It's becoming more and more apparent that women are emerging as a driving force behind many trends in self-defense, and nowhere is this more evident than at the 2016 NRA Meetings & Exhibits. Of course, it's no surprise that the "NRA Show" is a family event that draws moms as well as dads, but if this year's attendance is any indication, the women who are attending are intent on more than just a day's worth of entertainment...they're on the hunt for products that are designed to suit their needs.
"I'm looking for a nice concealed-carry purse," asserted Laura Cruse as she and her son Zach toured the NRA Store Friday morning.
"These women know what they're looking for," said Kimber's Rachel Vandevoort. "They know what questions to ask, and they're focused on functionality." Of course, stated Vandevoort, women do care about appearances: The company's Gemtone collection is attracting lots of attention. But the female booth visitors are more concerned with whether the firearm fits them, its chambering and its ease of use.
Browning's Paul Thompson concurred. "We're seeing a lot of attention being paid to our micro line, which are compact versions of our handguns, rifles and shotguns. They're not specifically 'for' women or youth; they're for anyone who's smaller-statured." He went on to note that many female booth visitors were using this opportunity to make sure the fit was right for them.
EAA's Kevin Bernkrant reported that guns and devices for concealed carry continue to dominate female visitors' interests. "We've got these new wraps for our Abdo concealed-carry devices," he said, pointing out that the Abdo, which mimics a phone case, can now offer some of the same personalization that a phone case would.
Springfield Armory's Chad Dyer agreed that women remain briskly interested in the Springfield XD-S and Mod 2 Compact, both of which are firearms well-suited for small-handed shooters. "But they do go around and try them all," he said. "They're clearly making up their own minds about what works best for them."
Kel-Tec's Ryan Williams agreed, noting that many women may at first try a handgun clad in pink, but that if they're not satisfied with the ease of operation, they'll try something else. "The Sub 2000 carbine is doing very well with women visitors to the booth," he added.
Whether you're a woman or a man, the 2016 NRA Annual Meetings & EXhibits is a terrific chance to get an up-close look at any firearm or device that may have struck your fancy. You'll have the opportunity to confer with industry experts about specifications, ask questions, and even hold the firearm of your dreams. There's still a whole day left--so don't miss it!