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Zombies Taken Out, Gun Rights In Sights

Undead craze over as real battle reappears

By: Steve Bowman, OutdoorChannel.com

LAS VEGAS – It only took a year. Judging from the rows of new products present this year during the SHOT Show compared to those of last year, it appears the zombie threat is over.

Score one for the SHOT Show in regards to threats on the American way of life. The lack of zombie-related products though may signal a new threat that gun owners are all too familiar with.

In 2012 zombies were the hit of the show, offering a bit of fun for companies and a shot in the arm for retailers. There was everything from zombie ammunition, zombie guns, zombie gun cases, targets, scopes, knives, survival kits and even plans for a "Zombie Nation" magazine. If you could name it, or needed it for a post-apocalyptic invasion of zombies, it was available.

There are still remnants scattered about the floor of the craze that took place last year. But in terms of fads, it appears this one has been buried quickly, like all zombies should be.

“You don’t see any zombies around do you,’’ smiled Everett Deger, Marketing Manager for Hornady Ammunition, the company credited with kicking off the craze last year. “So, I guess it worked.”

Although he was joking, his point was similar to many in the firearms industry that had fun with the zombie craze in 2012. But this year, the impending announcement from the Biden Commission and President Barak Obama, brought about by a tragedy in Newtown, Conn., has kept the mood around the SHOT Show floor more somber and serious than last year.

One ammunition manufacturer, who requested anonymity, said: “I think more people are thinking about the seriousness of the future at the moment. We had our fun last year. This year we’ve all adopted a more serious tone.”

While many manufacturers are offering products aimed at the zombie craze, many are quickly moving past it. Hornady Ammunition is a good example.

“We were fortunate enough to capitalize on a very unique fan base with what was intended to be a fun product,’’ Deger said. “It continues to be fun. But the current desire is for us to get everything we can on the shelf that is centered on hunting and personal defense. Zombies aren’t the priority.”

In 2012, the company produced Halloween-green and red packaging with the word "Zombie" blazed across the front and the subhead "Just in Case." The company produced ammunition rounds in several calibers, and estimated the supply would last one year. After a few weeks of teasing it on social networks, creating a video on YouTube (search Hornady zombie video) the company introduced "Zombie Max" rounds and sold out in two days.

"I can't tell you the number we sold, that would be confidential,'' Neil Davies, marketing director of Hornady Ammunition, said in 2012. "It's far exceeded any of our expectations. Let's just say it was a lot. You can underline 'a lot.' "

This year you can still find hints of Zombie Max within the company’s booth. But rather than talking about the fun of marketing ammunition that was outside the norm, the conversation quickly turns to more serious issues, all over the SHOT Show floor.

“We support some of the government’s safety initiatives,” Deger said. “But let’s hope they continue to recognize that this is more of a mental health issue than a gun ownership issue.

“We obviously don’t agree with any sort of gun ban. That is not the answer.”

Deger’s straightforward words are echoed throughout the halls in every booth by virtually every manufacturer. It’s the new trend of 2013, making many folks wish for days when all they had to worry about was a zombie apocalypse.

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