Weapons Expo Attracts a Mixed Band of Patrons

Associated Press

Mercenaries and Walter Mittys itching for a fight, and weapons dealers with the hardware to accommodate them, got together last week to swap tales, show off paramilitary techniques and browse through survival gear ranging from high-powered firearms to camouflage underwear.

The sixth annual Soldiers of Fortune Convention and Combat Weapons Expo ’85, sponsored by Soldier of Fortune magazine, drew hundreds of veterans, mercenaries, arms dealers and fervent anti-communists to the Sahara Hotel. The five-day event ended Saturday.

Among the items displayed by 150 exhibitors were laser-gun sights, dart guns, ammunition of all types, bulletproof vests and a range of knives, including some with brass knuckles and others that can be fired from tiny holders.

The participants immersed themselves in shooting matches, knife-fighting classes, firepower demonstrations, parachute jumping and rappelling down the side of the high-rise hotel.

“This always draws the Walter Mitty crowd,” said Jim Freeland, referring to the daydreaming James Thurber fictional character, as he displayed an 8-inch-long, .45-caliber, semiautomatic pistol capable of firing 50 rounds at a clip.


Hates Communism

Freeland, 31, a former Chicago policeman, said he works off and on as a free-lance military adviser for government troops in El Salvador. He said he makes the occasional forays there without pay “because I really hate communism.”