. The event is designed to showcase the Canadian industry and to provide a social networking opportunity to our industry members.

The origins of this event have evolved from a small social gathering of individuals at timeshares and restaurants into it’s current iteration.

4th Annual Sponsor list This event has become a great success from when it unofficially started five years ago when the CSSA’s informal Meet & Greet became a sponsored event with a $300 USD budget thanks to a couple select individuals. This gathering, which was to be last of the CSSA’s official Meet & Greets, had an end result of four Texas Mickeys, several cases of pop and water, plus eight extra large pizzas and just shy of twenty (20) representatives of the Canadian firearms industry in a single hotel room for an entire evening. From its humble origins back then in 2013, that marked the first formally organized event specifically for a Canadian attendees of the SHOT Show; this event continues to grow and flourish.  This was proven with the 200+ attendees whom signed in at the event entrance, with all but a handful of those hailing from Canada. From a score of individuals to over ten times that in a few years, this event really has become a focal point of Canadian attendees at SHOT Show to interact with their Canadian business partners, associates, colleagues and friends that would otherwise only ever talk via the phone, email, and video-conferences. It becomes an event that these people could network, gain contacts, and just socialize and unwind from the stressful schedule of SHOT.

As the event has grown, so has the requirement for sponsors of the event. It is with many thanks that TPF lists the following sponsors and links to their respective sites, so please feel free to click the links, buy their products or products offered by them and help our industry become even better…

Platinum Level Sponsorship:

Gold Level Sponsorship:

Silver Level Sponsorship:

Bronze Level Sponsorship:

Many thanks must be given to ALL attendees of the CSSA/CSAAA event with many new faces, it was a very good and positive event, and you can bet that there will be another for next year! If you have any questions or comments regarding the event and/or attending please email Mike Duynhoven of the CSSA, he wants feedback and to add Canadian Industry for next year’s event. If you do decide to purchase products from or through one of the event supporters, please reference TPF-Online if you care to help us out. Make sure that all of you enjoy the rest of 2017 and until the next installment, stay safe and have fun!

Some images of the 4th Annual Canadian SHOT Show Reception:

Just outside the event

The entrance to the 4th Annual Canadian SHOT Show Reception


Before the masses arrive

A selection of snacks provided thanks to the generous sponsors of the event. Before the doors open


The slighly empty room... For now...

A few moments before the doors officially open


Early evening images

Getting into full swing, the event starts filling up


From a different corner

A different angle from the room in the early evening


Ebb and flow

Mid-Event, the attendance turnover is steady. As people arrive, others leave for other events and commitments


Every nook of the Firearms industry is here

All aspects of the Canadian firearms industry are represented here


Someone noticed the camera

Oh oh. We finally got caught taking images! Many thanks to the CSSA and CSAAA for the opportunity


Over 200+ attendees = Success!

Several scores of per-registered attendees, plus the reams of invited guests meant that over 220 people attended the 4th Annual Canadian SHOT Show Reception


Once again many thanks to the Canadian Shooting Sports Association and the Canadian Small Arms and Ammunition Association for hosting this event! To give readers and idea of who was there, TPF was able to compile a partial list of Canadian industry registered attendees: (In no particular order, and definitely not complete)…

Air Gun Source, Calgary Shooting Centre, Calibre Magazine, Canada Ammo, CTC Supplies, Grand Power Canada, Gravel Agency, Gryphon Energetics, Korth Group, North Sylva, O’Dell Engineering, Practical Performance Products, Select Shooting Supplies, Shooter’s Choice, Tactical Capital Corp., Tactical Ordinance, Tiger Vac, Trade Ex Canada, Wholesale Sports, Wolverine Supplies, X-Metal Targets, X-Reload, The Gun Blog, Metak Distributing, WCDIA, Nordic Marksmen, S&J Hardware, CGN, McColl Sporting Goods, Aztech Armory, Colt Canada, Sebarms, Canadian Tire, Westside Stores 2012, Premier Shooting Center, Ontario Out of Doors Magazine, Prarie Nation Outdoors, European Arms Distributor, Eastern Outdoor Sales, Surplus Militaire Pont-Rouge, Prefiar, Amplis, Londero Sports, Drummond Shooting, The Evans Group, Al’s Corner Store, Pearl Street Media, Trigger Wholesale, Genesis Enterprise, Compass Safaris Marketing, Outdoor Group Media, CDN Gunworx, Blue Mountain Gunsmithing, Think Insure, Freedom Ventures, Transgressive Media, Outdoor Writers of Canada, Brigadeer Security, Lever Arms, Cadex Defence, True North Arms, National Firearms Association, Excalibur Crossbow, Bowman GunPar, Tetregon Dist., AJ Hobbs Ent., Wild West Shooting Centre, Kolder Canada, E&I Sports, Blackthorn Media, Savminter, Grech Outdoors, Kodiak Defence, HiCaliber Services, Scorpion Outdoors, Nanuk Plasticase, Buck Expert, PGW, Wanstalls

SHOT Show 2017

Warning: This is a LONG entry, with numerous images.

The week of January 16th once again saw the Sands Convention Centre in Las Vegas, Nevada; host the the 39th annual Sporting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show; also known as the SHOT Show. For those who do not know what SHOT Show is or what it consists of, TPF will give you a quote direct from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) whom organizes the event.

The 39th Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show opened its doors this morning at the Sands Expo Center with industry expectations running high in response to the energized market in America for firearms, ammunition and accessories.

Over the next four days, the show will attract nearly 65,000 industry professionals from the firearms and outdoor industry, including 2,500 members of the outdoor press-the largest gathering of outdoor media in the world-and showcase new, innovative products used for target shooting, hunting, outdoor recreation and law enforcement purposes.

Owned and sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry, the SHOT Show is the largest trade show of its kind in the world. The show is open to trade members only and not to the public; consumers will see the products unveiled at the SHOT Show on retailers’ shelves during the course of the year.

You read that correctly, not open to members of the public. We at TPF can already hear our readers rolling their eyes and thinking to themselves, “But we are the consumers!” Which is true, except that the consumers that are mentioned the service companies and persons who are directly related to the industry. Not the end user, otherwise known as the public, but those whom supply the products to the end users such as retailers, trainers, ranges, organizations, etc… That being said, there are ways that the public can attend, and do attend as is evident to many who have attended SHOT know. TPF-Online will not go into details or methods for the public to get into SHOT Show. We apologize, and suggest that you utilize your favourite search engine or firearms forum (for Canadians, we recommend Gun Owners of Canada or Canadian Gun Nutz).

So let us delve into the timeline of SHOT Show.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… and for Gunnies, it isn’t Christmas…

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you “Be of good cheer”
It’s the most wonderful time of the year

When Andy Williams sang “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” back in 1963, Christmas truly was the most wonderful time of the year. Everybody looked forwards to getting presents from “Santa” and opening up their gifts from the jolly ole fat man. Fast forward just over a half a century to 2015, and the most wonderful time of the year fell during the third week in January as the 37th annual Sporting Hunting Outdoor Trade Show once again graced Las Vegas, Nevada, with yet another larger than life event.

Media Day Attendance

Parking for Media Day, plus buses

It started on Monday, January 19th, under a clear blue sky and temperatures that hovered around a chilly 16º C. Alright, it really is not that chilly to us Canadians, but for Las Vegas, it is wintertime. Thousands of media and buyers attended the tenth SHOT Show Media Day at the Boulder Rifle & Pistol Club (BRPC), located just on the outskirts of Boulder City, NV. Having been to several Media Day events from previous SHOT Shows, BRPC has continued to grow and expand as the annual number of exhibitors has also grown each and every year. Over one hundred and seventy exhibitors were there and catered to roughly a thousand invited media attendees and over five hundred invited buyers, dealers, distributors, and retailers for the day.

Right side of Boulder

From the top of the hill at the “long range” positions, to the right

Boulder to the left

Opposite direction from the hill top

This year the Monday event was entitled SHOT Show Media and Industry Day and it is the chance to literally try out many firearms “hands-on” and experience directly existing products, new launching products, and prototype future products. A fair chunk of the items on display are not available to the Canadian civilian marketplace due to being categorized as prohibited devices. Compact handguns meant entirely for protecting one’s self, fully automatic or select fire sub-machine guns for law enforcement and military usage while not the norm, were available for ALL attendees to experience. In fact the roughly 1600 media and industry attendees discharged just over a half million rounds downrange from 9:00 am until 4:30 pm. Unsurprisingly contrary to the expectations of those whom are under the impression or belief that guns are inherently unsafe to use, let alone possess; not a single firearms related injury occurred and there were many satisfied smiles amongst the attendees.

Ashbury Precision goodness

The author’s early Christmas present was being able to shoot this APO custom rifle out to 982y. Two words… Hell Yeah!

The Beasley Brother's First Media Day

A Media Day newbie, Keith Beasley, from Canada in the Rough fame, tries out some modern, non-traditional rifles at targets over a 1/2 km away!

However, after the Monday of live fire and big smiles comes Tuesday morning, when the SHOT Show officially begins, the work starts and the long trek ensues. With sixteen hundred and seventy eight (1678) exhibitors this year, that meant that if you were to be able to instantly transport yourself in front of every single booth and instantly launch into conversation with that exhibitor’s representative that you would have exactly 74 seconds of talking to that person. Consider that there are over 19km (~12 miles) of aisles to walk plus lunchtime plus waiting for a representative to talk to and that 74 seconds gets shaved down considerably. That puts it at say 60 seconds per booth with zero waiting and no travel that was not toward the next booth. If someone can ask about a new product and get the representatives to explain it in 60 seconds or less with all questions being answered, then TPF may have a job for you!

Shooting Chrony

Shooting Chrony have been regular exhibitors of SHOT for years

Now Canadians and Canadian Companies at the show are not new. TPF has routinely visited long time CSSA supporter Ms. Esteves for years at the Shooting Chrony Inc. booth at SHOT Show. Other Canadian manufacturing companies have been at SHOT for several years such as Toronto based Flash Fog Defense, and last year’s newcomer to the SHOT Show, Modular Driven Technologies. However there was something different about the 2015 SHOT in regards to Canadian companies being represented at the show.

Another Canadian Company

Cadex Defence was present at SHOT as well.

Vault Distribution

Greg (l) and Rick (r) representing Canada’s Vault Distribution

Imagine TPF’s surprise when on every single cover of the thick SHOT Show exhibitor listing guidebook is a large sticker denoting VAULT Distribution and their booth location. Now while Vault Distribution was founded back in 2009; 2015 was its first as an official SHOT Show exhibitor. A Canadian company getting pretty much top exposure to every single attendee who grabs that book, and there were tens of thousands of attendees. Simply amazing! TPF stopped by Vault Distribution’s booth throughout the duration of the SHOW to talk a bit with Mr. Steve Ricker and Mr. Greg Zeitler. Like several other Canadian companies, Vault Distribution has attended SHOT Shows in the past seeking out product lines to deal in and thereby bring those products to the Canadian marketplace. For several years now Vault Distribution has been synonymous with firearms from Kel-Tec CNC Industries Inc., but they also deal with SIG Sauer firearms and Trace Optics to name a couple of other brand names. They will likely be bringing in more products and more brand names in the future, at least we at TPF-Online hope so. However, with how busy the Vault guys were, especially in the latter days of the SHOT Show, odds for Vault Distribution doing just that are better than average!

2nd Ann. Gathering @ SHOT

The 2nd Annual Canadian Industry SHOT Show Gathering

As has become tradition over the last several years, the CSSA has held various sized Canadian gatherings during the course of SHOT Show. In 2013 was the beginning of the truly sponsored gathering, with a few supporters tossing in a few hundred dollars for food and drink that year. Last year in 2014, the CSSA hosted the first officially sponsored Canadian gathering and it was a great success. In 2015, the gathering was altered slightly in two ways. The CSSA partnered up with the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association (CSAAA), and the event was by “invite” only. Readers will notice that the word invite is in quotes. In 2014 there was a generic posting for the event across every imaginable cost effective medium available, and that included several online forums, and a ton of word of mouth. This time around there was a conscious decision to make the event more geared toward the Canadian industry that was attending the SHOT Show. Businesses were contacted via emails and phone calls and asked if they wished to attend, and were sent initiations via mail. However, even though invitations were distributed, anyone association with the industry was allowed access. It was surprising to see that the CSSA’s rivals, the NFA was allowed into the event as the author knows they did not get sent invitations. As the CSSA hosts stated to TPF, it is a Canadian industry gathering and all were welcome. Kudo’s to the CSSA for not playing the “Invite Only” card, very professional and courteous of them.

Before the event

The empty room prior

An hour after start

Soon after the doors opened

A special thanks has to go out to the sponsors of the event, it was easily as large as last year’s in attendance, but so many more industry attendees. Noted sponsors at the event were as follows.

Platinum Level Sponsorship:

Gold Level Sponsorship:

Silver Level Sponsorship

Bronze Level Sponsorship

Honourable Mention

Many thanks must be given to ALL attendees of the CSSA/CSAAA event, it was a very good and positive event, and you can bet that there will be another for next year! If you do decide to purchase products from or through one of the event supporters, please reference TPF-Online if you remember.

Alas like Christmas, the SHOT Show only comes around once per year… Which may or may not be a good thing. As stated in past installments, the SHOT Show is brain overload for new attendees, with over a billion dollars of product on display including prototypes, new releases, versions of older stuff, and regular line item products. If you ever get a chance and are able to get access, you should attend at least once to experience just how awesomely huge the industry is… Many thanks for reading here at Tactical, Practical and Fantastical.

A mission is necessary to achieve one’s goal! TPF brings furniture to the table.

Furniture. No, it is not the type you would park your derriere on, snuggle up with a significant other, or watch an action packed movie from.  Furniture in this case is the nickname for the swappable ergonomic components which are used to customize a firearm to a particular owner, or to make the firearm “universal”. These components may vary depending on the individual rifle’s design, but normally include the stock, grips, fore stock, and some accessories. In this edition of TPF, we talk about furniture and a recently looked at firearm.

Mission One: Should the TPF team choose to accept it. Outfit the LSMR with a complete set of fully adjustable and customized furniture. Queue the Mission Impossible theme song….

Challenge Accepted!

We are taking our LSMR Gen1 Intro Rifle and outfitting it with some alternate ergonomic hardware that is offered by Mission First Tactical, aka MFT. The LMSR has a commercial sized buffer tube, standard A2 grip, and mounts a carbine length, two-piece, captive hand guard. All of these are of course in the factory colour of the night sky. Black. The majority of the MFT components used for this build were produced in their newest colour, “Scorched Dark Earth” which is a light brown more suggestive of the desert, but provided a great contrast to the original LMSR and it’s corresponding components.

The stripped LMSR

Factory installed furniture removed from the parent Gen1 LMSR Rifle. Unadorned the AR-platform has an odd appearance.

The New Components:
BUS – Battlelink Utility Stock – MSRP $124.99 USD
The first component to be incorporated is the simplest to change. The Battlelink Utility Stock is an adjustable stock manufactured from high impact polymer that is a slide on replacement for the original collapsible butt stock. There are a few features which set the BUS apart from the factory LMSR stock. The BUS has a slew of sling attachment options available, including front and rear positioned quick detach rings accessible on both left and right sides. These are in addition to the trio of dedicated sling slots incorporated into the stock’s lower cage. A non-slip rubberized buttpad is angled for universal usage and is hinged at he base of the stock’s cage. Normally locked in place by a spring loaded release latch, the opened buttpad exposes a water tight stowage compartment in the stock itself. The Compartment comes with a set of foam inserts and a pull cord that is available for customization and rattle free component storage if required. Additionally, there are various grooves and attachment nooks and patterns incorporated in the BUS to accessorize with other MFT products. BUS mass: 255.7 grams (9.02 oz)


The Battlelink Utility Stock

BUS's compartment

BUS’ watertight compartment

BACP – Battlelink Adjustable Cheek Piece – MSRP $29.99 USD
As mentioned in the description of the BUS, the Battlelink Adjustable Cheek Piece is an accessory which securely attaches to the BUS and allows for full customization of the stock for a cheek weld for using a sighting system of the user’s choice. The BACP comes with an Allan key and a knurled screw adjustment tool to be used for installation and securing height adjustments respectively. With a full travel range of 31.8mm (1.25″), the BACP has a wide range of possible positions. There are markers on the BACP which show where position will interfere with standard charging handle operation, but since this item is likely to be used with those who are running magnified optics for long range shooting, this likely will not be an issue. BACP mass: 77.1 grams (2.72 oz)


The Battlelink Adjustable Cheek Piece

G27 – Tactical AR15/M16 Pistol Grip – MSRP $24.99 USD
The standard A2 style plastic grip, while functional enough, is not an ergonomically styled component. We at TPF chose to utilize MFT’s Classic G27 Tactical pistol grip. The G27 has several enhancements over the standard grip. The G27 adds in finger grooves, palm swell, upper hand-web support and a contoured back-strap which allows for a more secure fully seated grip, which in turn allows for increased operator comfort, control, and reduced hand fatigue. The G27 also has varying surface textures which allow for a secure grip even in wet conditions. The grip also has a secure watertight compartment. The end cap for the grip compartment is secured with a quarter turn cam action locking system. G27 mass: 96.4 grams (3.40 oz)

MFT's G27 Grip

The fully contoured G27 pistol grip

G27's Compartment

Positive locking, watertight compartment

M44S AR15/M16 Military & Police 4 sided rails – Carbine – MSRP $59.99 USD
Ditching the standard two piece forearm guard, TPF mounted another MFT Classic component in it’s place. The M44S is another polymer manufactured part which, unlike a typical upper and lower two-piece hand guard, actually splits on an angled plane 45 degrees from the norm. When the components are secured between the delta ring and the gas block’s hand guard cap, they are solidly in place with no noticeable play or twist. The M44S is a “fatty”, meaning that it is a thicker profile that the standard tapered hand guards common with many AR platform rifles. This means that the inner sides of the guards are further away from the barrel and lack the otherwise required heat shields for sustained shooting. When properly installed, the quartet of picatinny rails, which are part of the molding, are situated top, bottom, and both left and right sides as most other railed systems. The rails themselves are surprisingly resilient to clamping forces and damage and are fairly sharp. Also included with the M44S are a set of four, full length, thermal rail covers. These covers are manufactured from a softer rubberized, non-slip material that is easily cut to desired length if needed. The only interesting detail other than the perfect fit onto the M44S, is that unaltered rails can only be installed fully in a single way; they are uni-directional. Not a big deal if one uses a full cover, but possibly an issue if the cover is to be sectioned off for other rail mounted components. M44S mass: 210 grams (7.4 oz)

MFT's M44S

A carbine length, two-piece rail hand guard set with rail covers

M44S' details

The rail covers fit perfectly and give positive grip

RSG – React Short Vertical Grip – MSRP $24.99 USD
The addition of a vertical grip is supposed to enhance the capability and control when in close quarters battle, aka CQB. While TPF thinks of this build of MFT components as more of a long range platform, the React Short Grip was included. A simple rail mounted grip, the RSG is indeed fairly short but adds yet another small watertight storage compartment. Like the BUS, the RSG compartment has an insert for rattle free storage. It differs however that the insert is specifically designed for holding batteries, three (3) AA or two (2) CR-123 batteries. The RSG also incorporates a texture similar to the G27 pistol grip for a secure grip in wet conditions. The end cap is rubber and can double as a short mono-pod for supported firing positions. RSG mass: 56.7 grams (2.0 oz)


React Short Vertical Grip with compartment parts

RSG mounted

Seamless and secure, the RSG mounted on the M44S

BP1 – Universal Equipment Mount – MSRP $24.99 USD
For a stable long range shot, a bipod of some sort is usually required and the Universal Equipment Mount offered by MFT allows for a slide on, rail mounted, metal sling stud. Secured in place by a spring loaded position locking detent, the BP1 is very easy to attach and detach to any available rail. The unit itself is made from the same polymer as the other components and while reviewed in Black colour, is available in all the same colours as other components offered by MFT. BP1 mass: 53.8 grams (1.9 oz)


The Universal Equipment Mount has a quick install/removal ability

Bipod mounted

Using the PB1 for a bipod mount

Magazine Coupler – MSRP $14.99 USD
What build would not be complete with out a way of holding more ammunition close at hand for increased fun factor. Please recall that at the present time in Canada, the only legal usage of the AR platform is at an approved range. So while making your handicapped thirty (30) round magazines look cool, a pair combined with these couplers still only gives you an additional five (5) rounds instantly at hand for reloading. Supposedly fully compatible with magazines for the AR-15, Mini-14 as well as for Magpul P-mags. Coupler mass: 39.7 grams (1.4 oz)

MFT's Mag Couplers

When you need more ammo on the firearm… Mag Couplers

The Package Complete

Too bad those mags combine for 20 rounds in Canada. The couplers are good for fast reloads

As this TPF installment is specifically for Mission First Tactical products, no additional information will be made about the other accessories used for this build. Changing the furniture on an AR platform is almost ridiculously simple if you have the proper tools.
Com-Mil-Spec Stock ExampleThe collapsing butt stock is removed by simply pulling the stock position index pin out to it’s maximum amount. The adjustment lever normally incorporated on collapsing stocks only lifts the index pin out a limited distance to clear the buffer tube indexing holes. The only concern for components is whether the rifle you are planning to swap components out of has a commercial or military specification buffer tube. The diameters are 29.67mm versus 29.16mm (1.168″ vs 1.148″) respectively. A commercial buffer tube has an angled end, and the mil-spec tube has threads that protrude outside the buffer tube diameter.
The grip is held in place with a simple hex socket cap screw. Use a 3/16″ hex wrench that is at least 150mm (~6″) in length for removal and installation of grips. Make sure not to lose the spring or the detent for the safety mechanism. If you lose the detent, but install the spring, the safety will not operate due to binding. Readers need to just imagine how we at TPF know this… Trust us that you will only ever do it once.
For the hand guard it is tricky if you do not have a proper tool as the D-ring is help in position by a set of fairly strong springs. Now some individuals may be strong enough and coordinated enough to compress the D-Ring enough to remove existing hand guards and/or install new ones. There are hand guards which are free floating, but to switch them out normally requires the removal and/or replacement of the front sight/gas block plus the removal of the D-Ring and the retaining assembly. That information is easily found through your favoured online search engine such as Google, and may be featured in a future installment of TPF.

The build challenge completed

CHALLENGE COMPLETE! Outfitted with the above listed MFT products, LMSR has been customized for an individual’s specific requirements and purposes.

MFT QCB version

The MFT build, slightly modified to a CQB version

A complete furniture replacement with Mission First Tactical products used in this build has a total MSRP of $304.93 USD. These products are available at various firearms retailers across Canada such as the Fredericton Gun Shop, located at 81 Sunset Drive, Fredericton, New Brunswick, or Bulls Eye Sports – London, located at 820 Wharncliffe Rd South – Unit 32, London, Ontario.

The question to you the reader is very simple as always. Is customizing your firearm with these MFT components Tactical? Practical? Or fantastical?