Recently, I was hanging out at one of my favorite gun shops, the Sand Burr Gun Ranch. Founded by Denny Reichard and run by his daughter, Ashley Gibbons, the shop is located in Rochester, Ind. Famous for his custom work on Smith & Wesson revolvers, Denny gets a lot of traditionalist customers. I asked him what was his best seller.
“Mare’s Legs! Can’t get ’em fast enough. They’re the single fastest-selling category of guns in the shop this year,” he said.
While not a traditional personal-defense firearm, it’s interesting to learn what’s selling, since it may help another dealer move a product he isn’t carrying. These Mare’s Legs are lever-action carbine receivers, stubbed off at the stock near the lever loop and at the muzzle end. They’re manufactured and sold as pistols. They harken back to the TV Western of the ’50s, “Wanted Dead or Alive.”
Denny also shared the real secret to doubling sales of these guns: “Show ’em how to work ’em,” he said.
While not a revolutionary sales tip, dealers often assume the consumer knows how to “work ’em.” Demonstrating the proper gun-handling techniques to a customer can enhance the satisfaction they gain in knowing they’re purchasing the right firearm. Plus, it creates repeat clientele.
For the Mare’s Legs, most users try to mimic Steve McQueen’s character, Josh Randall, shooting from the hip or awkwardly extending the gun out in front of them. The secret, Denny says, is simple: run it like a rifle. It may feel a little cramped to get that short buttstock up to the shoulder, but with the gun braced against the shoulder, work the lever rapidly from the shoulder, much like shooting a conventional lever-action rifle.
I discovered the same shooting method years ago with “AR-15 pistols,” which, at the time, struck me as the most useless devices imaginable. The narrow contact surface of an AR pistol against the shoulder is a bit uncomfortable, but it’s much more stable, faster and more accurate than extending those guns out away from the body, in my experience.
There are other situations where showing your customers how to run an unusual gun can clinch a sale. And it’s just as important that all your customers know how to effectively operate a conventional firearm, especially if it happens to be new to that particular customer.
Popular gripping techniques don’t work with all firearms. Note the thumbs
beyond the muzzle and the thumb next to revolver’s barrel/cylinder gap.
Show Your Customers The Proper Grip
Years ago, I was on the range when a fellow I knew to be a Class A competitor in the International Practical Shooting Confederation tried out a pistol-grip-only (PGO) pump shotgun. It turned out that though he was a wizard with his Custom Colt 1911 .45, the competitor had never fired such a shotgun.
He fired from the hip and missed the silhouette target only a few steps away. Frustrated, he raised the gun to about rib-cage level. Another miss. Frowning, he raised the gun to eye level, close to his face, and before any of us could stop him, pulled the trigger.
The back of the gun hit him in the mouth. We saw blood. We saw tooth fragments.
Now, suppose he had purchased the gun, and the seller had neglected to show him how to safely hold it. Would he have been able to find a lawyer to write up a lawsuit? Well, do bears go potty in the woods?
We’ve all seen those idiotic home videos on YouTube showing some ignorant newbie who hurts himself by holding a firearm wrong. Or worse, when some cretin hands a .44 Magnum, a 12 gauge or a .338 Magnum rifle to some trusting lady, allows her to hold it wrong, and laughs when the recoil smashes her in the face. Do any of us want to be responsible for that? I don’t think so.
By Massad Ayoob
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