Increased Quality Demands Greater Knowledge, Balanced Inventory.
Thanks to technological advancements in the flashlight industry, more companies are producing higher-quality, brighter lights with lower price tags. With more quality lights on the market, it’s a challenge for dealers to thoroughly evaluate the vast number of products in order to select the right inventory for their stores.
Daniel Jerik is the “go-to guy” for tactical accessories at Franklin Gun Shop in Franklin, Tenn. He is constantly evaluating new products, and believes the first step to serving customers in search of a quality handheld flashlight or weapon light is ensuring his bestsellers are stocked and ready to go.
“While it is a little tough to select inventory today, I know that SureFire is always going to be at the forefront for us,” Jerik said. “There’s a reason SureFire lights are used by more military units than any other light. They have a proven track record.”
While SureFire generally has a higher price point than some other lights offered at Franklin Gun Shop, the company’s flashlights are consistently best sellers at the store. That’s because Jerik ensures his staff emphasizes the key selling points of SureFire products. He says it’s important to know and explain what sets them apart from their lower-priced counterpoints.
“A lot of it comes down to the quality of the particular product and the testing and research and development that goes into it,” Jerik said, pointing out that knowledge is a key factor. “Even if you have several leading flashlights in handheld or weapon lights, it allows you to say that this one is more expensive, but there’s a reason it’s more expensive.”
The SureFire G2X Pro is the top-selling handheld flashlight at Franklin Gun Shop and
Dobransky Firearms. The dual-output flashlight provides 320 lumens of maximum output.
Answer Their Questions
Drew Elliott, sales manager for Dobransky Firearms in Massillon, Ohio, agrees that helping customers to understand the specifications of each flashlight — especially lights in the higher price point range — is critical to making the sale.
“Even for the most seasoned sales staff, it’s difficult to keep up with the technology,” Elliott said. “We keep three-ring binders full of spec sheets of every product we have in the store. It’s a guide to help the sales staff when they’re talking to customers. They can go to the spec sheet and look up a flashlight’s lumens, runtime and other features.”
In managing Dobransky’s inventory, Elliott stocks entry-level handheld flashlights and weapon lights to serve as his “main movers.” He also stocks lights that hit a higher, yet still affordable, price point for customers who are looking to purchase a top-of-the-line light.
“In weapon lights, our bestsellers are SureFire’s X300 Ultra and Streamlight’s TLR-1s,” Elliott said. “The X300 Ultra has a 500-lumen output; it’s really bright. We sell a lot of weapon lights to law enforcement, and the TLR-1 tends to do better because it has different features like a strobe, which is programmable.”
In handheld lights, the SureFire G2X Pro and 6PX Tactical, which have MSRPs of $95 and $115 respectively, are best sellers in the mid-range price point at Dobransky Firearms. Elliott also stocks Pro-Tech lights to fill the need for lower price point lights, as well as flashlights from Nebo Tools.
“Once the price goes up, it’s a harder sell unless the person knows exactly what they want,” Elliott said. “Typically, someone who has done their research knows what they want. If they haven’t done the research, we have the spec sheets ready to answer their questions.”
Streamlight’s TLR series is a top seller at Franklin Gun Shop and Dobransky Firearms.
For 2013, Streamlight introduces the “HL” models, which deliver 630 lumens of light.
Versatile Weapon Lights
At Franklin Gun Shop, Jerik reports he sells more SureFire handheld and weapon lights than any other brand. Like at Dobransky Firearms, the SureFire G2X Pro is Franklin’s most popular handheld light.
“You can take that light and adapt it,” Jerik said. “It has dual output, so a customer can have a high setting and a low setting. You can conserve battery life, depending on what you’re using it for, but you also have the option of going bright when you need it. It’s also adaptable through various mounts as a weapon light.”
The SureFire G2X Pro is ideal for customers who know they want a SureFire light, but don’t want to jump to the higher price point to purchase the X300 Ultra or a similar light. For customers specifically wanting a dedicated weapon light, the X300 Ultra is easily Jerik’s bestseller.
“Yes, in weapon lights, we sell more of the SureFire X300 Ultra by far, as well as the SureFire M300 Scout,” Jerik said. “We’re one of the largest dealers in Northern Tennessee, with more than 6,000 guns in stock. We need to offer customers a weapon light that fits a large number of guns. The X300U has the different rail settings so you can easily adjust it, and it’s not a hassle to switch to other firearms.”
Jerik doesn’t stock Streamlight’s handheld lights, because he believes there’s too much crossover between the models and price points of other handheld flashlights he carries. However, he does stock Streamlight weapon lights.
“The Streamlight TLR-1s and TLR-2s are ideal for customers who want a handgun light, but don’t want to spend a lot more to get a higher-end light,” Jerik said. “The TLR-1s is a good light, and it’s right on the money in the $130 to $140 price range. SureFire is around $275, so that’s a big price difference for customers on a budget.”
Jerik plans to add the handheld and weapon lights from Inforce. The company’s WML-HSP weapon light has attracted consumer attention, particularly since it is featured on the Jack Carbine, a firearm built by BCM (Bravo Company Manufacturing). Jerik has had several customers come in specifically looking for the Inforce WML-HSP.
“The WML is a unique light in its shape and overall profile,” Jerik said. “The model is ‘momentary only,’ so you touch it and it’s on, you let it go and it’s off. Those are great selling points for tactical usage, since you can’t accidentally bump the light and turn it on. You have to put your thumb on the activation button.”
EOTech’s ad campaign “Nowhere to Hide,” highlights the features of the WL1-AA Tactical Weapon Light.
Be Stocked, Be Knowledgeable, Be Ready
Technology in the flashlight market will continue to evolve, which will increasingly challenge dealers. It’s critical for dealers to properly stock the right balance of inventory, be knowledgeable and be ready when customers come in asking for the newest, popular product.
While the frantic purchasing of firearms subsides, Jerik knows customers will always need dependable lights.
“Everyone went out and bought tactical firearms during the rush, but they know they still need something to help identify a threat in their home,” Jerik said.
“Hunters need a good light when they’re out in the field, and even farmers need a reliable light when they’re trying to deal with predators. There will always be a demand for durable flashlights.”
Tactical Lights For Cops And Citizens
Flashlights on the market today, along with their increasingly higher power, are important tools for those in law enforcement and everyday citizens. In the May issue of American COP Magazine, retired San Diego police officer John Morrison looks at “some of the best, brightest and newest” in his article “Smarter Chips, Better Grips — And Lots More Power.”
“The ‘lumen wars’ rage on as manufacturers compete to squeeze the most candlepower out of the smallest package. The ‘runtime races’ are just as competitive, with many new lights actually delivering higher lumen counts over longer periods from the same, unchanged power sources,” Morrison writes.
To read “Lumen Wars,” visit www.americancopmagazine.com and click “Digital Editions,” then select the May 2013 cover. Shooting Industry Digital readers, click on the Hot Link logo.
By J.K. Autry
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