rob-lovitt

Fire away at new Las Vegas gun range

Feb. 27, 2012 at 9:12 AM ET

Courtesy of Machine Gun Vegas /
Model and U.S. Air Force veteran Jeannie Duffy is one of the shoot hosts who is to provide training at Machine Guns Vegas.

Blam-blam-blam! Pa-pow-pow! Ber-t-t-t-t-t-t, ber-t-t-t-t-t-t!

If that sounds like a good time, you may want to set your sights on Las Vegas’ newest attraction, Machine Guns Vegas (MGV), scheduled to open Monday. Part gun range, part ultra-lounge, MGV invites visitors to grab the automatic weapon of their choice — Uzis, AK-47s and more — and get in touch with their inner gangster or SEAL Team Six commando.

“You’d be amazed at the number of people who come to Vegas and want to shoot a machine gun,” said co-owner Genghis Cohen. “It’s an experience you can’t have in a lot of places in the world.”

Gun ranges, of course, are nothing new but MGV puts a decidedly Sin City spin on the concept, a reflection, in part, of Cohen’s background in the city’s nightlife industry. He originally came to Las Vegas from his native New Zealand to open Tabu, the über-hip lounge in the MGM Grand.

MGV takes a similarly stylish approach, albeit an alcohol-free one, complete with leather furniture, hardwood floors and a bevy of “Gun Girls” led by model and U.S. Air Force veteran Jeannie Duffy.

Duffy and her fellow shoot hosts will be on hand to provide training — they’re all NRA-certified instructors — and help guests choose from a variety of shooting packages, such as:

  • Mob ($100): think shotguns and “Tommy guns”
  • SEAL Team VI ($130–$160): Includes M-60 machine guns and other weapons used in the covert operation that killed Osama bin Laden
  • The Compound ($699): MGV’s VIP experience, which includes the use of 16 different firearms, including handguns and semi- and full-automatic weapons; use of a private lounge and firing lanes, and complimentary refreshments

Such offerings will put MGV in more-or-less direct competition with The Gun Store, a Las Vegas institution that has been inviting visitors to fire off a few rounds for more than 20 years.

Alas, for those seeking that sexy Vegas vibe, there are no heat-packing “Gun Girls” at The Gun Store. There are, however, two ordained ministers on staff because, yes, they do perform shotgun weddings complete with flowers, cake and weapon rentals.

Ethan Miller / Getty Images /
Sin City is a major entertainment center and business travel destination, known for its carefully cultivated image, gambling and nightlife.

As for the new gang moving into town, Gun Store owner Bob Irwin isn’t worried. “It’s kind of like when Mandalay Bay opened,” he said. “Did Caesars Palace close? No, they built a new tower. It just draws more business to everybody.”

And business is good, says Irwin, because shooting automatic weapons is ultimately just another entertaining attraction in a city that’s built on the concept of giving people the opportunity to do things they might not attempt at home.

“We have all these things to do other than gaming — roller coaster rides, helicopter flights — and this is one of them,” he told msnbc.com. “It’s on a lot of people’s bucket list.”

It also fits with Las Vegas’ never-ending commitment to pursuing new ways to entice visitors, whether it be with new hotels, more elaborate shows or the fact that two companies are currently competing to build sky-high observation wheels on or near the Strip.

“Last year the big story was Dig This,” said Anthony Curtis, president of LasVegasAdvisor.com, referring to the attraction that lets guests operate bulldozers and other pieces of heavy equipment in a giant sandbox. “Not everybody wants to drink and gamble all day.”

This year, says Curtis, MGV could fit that role. “People want to have different experiences; this one definitely qualifies. It sounds like it has a shot, so to speak.”

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Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him at Twitter.

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