Texas Gun Fest might be Austin’s best-kept secret.
The Texas Firearms Festival, hosted annually in the Austin area by The Truth About Guns, is a rare opportunity to try out a wide variety of high-end firearms. What’s more, you can do it at a flat rate of admission, without paying for ammo. Yeah, what’s not to love?
This year, the festival welcomed a variety of manufacturers, including Sig Sauer, Walther, and Bergara, and welcomed visitors with the slogan “come and shoot it.” Here are some festival highlights… but the long story short is, I had a spectacular time!
1. STI Guns
For me, primarily a handgun shooter, the biggest highlight of Texas Gun Fest was the chance to explore STI’s line of 1911 and 2011 pistols. Headquartered just north of Austin in Georgetown, TX, STI knows how to specialize but also offer a wide selection at the same time.
They manufacture exclusively 1911 and 2011 handguns, the 2011 being a double-stack and more customizable version of the traditional 1911. Within those two categories, STI offers a wide variety of models with all kinds of materials, shapes, sizes, barrel lengths, etc., chambered in either 9mm or .45ACP.
My personal favorite, and the gun that I almost ran off with, and strongly resisted dropping a hefty $1,400 on, was the Elektra 1911.
The aluminum frame is light but not too light: I’ve never shot a lighter pistol that feels as comfortably heavy as this one. That, of course, made me understand why the vendors at Texas Gun Fest paid for everyone’s ammo throughout the event: I’ll still be thinking about STI come Christmas, and that wouldn’t be the case if it hadn’t been a standout gun among so many that I had the chance to shoot.
2. Food trucks!
It’s not a festival, and it’s certainly not Austin, unless there are food trucks involved. I personally enjoyed the nosh at Pakal Autochthonous Mexican Cookery, but The Truth About Guns did a great job inviting a variety of eateries-on-wheels to make Texas Gun Fest feel like a bona fide festival.
3. LWRC IC-A5
I will tell you right off the bat that this rifle might be a bit overpriced, running around $2,600 retail. A lot of that markup stems from the fact that LWRC has its own patented gas-piston system optimized for the AR platform, and unfortunately, I can’t speak to how much durability and operational value that’ll add over time. With an emphasis on “shooting clean,” LWRC pairs the piston operation with nickel-boron coated castings on all the factory models.
The thing most shooters would notice instantly is the fully ambidextrous factory lower: mag release, safety, bolt catch. It’s a nice luxury that will add to usability for some. I also appreciated the unique LWRC stock, which fit well and made the experience comfortable suppressed as well as unsuppressed.
4. “Who Knew?” with Bergara
This company has a fantastic story.
If you own a rifle, it’s pretty safe to assume Bergara made its barrel. After serving as barrel suppliers for years, Bergara’s owners said, “Let’s build some guns!”
They proceeded to hire a couple ex-Marines with precision weapons expertise to design their rifles around the barrels they already knew how to fine-tune. That vertical integration saves customers a serious wad of cash: their B14 series retails as low as $700.
I wish I could tell you much more than just a great story about Bergara, but this was my first time shooting a long-range rifle (the staff were more than happy to give me a brief lesson!). I will mention that a few conversations around the Texas Gun Fest water cooler yielded many positive comments about the B14 series, particularly its accuracy, buttery-smooth bolt action, and featherlight trigger.
5. Henry: The American Beauty Rifle
Okay, so Henry’s been working hard to sell the American Beauty to women for a while now, so, largely for that reason, I never paid much attention to it. Now? Well, let’s just say shooting it got my full attention.
Similar to Henry’s Classic Lever Action .22, the American Beauty features the unbelievably smooth action Henry is famous for. At 6.75 lbs., it’s a comfortable weight, and the 20″ distinctive octagonal barrel is the perfect nostalgic touch.
Oh, and lest you make the mistake of thinking this old-school cowgirl-style rifle is just for decoration, I should mention that this thing is insanely accurate. I believe I could shoot it with my eyes closed (although I didn’t get permission to test that theory). In the end, its accuracy brought the American Beauty into my top five.
6. Sig Sauer P938
Like many smaller-handed shooters, I’m a fan of the Glock 43. In addition, like (I think) all handgun shooters, I’m also a fan of 1911s. The Sig Sauer P938 is what happens when you ask Sig Sauer to make the best of both worlds between those two, and it did not disappoint!
Though less popular than the smaller P238, the P938 has some awesome virtues. Namely, the single-action-only trigger and familiar 1911-style feel allow it to handle like a significantly larger gun, making it wickedly accurate and, in my view, easier to aim than other subcompacts (including the M&P Shield).
As for concluding thoughts, with the idyllic North Austin weather, wide variety of vendors, and extremely friendly staff, Texas Gun Fest is an event I wouldn’t hesitate to attend again. I would recommend it for anyone, experienced shooters and (supervised) kids alike.