The annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT for short) show, held this year in Orlando, Florida, is arguably the largest event the firearms industry has to offer. Open to the trade only, it’s where manufacturers display their new products to dealers, press, and others who work in the industry. In its 31th year, and having grown to nearly 2,000 exhibitors, it’s impossible to see it all; I was there from the first day, and left as the show was tearing down, and still never saw everything. What I did, see, though, was a combination of groundbreaking innovation, variations on proven themes, and the reintroduction of a few ideas that should never have gone by the wayside.


As a long-time fan who has observed the indignities suffered by Colt as they fell from prominence and watched the market for their greatest models—such as the M1911, AR15, and Peacemaker—be overtaken by other manufacturers, it brings me great pleasure to announce that Colt is back, and in a big way. At long last, they have introduced a tactically-oriented M1911 with a light rail. Appropriately named the “Colt Rail Gun” and made with a forged slide and frame, the new .45 also features a National Match Barrel, S&A beavertail, extended strong-side-only thumb safety, and a Novak LoMount rear sight (the only feature the FBI requested by name when they spec’d out the pistols for their Hostage Response Team).

In addition to the Delta 10mm M1911 reintroduced last year, Colt has also brought back two other Government Models: the Combat Elite, which is similar to the Rail Gun, only lacking the rail, and the Special Combat Government Model. Built in the Colt Custom Shop and including some premium aftermarket parts, it comes with a Wilson ambi-safety, Novak adjustable sights, and an S&A beavertail and mag funnel.

Another impressive piece from the Colt Custom Shop is their Presentation Grade M1911. Beginning with Colt’s vintage-style 1918 pistol, the gun is engraved at 25% (or A Level) coverage by one of Colt’s Master Engravers. Add in elephant ivory stocks and a fitted walnut case, and the entire package retails for—are you ready?—about $2,300. A lot of money, but less than many custom carry .45’s.

Other news from Colt includes their “Modern Masters” package on the Single Action Army (Peacemaker), as well as the reintroduction of their Sheriff’s and Storekeeper’s Model Peacemaker, available in .45 Colt or .44/40 with either a 3” or 4” barrel and no ejector rod.

Welcome back, Colt; we’ve missed you.


Originally a one-off created by pistolsmith Bill Laughridge, the M2008 Pocket Model is a masterpiece of styling and engineering. Patterned after Colt’s 1903 .32 ACP, the M2008 is a “hammerless” .45 ACP that combines the power of the M1911 with the grace of the old pocket pistols. Using a slide and frame custom-made by Caspian, as well as Wolff springs and a barrel produced for the gun by Jarvis, the M2008 is an elegant, potent reminder of what the original pocket autos could have been, but never were. It’s made to customer specifications, and only fifty will be made per year. A pistol like this almost has to be seen and handled to be appreciated; suffice it to say that it’s a crowning achievement for Laughridge’s already-impressive career.

Perhaps one of the most under-estimated firearms manufacturers in the world, CZ has introduced two new variants of its well-proven CZ-75. The first, the SP-01 Phantom, is a polymer-framed variant of their light-rail-equipped SP-01. In addition to having a lightweight grip frame that holds 16+1 rounds of 9mm in a flush-fit mag, the Phantom has an interchangeable backstrap system that lets you fit the gun to the shooter’s hand. It comes equipped with a decocker instead of the standard safety system, which allows for cocked-and-locked carry, and weighs nearly a pound less than the SP-01.


Also in the lightweight class is their P-07 Duty, a 16+1 9mm with a newly-designed trigger system. Although it comes with a decocker installed, it also comes with a traditional safety, and can be converted with a simple parts change.


The Dan Wesson line of M1911’s has seen the introduction of their DW CCO, a Commander/Officer’s hybrid M1911 in .45 ACP. The lightweight aluminum frame has a chain link pattern machined into the frontstrap to give added purchase, and the gun comes complete with night sights, an extended thumb safety, and a well-shaped beavertail. In a world where concealed carry is increasingly popular—and increasingly important—there are few better-sized M1911 .45’s than this package.


Famed for their ultra-compact CombatMaster .45, the Detonics company has gone through some four or five different forms in the thirty-some years it’s been around. Although you may not know it, you’ve probably seen a CombatMaster before; they’ve appeared in CSI: Miami, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and as Sonny Crocket’s ankle gun in the original Miami Vice. In its latest incarnation, Detonics is offering their “Classic” series of pistols, which maintain the timeless lines of the originals (they also resemble those offered by Detonics USA, the current company’s immediate predecessor), as well as the CPX line, which consists of up-to-date variants on their proven M1911 themes. Their DNX series of .45’s was extensively refined by Charlie Pulit, head pistolsmith at Wayne Novak’s legendary custom shop (DNX Military model is shown above). DNX pistols carry Novak sights, as well as Wayne’s innovative “Answer” one-piece backstrap.


Shown in prototype stage was Detonics’ DTX pistol. A polymer-framed pistol with a sleek, raked-back grip angle, the DTX design is deeply rooted in combative principals and observations that date back to the ‘20’s in Shanghai, when Fairbairn and Sykes began to develop the concept of close-quarters battle (CQB). Add in some extensive medical research into how the human body responds to stress, emphasize point shooting, and the DTX begins to emerge. Although some of the theories involved are controversial, at first blush their application seems to be well-thought out.


The GSG-5, a semi-auto .22 LR patterned after the famed MP5 submachinegun, was all the rage at last year’s SHOW Show. And justly so; the German-made carbine slavishly replicated the subgun, down to the accessories and stocks available for it. This year brings the introduction of the GSG-5PK, a pistol variant patterned after the MP5K machine pistol. Also chambered in .22 LR, the PK is great fun to shoot, and, unlike the full-sized GSG-5, its four-or-so inch barrel also happens to be easy to suppress.

Look for more from GSG in the near future, including a dedicated .22 LR M1911 and a .22 cal wood-stocked AK.

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The annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT for short) show, held this year…