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4 impressive firearms at SHOT Show 2018

Here are four guns that stood out from the crowd at this year’s SHOT Show


The 9mm MkGs PDW weighs about 4.9 lbs.


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SHOT Show offers a sensory overload experience. It doesn’t take much walking around to figure out you can’t possibly take in all the new firearms and tactical products and technologies on display in just one week. There were, however, many guns that froze me in my tracks momentarily. Here is my short list of the most impressive guns I found at SHOT Show 2018.

CMMG Guard

The CMMG Guard System is a series of AR-15 style rifles and pistols that come in 9mm and 45 and use standard Glock magazines. They are made from 7075-T6 AL Lower and a Forged 7075-T6 AL Upper, which is typical for CMMG AR products. They also come with CMMG Single Stage triggers, which I run in my ARs.

If I just rattled off the specs, one would say “boring” and just move on. The thing is, these pistol caliber guns are not blowbacks; they fire from lug-locked chambers.

Typical pistol caliber AR systems use a heavy bolt and appropriately heavy recoil spring to keep the chamber closed when the cartridge is fired. The chamber has to stay closed long enough for adequate propulsion of the bullet down the barrel and the gases to dissipate before the gun cycles for the next round. The Guard System uses a bolt that looks like one for the rifle. It has lugs that fit into the barrel extension. As the gun is fired, the recoil causes the bolt to rotate slightly, disengaging them from the barrel extension and allowing the bolt carrier group to move rearward.

This is easy to do in .223. For a pistol caliber, CMMG had to camfer the lugs on the bolt, ever so slightly.

Why is this so special? There are three reasons, and they are important to law enforcement users:

  1. It uses mechanics, not necessarily inertia. The bolt and the gun, actually, is noticeably lighter, improving its overall balance. For example, the 9mm MkGs PDW weighs about 4.9 lbs.
  2. Much of the recoil impulse from an AR is the travel of the bolt carrier group. That is, the heavier the bolt, the more upsetting the recoil.
  3. Users report that the gases that blow into one’s face when using a suppressed gun are reduced, at least a little with the Radial Delayed Blowback.

I’m pretty excited about this engineering, which now comes in .45.

DesertTech MDR

DesertTech is the company that owns several “bullpup” firearm designs. The MDR is a compact battle carbine whose overall length is 26.2”. That’s pretty good for a 16” barrel gun. It comes in .308 Win, .223 Wylde, and .300 BLK. There is a caliber conversion kit that allows a quick change from one of these calibers to another.

This is a short barrel rifle (SBR) without the tax stamp.\


The DesertTech MDR is one of the most modular and ergonomic bullpen configurations on the market.

Photo/Gene Whisenand

The MDR is not new this year, but .300 BLK and .223 Wylde versions are. This year was my first opportunity to shot a 30 caliber version.

Why is the MDR a show stopper? Well first of all, it’s very short. More important, it is the most ambidextrous gun out there. It can be set for left or right forward ejection, or even side ejection. All of the controls are intuitive, and the balance point is closer to the shoulder than full length guns.

It was a lot of fun to shoot, too.

Archon Firearms Type B

The Type B doesn’t look much different from the dozens of other polymer-striker fired-15-round guns on the range. It really takes some close examination to realize that this gun is the innovation for 2018.

The Type B has all fire control components in the same general mechanical area. That is, if Archon wanted to make it “grip exchangeable” like the SIG P320, it would be a matter of presenting the end user with grip choices. It could be done at the consumer level.


The Archon Type B is a 15-round 9mm handgun that does not look much different than typical striker-fired guns. The advanced ergonomics, short reset trigger, unusual locking system and engineered reliability put it in a league of its own.

Photo/Gene Whisenand

There are subtle ergonomic enhancements that make it a top performer in comfort. The area where the web of the hand contacts is almost completely relieved, putting the body more in line with the recoil. The area behind the trigger is relieved so high that the tip of the trigger actually rests lower than the knuckles of the middle finger. This means that the shooter gets a high grip, without having to use an awkward downward grip to contact the bottom of the trigger.

The Type B uses “grip mapping” for grip enhancement. This consists of moulded squares whose surfaces are angled in relation to the frame.

This is a gun that agrees with the contours of the hand and has natural pointing characteristics.

Under the hood, the Type B uses a short recoil system where a yoke-shaped device fits into lugs that are part of the barrel lockup. Rather than travel almost the length of the cartridge brass to lock and unlock the chamber, the guns in battery/out of battery distance is around 3/4 inch. The Type B uses a 3 stage recoil system. One spring is captive, the other isn’t.

What does this do for you? Because the barrel has an unusual locking system, it also doesn’t tilt quite as much as others. The barrel angle almost directly matches the feed angle of the magazine.


Shooting the Type B: Notice how the web of the hand is nearly at the level of the bottom of the slide. The rapid fire accuracy was encouraging.

Photo/Gene Whisenand

Get the picture? Less travel, fewer things that can go wrong, more reliable operation.

I can’t even describe the slide for you. It is different. It was, however, easy to disassemble, and well-constructed. It does take standard Glock sights, which means everyone makes sights for it.

How did it shot? I emptied a couple of magazines at a very high rate without a miss, with almost no muzzle climb.

I need one of these.

Glock 19X

I shot one. I loved it. I won’t bore you with the details. If you are reading this article, you likely have read every word of hype on the 19X. I am a Glock guy and Glock reliability is legendary. It is like other models, except it has a slightly different trigger spring. I said I loved it, but I also think it is a solution looking for a problem.

Lindsey Bertomen is a retired police officer and retired military small arms trainer. He teaches criminal justice at Hartnell College in Salinas, California. He has a BS in Criminal Justice and an MS in Online Teaching and Learning. Lindsey has taught shooting techniques for over a decade. His articles on firearms tactics have appeared in print for over a decade. Lindsey enjoys competing in shooting sports, running, and cycling events.