On the ground at the 2018 NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits, members had a chance to handle thousands of handguns, ranging from classic reproduction models that hearken back to the guns used in centuries past to cutting-edge modern designs that are on the forefront of the personal-defense market. Shooting Illustrated staff had an opportunity to get their hands on some of the latest and greatest, and here are five excellent examples of where the industry is heading.
1. Beretta APX Centurion ($575)
Slotting between the company's full-size APX and its newly introduced Compact model, Beretta introduced its all-new Centurion. For fans of the 1911, the equivalent model would be the Commander-size gun, which fits between the Government and Officer models. This APX model is built with a full-size grip that shares the same magazine as the company's duty pistol, providing 15 rounds of 9 mm or 13 round of .40 S&W. However, this model bridges the gap between the Compact and duty-size APX by blending this full-size grip with the Compact's 3.7-inch barrel.
The beauty of this design is that it provides a more-compact and easier handling platform with the same fit, feel, controls and trigger as the company's duty-size model, so owners of the original APX who are looking for a more-compact model that feels similar in the hand have an option in the Centurion.
2. Dan Wesson Tactical Commander Pistol ($1,725)
One of the new mid-year introductions out from Dan Wesson is its Tactical Commander Pistol, incorporating a number of elements not often seen in the company's handgun lineup. For starters, the TCP 1911 is built with a forged-aluminum frame that incorporates an accessory rail on the dust cover. The gun is also loaded with a match-grade bull barrel, giving consumers an accurate, concealable design. The barrel is equipped with a 30-degree crown and employs a flat-wire recoil spring that increases the service life of the setup up to 15,000 rounds, three times that of comparable dual-spring designs.
Other features on the Dan Wesson TCP 1911 are the tapered grips, which increase in thickness from the top of the grip frame down toward the magazine well. One of the benefits of this setup is that those who have smaller hands can more easily access the trigger with a comfortable, well-fit grip.
3. Smith & Wesson Performance Center SW22 Victory ($672)
Designed specifically for use in rimfire-pistol competitions, the Smith & Wesson Performance Center had a hand in the development of the company's two recent additions to the popular SW22 Victory rimfire pistol lineup. These Victory Target models are equipped with 6-inch target barrels, available in either fluted or carbon-fiber-wrapped options. Other competition-specific enhancements to the design include Tandemkross hiveGrips, which feature a built-in thumbrest for competition-style shooting.
The pistol is also loaded with a specially designed flat-face target trigger and an adjustable trigger stop. Other elements include a top-mounted Picatinny rail for optics, and consumers can order the gun equipped with a Vortex Viper red dot for an added charge. Two 10-round magazines are included with every gun.
4. Springfield Armory 1911 TRP 10 mm RMR ($2,507)
Springfield Armory amped up its 10 mm longslide offering at the 2018 NRA Annual Meetings with the launch of the all-new TRP 1911, complete with an included reflex optic milled into the slide. Unlike other optics-ready handguns, the Springfield Armory TRP 10 mm RMR is specifically designed for use with a single red-dot optic, and Springfield Armory specifically chose the Trijicon RMR to top this long-slide powerhouse, due in part to the rugged construction of the optic that can withstand the extra punishment of the 10 mm round.
Consumers can choose between 5-inch and 6-inch models, each of which are built on forged National Match frames and slides and are equipped with match-grade barrels machined from stainless steel. The frames and slides are finished with the company's durable Black-T coating, and each pistol includes the company's Gen 2 Speed Trigger that comes factory-set to break cleanly between 4.5-5 pounds.
5. ZRODelta Genesis Z9 Modular Pistol ($1,299)
One of the more interesting concepts seen on the floor of the NRA Annual Meeting was the ZRODelta Genesis Z9 pistol. This innovative design takes the concept of a serialized chassis to the next level. Several serialized-chassis-style guns currently inhabit the market, and the serialized component is designed to fit into pre-molded frames that enable the end user to choose between full-size, mid-size or compact designs. With the Genesis, owners can mix and match between different components, since the all-aluminum core component is compatible with compact, duty-size and race-size parts. Users can have a full-size gun, a compact gun, a compact grip with a long slide, a duty-size grip with a compact slide or any other imaginable combination.
In addition to the basic frame size, the platform also enables users to choose between different add-on accessories, such as magazine wells, Picatinny accessory rails and more. ZRODelta plans to start shipping the guns in July 2018, providing consumers with only complete pistols for the first year. After the initial demand for complete guns is filled, the company will sell frames alone for further customization.