Special intelligence.

Author:Sundra, Jon R.

I don't believe I've ever returned from a SHOT Show having heard more mixed opinions about business and the economy than I did this past January. I guess that's understandable, what with the emotional and economic roller coaster we as a nation have been on these past 12 months. We went from the euphoria and optimism that went with having kicked Saddam's butt in the most lopsided war in modern history, to what just before Christmas the media was calling "a near depression." The nation's mood was reflected in Bush's approval rating that plunged from an unheard-of 91 percent in April to around 45 percent just eight months later.

It's no wonder then that cruising the aisles in New Orleans and talking with literally hundreds of exhibitors I heard so many differing opinions and reports with respect to business this past year and expectations for 1992. I can honestly say, though, I talked with a lot more folks who had their "best year ever" than those who experienced the opposite. Those assessments represent the extremes, of course; most manufacturers conceeded that 1991 was "okay" but could have been better.

As for the mood with regard to the coming year, "cautious optimism" is such a cliche, but then that's why they're cliches -- terms used so much because they accurately describe what we want to say. And that's how I'd describe the mood at SHOT.

Despite the gloom and doom painted each night for us by the news media, I got a sense of optimism from most of the people to whom I spoke. The consensus seemed to be that the 92 perfect of the public that is working is getting a little tired of waiting for things to get worse and that they are going to start buying again.

Sundra Sizes Up The SHOT Show

Editor Scott Farrell's directive to single out what I thought to be the "most unique, exciting new product at the SHOT Show" was easy for me: the Winchester Model 70 Featherweight Classic.

U.S. Repeating Arms has taken the improved version of the vaunted pre-'64 Model 70 which they've been offering these past couple of years as the Super Grade, screwed on a lighter, trimmer barrel, and mated it with that elegant Featherweight stock of theirs. In effect, they've taken the Model 70 that GUNS Magazine readers voted the "World's Most Beautiful Rifle," and made it a pre-'64.

As far as I'm concerned, if after seeing this new Featherweight Classic anyone laments the passing of the "old Model 70," they're either very confused or are hung up on venerating the past for the sake...

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