At 2014 SHOT Show, many companies had plenty of interesting designs to present. But this year many opted to show redressed variants of pre-existing models. Innovation in firearm industry is not going to be spectacular every single year and this year can best be described as the year companies adjust back to the normal.
We've been spoiled by last 10 years where an innovation was followed by another, year after year. With market settling down due to over supply and decrease in demand, companies are focusing on solidifying their positions rather than invest in new product development.
It's unclear how long this trend will last and how it will play out. There were some companied that brought out some interesting products, but overall it seemed like companies were playing safe.
2. AKs are coming, AKs are coming
One of the most noticable trend was resurgence of AK. Starting with Magpul's AK furnitures, there were several companies offering AK variants or platforms that accept AK magazine.
Several reasons that would have pushed manufacturers in this direction are,
1) Saturation of AR market - AR market benefited the most from innovation in last 10 years. Accessories, quality, innovation, and market demands were all focused on AR platform. Now that the market is saturated, manufacturers seem to look for under developed market, the AK market
2) Increase in demand for AK - With two Great Runs and last year's sanction on Russia, which affected Kalashnikov Concern, AKs were the hot topic and it translated to more sales. Price has been decreasing for sometime and people who waited for the right time to buy are trickling in.
According to several reports, Kalashnikov is looking to build AK in US, thus bypassing the sanction. Radom is on the record saying they will import Polish AKs, with 922(r) compliance. The market seems to be ready to see improvements in AK platform
3. Rifle caliber pistols are everywhere
This trend has been going on for some time, but it is in full swing. Just about any AR manufacturer known has some sort of pistol version available. CZ USA is importing CZ Scorpion EVO. IWI is bringing Galil pistols. The popularity of such guns has been gaining traction and it seems to be pass the critical point for acceptance.
There has been more supporting parts, and it is easier for foreign manufacturers to import. It would be interesting how things go from here. Recent ATF's letter on Sig Brace might have put some damper on the market but it doesn't seem to be a critical punch.
4. 1911s are everywhere too
Almost any company that makes pistol seems to be adding 1911s. This year CZ USA jumped in to the market with their own brand, not via Dan Wesson. Lesser known are Taurus and Caracal. 1911s are labor-intensive product, but no company seems to resist the freely available blue print and almost non-existent development cost.