by Christina Paladeau, Friends of NRA - Thursday, January 4, 2018
Each year Friends of NRA assembles a new and unique merchandise package designed to support and inspire the blockbuster program’s fundraising efforts. After celebrating the program's major milestone of its 25th Anniversary in 2017 with an especially large and commemorative collection of items, the team set out to create another outstanding package for 2018. This year’s collection of 27 items encompasses a variety of exclusive and custom pieces as well as unique tributes to significant people, moments and traditions in American and shooting sports history.
The selection committee, comprising the six Regional Directors of Field Staff, chooses pieces based on quality, uniqueness, fundraising potential and compatibility with the ideals of The NRA Foundation and Friends of NRA. The desire to honor American craftsmanship also plays a major part in the selection process, and nearly two-thirds of the items in this year’s collection are made in the USA.
The chosen firearms, merchandise, gear and framed décor reflect months and sometimes years of behind-the-scenes planning, preparation and production. Many represent the combined efforts of multiple contributors brought together in their support for Friends of NRA: manufacturers and embellishers, metal casters and woodworkers, marksmen, veterans, artists and framers, to name a few.
Both that collaborative method and American craftsmanship truly shine in the 2018 Gun of the Year Set, a perfect pairing of the Kimber NRA Custom II "Defending Freedom" .45 ACP and Silver Stag 1911 Sidekick Fighter knife. The full-size 1911 is ideal for both carry and home defense and embodies Kimber's commitment to crafting firearms of unequaled quality and dependability. A specially engraved slide featuring the NRA logo, "2018 Gun of the Year" design and the words “Defending Freedom” make this handgun even more unique. The skillfully hand-crafted fixed-blade Silver Stag knife features VZ grips customized to match the Kimber's Tactical G-10 grips. Engraved Friends of NRA logos proudly adorn the knife, its leather sheath and the custom display from Eagle Mountain.
“Every year we work hard to select unique, desirable, high-quality, American-made products for our fundraising events," shares South Central Region Director Tom Ulik. "But it is not often that we can pair outstanding products from multiple companies in a set like this. Kimber and Silver Stag are perennial supporters of the Friends program and I know that this limited edition matched set will be in high demand.”
Following the popularity of the 2017 Gun of the Year—a Daniel Defense M4 Carbine V7—the firearm selection in this package also addresses the continued demand for AR-style rifles. The Diamondback Firearms DB10 semi-automatic rifle, chambered in the hard hitting .308 Win. caliber, is an excellent choice for defense, hunting, and recreational and competitive use, and this exclusive edition features engraved NRA seals and special NRA serialization.
“This was a great opportunity to partner with our friends at Diamondback to offer a limited edition rifle to our local events nationwide," notes Southern Region Director Al Hammond. "Diamondback has supported The NRA Foundation in numerous ways with firearms, boats and airboats that they have so graciously built specifically for our fundraising to support the education and safety training mission of The NRA Foundation.”
The AR Guitar signed by Ted Nugent and the John Wayne Winchester Model 1892 Framed Casing Set also represent the involvement and coordination of multiple participants. “Continuing our series of limited edition signed instruments, this year we are excited to offer a one-of-a-kind guitar hand-signed by NRA Board Member and true American patriot Ted Nugent,” says Central Region Director Chad Franklin. Thanks to the efforts of NRA Field Representative Craig Haggard and some great volunteers in Indiana, Ted Nugent signed the 1,200 guitars needed for the standard packages at every Friends of NRA banquet held in 2018—then he headed right back to his deer stand!
The John Wayne Winchester Model 1892 Framed Casing Set features a classic image portrayal of John Wayne holding the Model 92 large loop rifle. A .44-40 caliber bullet and casing fired from Winchester Model 1892 Large Loop Carbine rifle used by The Duke in Rio Lobo (1970), Chisum (1970), The Shootist (1976) and other films accompany the target.
“NRA headquarters staff was able to borrow the gun from the NRA National Firearm Museum’s collection and shoot 1,200 rounds at the NRA Range one day this past August,” says Southern Region Director Al Hammond. “We have the advantage of having historical firearms like this available to us, and we've created a truly unique piece that preserves and shares that history.”
Other items inspired by the desire to preserve the past and honor American icons include two pieces signed by Mark “Oz” Geist, a 12-year Marine Corps veteran, member of the Annex Security Team that fought the Battle of Benghazi, and co-author of the book “13 Hours.” Friends of NRA attendees will have the chance to own a signed copy of the bestselling book “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi” as well as a wooden Gadsden flag designed in honor of the citizen soldiers who secured our nation’s independence.
“Every year we are contacted by a lot of small businesses presenting the selection committee with new ideas and made-in-the-USA items,” explains Merchandise Manager Kathy Purtell. “One of those businesses was Flags of Valor, which is not only a veteran-run business, but one that strives to employ combat veterans. They teamed up with Mark Geist, who signed the 1,200 wooden Gadsden flags for the 2018 package. It’s an honor to have a true American hero as part of our program.”
Rounding out the package are more items designed to provide Friends of NRA attendees with an exclusive and state-of-the-art experience, including the high performance Engel Backpack Cooler—featuring a new Prym1 blackout camo pattern and cutting-edge insulation technology—and a custom growler. The 2-liter German-made growler features a vintage-style swing-top closure guaranteed to maintain 58psi inner pressure and an etched Friends of NRA logo that ensures you store and pour your beverages in Second Amendment style.
We are proud to share the 2018 Standard Merchandise Package, which brings together all of these elements in a representation of Friends of NRA's unified front—one team, one voice, one vision for the future of freedom. Attend a Friends of NRA event to invest in the next generation and preserve America’s shooting sports traditions by bidding on these exclusive items!
To learn more about the Gun of the Year and all of the items in the 2018 Standard Merchandise Package, click here!
Republished from Traditions Quarter 4: 2017.