Industry News: April 2005
By Robert M. Hausman

NASGW Show 2005 New Products Report

Line extensions, rather than brand new products were the rule amongst the 153 exhibitors at the 2004 National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers Show held in Fort Worth, Texas, last November. This show is the venue where new products for the coming sales year are first announced to wholesale distributors two months in advance of the annual S.H.O.T. Show, which is geared towards retailers. This year’s exhibitor attendance count was down slightly from the 162 exhibitors at the 2003 show.

The New Products

Century International Arms, Inc. had a wide range of AK-type rifles on display. Since the expiration of the federal ban on so-called “assault weapons”, Century is now able to offer Kalashnikovs with folding stocks, bayonet lugs, slant-style flash hiders, and other formerly banned features. The firm is also planning to introduce a new line of semi-automatic Uzi carbines.

Eagle Imports, Inc. announced that its BERSA Thunder Series pistols are now furnished with an integral locking system. The all new BERSA Limited Edition Series is composed of pistols with elegant gold finish external parts enhancements.

Pacific Armament Corp. of Modesto, CA, announced several new products. In addition to offering reliable FM M95 Classic (full-size) and Detective (compact) models of the famed Hi-Power 9mm pistol, the firm is also offering a .22 LR conversion kit for Hi-Power pistols. Pacific Armament also offers a .38 Super slide and barrel assembly for M1911 pistols.

SIG Arms, Inc. had one of the most Spartan exhibits at the event, yet it introduced one of the widest ranges of new product offerings.

In addition to its new line of SIG tactical knives, including a folder, neck knife and full-auto folder, SIG announced a series of limited edition pistols for 2005. These are as follows:
  • P229 Rail, 9mm with contrast sights, two hi-cap magazines and an end-user coupon for a SportSafe Gun Vault, which is California Dept. of Justice compliant. (The safe is a $129 value which is offered for $19.95 to cover shipping.)
  • P245, .45ACP with nickel accents, target crown barrel, Meprolight white outline night sights and two mags.
  • P220 Rail, .45ACP with contrast sights, 2 mags, and an end-user coupon in the box for a M3 tactical illuminator by Insight Technology (user pays $19.95 S&H).
  • P239, .40 S&W, with satin nickel finish, contrast sights, Hogue rubber wraparound grips and 2 mags.
  • GSR 1911, .45ACP, with Novak contrast sights, Nitron black slide, black grips, ambidextrous safety and two magazines.
  • P229, .40 S&W, with satin nickel frame, Nitron black slide, contrast sights and two hi-cap magazines.
  • P232, .380ACP, with rainbow titanium finish (on the slide and controls), contrast sights and 2 mags.
  • P226 Rail, 9mm. with contrast sights, 2 hi-cap mags, and an end-user coupon in the box for a SIG Tac Vest (a $62 value but the user pays only $19.95 S&H).
  • P220 “Sport Stock”, .45ACP, with extended sport controls, LPA fiber optic adjustable target sights, 2 mags, and an end-user coupon good for free shipping ($25 value) towards any Custom Shop service.
  • P239, .357 SIG, with contrast sights, extra .40 S&W barrel and one mag for each caliber.
  • P228 Two-Tone, 9mm, with nickel slide and controls, contrast sights and two hi-cap mags.
  • P226, .40 S&W, three-dot sights, two hi-cap mags, end-user coupon in box for one pair of Oakley glasses ($100 value, user pays only $19.95 S&H).

Smith & Wesson announced the signing of a long-term license for handgun safes with American Security Co. (AMSEC) of Fontana, CA. AMSEC will develop a complete line of compact home safes to include high-tech biometric models. The new line features all steel construction, dead bolt locks, fire protection to UL standards, and tamper-proof designs and locks. The line is to include pistol boxes, wall safes and floor models that weigh up to 275 pounds. Retail prices will range from $75 to $750 with a limited-lifetime warranty. “The expansion of the Smith & Wesson safe line, now to include smaller handgun safes to compliment our existing large safe line through the Heritage Safe Co. is a key part of our long term commitment to surround the shooter with high quality S&W products to make his/her passion for the shooting sports safer for the family,” said Tom Taylor, vice president, marketing. The company noted sales of the new S&W Model 500 .50-caliber revolver continue to exceed expectations with very strong consumer demand for the product.

Since the federal ban on so-called “assault weapons” is now history, Kahr Arms is offering 50-round drum magazines for certain of its semi-auto Thompson rifles. Produced to a higher quality standard by a new manufacturer than the firm previously used to produce the ban induced 10-round drums, Kahr will also be coming out with 100-round Thompson drums during the first half of 2005.

Kahr Arms’ polymer pistol line continues to expand with the debut of the Model KP4543, a compact 6-round .45ACP with textured black polymer frame, 3.54-inch match grade polygonal rifled barrel and a matte stainless steel slide riding on special front and rear inserts for long term durability and accuracy. The pistol weighs 17 ounces, slide width is .950-inch (less than 1-inch) and width at the grip is exactly one-inch. Overall length is 6.1 inches while height from the top of the rear sight to the bottom of the grip is only 4.8-inches.

FNH Manufacturing, Inc. announced that it is introducing a new semi-automatic carbine during 2005 that looks virtually identical to its famed high-tech P90 submachine gun. More information on this gun will be presented in a later issue of SAR.

ADCO Sales Inc. introduced a new tactical red dot sight which founder Al DePaoli says is on a par quality-wise with government contract red dot sights. Features include a good field-of-view and attached windage and elevation caps to prevent loss. The sight body has an overall unobtrusive, flat profile with a non-protruding battery appendage, and the unit is powered by a 50-hour lithium battery. Dealer price for the sight is $162. A tactical mount for the new dot sight (which does not interfere with use of the rifle’s iron sights) is provided free-of-charge for AR-15 type rifles. It was also announced that ADCO’s SOLO Sight has undergone a $100 retail price reduction. The retail is now $199 (formerly $299).

Extreme Shock Munitions of Clintwood, Virginia showed two new .308 rounds - one for big game hunting and the other an explosive entry R2LP tactical round. The firm has also brought out a line of sub-sonic ammunition for .223 caliber rifles with a 1:7 rifling twist. These rounds continue the tradition of incredible performance that Extreme Shock has become famous for.

The 2005 NASGW Annual Hunting Show will be held November 2 - 4, 2005 at the Reno Hilton Hotel in Reno, Nevada. The event will end two hours earlier than tradition on the last day at 1 p.m. Exhibitors desiring to register to attend can call (772) 621-7261.

Chicago Suit Dismissed by State Supreme Court

The Chicago City lawsuit against the industry and several related individual lawsuits were unanimously dismissed by the Illinois Supreme Court on November 18th. The dismissal was an affirmation of the previous trial court’s dismissal of the “public nuisance” lawsuit filed by the city against numerous firearms manufacturers, distributors and retailers (City of Chicago and County of Cook, v. Beretta U.S.A. Corp. et al in the Supreme Court of Illinois, Docket #’s 95243, 95253, 95256, and 95280).

Following the many precedents established in over 15 similar cases which have been dismissed by trial or appellate courts nationwide, the 65-page opinion of the Illinois Supreme Court in the Chicago case reaffirmed the long-standing rule of law against manufacturers’ liability for criminal misuse of lawfully sold, non-defective firearms.

The Illinois Supreme Court held, “We conclude that plaintiffs have not stated a claim for public nuisance...Their assertions of negligent conduct are not supported by any recognized duty on the part of the manufacturer and distributor defendants. In addition, we hold that proximate cause cannot be established as to the dealer defendants because the claimed harm is the aggregate result of numerous unforeseeable intervening criminal acts by third parties not under defendants’ control. By implication, proximate cause is also lacking as to the manufacturer and distributor defendants, who are even further removed from intervening criminal acts.

“Any change of this magnitude in the law affecting a highly regulated industry must be the work of the legislature, brought about by the political process, not the work of the courts...We therefore reverse the judgment of the appellate court and affirm the judgment of the circuit court, which properly granted defendants’ motion to dismiss.” the Supreme Court concluded.

Related Case Dismissed

In a related case (Young et al v. Bryco Arms et al, Docket #’s 93678, 93685, and 93728), five individual Chicago residents had sued firearms manufacturers, distributors and dealers under the same “public nuisance” theory. At the same time it dismissed the Chicago case, the Illinois Supreme Court also dismissed the Young case, in a separate decision.

The court therein stated, “We conclude that, as a matter of law, they cannot state a claim in public nuisance against these defendants...In City of Chicago, we held that the manufacturer and distributor defendants owed no duty to the plaintiff city or its residents to prevent the illegal possession and use of their products within the city...We are reluctant to interfere in the lawmaking process in the manner suggested by plaintiffs, especially when the product at issue is so heavily regulated by both the state and federal governments.”

Echoing the sentiments of manufacturers, Sturm, Ruger & Co. president and general counsel Stephen L. Sanetti commented, “For the court to have held otherwise would have created ruinous consequences for any manufacturer of any product which somehow fell into criminal hands. No matter how good the product, no matter the care in its manufacture and sale, and no matter the many thousands of local laws and regulations concerning its purchase and use, no defenses to its manufacturer’s claimed ‘liability’ would exist. That’s not the rule of law; it’s an invitation to the rule of creative lawyers.”

Brady Center Response

Five of the seven Illinois Supreme Court judges called for the state General Assembly to consider implementing legislation imposing additional controls over the firearms industry in the state, according to the Brady Center To Prevent Gun Violence.

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Charles Freeman wrote that the “plaintiff’s allegations, if true, support the conclusion that defendant gun manufacturers are not only aware of the probability that their wares might be used in the commission of crimes, but that they actively seek to exploit that fact to increase their profit margin...it is my sincere hope that our General Assembly will turn its attention to the problems this case brings to light.” He was joined in the concurring opinion by four other judges, according to the Brady Center.

“The judges were on target in their expression of alarm,” said Dennis Henigen, director of the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project. “In lawsuits filed by other cities, we have uncovered compelling evidence of gun industry complicity in supplying the underground market,” Henigen asserted.

The “evidence” cited includes the alleged under oath testimony of former firearms industry lobbyist Robert Ricker (of the old American Shooting Sports Council) who said that gun companies knew that they were arming criminals through their sales and distribution practices, according to the Brady Center.

The Brady Center also cited the late Bill Bridgewater, former head of the now-defunct National Alliance of Stocking Gun Dealers, claiming that he testified to the effect that many licensed gun dealers supplied criminals and kids, and that some were even gang members.

However, the Brady Center took Bridgewater’s alleged remarks out of context, as Bridgewater’s main issue was with the “unfair” competition stocking, storefront retailers faced from so-called “kitchen table gun dealers”, or those who sold firearms from their homes. During the reign of the Clinton Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms & Explosives took steps to largely eliminate the great majority of those federal firearms licensees who sold firearms from their homes.

TASER Launches New Products at IACP

TASER International, Inc., a producer of less-than-lethal electronic technology, debuted a new XP Air Cartridge with an extended 25-foot maximum range as well as an audio-video recording system for the TASER X26 conducted energy weapon, at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference held in Los Angeles last fall.

The accuracy and dispersion of the new XP at full 25-foot deployment is said to be comparable to the standard cartridge at its full 21-foot range.

“The bi-metal design of the 25-foot XP enhances TASER devices’ ability to penetrate heavy clothing while increasing accuracy and flight stability at extended ranges,” said Rick Smith, the firm’s CEO. “The new XP cartridge utilizes an enhanced 2,200 PSI nitrogen propulsion system and bi-metal probe construction to increase impact momentum onto the target, thus maximizing clothing compression.” The new XP cartridge is compatible with all currently fielded TASER M26 and X26 systems and begins shipping this month.

TASER also announced the pending release of an audio-video recording system for the TASER X26 conducted energy weapon. The Video Digital Power Magazine, was unveiled at the IACP show and is scheduled to begin shipping during the first half of 2005. The unit allows the ability to capture both audio and video records of use of force incidents involving TASER X26 devices. The images recorded can be later downloaded to a Windows equipped computer.

TASER Approved For Airline’s Use

The Transportation Security Administration has approved a major international airline’s application for the onboard use of TASER units by specially trained personnel on flights to and from the U.S., according to TASER International.

“This approval is the first to allow use of TASER technology on U.S. flights,” said Tom Smith, the firm’s president. “This opens a new market segment for TASER.”

The author is the publisher of the small arms industry’s two most widely-read professional trade newsletter, The New Firearms Business, covering the domestic industry, and The International Firearms Trade, which covers the global gun scene. His firm also offers mailing lists of FFL-holders for direct marketing efforts. He may be reached at: FirearmsB@aol.com

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V8N7 (April 2005)
and was posted online on May 31, 2013


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