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My First NRA Annual Meeting (NRAM 2017)

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I’ve been a Lifetime NRA Member for several years now, but have never taken the time to go to one of their annual meetings (often called NRAM).  But this year, I had some business in Georgia which took me near enough to Atlanta to make it relatively simple for me to hit NRAM 2017.  I arrived at my hotel in downtown Atlanta on Thursday evening and did a little sight seeing and photo taking:

As many times as I’ve driven through Atlanta on I-75, this was the first time I’d spent any time in the city, so the opportunity to do so was welcome.

Friday morning I strolled over to the Georgia World Congress Center.

I must say that Atlanta was pretty welcoming of the convention.  There were lots of welcome signs throughout the downtown area, and of course entering the Georgia World Congress Center you saw lots of NRA signage:

Once inside I made my way toward the main exhibit hall.  I lost count on how many escalators I took going down.

It is said that the exhibitor halls of NRAM are smaller than SHOT Show.  To that I say, yes and no.  SHOT tries to cram in a lot more exhibitors which means there is more area to cover than NRAM, and the aisles you walk through tend to be smaller and more cramped.  NRAM by comparison has fewer vendors so it feels more intimate.  But in terms of attendance numbers, NRAM is surely bigger.  This year, SHOT Show attendance totaled nearly 65,000, surpassing last year’s turnout to make it the second most attended SHOT Show ever.  NRAM 2017 saw 81,836 people in attendance – also the 2nd highest attendance figure on record for the organization.  Since I attended SHOT 2017, I was less interested in visiting vendor booths at NRAM 2017, and more interested in seeing and talking to people.  Truth be told there wasn’t a whole bunch of new product introduced at NRAM.  So here again, there’s a lot less priority on getting around to booths to see the latest and greatest, and more time and emphasis to visit with people.  I liked that.

First I made a beeline over to my favorite firearm manufacturer SIG Sauer and did some glad-handing with my contacts in attendance.  I also bumped into pistol champion and SIG sponsored shooter Max Michel:

I did want to take some time to play with the X-Five Carry model.  I got my first look at it in January at SHOT, but that was before I had the opportunity to spend serious time shooting its big brother, the P320 X-Five.  If you’ve read my review of the P320 X-Five, you know I’m a fan – I’ve put over 1000 rounds through it at this point.  But I’m having trouble understanding the thought behind the X-Five Carry.  The name suggests you’d use this as a carry gun.  It’s equipped with X-Ray luminous sights (like on the Legion series) which is certainly good for a carry gun.  The rear sight plate can be removed, and a Romeo optic can be mounted just like the full-size X-Five.  But the iron sights aren’t  suppressor height, so if you mount a Romeo optic on it, you won’t have backup iron sights as you would with one of the RX models.  So if you’re an RX owner, I would think the best thing would be for you to wait for the X-Five Carry grip modules to be made available as they eventually will, and acquire one.  That, along with installing a Gray Guns PELT trigger would be the best of both worlds for a defensive/carry optics model.  The increased capacity afforded by the X-Five Carry grip model (and it’s preferable ergos) and an optic mounted along with an RX slide with suppressor height back-up irons.

My next stop was to see MGM Targets and Travis Gibson along with his son Wyatt:

Another big “thank you to Travis and MGM for their generous sponsorship of the 2017 Ohio State 3-Gun Championship which I helped to organize and run earlier this year.

At the USPSA booth, I had the opportunity to meet and speak with Mike Foley, President of USPSA.

I was pretty impressed Mike came in person to man the booth, and I expressed my appreciation for his spearheading both the new Carry Optics and Pistol Caliber Carbine divisions of USPSA.  They’ve brought a lot of new folks to USPSA – myself included.  I also learned that USPSA does plan to continue to develop multi-gun and is working on multi-gun classifiers.

Unfortunately, I had an afternoon flight to catch so I only spent a few hours at NRAM.  But I greatly enjoyed both the convention and the opportunity to visit Atlanta.  As I was leaving the convention area, I did run into a small protest of both President Trump (who spoke at NRAM) and of the NRA.  It was laughably pitiful – may a hundred or so folks chanting.  But it was peaceful so I’ve no objection to folks exercising their rights of free speech.

NRAM 2018 will be in Dallas, Texas.  If the hotel prices are reasonable, I’ll be very tempted to attend for the full convention as this experience only gave me a brief glimpse into the NRAM experience, and I’ve not spent any time in Dallas.

About John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.

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