2024 NRA Annual Exhibits: Top Handguns

I’ve attended several NRA Annual Meetings as a casual observer since 2009. During each visit, it was easy to pick out a list of favorites and “must haves” from the hundreds of vendors at the show. However, the professional obligation to cover the 2024 NRA exhibits is almost overwhelming. In the 15 years since my first visit, the technology and progress within the firearms industry have been astounding. The ever-present spirited competition between companies has culminated with some phenomenal consumer options.

Ultimately, any exclusive list will leave out a few great options on the market. By no means do I intend to slight or demean anyone not listed here. Rather, I hope to add to this list in the coming months with dedicated reviews on the firearms listed here as well as those “overlooked”. Nonetheless, the following list contains a few handguns that caught my attention as unique, overlooked, or worthy of some praise. Here are some of the top handgun picks from the 2024 NRA Show.

Archon Firearms Type B

When you have 14 acres of showroom floor to cover in three days, it’s easy to overlook some spectacular products showcased by vendors. Sometimes, though, you stumble upon a hidden gem amongst established brands. While perusing the PTR booth, I noticed a section dedicated to Archon Firearms. At first glance, these pistols appeared to be some hybrid conglomeration of Glock and the Alien Laugo. I was dead wrong.

Archon Type B
The Archon Firearms Type B pistol is completely modular (top left) with adjustable grip lengths. The pistol’s ergonomics felt amazing in the hand with appealing aesthetics. The pistol’s unique locking system keeps the barrel parallel to the frame with no tilt (bottom left). Archon states this significantly reduces perceived recoil and produces faster, more accurate follow-up shots.

The Archon Type B is a surprisingly novel pistol in a market saturated with clones and slightly different takes on current iterations. When I initially inspected the pistol, the barrel’s configuration appeared similar to rotating barrel locking designs reminiscent of the Beretta PX4 series. After some explanation from Archon, the barrel’s unique locking block design has no rotational or tilting axis movement. Rather, it remains horizontal with a novel locking lug configuration that delays the slide’s movement for extraction, ejection, and chambering during the firing process. Archon claims the result produces the lowest bore axis of any non-custom production handgun available. They also claim the lack of a tilting barrel reduces felt and perceived muzzle flip. While I haven’t verified this information with any range time of my own, the slide profile and bore axis were noticeably — and surprisingly — low.

Handling the Type B got me emotionally invested in getting a sample of my own for a dedicated review. The trigger is an acceptably clean striker-fired design with a short and positive reset. The Type B’s frame definitely has ergonomics in mind and felt natural. Archon stated the pistol frame features a unique modular design that allows users to configure the grip length for full-size, compact, and subcompact grip lengths. The slide is optics-ready as well. Archon anticipates a full release of the Type B for 2024 with an estimated price range between $800 to $1,200, depending on the package. Ultimately, this pistol shows great potential for a dedicated following at a reasonable price.

Staccato Model C

Staccato’s reputation requires little introduction. With their flagship lineup built around the 2011 frame and exceptional single-action trigger, it seems like there’s little room for improvement. With Staccato, though, improvement and development are policy and practice, not just theory. For 2024, Staccato introduced the Model C with an 18-round magazine capacity. 18 rounds in any gun is impressive, but 18 rounds in a gun with the Glock 19’s footprint is even more impressive. Staccato somehow made it happen with the C.

2024 NRA Staccato C
Despite being tricked out with an enclosed optic and full-size weapon light, the Staccato Model C has a reasonably concealable footprint without sacrificing capacity.

The Staccato C is optics-ready and offers a variety of mounting plate options. With an 18+1 capacity, this pistol has all the features expected from Staccato in a viable concealed-carry footprint. Expect this configuration to hit stores in the Summer of 2024 with a starting MSRP of $2,599.

Grand Power Q100 MK23

Grand Power turned heads with their Stribog series of pistol-caliber carbines. While I primarily visited their booth to familiarize myself with them, it wasn’t long before my attention turned to their pistols. Grand Power currently offers a complete lineup of striker and hammer-fired pistols in centerfire and rimfire cartridges. Their rimfire K22 pistol elicits images of the Beretta Model 84 and is a nice plinking addition to anyone’s collection. However, the Q100 MK23 chambered in 9mm really stood out in Grand Power’s pistol lineup.

Grand Power Q100 MK23
The Grand Power Q100 MK23 has a tremendously natural point of aim, and for the MK23 series, the gun feels competition-ready.

The Grand Power Q100 is a striker-fired delayed-blowback rotary barrel design. The rotary barrel is probably most recognizable on the hammer-fired Beretta PX4 pistol series. The Q100’s trigger and bore axis made the gun feel like a natural extension of my arm and hand. Meanwhile, the trigger’s flat face produced a repeatable and positive engagement. After running a variety of triggers over the years, I’ve grown fond of the market’s proliferation of flat trigger faces. The design seems to encourage consistent tactile feedback on trigger finger position that rounded or curved triggers don’t replicate.

Grand Power introduced some new features for the MK23 variant of the Q100. Those features include an optics-ready slide cut with several mounting options, enhanced grip texture, and an improved barrel locking mechanism. With pricing to be determined, I anticipate this pistol will surprise some folks with its features, performance, and value.

Glock 17L Gen5

Yes, a Glock made this year’s list. While I’m sure some folks question my sanity in doing so, there’s a method to the madness. For many Glock enthusiasts, the 17L quietly — and sadly — disappeared from the market. The Glock 34 remained available, but there was something unique and special about the long slide profile of the 17L. For the 2024 NRA exhibits, Glock pleased many of its followers by re-introducing an optics-ready Gen5 17L.

2024 NRA Exhibits Glock 17L
The reintroduced Glock 17L has all the standard features expected of a Gen5 pistol but also includes a few upgrades, such as an extended ambi slide release (upper right) and round magazine release (lower right).

The reintroduced 17L includes all the standard Gen5 features: dual recoil springs, flared mag well, forward slide serrations, and no finger grooves, to name a few. In addition, Glock provided an extended ambi slide release and a rounded magazine release. These may seem like inconsequential changes, but they’re huge upgrades for an admitted Glock fanboy like myself. Furthermore, the Glock 17L includes an upgraded trigger with a “minus” disconnect. With some dryfire and confirmation from the Glock reps, the trigger rides out around 4.5 pounds. Glock’s made some significant advancements over the last few years, but the 17L’s return satiates our desire for Glock nostalgia.

Noteworthy Contenders for the 2024 NRA Exhibits

I’m bound to miss quite a few contenders for favorite handgun selections. Nonetheless, there are plenty of new products on display for the 2024 NRA exhibits. Shadow Systems introduced some new options while Colt continued to expand their revolver lineup with the Viper. Taurus has apparently expanded its revolver lineup with the Heritage series evoking some early 20th-century nostalgia. Over the coming days and months, I hope to bring a few of these handguns to the Mag Life Blog for our education and enjoyment. Stay tuned for more.

Tom Stilson began his firearms career in 2012 working a gun store counter. He progressed to conducting appraisals for fine and collectible firearms before working as the firearms compliance merchant for a major outdoor retailer. In 2015, he entered public service and began his law enforcement career. Tom has a range of experience working for big and small as well as urban and rural agencies. Among his qualifications, Tom is certified as a firearms instructor, field trainer, and in special weapons and tactics. If not on his backyard range, he spends his time with family or spreading his passion for firearms and law enforcement.

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