The SHOT show is a great event and it's always nice seeing good people and catching up with friends. This year was no exception, but it was obvious to me that the declining Defense budget and “Golden Era of Tactical” is over. The big dollar grabs and multi-service parallel program development train is dead on the tracks (e.g. camo, tactical nylon, and carbine wars..). It’s done like a head shot to UBL and some of the smarter manufacturers have already corrected course to steer clear of the rocks.
What does this mean to manufacturers? If you don’t have a strong brand, existing program of record, niche offering in the market (e.g. Crye, Glock, 5.11) and/or are focused on growth areas (Airsoft) then time to start thinking about a career change. The “me too!” tactical days are over, folks.
Walking past fifty companies selling the same (or variant) bag or accessory is a classic example of what I’m talking about. I could see the same thing with all the copy cat weapon platforms too.
Better trust your Kit. A lifetime guarantee doesn't mean much after you exit the ramp...
I could go on (maybe I will later) on sector trends, but I thought it was important for you guys to know that a lot of companies will start to die on the vine soon. Why do I tell you this? Because your lifetime guaranteed backpack company may soon be out of business, and when the straps rip off and you want it replaced, you’re screwed. So carefully choose who you buy your next piece of Kit from, unless you want a collectors item.
US SOCOM's budget is fenced in for good reason. What does this mean? It means that we are living in a Special Operations centric world and manufacturers need to pay attention to SOCOM and their future requirements. SOCOM component commands will continue to drive requirements that someday will trickle down to the masses (big Army, Navy, etc..).
Another key market sector that a lot of companies (not all) are thumbing their nose at is the Airsoft community. Talk about a growth sector to pay attention to. Plus, last I checked, LE departments are now starting to use Airsoft platforms as very reliable and affordable training tools. There are some great people in this community and it's a game of 21st Century Tactical "chess" in my opinion. Ignore Airsoft and throw away a golden opportunity to embed your brand with the Warfighter of tomorrow.