Normally it is right around the beginning of the year that representatives from the firearms industry, including manufacturers and retailers, travel to Las Vegas for the annual SHOT Show (Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show) to check out many of the top guns of 2021. While the Covid-19 pandemic required that the show, much like the recent International CES (formerly the Consumer Electronics Show), to go virtual, retailers and shooting enthusiasts were still able to get a peek at what could be the guns that scored a bull's eye.
Here is a look at the top firearms from this year's SHOT Show, or rather, what might end up being some of the top guns of 2021.
Armalite Super SASS Gen. II
ArmaLite's name is practically synonymous with the modern semi-automatic sporting rifles – the guns that are too often labeled "assault rifles." In recent years the company has also developed its Semi-Automatic Sniper System (SASS), and while 2021 won't see a fully new product, its Super SASS Gen. II – which utilizes an ArmaLite AR-10A receiver – will be available in 7.62x51 NATO and 6.5 Creedmoor and reportedly with a stainless-steel match-grade barrel. The former is a 20-inch barrel with 1:10 twist, while the latter is a 22-inch barrel with 1:8 twist and both will feature an ArmaLite Tac Brake.
Nighthawk Custom VIP Agent 2
You don't technically need to be a VIP to purchase Nighthawk Custom's VIP Agent 2, but given its cost it would help to "be somebody." What could be an over-the-top 1911 pistol that even most gangster rappers would find gaudy, is a near work of art – a firearm that a stylish Bond villain might carry.
Renowned gunsmith Doug Turnbull has brought the concept of "customization" to a new level with a hardened and polished frame, charcoal blue slide that matches the slide stop, magazine release and thumb safety – not to mention the 18k solid gold bed front sight and mammoth ivory grips. Nighthawk has done its part to ensure that each part is equally refined. It almost looks too good to shoot.
There are some firearms that turn heads simply because their designs are so unusual – but in the case of the KelTec P50 it isn't a gimmick.
Described as "unique, adaptable and retro," this is a pistol that is able to fire high velocity, low recoil 5.7x28mm ammunition and while that in itself is sort of impressive, there is the added fact that it has a 50-round magazine.
You'd expect it to have a massive external drum magazine, but that's not actually the case. Rather KelTec took a cue from the FN P90, which just happens to also fire the same cartridge. Anyone familiar with that futuristic looking submachine gun will know the double stock magazine lies horizontally along the top of the gun. While it is still too bulky for a daily carry personal defense firearm, as home defense guns go this one will have enough rounds to fight off an army of intruders.
B&T USA Station SIX Series Pistols
Because of James Bond, people think spies carried Walther PPKs – but in World War II, the Welrod pistol was actually the weapon of choice for British Special Operations Executive (SOE) and United States Office of Strategic Services (OSS) operatives. Few of those have survived and the ones not in a museum can cost upwards of $10,000.
For the budget minded, and those who actually want to shoot their gun instead of just display it, there is the new B&T USA Station SIX series of pistols inspired by the Welrod. Available in 9mm and .45 APC, the Station SIX is far more refined, featuring an improved grip and modern magazine. It still maintains the non-descript appearance and is fitted with an integral suppressor. Waiting for the NFA transfer may be the worst part with this one, but good things do come to those with patience.
Vigilance Rifles Model 20
Until recently, Vigilance Rifles primarily was known for its large-caliber bolt action and semi-automatic rifles. Apparently, someone at the company was tired of shooting the .50 BMG rounds and decided to develop a 9mm – as the company has introduced it nifty Model 20, which is available in multiple configurations. While it has the look of a plinker, it is actually one serious firearm.
Civilians can take aim with a pistol version 8-inch barrel, or rifle version with a 16-inch barrel. Law enforcement and military customers can go with the select-fire submachine gun model. All of the versions feature integrated fix sights and a Picatinny rail for the mounting of optics. It can even use Glock magazines.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.