Well, I survived! Didn’t leave campus until about 5:30 (emergency meeting of the newspaper’s editorial staff, short version is we’re all probably gonna get crucified on Monday, I might post on that later) and finally got to the show around 6:00. The guys I was gonna go with wound up leaving way before I did so we met at the convention center.
It. Was. AWESOME!!!!
I browsed for about 2 hours, right up until the show closed and they chased everyone out. By and large the retailers were all very nice. I saw more guns than I could possibly mention here, including a couple of really slick Class III full autos. I got to handle (in no particular order):
- M1941 Johnson rifle
- M1 Garand
- Lee Enfield No 4 Mk. 1
- Mosin-Nagant (several)
- Springfield Ultra Compact 1911
- SIG-Sauer P239 Tactical (front cocking serrations and threaded barrel)
- Several AR-15s and AR-10s, and an AR-57
- Several AKs
- FN SCAR 16s
- FN FS-2000
- Remington 870
- Mossberg 500
- DSA FAL rifle
- Marlin 336
And I’m probably forgetting some too. Unfortunately, didn’t buy anything, though I did make a donation to the USO.
Thoughts… Guns are bigger than I thought, but bullets/cartidges are a lot smaller. The SCAR does feel like a toy, especially the stock. I kave no doubt that the gun itself runs great and is solid, but honestly, the stock felt like my Nerf Gun. The Mossberg sounds “meaner” when you rack the pump, but the Remington has a smoother action. The FAL is freakin’ sweet. If I buy an AR-15, I’ll get it with either a mid-length or rifle-length handguard since I have long arms (found them more comfortable). And I think I’ve fallen in love with the Lee-Enfield (more on that later).
It was interesting to see the dichotomy between the five of us in the group. I was looking at pretty much everything, but found myself drawn more towards semi-auto pistols and rifles (especially EBRs). My one friend is an avid hunter, so he mostly looked at bolt guns and lever-actions. It was kind of funny to watch him handle an AK and an M1A: he couldn’t figure out how to get the magazines out, then couldn’t get them back in either. My second friend is more into Mil-Surp stuff, so he was eying the Mosins (even though he’s got one already), Lee-Enfields, and Mausers. He’s also looking for a home-defense shotgun, so he spent plenty of time eying the Remington 870 and Mossberg 500. Third guy is ROTC, so he looked pretty much exclusively at paramilitary-style rifles. And the fifth guy I didn’t see much of at the show (we split up pretty early on) so I have no idea what his tastes are.
I liked the Springfield Ultra Compact, as that had a good deal of heft to it, but the SIG P239 fit my hand like a glove. I think when I buy my first center-fire handgun, it’s gonna be a SIG P239.
I also really like the FAL. I handled a standard DSA rifle with pane-Jane synthetic furniture and iron sights, I think it was an Imbel build. It’s a heavy gun, but not overly so, it’s built like a tank, and the controls are pretty simple and intuitive. And I like the sights too.
Yeah, I think I’ve got it bad for the Lee-Enfield, especially the No 4 Mk. 1 (handled a No 3 of some kind as well). It felt lighter than the other Mil-Surp guns I handled and felt perfectly balanced in my hands. The bolt was incredibly slick and fast (though it took quite a bit of effort to get it back into battery: I think it was a problem with the magazine follower) and as I understand it, the felt recoil isn’t too bad (lighter than a .30-06 and 7.62x54R heavy ball). I think I know what my first rifle is going to be… my Crusader AR-15 will have to be second.
The gun show was hands-down the coolest place I’ve been in a very, very long time. The VFGS is hosted 4 times a year, with the next event in mid-June. I’ll definitely be there, even if I don’t buy anything again. Next time, however, I won’t be looking just to look, I’ll be putting together a shopping list and checking out retailers. If I wasn’t serious about buying a gun before, I am now.