After a week at the shooting industry’s largest trade show, we visit the great state of Pennsylvania for the biggest consumer outdoor show in the country

by David Kelley

The Great American Outdoors Show (GAOS), sponsored by the National Rifle Association, is recognized as the largest outdoors show and expo across the United States. Though the floor space and overall exhibitor list pales in comparison to SHOT Show, GAOS offers a much wider spectrum of interests, with nine separate halls for firearms and related gear, fishing, guide and outfitter services, vehicle and boat accessories, and everything in-between. GAOS is open to the public for a very fair entrance fee, which drastically increases visitor count over the limited-to-the-industry attendance SHOT Show. Commercial sales of accessories and ammunition are authorized at GAOS to an expected 200,000 people during the nine-day event.

Being a resident of Pennsylvania, though in the opposite corner of the state from the show location in Harrisburg, I was able to make the travel this year. I was specifically interested in the firearms, optics, and shooting sports accessories. Here are several stand-out items that I viewed, handled, and discussed with manufacturer representatives at a single-day visit to the venue.


Immediately upon entering the show, the first firearm company encountered was Inland Manufacturing. Inland Manufacturing, of 1911 and M1 Carbine fame, is known for integrating a unique motorcycle in the center of their display. As expected, this year did not disappoint. In true MotoSchützen style, an O.D. Green Honda Trail 125 with the newest AR-15 variant chambered in .17 HMR was mounted to the rear of the bike, ready for transport to a favorite range or predator hunting stand.

Manufactured by Rock River Arms, the .17 HMR upper is unlike any previously available. The upper receiver runs on a short gas system instead of the typical blowback design common with semi-automatic rimfire rifles. The gas system and locking bolt design provide a marked increase in strength and reliability compared to other offerings on the market. The rifle will also be chambered in .22 WMR later this year. During development and testing, these rifles are reported to show superb accuracy without some commonly encountered nuances of the blowback actions that we’ve become accustomed to.

After viewing a rifle cradled on a bike, I was reminded that both motorcycling and outdoor shooting seasons are just ahead, which can blend quite well. With thoughts of transporting light rifles on nimble motorcycles, my eyes next veered to a SIG Cross Trax.

The bolt-action rifle, at 6.1 lbs. and a mere 26 inches with the minimalist stock folded to the side of an alloy chassis, would make a perfect partner on two-wheeled adventures. A backpack, compact Pelican case, or traditional scabbard would suffice. The 16-inch stainless steel barrel is chambered for .308 Winchester and threaded 5/8×24 TPI to easily accept the QD suppressor adapter of your choice. Currently only available in. 308 Winchester, I envisioned packing this rifle folded on the tail of a dual-sport bike with plenty of AICS-style magazines in a tail bag. Local dirt roads and ranges, or game off the beaten path, beware.

In line with the lightweight rifle and folding stock trends, Savage Arms showcased a rack with multiple rifles sporting the features necessary for those demanding the trimmest packages. Their front-and-center attraction consisted of four rifles all geared towards efficient stowage or carry. The top of the centerpiece held the most compact 110 Ultralite Elite. This 18- to 20-inch carbon fiber barreled action is secured into a MDT HNT26 chassis with a foam filled carbon buttstock along with a carbon fiber forearm and pistol grip. Barrel lengths depend on the chambering. The 110 Ultralight Elite is available in six cartridges from 6.5 Creedmoor to .300 WSM. Though marketed as a lightweight backcountry hunting rifle, this is another motorcycle and ATV/UTV-friendly option regardless of the user’s purpose.

After handling a few of these compact rigs, my decision of the year will be balancing the pros and cons of purchasing a factory manufactured lightweight and foldable long gun or ordering some parts and bolting them together with a reputable pre-fit barrel. I can tell you with certainty that a 16- to 18-inch barreled rifle with a folding stock will be in my bag of tricks this year.


Maven Outdoor Equipment Company was present at the show with three new offerings for 2024. First, the B.7 binocular available in 8x25mm and 10x25mm — now the smallest offerings of the Maven B Series. Measuring 4.58×4.76×1.6 inches and weighing 12.4 oz., these optics boast 93% and 92% light transmission. Quality was not compromised by continuing the use of ED glass and Schmidt-Pechan prisms. These binoculars are a great fit for any outdoor enthusiast mindful of optic size and weight.

Another 2024 release was the S3.A spotting scope. The S3.A expanded the S3 series by introducing an angled head 20-40x67mm. The eyepiece is removable, a first for Maven, indicating that additional magnification options may be available in the future. This optic has a slightly lower price tag than the larger S1 25-50x80mm, yet still uses equal grade Japanese components with assembly completed in the United States.

Last from Maven for this year is the RS1.2 riflescope, a refinement of the RS1. The magnification and tube size remain the same as the RS1. Introduction of the RS1.2 adds an exposed .25 MOA or .1 MIL elevation dial with zero-stop matched to the first focal plane MOA or MIL reticle selected. The windage dial remains capped to reduce the chance of an erroneous turn while the optic is maneuvered across any terrain. The RS1.2 also includes an illuminated reticle with ten brightness levels. This is the first illuminated reticle offered in the RS1 series. As a reminder, Maven optics are direct sale to consumers with no retail markup.


Silencer Central set-up a full-service, start-to-finish location for suppressor purchases. The employees assisted in completing the requisite forms and submit to the BATFE on the spot. I feel that the presence of Silencer Central also helped dismiss many falsehoods about the purchase process. This was a good fit for the firearms hall of GAOS, as suppressed fire has become a regularity across many ranges and factory threaded barrels are ever more common.

Having recently purchased a home with 50- and 100-yard shooting berms in place, I’m lacking proper target hangers. The fluorescent green self-healing targets and hangers manufactured by Throom Targets are a likely fit for my needs. Throom has a full line of ricochet-free, polymer-based material that should more than handle the quantity of backyard fire that I’ll put through them. There are a variety of target types, from standing and hanging plates in various shapes and sizes to pepper poppers and dueling trees. The Alpha Stand is especially creative. The system brackets use the same weatherproof material as the targets to construct a sawhorse for target placement. The polymer is substantially lighter than steel, making for easy assembly of your 2”x4” lumber and allows for easy movement of the unit.


There was a healthy selection of ammunition for sale at locations across the firearms hall. It is assumed by many consumers that ammunition availability in 2024 could become scarce. The election years of 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020 (combined with COVID-19 disruption) caused shortages of ammunition and components across the board. For those that remember, supply vs. demand price increases were also normal occurrences.

Choosing my words wisely so as not to incite panic buying, I do personally believe that the slowly “returning to normal” availability of ammunition and reloading components will see a disruption again. I’m unable to project to what extent. Here are two of the best written explanations I’ve recently found; one from SSP Firearms describes the issues with availability, and the second blog by Target Sports USA gives input on how to best manage the online purchase process when items are scarce locally.

Bottom line, if you have an opportunity to attend the Great American Outdoors Show next year, don’t hesitate to pay the $15 for a day pass. It is a great opportunity to put hands on a special item that was released at SHOT Show weeks earlier, or just to spend some time surrounded by like-minded people in a venue filled with stuff that you enjoy. Dates for next year have not been released but expect the usual early February of 2025.

David Kelley
Latest posts by David Kelley (see all)

David Kelley is a retired Sergeant First Class, having served on active duty with the 82nd Airborne Division and various organizations within the Pennsylvania National Guard (AGR) during his 22 years of service. He is a High Master card holder in both NRA High Power and Mid-Range Prone. David is an avid hunter with a bow, shotgun, and rifle. His latest obsessions include spring turkey hunting and muzzleloader rifles and shotguns.

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