No, it’s not the kind of con where ridiculously talented women show up in fantasy or sci-fi cosplay outfits they built themselves (more’s the pity). Chris Tran1 and Mike Semanoff2 will both be there though, and that’s kinda the same thing.
TRIGGRcon actually stands for Tactical Research Innovation Guns Gear Review convention. It is scheduled for July 26-29 at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue. Not only is it the best show of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, it’s among the best of its kind in the whole country — and I say that despite the fact that it’s only just now turning two.
While TRIGGRcon has excellent exhibitor depth (from Aero Precision to Zev Tech), it’s not a huge show. Despite its continued growth and evolution from its early days (before it had its own name), it still isn’t. Not in the same way the SHOT, NRRAM and even SOFIC is, and that’s a Good Thing. Those are all good shows, but each has drawbacks and issues (sometimes significant ones) with which one must contend.
Not so with TRIGGRcon. There’s space to breathe, time to take the breath, and breathtaking things…okay, I can’t bring myself to say breathtaking things to see, but they damn sure do have a remarkable lineup of manufacturers to see and learn about — and not just the high-end ones you’d think might normally be there, but also many up and coming companies like Master of Arms, Elevated Tech, and others. Because you’re not fighting the crush of a crowd or struggling with hypoxia, you can actually talk to the people at the various booths, people who designed or hands-on built the products displayed. That sort of informal, affable access is unique to TRIGGRCON, and probably its greatest strength. Another is the demeanor of a good-natured staff, who clearly want to see the show succeed and somehow remain improbably pleasant to deal with in the face of direst contingency.
TRIGGRcon has been a PNW oriented show since before it was actually TRIGGRcon. Last year it was in Tacoma; this year it’ll be in Bellevue. There’s no telling where it will be next year, though it’ll definitely be close enough to Mt. Rainier that you’ll die an agonizing, fiery death should it blow. Don’t let that stop you from coming, though.
TRIGGRcon qua TRIGGRcon is a youthful event, but it’s hardly a new show. The convention had humble beginnings, but has always somehow stood apart from its cousins in other places.
Founder John Hwang explains.
“We did our initial shows, even one in a parking lot, then did one at the Northwest Shooting Sports Expo. The response was great and everybody just loved it. They [the manufacturers and vendors] kept saying, this is going to get bigger and better, and this is how we need to do it...the ideas just came out.
Everyone enjoyed not having to deal with some of the problems from bigger shows, and that it was very unique. I think most everybody enjoyed how intimate it was, that it wasn’t all about competition but really about inclusion and bringing the community together. I knew we were onto something, and we decided to make it even bigger and better, and every year it’s been growing. This year will be the biggest yet, and we’re super excited about it.”
The intimacy he mentions is something many past attendees have remarked on. It’s not babydoll, garter & g-string intimate, which is good, no one wants to see GW or Owen in a thong…but it is relaxed enough that you can have a conversation without suffering an enochlophobia attack, fighting the crush of a crowd, or dodging those sadistic shin-bashing bastards pulling their wheeled crates around psychopathologically collecting catalogs, pamphlets, and swag.
Not that I’m bitter or anything.
Hwang says they have no intention for continuous expansion. He and his staff have no interest in growth for the sake of growth, and in fact, don’t intend to let it grow past a couple hundred manufacturers (which is about where they are now). Such expansion would dilute TRIGGRcon’s unique qualities, perhaps eliminating all its advantages entirely.
The formula appears to be working. Although the show does not generate lots of revenue (historically, Hwang and some of the attendees have lost money in fact), it’s clearly acting as a force multiplier of sorts, with very positive secondary and tertiary order of effects. As shows go, this is (at least as I see it) a conclave with its very own cult of personality.
Exhibitors run the gamut of firearms, tactical, and survival gear. Many of them have products carried by Rainier Arms, Hwang’s company, but a surprising number of them do not. Doing business with Hwang and Rainier aren’t prerequisites to attend.
“When they sign up on the website, we check out their products and what they’re doing. If they offer a product or a great service, we invite them. They’re more than welcome to come, even if they’re a company we don’t carry.”
Attendees will have the opportunity to buy some of those products at reduced rates while at the show. There will also be a TRIGGRcon will-call pro shop and a web store as well. If you can’t make the show, you can buy some of what’s on display – at show prices – from home.
We’ll talk more about the show as it approaches, not just to keep everyone informed but to give props to the team putting together. As I wrote last year, I was skeptical at first but was quickly forced to change my mind.
Hwang’s goal at the outset was to put together some world class for the people of the Pacific Northwest. Given what I’ve seen, he’s done that and more.
Follow TRIGGRcon on the ‘gramz, @TriggrCon, on Facebook (/triggrcon/) or stalk follow Ari Bartolome and John Hwang on their respective social freqs. They, Geoff Cole, Tony Bristol, and whole passel of other folks have been working their asses off for months to make TRIGGRcon 2018 as good as or better than it was last year. I’m looking forward to seeing what they achieve. You should too.
For some more background, check out Dave Timm’s interview with John Hwang on Guns and Tactics.
Breach-Bang & CLEAR!