Home - Volume 3 (2008) - Issue 1 (Winter '08) - IWA Show 2008

IWA 2008 Show report

by John Caradimas (John, )

The IWA Show is held in Nurnberg Germany, every year and it is the largest European show about firearms, hunting and the outdoors in general. I had the pleasure of visiting IWA this year and even though there was nothing new there (most companies repackaged their SHOT Show guns and brought them to Germany) it was still quite interesting. As far as the 1911 is concerned, here is what I saw and learned in IWA. The list is in the order I visited the booths (more or less, from a certain point I can't remember the exact order, so please do not hold that against me).

    That was the first booth I visited, and Martin Tuason, Armscor President welcomed me. We had a nice chat, and Martin was (as always) an excellent host. Armscor firearms were displayed of course, and I didn't loose the chance to check them out. You can look forward in a couple more reviews of their pistols in the following months.

  • Nighthawk Custom
    Our good friends from Nighthawk were there too, their first participation in IWA and their first official presence in the old continent. Larry Lyles and Mark Stone were there, showing all their latest guns, together with Mr. Richard Heinie. I had the chance to hold the Lady Hawk, and believe me, this is a remarkable pistol. I am sure that shooters with smaller-than-average hands will appreciate it. Stay tuned to read a full review of that pistol here, in the near future.

    Larry showed me their new magwell too.

  • STI
    Dave Skinner welcomed me in STI's boot, together with his lovely wife and Jay Dunlap. Dave is a true gentleman and we had a nice chat in between a couple of his meetings. I got the chance to see and handle all their new models, including the Rogue and the SteelMaster, whose reviews will be published here pretty shortly. Dave also told me about their new .22 LR conversion kit, which will be revealed shortly, and which of course we'll be reviewing for you in the near future.

    STI's new secret weapon, it kills you with sweetness.

    The Rogue (soon to be reviewed here).

    The Off-Duty.

    The VIP.

    The STI European shooting team was there too, together with their lovely 4-legged "shooters".

  • Para Ordnance
    My good friend and Para's CEO Thanos Polyzos welcomed me at Para's booth, together with Michael Huxhold, Para's COO. I got the chance to see their latest models, including the PDA (sorry, no keyboard on this one, if you know what I mean), a tiny little 1911 in .45ACP and 9mm Para (this last one is build on the same frame as the .45GAP pistol Para revealed some years ago). I also got to meet their new Greek importer, Achilleas Zervakakos. Good to know that Para is represented here.

  • Wilson Combat
    Bill Wilson welcomed me to WC booth. As always Bill was very polite and of course proud of his guns, so we spend some time handling the latest models.

  • Hogue
    My good friend, Paul Spielberger was there to show me his Avenger. A project Peter has been working on for the last five years, appears to be nearing its completion. It is a replacement slide for the 1911, which uses a solidly mounted barrel and some interesting mechanics for locking the breech. Pretty soon, we'll be presenting this interesting idea to you folks, Peter invited me to Austria to shoot the Avenger and report back to you.

  • CZ
    The Czech company was their with all their latest products and of course the Dan Wesson 1911s. I had the honnor to dine with two of their top people in Nurnberg and I've been told that they will be importing the Dan Wesson line in Europe. The first few pistols have already arrived in Czech Republic and another shipment is coming soon, good news for the European lovers of the brand. Although not related to the 1911 world, I was shown a revised version of the CZ-75B, with fewer internal parts. I do not pretend to be an expert on the CZ-75, so I can't properly evaluate the new offering, but it did seem to be an improvement compared to the old pistol mechanism.

  • Others
    Smith & Wesson was there of course, en masse, with several of their 1911 offerings.
    Of course Sig Sauer was their with some of their 1911 modelsm but also their other firearms (pistols and rifles). Their booth was always croweded by people interested in their products, so it was kind of difficult to find anyone to talk with.
    Taurus, was there too with their stainless steel PT1911, as well a a dual-tone pistol, similar to Springfield's Black Stainless. Very nice looking.
    And yes, so was Norinco, with some new offerings. but with very unhelpful people, whose English comprehension was nothing to write home about.

    An ... enhanced Government 1911, in .45 ACP (with some new, but equally unusable sights, an extended thumb safety, a beavertail safety, an oval hammer and front cocking serrations).

    And the same model in .40 S&W, but this time with usuable sights! Why do they bother using the other ones shown above is beyond my comprehension.

Some other notes:

  • I was very surprised not to find Colt, Springfield or Kimber in IWA. I do not know the reasons behind their absence, but the old continent is still alive and well as far as the shooting sports are concerned, and their absence was noticed by a lot of people.
  • A lot of Airsoft companies were present in the Show. It seems that the Airsoft business is flourishing in Europe.
  • Several companies from East Europe were there. Wolf had a large booth, and their people were very friendly, despite the language barriers. I should have brought my wife with me (she is Ukrainian, so she speaks Russian), but there was a lovely young lady in their booth who took care of translating. Nice job folks.
  • It looks as if there is at least one European manufacturer of 1911s, the italian firm Valtro. Their 1911s looked quite interesting, and we are discussing with them to have a shooting test of these pistols in Italy.
  • I also found a Turkish 1911 manufacturer. The company's name is Tisas (or Trabzon Gun Industry Corp.) and their pistol (a pre-production sample I saw) was a little rough but serviceable, and they told me it is forged. They are establishing a US distributorship right now, so maybe you can see their offering in US soon.

    The pistol has some strange features, like for example the dovetail for the front sight is cut in such a way that the front end of the sight is about .50 cm back from the front edge of the slide. It also comes with an extra long spure grip safety. The rest of the pistol reminds of WWII guns.

  • I knew from some years the company BT di Baldracchi Diego, a small European company making excellent 1911 parts. It is unfortunate that the strong Euro is not allowing these companies to sell their products in US en masse, they are of the highest quality.
  • At IWA I also got the chance to finally meet Rob Pincus, the author of the "Combat Focus Shooting" book and DVD we sell through our sites. Rob welcomed me to his booth and he was a marvellous host. He is quite busy organizing training courses for his new company, ICE, and we are planning to have him come to Greece for some courses too. Nice meeting you Rob.
Overall, the IWA Show was a big success. Almost every major firearms manufacturer was there, and a lot of smaller ones too, with the noteable absences mentioned above. IWA was comparable sizewise to the SHOT Show, at least from a visitors perspective. And the Germans were, as you would expect, very well organized. I have no idea how many people have visited the show, but they were a lot. I hope next year to see more 1911 manufacturers there, especially the big names which were absent in 2008.

Closing this report, I would like to thank the following companies for helping me visit IWA 2008.

Nighthawk Custom
1306 W. Trimble
Berryville, Arkansas 72616

Phone: 877.268.4867

Web site:

Para-Ordnance Manufacturing. Inc.
980 Tapscott Road
Toronto, ON
Canada, M1X 1C3

Phone: (416) 297-7855
Fax: (416) 297-1289

Web site:

I also want to thank my good friend Peter Kalkantzakos for keeping me company during the four days we spend in Germany. He and his son were great guides having visited Nurnberg several times in the past. Peter owns the largest gun shop in Greece, it is a family business started in 1925. Thanks Peter and Antony.

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