New Defense Guns Introduced At NRAAM

By Massad Ayoob

Some manufacturers hold their new product introductions until the NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits because they figure an intro there will be more of a “big fish in a small pond” that won’t get lost amidst the many other debuts at the “Big One” among firearms industry shows, the SHOT Show. Some do it because their new product simply “wasn’t ready for prime time” in January.

This year will go down in history as an interesting one for the firearms industry, because eight years of the Obama administration and the threat of a second Clinton presidency is now a distant memory. The great, collective sigh of relief when Donald Trump, running on a pro-gun platform, won the election resulted in a predictable drop-off of what many called “panic buying.”

Purchasing interest in what had previously been the hottest product, modern sporting rifles, did indeed seem moribund at the 2017 NRAAM. However, interest seemed up in personal defense handguns.

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At NRAAM, GLOCK debuted its “Summer Special” variations for the G17
and G19 ­­— with forward slide grasping grooves, steel sights and an
extended slide stop lever.

Integrally Suppressed Firearms

Yes, the threat of a national ban on MSR-style rifles and similar firearms seemed gone — thus cooling end-user imperatives to buy more. However, a general perception of a pro-gun Congress has raised interest in a couple of new directions. Those include suppressed firearms and, more than anything else, concealed carry handguns.

If the Hearing Protection Act (HPA) passes, expect sales of suppressors and suppressor-equipped firearms to soar. Ironically, at this point the suppressor manufacturers have been hurt more than helped by the pending legislation. The reason? The recent spate of states approving suppressors for sale and for hunting caused the market to absolutely soar, but the prospect of HPA passing put a damper on the market.

In the meantime, though, optimistic manufacturers are going big into dedicated guns with built-in sound suppressors. Justin Moon, Kahr Arms president and CEO, showed me their new clone of the Ruger 10/22 with a super-easy-to-clean, built-in suppressor: the Magnum Research MLR with TTS-22 suppressed barrel. Ruger received a lot of interest in similar rifle/pistol combos, some already introduced at the SHOT Show in January. The Ruger Silent-SR 10/22 Takedown Integrally Suppressed Barrel (ISB) was unveiled at the Annual Meeting. The Silent-SR ISB is also compatible with the 10/22 Takedown Lite and 22 Charger Takedown pistol.Innovative Arms is offering an integrally suppressed S&W M&P15 .22 rifle that’s getting rave reviews. And SilencerCo’s Maxim 9, built around an integral suppressor, shown at the SHOT Show in Vegas was announced as available for dealers to buy and sell at NRAAM.

But there’s one area dramatically larger than suppressors, and that is …

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Springfield Armory XD-E

Concealed Carry Handguns

President Donald Trump promised to support and sign the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (H.R.38, S.446), the bill for national concealed carry reciprocity now going through the legislative machine on Capitol Hill. If passed, this bill will have a considerable impact on the concealed carry segment. CCW enthusiasts were treated to several new options to choose from at this year’s NRAAM.

Honor Defense introduced the Honor Guard pistol back at the 2016 SHOT Show. At NRAAM, Honor Defense expanded the line with a longer-barreled version still very concealable, but a bit more “shootable.” This gun is catching on. Kahr has expanded its hugely successful economy line of slimline 9mms with their GEN2 SW9 pistols, available in 3-inch (pocket size) and 4-inch (more belt holster size) configurations.

Another standout: Springfield Armory’s new XD-E, a “retro” traditional double-action auto (only an inch thick) in a single-stack 9mm format. Why a “retro” design in a marketplace where striker-fired pistols seem to dominate? One reason is the burgeoning popularity of appendix inside the waistband carry (AIWB). There have been cases where something like the drawstring of a warm-up jacket got caught in the triggerguard of a striker-fired pistol and caused it to discharge upon holstering. This has awakened concealed carry folks to the benefit of a pistol with an exposed hammer: If the shooter’s thumb is holding the hammer down on a double-action pistol (or back on a cocked-and-locked single action) it can prevent the gun from firing and avert such tragedies.

This has also reinvigorated the popularity of pistols such as the SIG traditional double actions, and those from Beretta, which at NRAAM showcased the superbly smooth Ernest Langdon signature models of the classic Model 92 and the polymer-framed Px4. Of course, Beretta’s newsmaker was its long-awaited striker-fired service pistol, the APX, whose grasping grooves all the way down the slide show some interesting potential for manipulation under stress.

As has been noted before in this space, revolvers are making a comeback, too. There was much interest in the Colt Cobra snub-nose .38, and in 3-inch barrel medium frame revolvers in calibers from .38 Special to .44 Magnum. Smith & Wesson saw a lot of potential buyers gathered around their 2.75-inch reintroduced Model 66 .357 and a Model 629 .44 Magnum in similar configuration. Ruger’s 3-inch GP100 .357 Magnum has sold very well for some years now, and they’re getting a lot of interest in the new, similarly-configured five-shot .44 Special version — which I’d expect to appear in .44 Magnum in due course.

While most of the guns discussed here were available at the SHOT Show, if not earlier, the interest they gathered at NRAAM shows a significant wavelet of increasing consumer interest.


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Remington’s Big Green Rewards

Remington has reintroduced its Big Green Rewards program, which runs through Sept. 1, 2017. Sales associates who sell five RP9, RM380 or R51 handguns will receive one free handgun per qualifying model line, meaning they’re eligible to win up to three handguns — (1) RP9, (1) RM380 and (1) R51. Interested retail sales associates can register and submit sales through the Big Green Rewards website or download the mobile app (Big Green Rewards) through the Apple App Store or the Google Play store.

Read More Personal Defense Articles

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All Women Are Not Created Equal

By Ashley McGee

We’ve all seen the statistics. Women are the fastest-growing segment of gun owners and the majority is motivated to purchase a firearm as a means of personal and home protection. However, the best tactic dealers can deploy to capture their share of this audience is to stop making sweeping generalizations. All women are not created equal.

There’s arguably nothing women dislike more than being pigeonholed. When a woman walks into a gun store, she has already spent several months doing copious amounts of research — mostly by scouring manufacturers’ websites and by consulting with her family and friends. Rather than immediately steering her toward a hot pink lightweight compact pistol, take the time to ask questions and more importantly, listen to her answers. 

What features are most important to her — concealability, weight, size, safety? What’s her experience level or budget? According to a NSSF survey of women gun owners, 91.9 percent make purchasing decisions based on which model fits their hand and body best. Whether a gun features “feminine colors” was only 9.4 percent of the decision criteria.

For this reason, Tim Voravudhi, owner of Tim’s Gun Shop in Columbia, S.C., does not stock any firearm or accessory lines specific only to women. “I don’t think it’s necessary. Instead, I carry a range of sizes and styles that would be suitable for a variety of hand sizes and body types,” he shared.

In his three years in business, Voravudhi observed most women do, however, tend to stick to smaller calibers with .22 LR, .380 and 9mm being the most popular — especially with beginners.

Like Voravudhi, firearm dealers should be honest about the pros and cons when making recommendations. “Relate these details specifically to the needs they’ve been sharing with you,” he said. The ultimate goal is to give her the information she needs to make an informed decision, not make the decision for her. Feeling like the decision was not hers will likely result in buyer’s remorse and make her less likely to return as a customer in the future.

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ATP Gun Shop & Range hosts a weekly Ladies’ Night event, which has successfully
enhanced the store’s profile among women in its community. “Our Ladies’ Training
Night helps women become proactive about their personal protection, rather than
reactive,” shared Owner Aryln Pendergast.

A Ripple Effect

Word-of-mouth recommendations are far more powerful than any traditional advertising and marketing methods. There are approximately 132 million women 15 years and older in the U.S. An estimated 5.86 million of those already practice target shooting. If each of those women takes one friend shooting each month, every woman in America will have gone shooting in just over 21 months. The ripple effect from one positive experience can have long-lasting benefits on the growth of your business.

Dealers should also consider the residual benefits that often go with a firearm purchase. Regardless of motivation for buying the gun, women spend an average of $400 annually on accessories, but not on what one would assume.

Cleaning products, targets, ear and eye protection and carrying cases are purchased most frequently. Meaning, less of your marketing efforts should be focused on promoting holsters and other carry options.

Buying behavior aside, one of the most consistent findings reported in the NSSF women shooters study is that training plays a big part of a female gun owner’s overall firearm strategy. Before and after a gun purchase, more than 70 percent of women participate in some kind of training, with most taking an average of three classes.

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Weekly Ladies’ Night Success

Utilizing two climate-controlled indoor ranges, ATP Gun Shop & Range in Summerville, S.C., hosts Ladies’ Training Night every Thursday. It has become so popular there are currently six class times offered each week from 3:00–6:45 p.m. For a nominal $30 fee, each participant has the opportunity to shoot .22-caliber pistols and revolvers at 15 and 25 yards. Also included are 50 rounds of ammunition, hearing and eye protection, targets, female instructors and five range passes for future visits.

Using the slogan “Shoot Like A Girl,” to empower women, ATP promotes their Ladies’ Night sessions using traditional methods like billboards and radio advertisements, but also through digital marketing with social media and videos. Each participant also receives an “I Shot Like A Girl” souvenir T-shirt. Branded with ATP’s logo, the shirts serve as grassroots marketing.

“Our Ladies’ Training Night helps women become proactive about their personal protection, rather than reactive,” said Arlyn Pendergast, owner of ATP Gun Shop & Range. He adds this offering has helped his business retain female customers. “We found for ladies, once they know how and are comfortable shooting a gun, they’ll buy bigger guns — versus men who shoot once and immediately want more.”

As far as recommendations go, Pendergast shares his “Top 5 Firearms For Women” ATP TV — the company’s YouTube channel. Topping the list is the Smith & Wesson 642 with pink grip and laser sight. He believes “feminine color” options have a greater purpose than just aesthetics. In a self-defense situation, a perpetrator who sees a woman with a pink gun is less likely to underestimate their potential victim’s capabilities. “Rather than thinking ‘does she even know how to use it?’ they’ll recognize it’s her gun and she knows how to make it go ‘bang,’” he explained.

Some may think a revolver topping the list is a surprising choice. Using an automotive analogy, Pendergast likens a revolver to an automatic transmission car versus a semi-automatic pistol, which would be a manual. With a revolver, all you’d have to do is put in bullets and pull the trigger, similar to putting your keys in the ignition and putting a car in drive. Like a car with a manual transmission, which has a clutch, a semi-automatic pistol requires several extra steps before the gun is ready to fire. For women who still prefer a semi-automatic, Pendergast recommends the Bersa .380. “It’s big enough to practice with, but small enough for carry,” he said.

Regardless of gender, there’s no one size fits all solution when it comes to firearms. This means there isn’t one solution when it comes to marketing either. Ask questions, listen and be creative.

Read More Arms And The Women Articles

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Click To Read More Shooting Industry August 2017 Issue Now!

Exclusive: Looking For An Edge? Find One At Bear

By Dave Workman

No shooter worth his or her salt walks around without some kind of general utility knife, the easier to use, the better.

Over the years many knives have come and gone. Some had great designs and are still in production today. Others seemed designed to attract impulse buyers with little concept of function but a desire for flash. I’ve deliberately lost a couple of these, given a few others away or just set them aside.

Bear & Son Cutlery has a “sideliner” model that looks like a real piece of work, and that’s a good thing. The Bear Edge Pattern 106 folder is designed for people who rely on a good knife on a regular basis.

What makes a knife like this valuable as an accessory? Or, would it be better to ask, what makes it “tick?”

For starters, Bear designed it with a 3.5-inch USA 440 stainless steel blade and a thumb tab — that material takes an edge and holds it. It features assisted opening, so you don’t have to ruin a thumbnail tugging to pivot the blade out of the handle. It locks in position with a sideliner lock, hence the designation.

The blade has a black finish except for the cutting edge, and a shape making it well-suited for all kinds of chores, from cleaning small game or fish, delicate trophy caping work, cutting cord or rope, general survival work and even defensive uses. At the top rear are four grooves positioned exactly where someone’s thumb will rest if they’re using the knife to cut flesh or heavy material.

The handle material is Zytel, a high-strength thermoplastic plenty tough and can take a fair amount of hard use. I’ve seen this stuff work under all sorts of conditions and on this knife, it’s textured for a firm hold even in wet conditions.

Overall, the knife is 7.875-inches long and 4.5-inches closed. Now here’s the fun part: It only weighs 3.3 oz. Something that lightweight isn’t going to be noticed until you need it. It features a reversible pocket clip and is designed to be carried tip up.

An MSRP of $39.99 makes it a very good deal.

And it has company. Bear has a similar model with the same open and closed measurements but with a 3.375-inch blade. Weighing 4.3 oz., this second assisted opener knife features the same blade steel and a black G10 grip. MSRP is the same.

A good folding knife may seem like just an affectation; something people carry just to be part of the crowd. That illusion evaporates the moment a knife is needed, and just like a good defensive sidearm, when you need one, you need it right now.

That’s when a model like this Bear Edge Pattern 106 struts its stuff. Afterwards, it cleans up fast, you can stroke up the edge to factory sharpness and put it away until next time.

For more info: https://gunsmagazine.com/company/bear-son-cutlery-inc/, (800) 844-3034

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Exclusive: STI DVC Carry

A High Quality, Low Profile 9mm For Concealed Carry

By Tank Hoover

STI is committed to making the finest custom guns in the market and the DVC Carry model is proof in the pudding supporting that pledge. The DVC Carry exemplifies what the meshing of modern machining and hand craftsmanship can accomplish.

When holding the DVC Carry, weight and quality are the predominant features that stand out for the concealed carrier, or shooter who appreciates the finer “tools of the trade” in firearms.

The aluminum frame, paired with the slide lightening cutouts, contribute to a lightweight 26 oz., unloaded. The 3.9″ bull barrel is TiAN coated for good looks and durability while the slide and frame are DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) finished, black in color.

The grip is shortened for easier concealment and is only 1.3″ wide while still capable of carrying a high capacity 15-round magazine. A second extended grip 17-round magazine is also included.

The stocks are stippled by Extreme Shooters, promoting a positive grip that feels “just right” while providing stylish good looks. Low profile sights with a tritium front-sight round out the custom features for quick snag-free draws, good sight picture and fast target acquisition in low-light situations.

Trigger pull is factory set at a clean crisp 3.5 lbs.

A Bit About STI International

STI International is based out of Georgetown, Texas, and introduced EDM (Electrical Discharged Machining) of hammers, sears and components to the firearm industry along with the invention of the legendary 2011 platform. Every STI gun is handcrafted by a certified gunsmith and then checked for quality assurance in over 30 different categories. Each sear and hammer is EDM wire cut, built to oversize tolerances, so they can be hand fit for a custom feel and optimal performance.

The STI DVC Carry has a MSRP of $2,999. For more info: https://americanhandgunner.com/company/sti-international-inc/, (800) 959-8201

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U.S. Optics

USoptics_450

U.S. Optics introduces the updated MR-10 BRAVO MIL, LR-17 BRAVO MIL and ER-25 BRAVO MIL riflescopes. Magnifications for the three models are as follows: 1.8-10x (MR-10), 3.2-17x (LR-17) and 25x (ER-25). Features include an elevation zero stop, locking elevation and windage turrets, elevation revolution counter, smaller turret body section and integrated illumination control and parallax knob.

(714) 582-1956
www.shootingindustry.com/company/us-optics

Browning X-Bolt Rifle

Browning_rifle_550

In rifles, the X-Bolt Medallion Safari Grade bolt-action rifle features a deep polished blued and fluted heavy sporter barrel with gold accented engraving. The stock features a gloss finish, checkered Grade IV/V walnut, and Rosewood forend grip and pistol grip caps. Browning’s AB3 bolt-action rifle will now be offered in a Micro Stalker model for 2017. It features a 13-inch length of pull for smaller-stature shooters.

(800) 333-3288
www.shootingindustry.com/company/browning

Taurus Curve

Taurus_450

The Taurus Curve (Model 1-80031V) has been upgraded to include an integrated Viridian red laser and light. The laser/light boasts a longer battery life and is equipped with a strobe mode. It also features Viridian’s Instant-On technology — automatically deploying the light and laser once the firearm is drawn. The Curve is chambered in .380 ACP, has a magazine capacity of six rounds, weighs 13 oz. and has an overall length of 5.2 inches.

(305) 624-1115
www.shootingindustry.com/company/taurus-international-firearms

New Products July 2017 Issue

np_Lyman-triggerpull

Lyman Products Corp.

(800) 225-9626
www.shootingindustry.com/company/lyman-products-corp

Lyman announces the release of a new and improved Digital Trigger Pull Gauge. State-of-the-art strain gauge technology allows for accuracy of 1/10 oz./2 grams. The gauge reads to a maximum 12 lb./5.4 kg., features a large, easy-to-read LCD display and is powered by a single 9V battery (not included). It features a solid collapsible rod with four locking positions and comes in a padded hard case for convenient storage.

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Mec-Gar USA Inc.

(203) 262-1525
www.shootingindustry.com/company/mec-gar-usa-inc

Mec-Gar USA has introduced an eight-round .45ACP 1911 magazine laser engraved with the text of the Second Amendment. The magazine also features a carbon steel body heat treated and blued, Type D music wire spring, removable baseplate and numbered witness holes. A portion of proceeds from the sale of the magazines will be donated toward protecting Second Amendment rights.

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HIVIZ Shooting Systems

(800) 589-4315
www.shootingindustry.com/company/hiviz-shooting-systems

HIVIZ has introduced a complete LitePipe replacement kit for their LITEWAVE handgun sights. The kit includes two sets of red and green front sight LitePipes in two lengths, as well as black, red and green sets of rear sight LitePipes to fit any LITEWAVE handgun model.

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Hogue Inc.

(800) 438-4747
www.shootingindustry.com/company/hogue-inc

Hogue announces the expansion of its line of automatic retention carry holsters to include seven new gun models. New models fit the Ruger American, GLOCK 43, CZ P-10 Compact, SIG SAUER P320 and Heckler & Koch’s VP9SK, P10, P30, P2000 and VP9/40. The holsters are available in right- and left-handed designs in solid black or a carbon fiber weave pattern and feature a flexible, comfortable paddle, built-in cant and configure into various carry styles.

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American Built Arms Company

(443) 807-3022
www.shootingindustry.com/company/american-built-arms-company

Keystone Sportings Arms LLC and A*B Arms partnered together to create the Keystone PT (Precision Trainer) — a lightweight, ergonomic rifle featuring the Keystone 722 caliber, bolt-action rifle housed in an A*B Arms MOD*X aluminum chassis system. The Keystone PT features a threaded, heavy bull 16.5-inch barrel and includes one, seven-round magazine. It weighs 6 lbs.

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Birchwood Casey

(800) 746-6862
www.shootingindustry.com/company/birchwood-casey

New from Birchwood Casey, Freedom Targets offer shooters exceptional portability and freedom from staples, tape and heavy stands. The targets feature heavy cardboard construction, fold flat for easy transport and a Shoot-N-C Bulls Eye target. Three versions are available: the 20 x 35 inch Double Stack Kit, 20 x 35 inch Single Stack Kit and the 12 x 18 inch Silhouette Target.

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Clinger Holsters

(479) 650-0379
www.shootingindustry.com/company/clinger-holsters

Clinger Holsters introduces an upgraded version of the V2 series of holsters. Enhancements to the new version include: conversion to Stingray holster, a wider opening above the belt line, adjustable cant on Stingray configuration for 0 or 15 degrees, covered mag release, a taller sight channel to accommodate taller after market sights, a wider opening for easier re-holstering and the gun model is molded inside the holster.

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G5 Prime

(810) 392-8431
www.shootingindustry.com/company/g5-prime

Prime Archery by G5 Outdoors announces the Centergy Series line of compound bows. Three models — Prime Centergy, Prime Centergy Air and Prime Centergy Hybrid — feature a Center Balanced Targeting System and TRK Cam System for a truly balanced, easy-to-aim bow. The Prime Centergy model has an ATA length of 33 inches, draw length of 24.5-31 inches, brace height of 6.5 inches and IBO speed of 333 fps. Camo options include First Lite Fusion, Optifade Open Country, Optifade Elevated II and Realtree Xtra. Color options include Super Chrome, Electro Red, Blue, Orange or Teal, Recon Gray and black.

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Kershaw Knives

(800) 325-2891
www.shootingindustry.com/company/Kershaw-knives

Sporting a modern, industrial look, the Launch 7 is Kershaw Knives’ newest auto designed by Tim Galyean. The automatic folder has a 3.75-inch clip point blade composed of CPM 154 steel and DLC coated for toughness, corrosion resistance and edge retention. Machined contoured handles and integrated backspacer add to the unique appearance of the Launch 7. It has an overall length of 8.6 inches and weighs 3.2 oz.

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Tulster

www.shootingindustry.com/company/tulster

Tulster has added the P320 Subcompact holster to its Profile product line. Designed to fit SIG SAUER’s P320, the holster features an undercut trigger guard, adjustable retention, adjustable can (0 to 15 degrees), full sweat shield, rounded and matte edges and minimal material. It’s available in a variety of colors and patterns, and for right- or left-handed users.

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AirForce Airguns

(877) 247-4867
www.shootingindustry.com/company/airforce-airguns

Ammunition for its popular Texan and TexanSS big bore air rifles is now available from AirForce Airguns. The ammo is cast lead and available in all three Texan calibers: .457, .357 and .308. Various projectile weights and designs are offered within each caliber (i.e., .457 is available in a 143-gr. round ball to a 405-gr. flat point swaged projectile).

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Bushnell Outdoor Products

(800) 423-3537
www.shootingindustry.com/company/bushnell-outdoor-products

Bushnell announces Engage, a new line of high-quality, performance-driven optics for modern hunters and shooters. Engage scopes and binoculars have fully multi-coated glass to capture bright, clear image while preventing glare and actively repel water, oil, dust and debris. Features include a Deploy MOA reticle offering 1-MOA windage and elevation hashmarks, locking turrets and tool-less zero reset. Riflescopes are available in nine configurations from 2-7x36mm up to 6-24x50mm. Engage binoculars are offered in four options from 8x42mm to 12x50mm.

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GrovTec U.S. Inc.

(503) 557-4689
www.shootingindustry.com/company/grovetec-us-inc

GrovTec U.S. has introduced the Realtree Xtra Green camo pattern to its line of backpack slings. GrovTec backpack slings allow users to work hands free. It slings evenly distribute rifle weight and prevents slipping off the shoulder to ensure a rifle is carried safely and securely. There are 11 different patterns available and some models include sewn in GrovTec locking swivels.

np_gungenics

Gungenics

(614) 902-0802
www.shootingindustry.com/gungenics

Gungenics has introduced the Quik-Change 4-Piece Handgun Cleaning Kit. Each kit contains: extended glass reinforced handle with Gungenics Quik-Change rod, one caliber-specific bronze brush, one caliber-specific bore jag and one universal patch eyelet. The following calibers are currently available: .38, .357 Magnum, 9mm, .380, .40 S&W, .41 Magnum, .44 and .45. Shotgun, rifle and .22-caliber kits are coming soon.

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North American Arms Inc.

(800) 821-5783
www.shootingindustry.com/company/north-american-arms-inc

In collaboration with Talo Distributors Inc., North American Arms has created a special edition mini-revolver: the Bug Out Box. With 1,500 being produced, it comes with a small, 5-shot mini-revolver chambered in .22 LR featuring a stylized stepped barrel, XS sights, a sheriff-style cylinder pin and orange Hogue slip-on grip with pebble finish. The Bug Out Box arrives with a unique serial number in a lockable, waterproof case with an empty ammo box and room for other emergency items.

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Click To Read More Shooting Industry July 2017 Issue Now!

Back To Core Strengths

By Massad Ayoob

When there is a downturn in any industry, it never hurts to “return to the core.” In sales of firearms to the law-abiding public, the self-defense market is the strongest core. Surveys show more people buy firearms to protect themselves and their families than for any other purpose.

Self defense, quite simply, equals survival. Thus, we shouldn’t be surprised when money becomes tight or sales turn downward for other reasons in this industry, defensive firearms will be the last to be affected. To the benefit of the retailer, there is a much broader demographic of customers (urban, younger, female) now than there was eight years ago.

Concealed Carry Growth

More private citizens are now legal to carry loaded and concealed weapons in public today than ever before. Thirty years ago, there were seven states where there was no provision for a private citizen, as opposed to a police officer or licensed armed security guard, to carry a concealed handgun in public. Today, all seven of those states are “shall issue.” In more states than not, concealed carry permits were distributed on a “may issue” basis three decades ago, which granted great arbitrary discretion to the issuing authorities. Now, only a few states still follow “may issue” and the majority has gone with the reform model of “shall issue” — requiring those authorities to grant permits to all law-abiding applicants or show good cause for why not.

Recently, we’ve seen the expansion of the Vermont model of permit-less carry. For most of the 20th century, Vermont was the only state that didn’t demand a permit to carry a loaded, concealed handgun in public, but merely forbade convicted felons or those adjudicated mentally incompetent to do so. In the 1990s, Alaska became the second state to go this route. Then came Arizona. Of late, we’ve seen many more, and we’re now into more than a dozen states with what some call Constitutional Carry.

All these trends have more good people carrying guns — and in need of a shop like yours at which to buy them, including all the necessary accessories.

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GLOCK G43

A Different Type Of Wardrobe

The new concealed carrier basically needs to address three wardrobes: one of concealment clothing, concealment holsters and concealable firearms.

Some gun shops have found concealment garments such as vests (think brands like CCW Breakaways) to be small but reliable profit centers. A much more natural “wardrobe line” for a gun shop, of course, is holsters. IWB holsters break up the gun’s outline from the top of the belt down, and hold the gun tighter to the body for better concealment. For some, particularly self-conscious new carriers, it can be a critical selling point. However, a larger pistol inside the waistband requires pants about two inches larger in the waistband for comfortable all-day concealment. Thus, most who carry also want at least one outside-the-belt scabbard for the comfort factor.

In addition, “homemade” Kydex holsters have so widely proliferated there’s probably someone who has a small business making them near you; consider having a chat with the business owner about picking up at least one IWB and OWB model you like and getting a good volume deal. Heck, maybe they’ll even affix your store’s brand to it!

Now, let’s look at the wardrobe of guns. Many of us quote holster-maker John Bianchi who said “Bianchi’s Law” was the same gun, in the same kind of holster, in the same place, all the time. It’s certainly valid, but it’s also true the customer can conceal and carry bigger guns under winter coats than beneath untucked summer T-shirts. None of us wear the exact same clothing or footwear in all seasons and social situations, and your customer soon finds the same concept to apply where handguns are concerned.

Consider the wearer in those tight summer jeans and tucked-in shirt: A tiny, wafer-thin subcompact .380 (which will fit discreetly in a pants pocket) seems to be the only viable option. But when the weather cools enough to allow a light jacket or untucked polo, a flat subcompact 9mm might be better suited. And, if the customer has learned on the range he or she can shoot better with a service-size gun that still conceals well under heavier clothing, well … this is how a concealed carry handgun wardrobe evolves by itself. Some encouragement and guidance by the dealer can, of course, expedite the process.

As the concealed carry handgun wardrobe grows, so does the holster wardrobe — if the dealer makes the customer aware of the options. Not every new CCW wearer reads gun books and magazines and knows about ankle holsters, pocket holsters, bellybands and the myriad of other useful options.

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Mitchell Swanson of Fox Firearms in Grants Pass, Ore., lays out an
array of GLOCKs to show a potential buyer a viable “wardrobe” of
concealable 9mm pistols.

Sell The Gift Of Peace Of Mind

For some concealed carriers, the gun will save their lives — perhaps more than once. For all of them, however, the concealed defensive handgun gives a peace of mind adding to quality of life. Once the new carrier comes to appreciate this, he or she wants to share it with others they care about.

This presents an opportunity for you.

Give some thought on putting together a program allowing your customers to gift a gun, holster, a quantity of carry and practice ammo and perhaps even a safety lesson to a friend or loved one. The easiest way is to do it is in gift certificate form. It saves returns, and allows the recipients to pick the gun, holster, etc. that works best for them. (And it saves having to explain the difference between a gift and a straw purchase, too, since it’s the ultimate user who will end up filling out the 4473.) Make it available in an array of price ranges, and advertise, “Give the Gift of Peace of Mind” during such gift-giving seasons as Valentine’s Day and the year-end holidays.

While the so-called “panic buying” may be over, the personal-defense market will remain a solid segment of the retail firearms industry.

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Under The Brand Influence

By Taylor Smithfield

“Buffalo Bill Applauds the Banisher of Burglar Fear,” a 1910 Savage Arms advertisement boldly states. An illustration of the 10-shot pocket automatic “fires” dramatically into the text.

“Today,” the ad quotes Buffalo Bill himself, “I took [my] old revolver and the Savage Automatic out and fired each fifty times, making, to my surprise, a much better score with the Savage than I could with my old pet gun.”

“When the most famous shot living frankly says that the Savage Automatic outshot his old pet revolver, what does that prove?” the next line asks the reader.

W. F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody was one of Savage Arm’s earliest spokesmen. Although the use of spokespeople seems to be a more recent trend in history, companies have actually been using this influential tactic to sell products for centuries. In the 1760s, Wedgwood heavily relied upon royal endorsements to market and sell their pottery and chinaware. (“If it’s good enough for the queen, it’s good enough for me!”)

When you think of spokespeople, what faces pop into your mind? Hilarious William Shatner for Priceline.com, or inspiring Michael Jordan for Nike or maybe quirky Tina Fey for American Express? Leveraging the power of celebrity clout, brand ambassadors can make truly valuable connections with audiences. Their influence is an impressive testament to both word-of-mouth marketing and the power of human connections.

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The Genuine Article

With the rise of social media, companies are capitalizing on a new trend, a spin-off of the spokesperson — the “brand influencer.” While many brand influencers are celebrities, in recent years, “regular” people have found internet fame thanks to their ability to reach thousands or millions of viewers via platforms like Instagram and YouTube. What often starts as a blog side project or a product review YouTube channel can quickly turn into a social empire with thousands of followers.

This exposure and influence is a powerful tool for brands to capitalize on. One company sends a popular Instagramer new clothes from their latest line to model. She wears them proudly in several photos as she casually goes throughout her day (linking to the brand’s online store, of course). Another company sends new golf clubs to a YouTuber who tests them out onscreen, praising their quality and durability. Viewers don’t realize they’re being advertised to, but the result is the same nonetheless. The company gains more followers and exposure, and so does the brand influencer — making the relationship a win-win.

The genius of the brand influencer is they’re more low-key than a spokesperson. Audiences relate to them because they’re “regular” people. They don’t push. They don’t tout products in a scripted commercial, rather they casually and seamlessly integrate them into their lifestyles, so viewers can imagine themselves adopting the same products into their lives. Influencers utilize their own personal accounts on a variety of platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, Twitter or Snapchat, instead of the brand’s official account, so they come across as more genuine. Plus, they have the freedom to model or use the products in a more personal and creative capacity, which allows them to remain true to themselves.

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A Range Of Influencers

However, brand influencers don’t all operate the same. Some might sign an official contract with a company, while others may happily endorse a brand out of pure loyalty, with no formal agreement on the books. Influencers can also exist in many different markets, and the firearms industry is no exception.

Instagram user “@fourguysguns” has an impressive 76.1K followers and over 40K YouTube subscribers. The account is run by, you guessed it, four guys reviewing firearms. They daily post Instagram photos of themselves slinging lead or hitting the range. Their YouTube account displays professionally-edited video reviews, SHOT Show recaps and how-to videos. Occasionally, FourGuysGuns posts photos taken at their local range, the Altair Gun Club in Naples, Fla.

“One of the many reasons I like @altairgunclub is their staff,” FourGuysGuns captions a photo of a range employee looking straight into the camera (including a link to the range’s own Instagram page). “Everyone from the guys mending fences to the front office is or was a trigger puller at some point, some place in their life. Everybody works and everyone takes pride in the facility. Even if it’s only once … you should get there.” Another photo is a dramatic shot of a camo-clad, bearded shooter at Altair’s 1,600m range. With FourGuysGun’s influence, Altair is not only the place to be, but it’s filled with the kind of faces you want to be around.

For more inspiration, check out Sootch00, who posts a steady stream of YouTube reviews, survival tips, and a short series titled “Why I Own a Gun” (reasons being: “daughter’s boyfriend” and “night at the movies”). He has 60.5K followers on Instagram and more than 520K subscribers on YouTube.

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Insta-fluence

You really can’t put a price on the power of influence. Google Trends data from 2014–2016 shows “influencer marketing” is on its way to becoming just as effective as video advertising. In fact, a study by Schlesinger Associates reports 84 percent of marketing professionals worldwide expected to launch at least one campaign involving an influencer by summer of last year. Eighty-one percent of marketers who had already begun working with influencers said the strategy was effective.

Essentially, it’s a perfect time to think about the way influencer marketing could benefit your gun store. While it may seem like this trending tactic belongs to big brand machines, you could utilize the power of an influencer in a similar manner to how FourGuysGuns does with Altair Gun Club. Maybe a current customer’s face popped into your head while reading this article, someone who is loyal to your gun store or range and either already has a social media presence or could build one. Maybe you or a current employee could start posting photos and videos reviewing firearms, offering valuable tips and tricks, so customers can regularly see your face and interact with you in the comments section.

Influencers predominately utilize Instagram (and sometimes use it as a springboard to their other social accounts or blogs) because it’s visually-based (you can only post photos or videos, with captions of course). This means feeds are largely text- and clutter-free, more likely to grab a viewer’s attention. If your gun shop or range doesn’t currently have an Instagram account, now is a great time to think about registering one. Instagram recently launched Instagram Stories (15-second video clips that disappear within 24 hours) and Instagram Live (similar to Facebook Live, you can record video in real-time for followers to watch). There are a slew of influencers who connect with their audience on a daily basis utilizing these tools.

Content With Your Content

People are more likely to trust a person over an entity. Influencers can essentially become a company’s brand personified. Whether or not you find a designated individual to tell the world about your gun store, you can still rely on human interactions to influence customers. It may be as simple as recording yourself for a one-minute Facebook or Instagram video about a new shipment of concealed carries or tips for magazine change drills.

While influencer marketing does leverage specific personalities, there’s a sister marketing tactic to consider. You may have heard of the term “content marketing” before. It’s essentially the sharing of content that doesn’t explicitly promote a brand but simply creates interest. Very similar to influencer marketing, right? However, the key word here is “sharing.” Content is given away for free even though it’s valuable (think free webinars, PDF books, blogs or how-to videos).

Content marketing is a successful way to connect relationally with your audience because they feel like you’re putting them first and considering their needs. Not only does sharing your wealth of knowledge create relationships, but it breaks down barriers between newer shooters and your gun store. The more information you arm them with from the comfort of their own home, the more comfortable they will feel about walking into your gun store later on.

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