Man, what a crazy year 2020 is turning out to be! A few years ago, it was wall-to-wall AR-15s. It seemed like everyone and their cousin was putting out their take on America's favorite rifle. Before that, it was 1911s. This year, though, if I had to pick one thing that really jumped out, it was red-dot equipped pistols. If pressed for a second, I'd have to say the dark horse of 5.7x28 mm-chambered firearms. With that said, here are five firearms that caught my attention at the 2020 Industry Day at the Range.
1. Laugo Alien. I know, I know. Who? Laugo? Isn't that a Trump property? The Czechoslovakian company came seemingly out of nowhere with its Alien pistol, using a technique prior only seen in rimfire pistols with a fixed barrel and minimalist slide. You see, the entire slide doesn't move on the Alien—it's only, well, the center. We're at least familiar with slide operation where only the rear moves in firearms like the SilencerCo Maxim or a host of rimfire guns like the Ruger Mark IV or Smith & Wesson Victory. Laugo claims this allows more rapid shooting, with an ultra-low bore axis. Additionally, the top portion of the slide can be removed, offering a plain version with front and rear sights, optics-ready variants and even a Picatinny rail.
2. Walther Q4. Walther released the Q5 steel frame last year as a competitive-shooting pistol, and its reception was so great the company has adapted it to the concealed-carry market. With a slightly shortened barrel over the Q5, the Q4 offers a beavertail more amenable to IWB carry while retaining the same excellent trigger and improved ergonomics of its competitive big brother. The Q4 is heavy, weighing in just slightly less than 40 ounces unloaded, however the balance is excellent and that extra weight really soaks up recoil.
3. LWRCI released the most-recent version of its SMG 45, with an SB Tactical arm brace and compatibility with many common AR-15 accessories such as pistol grips, drop-in triggers and ambidextrous safeties. The SMG-45 is set up with a small section of Picatinny rail at the rear where the arm brace attaches, and should it be desired to turn into an SBR can accept both H&K UMP stocks and those available from B&T. It's rated for .45 ACP +P ammunition and is a screaming hoot on the range.
4. Ruger's Ruger-57. For reasons unknown to the rest of the civilized world, the 5.7x28 mm round is making a comeback in a big way, championed at first by CMMG in the Banshee pistol, and now available in an affordable way in the Ruger-57. While 5.7x28 mm ammunition isn't exactly cheap plinking fodder, it's a chicken-and-egg thing. With only the FN 5.7 (and PS90) available for launchers, the demand hasn't exactly been there. With Ruger's affordable and fun-as-all-get-out 57, there's likely to be greater demand. In any case, the Ruger-57 is just stupid fun—when a duffer like me can ring steel at 100 yards with iron sights, there's definitely some magic at play...
5. Diamondback DBX. Now this one really took me by surprise. I had the chance to see some of the Diamondback line toward the end of last year at a writer's event, and the DBX was kept a close secret—I had no idea it was even in development. Remember everything I just said about 5.7x28 mm ammunition in the last piece? Well, now there are two affordable pistols in 5.7x28 mm. Diamondback is known for its affordable 9 mm and .380 ACP pistols as well as a line of mid-range AR-15-style rifles. The DBX brings an 8-inch-barrel, locked-breech, gas-piston-driven pistol in 5.7x28 mm to the table, and one that takes the same magazines as the FN 5.7 and the CMMG Banshee.
There's plenty more new and interesting releases coming out here in Las Vegas, and we'll be bringing as many as we can to you here at Shooting Illustrated. Stay tuned for more as SHOT Show 2020 gets officially underway today, and look for videos of all five of the above firearms later this week.