What’s the Gathering? Well, it’s like a mini SHOT Show hosted by Palmetto State Armory hosted in South Carolina. Unlike SHOT Show, the Gathering is completely open to the public, and anyone can attend. This is the second annual Gathering event, and it nearly doubled in size this year with more vendors, more firing bays, and a bigger Vendor village. We had a clays course, an opportunity to shoot a mile, and a ton of bays with a variety of different guns to take a spin with.
The Gathering Expands!
I love the Gathering events. Both have been small but fun events with short lines, good food, and a laid-back and relaxed atmosphere. Heck, this year, we even got time with companies that skipped SHOT like Beretta and Springfield. My wife and I waited patiently to shoot a little bit of everything, and it was a total blast. While the Gathering doesn’t get the big releases that SHOT does, it allowed us to get hands-on with a wide variety of firearms. From my time at the Gathering, I’ve found five firearms that I consider show stoppers.
5. Rock Island Armory TPAS
You have to expect that I’ll include a shotgun on this list. Rock Island Armory had both a range booth and a booth at vendor village. At vendor village, a gun with a shiny black finish, wood furniture, a heat shield, and a short barrel immediately caught my eye. The RIA TPAS takes a turn at recreating the classic Ithaca 37 in a riot or trench platform.
The TPAS blends a classic design with a modern fad. Ever since Mossberg came out with the Retrograde platforms, the race has been on to produce retro-style tactical shotguns. The TPAS delivers just that. Sadly, this gun wasn’t at the Gathering range but in the vendor village. That didn’t stop me from getting up close and personal with the gun.
The corncob forend looks and feels fantastic. The pump-action design glides rearward without complaint. It’s insanely smooth, like a retro Wingmaster smooth. The stock is made from dark wood as well and comes with checkering on the pistol grip.
The shiny black finish isn’t blued, but that doesn’t mean its not absolutely fantastic. The heat shield tops it all off and gives you a classic example of the Ithaca 37, which served the United States military and countless police forces for decades. Plus, the MSRP is $599, and the street price is a fair bit lower.
4. Springfield Hellion
Aw man, if there was a gun that we missed at SHOT, it had to be the Springfield Hellion. The Hellion premiered right before SHOT Show, so most of us gun writers assumed we’d get a turn at tossing some lead downrange with it. Springfield pulled out of SHOT last minute, leaving us writers with itchy trigger fingers. Well, the Gathering delivered unto us some time at the range with the Hellion.
The Hellion is Springfield’s import of the Croatian VHS rifle. They made a few changes, like wisely ensuring it uses AR magazines and can utilize AR pistol grips. Other than that, it’s a unique bullpup platform. The controls are ambidextrous, the ejection can be swapped from left to right, and heck, the length of pull can be adjusted.
At the range, I got to fire a few rounds downrange and engage multiple targets at multiple ranges. The trigger surprisingly doesn’t suck. The trigger linkages often result in a crappy trigger, but the Hellion delivers a pretty decent trigger.
There is a fair amount of takeup, but it’s still light, and the wall isn’t much to overcome. The reset is short, tactile, and helps clean up the pull for follow-up shots. The Hellion impressed me, and I really need one now.
3. Langdon Tactical 92 Elite
I’ve been a fan of the Beretta 92 series ever since I carried an M9. I love the little DA/SA handgun, and if I love a stock Beretta M9, you can certainly expect that I’d love Langdon Tactical 92 Elite series. Ernest Langdon is a tactical trainer pro shooter, and his custom shop takes firearms to the next level.
The 92 Elite series takes things to the next level, and I was blessed enough to be able to send some ammo downrange with one.
The Langdon Tactical 92 Elite features an absolutely amazing trigger. Even the double-action trigger is remarkably smooth and light. The single-action would make a 1911 fan envious. It was one of the highlights of the Gathering for me.
This particular model was red dot ready and wore an SRO. Hitting a tiny target at 25 yards wasn’t an issue. The big gun recoiled softly, and the LTT grips keep it in place and ensure you can keep your follow-up shots fast and furious. Hearing that repeated ding made my heart smile. The 92 Elite models feature a G model decocker and suppressor height sights along with the dozens of other little changes Langdon makes to these guns.
2. Sig P210 Carry
The Sig P210 Carry is an odd duck. I was perplexed why Sig would shrink the famous full-sized P210 and who would carry it. Then I got my hands on one. While it’s certainly smaller than a standard P210, it’s still almost Glock 19 sized. Albeit, it is much thinner and lither than the blocky Glock.
The P210 Carry model fills the well, and the single action-only trigger is super light and has a positive reset. An all-metal frame with an ergonomic grip makes the gun extremely comfy to shoot.
Recoil provides no challenge, and the metal frame adds weight but soaks it up without issue. Dropping those rounds into targets both near and far wasn’t a challenge.
The P210 seems to occupy that BBQ gun level of carry guns. Lots of people still carry compact 1911s, and the P210 isn’t too far off in design influence from the 1911. It’s classy, soft shooting, and it looks fantastic. It’s also a lot of fun to shoot, and I’ve been converted, and my perplexity has abandoned me after putting lead downrange at the Gathering.
1. CMMG Redesigns All The ARs
CMMG makes some awesome ARs, and they are one of my favorite companies. They used to release their firearms in a variety of different series. The Series 100, 200, and 300 monikers were applied to each platform, and this allowed CMMG to tailor the gun’s rice and features accordingly.
Apparently, that muddied the waters, and CMMG decided to streamline their Banshee, Endeavor, and Resolute rifles by getting rid of the different series, doing a redesign, and selling one model of each platform. These three rifles still come in a variety of colors, but feature unique, enhanced uppers and lowers that make the CMMG weapons stand out.
Besides the look, the controls have become mostly ambidextrous, and they’ve retained the use of the CMMG Ripstock, M-LOK rails, and all the features that made their weapons so great. Being able to get hands-on with the Mk47, the Banshee, and Endeavor at the Gathering showed the redesign worked. Plus, I can’t help but love lighting off someone else’s ammo on full auto!
The Gathering in 2023!
If you’ve always wanted to attend those seemingly exclusive firearm events, then the Gathering is for you. Tickets are cheap, ammo is free, and you get to try out the latest and greatest guns from a wide variety of companies. The Gathering has occurred mid-March for the last two years so if you’re interested, keep your eyes out for when tickets go on sale. Maybe I’ll see you there next year.