SHOT Show 2023 brought us all the new industry products. Here are Travis’ top pistols to come out of the show.
SHOT Show 2023 has come and gone. I got the SHOT Show crud, dehydrated, and my skin is dried out, but I survived a year more. SHOT Show 2023 has miles of aisles, and among those miles of aisles are plenty of new handguns. As always, I’m looking for the latest and greatest for defensive handguns, firearms aimed at concealed carry. I’ve gathered five of the best concealed carry-ready pistols and revolvers revealed at SHOT 2023.
Taurus 856 Defender TORO
The new Taurus 856 Defender TORO is not necessarily an entirely new gun. The Model 85 and 856 have been around, but this is the first time Taurus has tossed red dots on revolvers. In fact, it’s one of the first times a company has put a red dot on a defensive revolver aimed at concealed carry. The Taurus 856 TORO uses a nice 3-inch barrel that helps reduce recoil and increases control.
The red dot feature goes a long way and makes it very easy to get your gun on target and put that target down. At range day, I was able to go six for six with the 856 TORO hitting a small hostage target over and over again. The dot moves with recoil, but just barely. Before you know it, you have the dot on your target and are ready to fire once again.
The 856 offers you six rounds of .38 Special, and the revolver is rated for +P rounds. It’s a fine-looking gun with an excellent trigger and the outstanding ability to add a dot to a revolver. Plus, it’s keeping the affordability Taurus is known for! This is probably my favorite of all the new handguns out there and my number 1 pick from SHOT Show.
FN 545 Tactical
The FN 545 was a nice surprise at SHOT Show. FN released two big-bore handguns, the FN 510 and 545. These guns utilize the 509 layout and design but are amped up in size to meet the requirements of these big bore rounds. The FN 545 offers you a .45 caliber option that’s incredibly modern and offers you a little more firepower than your old 1911. How much more?
The gun comes with a 15 and 18-round mag for free states. There is also a ten-round option for less free states. The 15-round magazine extends slightly beyond the grip, and the 18-round magazine sits a fair bit below the grip. Either way, you got plenty of lead to throw downrange. The FN 454 features a threaded barrel, and since 230-grain FMJs are naturally subsonic, they are perfect for suppressor use.
On top of that, and I mean that literally, sits an optic mount. Toss the red dot on and go! It’s a super modern take on the .45 ACP firearm. The classic American cartridge isn’t getting a lot of love in the wake of the 9mm, so it’s always nice to see the big boy get a little love and a very modern pistol platform.
ATI FXH-45 Moxie-C
The FTX-45 Moxie Commander model is the latest oddball 1911 clone from American Tactical Inc. at SHOT Show 2023. The FTX-45 Moxie is famed for being a polymer frame revolver, which is an interesting development. Again, this isn’t your Grandpa’s M1911, and it’s admittedly a very modern take on the classic warhorse.
As mentioned, the gun has a polymer frame, which also has a built-in rail. The gun is optic-ready with a removable plate. Instead of any particular standard of 1911 sights, you can use Glock sights, and that opens up an entire realm of sights for your consumption. Plus, they are very easy to install.
The Moxie commander features a 4.25-inch barrel and is in .45 ACP. The gun uses classic single-stack 8-round magazines. You have the classic single-action trigger and a grip safety as well as an ambidextrous safety design. It’s certainly far from normal, but that’s fine with me.
The P15 was revealed last year at SHOT Show, kind of. They had a couple of working prototypes, but this year they brought the real thing to the market. The P15 comes in two flavors, the polymer frame, and metal framed models. These guns are micro-compacts in the same realm of size as the P365XL. As the name implies, they pack 15 rounds of ammo in their super skinny, highly efficient magazines. In fact, the grip is .875 inches thick.
The guns feature four-inch barrels, which make them a little larger than most. However, the four-inch barrel does lend itself well to modern defensive ammunition. Plus, you get a nice long sight radius to make use of the high-vis iron sights. Speaking of sights, if you so choose, you can toss a red dot on as well.
The KelTec P15 is super lightweight and super thin. The polymer model is quite affordable, but the metal model is closer to 800 dollars. If you are on a budget, the polymer frame is certainly the way to go, even if it’s a little less stylish.
The Smith and Wesson Equalizer is a micro-compact pistol design that implements the S&W EZ technology to make the weapon exceptionally easy to handle. This includes the light racking design, an easy-loading magazine, and a number of extra safety features. The Equalizer uses a variety of different-sized magazines, from 10 to 15 rounds.
Speaking of, S&W includes a Maglula speed loader to keep things easy going regardless of your magazine size of choice. The Equalizer is a mid-sized gun with a 3.67-inch barrel. It’s lightweight at 22.9 ounces and ready to be tucked into a holster and on your waistband.
The Equalizer opens up the micro-compact world for everyone. The gun’s easy-racking design and easy-loading magazine combined with ultra-low recoil make it just perfect for newer shooters and for those with weak hands. It was a nice surprise for SHOT Show 2023.
Every year our options for concealed carry firearms just grow and grow. This year we saw a number of new guns aimed at the carry and personal defense market. This goes beyond just the normal 9mms, and we’ve seen old calibers like .45 ACP widely adopted by a constantly growing market. It’s nice to see, and it’s even better to see innovation in this territory. Did you attend SHOT Show? Were you impressed by anything? Maybe the Glock 47 with a Glock 19 slide? Do any other new releases deserve to be on my list?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. Travis has trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army.
He serves as an NRA-certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms-based hobbies.
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