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Yes, the legendary SHOT Show is only three days away – I have no idea where the time went – and I’m offering up some predictions about where gun culture is going, because it’s the weekend and I’m tired of being responsible and researching gear.  So here are my top ten predictions for the next year of gun culture, some of which we’re going to see when the gates open at SHOT on Tuesday (or to a lesser extent at the industry shoot on Monday).

Editor Pickard’s List:

  1. Beards are finished.  They’ve become so thoroughly identified with stick-limbed hipster culture that gun guys will have to start moving away from them.  Also, the full-sleeves-and-beard look became so prevalent that the cutting edge guys will have to start looking clean-cut just to distinguish themselves from the security guard at the 7-11.  Prepare for chinos and eventually suits.
  2. PDWs and the return of the pistol-calibre submachine gun.  We’re already seeing the surging popularity of exotic micro-stocks; I bet that in a combined fit of nostalgia/rage at having their eardrums blown out, we’re going to see a lot of organizations that invested heavily in short ARs start looking very seriously at pistol calibre options.
  3. Everyone will switch to low-powered variable optics.  This has been happening for a few years, but despite the practicality of led-powered red dots for most peoples’ actual needs, the influence of three-gun competition will finally generate total mainstream acceptance of 1-x optics.
  4. Everyone will build exotic, gamer AR-15s with carbon fibre and non-tactical anodized colours, and skeletonized lowers are going to be huge.
  5. It will be impossible to find a big name shooter who isn’t carrying a 9mm 1911.  Todd Green was the guy who really pushed everyone over the edge with his famous test of the Warren Springfield, and Heirloom Precision build.  But now everyone will be carrying one again.
  6. Americans will finally discover the CZ-75 variants that have dominated IPSC for the last gazillion years.
  7. Someone is going to build a Commander-sized Browning that really takes off.
  8. Training that integrates grappling and blades is going to go mainstream, but in the process it’s going to get horribly diluted by people who don’t have the chops to deliver it the way in needs to be handled.
  9. Two-button interfaces on tactical flashlights are going to get really popular: one deep clicky for steady on, one momentary strobe.  Klarus developed a switching mechanism along these lines a couple of years ago and it’s going to turn up everywhere.  The next big innovation will be a two-stage switch where a full press gets you max strobe, half press gets momentary steady-on.
  10. Obnoxious gun writers will get punched in the face for writing pointless, speculative lists.

Publisher Fritter’s List:

  1. Beards will remain relevant, albeit in more identifiable, trimmed fashions. Big names in the business will realize that shaving the homogeneous mass of unkempt hair into a signature face hairdo (the Shakespeare? the Errol Flynn?) is great for brand recognition. Pat McNamara will end up shaving completely to avoid being associated with the trend as it goes mainstream.
  2. Agreed that PDWs and the return of the pistol-calibre submachine gun are long overdue, but while I expect to see glorious multitudes of 9mm sub-guns at this year’s shot I fully expect to see the market turn to .45 ACP as they start to realize that a suppressed .45 ACP closed-bolt submachine gun is just about the coolest thing ever created. 
  3. Even more bizarre AR-15 chamberings as the market fragments at the hands of ever-more AR-15 “builders” looking for that hot ticket item that’ll give them their 5 minutes of fame. More .50s, more .30s, and probably some bizarre super-fast .22-calibre offerings for long range hunting. None of which will offer significant improvements over the calibres already available, but they’ll be fun, and a ton of gun writers will laud these manufacturers efforts. We won’t.
  4. M-Lok. M-Lok freaking everywhere. Hell, I’ll bet Magpul’s entire booth will be assembled out of it.
  5. The resurgence of the revolver. Kimber’s launching one, S&W is throwing more Performance Center stuff on the market, and Korth’s offering replacement cylinders for S&W revolvers. If the Beretta 92 was the hipster gun of the past couple years thanks to Wilson Combat reminding everyone of how great they are, the revolver is going to be the next big thing that is actually a really old thing everyone forgot about for a while. 
  6. Integral suppressors, and probably at least one entire firearm built by a suppressor company… and sadly, it’ll probably be super cool unobtanium to those of us up here in Canada.
  7. More stupid drag-behind swag carts than ever before, and more feet accidentally run over than ever before.
  8. A return to light, spartan firearms. Less 45 degree offset mounts, perhaps even a few less BUIS, way less PEQ-15s on civilian rifles, and ever-more-fluted barrels as builders start to leverage modern quality control against lighter, nimbler rifles. We’re looking at you Battle Arms Development.
  9. A general trend back towards the “heritage” firearms. BARs, Auto 5s, artisan-quality bolt action rifles, fine revolvers, 1911s, Wingmasters, and maybe even Model 12s. All the new M-lok equipped hotness in the world is no match for your dad’s gun, and gun manufacturers are going to start capitalizing on that sentimentality.
  10. Liver damage.