A Smart Approach To Answer The “Where’s The Safety On This Thing?” Question

By Massad Ayoob

The buzz on the Internet — and, frankly, in most police academies today — holds the defensive handgun is a reactive weapon, and we imperfect humans might forget to wipe off a safety in an emergency and therefore need a “point gun, pull trigger” mechanism. For decades, this was an argument used to keep revolvers in police duty holsters, while patrolmen’s unions were begging for semi-auto service pistols. By the time the auto fans won that argument, GLOCKs were already on the scene, and in many departments with other guns the mantra was: “That lever on your S&W or Beretta’s slide is a decocking lever, not a thumb safety! Carry it with the lever up, ready to shoot!”

Yet, not every customer thinks this way. Some of your clientele are Internet-adept “Shooter Gen 2.0” types, and some are gun geezers like your correspondent here and some are absolutely new to the concept of the defensive firearm. A friend of mine, retired from law enforcement, now works the counter in a gun shop. He recently sent me an email, saying (his emphasis): “They really loved the safeties. New customers WANT A MANUAL SAFETY.”

If you’ve been in the business a long time, you’re familiar with the customer who looks at the pistol you’ve just taken from the showcase and blurts, “Where’s the safety on this darn thing?”


Colt Combat Unit 9mm
For the left-handed shooter in particular, it’s critical a manual safety be
ambidextrous — as seen here on Springfield Armory’s EMP4 9mm.

The Right Answer?

Of the many possible answers to “Where’s the safety?” perhaps the worst is: “You don’t need one.” Millennials don’t like being told what they do or don’t need by older folks, a woman empowering herself with a self-defense tool won’t like hearing it from a man and we geezers don’t like hearing it from our peers (or even our physicians) let alone from “whippersnappers.”

Certainly, you can take time to explain the best-selling pistols for L.E. use are the GLOCK (no manual safety at all), the S&W M&P (ordered most of the time by L.E. agencies without the optional ambidextrous thumb safety) and SIG SAUER models (rarely encountered with manual safeties except for single-action models and an uncommon variation of the P320). After all, particularly with new handgun owners, every dealer wants the customer to leave fully conversant with proper safety protocols.

However, there’s one answer to the “Where’s the safety?” question that may be the most likely of all to end up in a win-win situation. The “win-win,” of course, is you making the sale and the customer leaving with the product that satisfies his or her own perceived needs.

And the answer is: “The safety is right here, on this other model I’m taking out of the showcase for you to examine now.”


Springfield Armory EMP4 9mm
Thumb safety and grip safety are deal breakers for some, but selling points for others,
in classic-style 1911s like this new Colt Combat Unit 9mm.

Educate Customers On Thumb Lever Safeties

While the oddities in your used handgun showcase may include crossbolt safety buttons, most modern guns with manual safeties have them in the form of thumb levers. These may be up for “safe” and down for “fire” as with the seemingly eternal 1911, classic Browning Hi-Power, typical polymer frame HK in the manual safety variants and others. The safety levers may also be up for “fire” and down for “safe.”

These include the Beretta 92/M9 and Px4 series, first-through-third generation S&W defense pistols, the now discontinued P-Series Ruger autoloaders and, the original of its kind, the still-popular Walther PP series.

Most shooters find “up for safe, down for fire” more intuitive and quicker to learn. The opposite style requires more of a learning curve. Most people want to take such guns off-safe by flipping the thumb up from the median joint, rather like shooting marbles, but it’s not the strongest or the most positive way. I’ve learned over the years a straight thrust of the firing hand thumb upward on about a 45-degree angle (think: shove tip of thumb up toward ejection port atop the slide) works more positively, and is virtually required to off-safe the Walther PP series.

It’s counterintuitive to be sure, but consider: showing a customer how to do something he didn’t know before is never a bad thing. Indeed, it helps to reinforce the trust of the buyer in the seller — and the appreciation of the seller as the resident expert on such matters.


A customer requests to see S&W’s in-demand M&P45 Shield. Pictured here, the
“safety catch” is engaged. He asks about the safety — how would you handle
this situation?

Rationale For Manual Safeties

There have been several cases of people accidentally shooting themselves while reholstering their pistol. In most instances, an on-safe pistol would prevent that from happening. I’ve seen many online thread discussions on appendix concealed-carry, and while those users appreciate the carry method’s tactical advantage, they often admit they went from a striker-fired gun with no manual safety to a design that did have a “safety catch” — or at least to a pistol with an external hammer that could be held in position by the shooter’s thumb when holstering.

Note: There have been cases of a poorly designed safety strap, the creased edge of a too-worn holster or the cord of a jacket getting inside the triggerguard to cause unintended discharge while holstering. Score a selling point for the manual safety, which will keep the gun from going off in that situation, no matter where on the body the gun is holstered.

Another plus for the manual safety comes in the area of weapon retention. There are many cases on record of police officers (and some “civilians”) being saved from death when a criminal managed to get their gun away from them, tried to shoot them with it and couldn’t because he either didn’t know it was “on safe” or couldn’t find the safety lever.

The best approach to the sale may be to, as motorcyclists say of helmets, “let those who ride decide.” If your customer wants a new striker-fired pistol of modern design and a thumb safety, you can certainly sell him one. SIG introduced a P320 variation with a manual thumb safety at the 2016 SHOT Show. S&W has long made their M&P pistols with an optional ambidextrous thumb safety, and has sold most of their hugely popular subcompact Shields with a (right hand only) thumb safety. Springfield Armory has offered their XD-45 with an ambi-thumb safety.

Selling the customer what he wants is, after all, perhaps the most proven strategy in salesmanship ever. And often, the customer really is right about his or her own perceived needs.

Read More Personal Defense Market Articles


Read More Shooting Industry November 2016 Issue

Varmint Hunting Sales: A Year-Round Hit

Earn Additional Profits Through Popular Off-Season Activity

By Tim Barker

In early July, Tim Van Leiden decided to take his 11-year-old granddaughter out for her first hunt. With popular game seasons still several months away, the owner of The Gun Guys in Ottawa, Kan., trekked westward across the state and into prairie dog country for some varmint hunting. There, Van Leiden and his son spent most of their time as spectators, as the young girl claimed some 80 dogs.

“We had so much fun watching her and seeing how much fun enjoyed being out there, we really didn’t care about hunting ourselves,” he said. “It’s a really good way to introduce kids to hunting.”

The weekend adventure illustrates one of the strongest draws of varmint hunting: you can do it pretty much whenever the mood strikes.

His business, like many others, is heavily skewed toward the handgun market. But Van Leiden estimates roughly 15 percent of his sales are related to varmint hunting — the loosely defined category of small game and predators.

It’s a market that varies heavily by which state you live in. And even by where you live in your state. In Kansas, it means coyotes, prairie dogs, groundhogs and bobcats. In Florida it means wild hogs, armadillos, raccoons and otters. Ohio hunters include foxes, crow and weasels among their varmint options.

Around Ottawa, where Van Leiden has been in business for 11 years, varmint hunting is essentially restricted to coyotes — which have undergone a recent population boom. There’s also a market for coyote coats, which makes them more popular to hunt in the fall and winter, when they have heavier coats.

“The market fluctuates a lot. It used to be you could get $40 to $50 for a good pelt,” he said.

But considering the range of animals available across the state, there are many options for hunters when it comes to choosing a firearm. There’s the occasional handgun hunter, generally with a Thompson Contender equipped with a scope. And some guys hunt coyotes with shotguns, using Carlson’s choke tubes designed for the animal.

But rifles remain the favorite of varmint hunters, with brands such as Winchester, Remington and Savage among the top choices of customers. The more popular calibers are .223, .204 Ruger and .22-250.

And while many hunters opt for bolt-action rifles, some of them prefer a more modern approach. “The younger guys, those 30 years old or so, are using MSRs to hunt with,” Van Leiden observed.


Mossberg MVP Predator


iHunt By Ruger App


Simmons Predator/Varmint 1-6x24mm

A Similar Story

It’s a similar story at Rieg’s Gun Shop & Shooting Range in Orlando, Fla., where brothers Justin Hilton and Jesse Hastings have been in business since 2012, when they bought the shop from their grandparents.

The MSR platform is popular with some hunters (top brands at Rieg’s include Colt, Bushmaster and local gunmaker Spike’s Tactical), but there’s still a strong interest in bolt-action rifles, Hilton said. An MSR’s larger magazine offers no capacity advantage over its bolt-action counterpart, with hunters limited to no more than five rounds.

A popular seller is the Savage Axis II: “It costs enough money to feel good about it, but it’s not something that breaks the bank,” Hilton said.

More than anything, varmint hunting offers a chance for hunters to stay busy all year and to break out some guns that might otherwise stay in the safe. Larger game demands big calibers (Florida hog hunters opt for .30-06 and .308), but there’s a place for .22, .22 WMR and .17 HMR at the smaller side of game range, Hilton said. “It’s a nice time to bring out your plinking guns and actually hunt some game,” he added.

The brothers’ own favorite is a Marlin Model 60, which they’ve nicknamed “Elmer Fudd.”


Rieg’s Gun Shop & Shooting Range


Popular Sellers

Both stores offer rentals on their ranges to help shoppers make their buying decisions. The Gun Guys, in Kansas, offers a $5 rental option, and includes MSRs, a .22 rifle and a bolt-action .223 among the options.

When it comes to ammo choices, the answer often depends on the type of hunting involved, Van Leiden said. Centerfire hunters out for a long prairie dog hunting session, for example, are less likely to use factory ammo.

“Those guys will reload,” he said. “You can go out over a weekend and shoot 200–300 rounds. That can get expensive.”

The coyote hunters, however, are more likely to drop by the store for factory ammo. Hornady’s V-MAX and Superformance Varmint are among the top sellers.
Among the accessories that move best for varmint hunters are scopes, with a wide range of available options from popular makers Tasco, Leupold, Nikon and Bushnell. “It all depends on how much money they want to spend,” Van Leiden added.

That, and where they plan to hunt. For most Kansas hunting, there’s not much need to shoot more than 200 yards out. So there’s not as much demand for the longer stuff. “It all depends on the hunter’s preference,” Van Leiden said. “Sometimes you’ll need something that will get you quick target acquisition.”
Florida hunters are in a similar situation, with most shots occurring within 100 yards, said Hilton, of Rieg’s. Simmons also is a popular seller for the store, with 4×32 considered an ideal magnification.

“It will handle everything you are going to hunt in the state of Florida,” Hilton noted.

Bipods and shooting sticks, made by Primos and Caldwell, also are popular with hunters who use stationary positions.

There are, however, some areas of varmint hunting where Van Leiden finds it tough to compete with the larger big-box sporting goods stores. He doesn’t currently offer a line of camouflage clothing. And he doesn’t keep a lot of game calls on hand.

“I’ll get a few in,” he said. “But I can’t afford to keep 10 high-end electronic calls or compete on the low-end with Walmart.”

Indeed, the bulk of his varmint business revolves around three things: rifles, scopes and ammo. And those sales don’t always involve seasoned hunters.
On a recent Monday, a woman dropped by the store. She lived alone. And she was trying to figure out how to save her chickens from increasingly aggressive predators. “She wanted a high-powered rifle to shoot coyotes that were coming into her yard,” Van Leiden recalled.

She left with a .22-250, scope and ammo — along with the name and number of a local firearms instructor to get her started.

Read More Feature Articles


Read More Shooting Industry November 2016 Issue

Air Appeal

Highlight Airguns/Airsoft For Plinking, Hunting & Training

By Carolee Anita Boyles

The market for airguns/airsoft continues to evolve. As airguns become more powerful and accurate, they’ve increased in popularity not only for target shooting but also for hunting.

At Kames Sports in North Canton, Ohio, Sales Manager Jeff Snook said his store’s main customers for airguns are small-game hunters.

“We mainly sell to people who hunt squirrels and other small game,” he observed. “We do a little bit of target stuff, but it’s mostly a wintertime basement activity with pellet traps and things like that.”

Snook said most of his customers are buying .177- and .22-caliber airguns, but they’ve also expressed some interest in the larger calibers.
“We sell a few .25s, but the majority of our sales are in .177 and .22. Here in Ohio, small-game hunters are going mostly for squirrel, rabbit and an occasional groundhog in the garden,” he noted.

However, this doesn’t mean the market for more traditional airguns is totally dead, according to Snook.

“Especially at Christmastime, we still sell some of the Red Ryders and (Crosman) 760s, and some of the more kid-type air rifles,” he said. “But the adult air rifles have really taken over, so instead of being $29 or $39 guns, we’re now into the $119 to $299 guns.”

Benjamin is the most popular brand sold at Kames Sports. “We also sell a lot of Gamo,” Snook added. “Some of them have synthetic stocks, but we sell a lot with wood. They look a lot like Grandpa’s old hunting rifle.”

Most of the airguns at Snook’s store have optics already on them. “If they don’t, people buy optics separately. We try to keep a variety of scopes in stock, as well as a variety of pellets,” he added.

According to Snook, airguns tend to have less seasonality than regular firearms. “Adult hunting rifles sell pretty much all year,” he said. “There are critters in the garden during the summertime, and hunting in the fall. Then, around the holidays we’ll sell the whole gamut: from $29.99 airguns up to the $400 range.”

Snook added the store doesn’t have to do a lot of advertising to generate sales of adult airguns. “They pretty much sell themselves,” he noted. “We do a lot on social media, a lot of email blasts, a lot of Facebook. That’s pretty much all we do. People come in looking for them.”

Two product categories Kames Sports keeps in stock are targets and pellet traps. Other accessories also are good sellers, Snook added.

“We keep cleaning pellets, and cleaning kits made for airguns. We also carry gun cases,” he said. “For airguns we sell more bullseye targets and small-game targets.”


Crosman Air American Classic .177 Pistol

FN Herstal SCAR Airsoft Rifle


FN Herstal FNX-45 Airsoft Pistol

Larger Calibers For Larger Game

Fedor Palacios, marketing communications manager for Gamo USA, said hunters are increasingly interested in airguns — and it’s not just for small game.
“First, you don’t need a permit for an airgun,” he noted. “You can just go into a store and buy one. Next, ammunition is very inexpensive and you can find it in almost any sports retailer — a big benefit.”

As airgun technology has evolved and airguns have become more powerful, Palacios said, hunters are able to use them for a wider range of game, which opens new doors.

“Now air rifles can effectively hunt medium-sized game,” he observed. “We’re talking about game the size of foxes and even up to wild hogs. On most of the TV shows we sponsor, celebrities are using our airguns to hunt hogs.”

These larger-caliber airguns go up to .25-caliber, and even up beyond that. AirForce Airguns makes a .45-caliber air rifle, which they market for deer hunting; it also comes in .30 and .357. Benjamin also offers several models in .357 and other manufacturers have followed suit, which includes Evanix with several models in everything from .22 to .50.

“These larger calibers are a niche market,” Palacios noted. “There’s a trend there, but there’s also a question about how many people are interested in it. Some manufacturers are dedicated to only big bores, but most of them are staying with .177 and .22. The .25 and up calibers are something that’s still niche.”


Airforce Airguns Texan Big Bore Air Rifle


Gletcher APS-A Full Metal C02 Airsoft Pistol


Umarex Throttle Break Barrel Air Rifle


Umarex Colt Peacemaker Nickel .177 BB CO2 Revolver

An Update On Airsoft

At one time, Snook said, Kames Sports carried airsoft products, but they discontinued doing so about two years ago because they didn’t sell in the store’s specific market.

“When we sold entry-level products, the return rate was high,” he recalled. “When we went into the higher-end guns — such as the $300 to $400 range — we sold about two a year.”
When it comes to airsoft, the buyers tend to be the same types of gamers who play paintball.

“The buyers are kids and teens, and some former military who are looking to do some gaming with military scenarios,” said Chip Hunnicut, marketing manager at Crosman. “Our research has shown parents are very much involved in purchase decisions, especially with entry-level products such as some of ours.”
There has been some slowdown in sales, he said, which may be related to some of what’s been happening with firearms in the news.

“The games these customers play are just like paintball,” Hunnicut noted. “Kids play video games, and this is an opportunity for them to get off the couch and do something active but can also replicate what they’re playing online or on their television and do it safely.”

Law enforcement is also using some airsoft for training.

“They’re using it, but they’re not coming in and buying new guns every year,” Hunnicut said. “They buy guns one time and then come in and get more ammunition. The market is stable overall.”

In order to sell airsoft effectively to law enforcement, Hunnicut advises one thing retailers need to know is what their local L.E. department is looking for in the way of training guns.

“They’re looking for things that have the similar feel and operation as their service weapons,” he said. “They want it comparable in weight, and it may have a blowback action. So if a retailer is selling an airsoft gun that may not be remotely comparable to a service weapon, it won’t be a strong seller to law enforcement — if at all.”


SIG SAUER Quad Shooting Gallery

Crosman and other manufacturers offer products specifically made for the L.E. market. “It’s a question of knowing both the needs of law enforcement and what the gamers are looking for,” Hunnicut said.

There are basic plastic entry-level airsoft guns, and others with metal or nylon fiber frames. “There also are a number of upgrades,” Hunnicut added. “The guys who are really into airsoft will upgrade at some point. So retailers need to be familiar with what upgrades are compatible with the airsoft guns they’re carrying.”

When it comes to the L.E. market, you can find something comparable to just about anything an officer is carrying, Hunnicut added.

“If an officer is using a Beretta or a GLOCK, there are certainly comparable airsoft products available,” he observed. “If they want long guns, there are shotguns and tactical rifles available that operate pretty close to what officers are using. This is the whole attraction to airsoft: You can get products that are quite realistic in appearance to what’s in videogames and what officers are carrying.”

Editor’s Note: Dealers, have you experienced success with airsoft products? What about airguns for big-game hunters?
We want to know, send an email to editor@nullshootingindustry.com.

Read More Feature Articles


Read More Shooting Industry November 2016 Issue

Safety Talk

Dealers Promote Community Involvement,
Safety Mindset For Customers

By Jade Molde

If you’ve read Shooting Industry consistently over the past few months, you’ve likely encountered a column or feature touting the importance of positive relationships in your community. Earlier this year, the March issue’s Personal Defense Market column spotlighted several dealers who have made charitable donations to local organizations, leading to stronger relationships in the community.

Just last month, in Arms & The Woman, another dealer’s efforts to introduce a Boy Scouts troop to the shooting sports illustrated how engagement with the community can successfully bring new faces into the sport. In fact, Marc Steinke, co-owner of the Salida Gunshop, summed it up succinctly: “You have to create ways to be accepted in the public eye and show shooting is a safe sport.”

These are just two examples (of many) that reveal how cultivating, and then maintaining, a positive relationship with your local community can bring extensive benefits. This can be further enhanced if your store is known to promote firearms safety. As a brick-and-mortar dealer, you’re uniquely positioned to be the local, familiar “voice” promoting safety and responsible training.

We were able to speak with two retailers who were recently recognized as “Local Champions” in promoting firearms safety by NSSF’s Project ChildSafe S.A.F.E. Summer campaign: Jared Sloane, strategic operations manager of Shoot Smart, which has locations in Ft. Worth and Grand Prairie, Texas, and Todd Lockburner, co-owner and general manager of Magnum Shooting Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Both retailers highlighted the importance of introducing new customers to the safety mindset.


Walker’s Razor Ear Pro


Howard Leight Impact Sport Tactical Black Collector’s Edition

Be Aware Of The Need

There’s an important first step in discussing safety with customers, according to Sloane. “Teaching safety and making people aware of it is really critical. It’s important for people to understand why firearm safety is vital for firearms ownership. It’s more about awareness more than any particular tip or rule of safety — being aware of the need is first and foremost,” he underlined.

Lockburner says the majority of his store’s members are new shooters, and they became members after becoming more interested in firearms safety.
“Our motto here is ‘Learn Right. Be Safe. Shoot Well.’ and our members have responded very well to it,” Lockburner said.

Sloane shared Shoot Smart has had an influx of “entertainment” customers, and the store guides them carefully.

“We get a lot of people coming in just for an entertainment value so they’re not interested in sitting through an hour-long safety lecture, which is why we don’t require one. We want to capitalize on their enthusiasm right away, and this is where having a strong, alert and astute team comes in handy,” he said.

Being the daily face of the industry, Sloane said it’s important for dealers to showcase safety for their customers.

“We don’t do anything different from anyone else. But I do know — like many ranges out there — we’re trying to keep the conversation alive about why people are there at the range. We recognize their level of interest, and talk to it concerning safety,” he added. “We need to be carrying the message on firearms safety; that’s our job. We know what it entails, not the anti-gun organizations.”


Peltor Sport RangeGuard Electronic Hearing Protector

Community Stewardship

Shoot Smart and Magnum Shooting Center have each reached out to their respective communities and enhanced local interest in learning about safety.
“With the green light from our company owners, Cassie Shockey, our customer programs manager, and I got together with Project ChildSafe and created a presentation,” Sloane said. “We then partnered with a police department at a local community college and have since used their campus locations and our stores to offer seminars on firearms safety.”

These seminars have been well received, and Shoot Smart aims to expand the program to other demographics in 2017.

“We’ve had a lot of support and feedback from people. What we’d like to do is reach out to more groups on an individual basis: such as Boy Scout troops, church groups and community organizations,” he said.

Shoot Smart has also creatively raised money for Project ChildSafe, Sloane said.

“We did an experimental round-up drive — without promoting it — to see if our teams could work with the concept. It was a success, raising a few hundred dollars in small increments at a time,” he noted. “At the end of each firearms transaction, we’d ask the customer ‘Do you want to round up to the next dollar and donate the spare change to Project ChildSafe and safety awareness for families?’ For the most part, customers would say yes.”
At Magnum Shooting Center, each summer consists of a push to increase safety that reaches out to the whole community.

“Our biggest safety push is something we call the Summer of Safe Shooting (SSS), and we give away thousands of training classes,” Lockburner said. “Last year, we gave away 2,000 firearm safety classes for adults or youth, and this year we did so again and also gave away 500 concealed carry classes.”

During SSS, Magnum Shooting Center partners with several local radio stations, who give away these classes to select callers. When asked about the local community’s response, Lockburner said simply: “People love it.”

As part of this summer-long promotion, Magnum Shooting Center hosts outdoor events, which include live music and food and is done to incorporate a manufacturer. Guests can interact with company reps, get free range time and participate in product demos. According to Lockburner, sales from the featured manufacturer’s products increase “substantially.”

“We give away a lot of classes, a lot of time and spend a lot of money advertising to strictly give back to the shooting sports and our community with no intention of profit. It’s important for more businesses to do this, whether it’s a retail-only or retail/range establishment,” he added.


GunVault MiniVault Biometric GVB 1000


Blok Safety Systems BarrelBlok

It Starts With The Youth

“It seems like if you can get the kids interested in the safety aspect, it can lead to new opportunities,” Lockburner observed. “We’ve put on several full-week youth summer camps and parents will send their kids, even if they’re not big shooters or gun buyers, because they want their kids to get some type of education with firearms.”

These safety classes have “opened the door” for a positive interaction with parents at Magnum Shooting Center.

“By getting the parents to bring their kids in, you get the interaction where you can talk with them; it seems like it engages them much better. Then, they’ll walk through your facility, your training area so they’ll get to see what you have to offer where otherwise they wouldn’t even have come to your facility,” he added.

Lockburner says his staff plays a critical role in encouraging repeat customers.

“Anytime we get someone to come through the door, we want them to see how open and inviting we are, how friendly the staff is and everything we have to offer. You have to have a really good staff that has their heart in it and enjoy what they do,” he said.

In an encouraging trend, both stores have seen an uptick of families training together in recent months.

“We see young adults in the 13–15 age range take classes with their parents,” Lockburner observed. “We also offer private classes, so they can set up a family-only class or take a class with friends.”

“We’ve had several stories of families coming together and shooting together — and becoming a stronger unit. We love seeing things like that,” Sloane added.


Todd Lockburner (center) and the Magnum Shooting Center team have made inroads
in their local community by hosting week-long youth camps each summer. Also
pictured, Kim Shugart (far right), co-owner, and employee David Copeland (left).


Products For First-Time Buyers

Magnum Shooting Center has 4,000 square feet of retail to complement its range and classroom space. Lockburner’s store ensures new customers are properly outfitted.

“We encourage new customers to purchase hearing and eye protection when they make their first firearm purchase. We try to educate them on everything they’re going to need with the firearm — explaining things like how target ammo is different from self-defense ammunition, why they’re at different price points and the purpose for using each,” he said.

When discussing add-on products with new customers, Sloane says Shoot Smart sells the benefits of hearing protection.

“One thing we like to share with customers is: the better hearing protection you have, the more fun you’re going to have. You can go out and shoot longer and you won’t wince/blink each time you pull the trigger,” he said.

“Eye and ear protection is an easy sell. We’ve found our customers with very little experience are looking for real basics, like clear eyeglasses and standard over-ear muffs,” Sloane noted. “New shooters are primarily concerned with the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR). Walkers and Howard Leight have the NRRs we like, and they sell well.”

Sloane added once these new customers become established shooters, they commonly customize their safety equipment to add some “unique flair.”
One welcome strong seller at Shoot Smart’s two locations is Walker’s hearing protection for children.

“Walker’s hearing protection for kids is a great seller, and it comes in excellent packaging. Even though we don’t allow toddlers on the range, parents still buy them,” he noted.

Lockburner reports his store sells a lot of electronic earmuffs — with it being a common upgrade purchase.

“Our customers tend to start with something economical. Once they start shooting more they’ll gravitate toward higher-end products like electronic earmuffs,” he said.

Sloane has observed a similar trend, saying: “We sell a lot of electronic over-ear muffs; they’re popular because people like to chitchat while shooting.”

When it comes to range rental programs, Sloane said his store makes good use of distributor offerings.

“We take advantage of range programs through our distributor for the most part. We go through AcuSport’s range program for some of our range rentals, not all,” he added.

For safe firearms storage, Lockburner said the Winchester line of safes, as well as smaller GunVault models, “sell well” at Magnum Shooting Center. Shoot Smart also carries the GunVault line of products.

Dealers, how have you enhanced safety in your local community? We want to hear from you, send a note to editor@nullshootingindustry.com.

Read More Feature Articles


Read More Shooting Industry November 2016 Issue

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Selling 9mm 1911s For Self Defense

By Massad Ayoob

From online gun forums to gun magazines to the competitive shooting ranges of America, the 1911 pistol chambered for the 9mm Luger cartridge has burgeoned in popularity. There are several reasons why, some of them counterintuitive; the more you and your staff can explain those good reasons to the customers, the more of these guns you’re going to sell.

The “personal defense market” is the title of this column, after all, and it’s where most sales of 9mm 1911s actually seem to be generated. Let’s look at some of the reasons, which your staff can inspirationally share with customers.

Extraordinary Recoil Control: With a 1911 chambered in .45, a shooter with proper grip and stance will see the muzzle flip up, and then immediately come back to the target after the shot. But with the same pistol in 9mm, the shooter with the same solid fundamentals can watch the sight picture rocket back and forth as the slide cycles, barely leaving the point of aim. It’s a stark difference. You’ll often hear a .45 shooter with his first 1911 9mm exclaim, “Wow! It’s like shooting a .22!” It’s not exactly that soft, of course, but you get the idea.

More Ammo: Just like in all pistols, the smaller diameter of the 9mm cartridge compared to the .40 or the .45 allows more cartridges in the magazine. Capacity of a full-size 1911 with, say, Wilson EDM magazines is 8+1 in the traditional .45 ACP, but 10+1 in 9mm. The little 3-inch barrel of the Springfield EMP 9mm is recognized as a subcompact pistol, but holds nine rounds in its mag and a tenth in its firing chamber.

This fact should help sway your cus-tomers who are concerned about magazine capacity. Of course, this affords an opportunity of a potential add-on sale, too.


Michelle Pickett, manager of Harry Beckwith’s Gun Shop in Micanopy, Fla.,
finds it hard to keep 9mm 1911s like these in stock to keep up with demand.

Trigger Reach: 1911s sized especially for the 9mm cartridge, like the Springfield EMP or the SIG, have a shorter reach from backstrap to trigger. This is a huge benefit for people with shorter fingers, and it also allows the average size hand to get on the trigger at the distal joint, which improves leverage. Trigger reach is the most critical element of answering the question, “Does the gun fit the hand?” — it’s a major selling point in and of itself.

Ease of Slide Manipulation: With a less powerful recoil impulse to run the relatively heavy 1911 slide, manufacturers had to go with a much lighter recoil spring. A bonus from this is once the hammer is cocked to relieve mainspring pressure, the slide is much easier for the shooter to cycle. How many semi-auto pistol sales have you lost when the elderly/arthritic/injured customer found he or she couldn’t rack the slide?

The 9mm 1911 generally solves this problem — leaving the customer with a gun they can buy knowing they can operate it properly. This solution also aids in establishing credibility between you and your customers.

These are just some of the reasons behind the burgeoning popularity of 9mm 1911s. The more of these features you share with the right customers, the more of these pistols you’ll sell.


Ruger SR1911


Kimber Pro Carry II


SIG SAUER 1911 Traditional Match Elite Stainless

How 9mm 1911s Came About

Designed by John Browning, the 1911 pistol was built around the .45 cartridge. It achieved moderate success with the .38 Super cartridge of 1929, and wasn’t chambered for 9mm until the Colt Commander model circa 1949. This move by Colt was intended for the U.S. military’s earliest proposal to switch to 9mm for ammo compatibility with other allied nations. It didn’t happen until 1985, however, when Beretta got the contract — and the 9mm Colt was an orphan from the start. A handful was sold to people who “wanted something different” or were particularly recoil sensitive.

To most American handgunners of the mid-20th century, a 9mm was something you’d buy if you wanted high cartridge capacity (like the Browning Hi-Power of 1935) or a double-action first shot (such as the S&W Model 39, built for the same trials as the 9mm Colt Commander and offered to the public about five years later). Demand for 9mm 1911s was so weak Colt often went long periods of time between manufacturing them.

The rise of competition shooting in the ’80s and ’90s — Steel Challenge, PPC and IDPA — led to an increase in demand for 1911s chambered in 9mm. However, this development led to “trouble in paradise” because the 1911 platform was designed around the .45 ACP cartridge. As you know, the 9mm Luger cartridge is distinctly shorter, which caused feeding problems and took a long time for gunsmiths to solve.

Innovators like Al Greco of Al’s Custom and Dave Williams of Springfield Armory largely solved the reliability problem with 9mm 1911s. With the Springfield EMP in particular, Williams scaled down the 1911 proportionally to the 9mm cartridge — creating a very reliable production 9mm 1911. In the custom gun-manufacturing world, Nighthawk’s Shawn Armstrong teamed up with legendary pistolsmith Bob Marvel to redesign the chamber, feed ramp and ejector — creating the most reliable full-size production 1911 in 9mm.

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Click To Read More Shooting Industry October 2016 Issue Now!

A Dealer Who “Gets It” When It Comes To Women And Youth

By Lisa Parsons-Wraith

Eleven eyes focused intently on Firearm Instructor Mike Davis as he demonstrated how to load a 20-gauge shotgun. After a thorough safety lesson and demonstration on clay busting, Davis asked if there were any questions. A hand belonging to a 14-year-old Boy Scout shot up, “Can I go first?” A few shots and busted clays later — he was hooked. The Scout leaned over to his friend and said, “This is so cool. I want a shotgun. I’m going to ask my dad.” And it’s as easy as that: A whole new group of firearm enthusiasts is born.

These events took place on a hot summer day in Colorado courtesy of the Salida Gunshop (also known as American Hunting & Firearms Service), which donated ammunition and guns to a day at the range for 11 Boy Scouts and their parents.

In all, a total of 20 people were instructed on how to shoot a .22-caliber rifle, and 12- and 20-gauge shotguns. Davis, a Salida gunshop instructor and former owner, donated his time to the Boy Scout troop — saying their operation has always put a big emphasis on kids and first-time shooters.

Marc Steinke, who currently co-owns the Salida Gunshop with Josiah Nierman, has been in the firearms business for 30 years — including a stint as an NRA field rep for Texas, Colorado and Alaska. “My main focus is youth and ladies because they’re the future of the shooting sports,” Steinke said. “If we don’t teach and train them [about firearms] now, we’ll lose them later. You have to create ways to be accepted in the public eye and show shooting is a safe sport.”

His belief explains why Davis and Steinke were happy to donate time and materials to a Boy Scouts troop from California that doesn’t have the same exposure to the shooting sports those in Colorado enjoy. “I thought it was an important thing to do because a lot of kids don’t have the opportunities to shoot like we have here, or they don’t have the money,” Steinke emphasized. “I strongly encourage other dealers to follow our example. They can fork out a few bucks on ammo and donate their time, and it will come full circle. If they don’t, it will cost them in the long run.”


If you partner with a local Boy Scouts troop to provide instruction and
guns/ammo, you’ll rein- force a positive image of the industry to the
“next wave” of customers — and even to parents.
Courtesy of Boy Scouts of America

“It’s Great For Families.”

An interesting dynamic of that Boy Scout day at the range was the parents were equally enthusiastic about shooting — including the ladies in the group. Everyone was game to try a new skill and take the time to improve their shooting, especially when it came to busting clays.
“Some of the parents who come to an event like this have never experienced shooting, so they try it,” Steinke remarked. “Parents see their kids smiling, learning a new skill and being outside — and then they try it. It’s great for families. Kids will come back and say it’s the most exciting thing they’ve done in their life.”

The items Salida Gunshop stocks on its shelves also demonstrate the staff’s commitment to new shooters. “We have a whole rack of youth guns; they’re huge sellers,” Steinke said.

In the rifle department, a best seller is the Mossberg Patriot rifle, according to Steinke. “It’s all made in the USA, comes in all calibers and all sizes, including youth and ladies. The 7mm-08 is just awesome for big game.”

The reliable Remington 870 is a favorite shotgun amongst Steinke’s customers. “The youth and ladies models chambered in .410- and 20-gauge are hard to beat,” he added. Finally, a popular handgun with women and youth is the GLOCK 43 9mm. “It’s a great youth and ladies gun because it’s sized to fit them,” he said, adding that GLOCKs are so reliable, they make great guns for beginning shooters.

Salida Gunshop’s women customers are big fans of firearms with color. “Ladies like to have something designated for them,” Steinke noted. Top-selling CCW accessories include purse holsters from Gun Tote’n Mamas because of their quality and design. Sticky Holsters are also popular since they work with just about every item of clothing without a belt and can easily go in a pocket.

When it comes to firearm purchases, Steinke strongly discourages men from buying guns for women, “I tell them, ‘You don’t try her shoes on for her, so you can’t try her gun on — bring her in!’” It’s important not to rely on special orders for women’s (and youth’s) guns. When women come into the store, they can try several different guns (as they would shoes) and find the right fit.
“You have to have guns in stock for women so they can try them and find the right one,” Steinke stressed.

A Sound Investment

Supporting youth and women’s shooting has proved to be a good strategy for Steinke. His store caters to an active shooting community and they’re lucky to have a public range close by for shooting events. Steinke was instrumental is obtaining NRA grants to fund the public range, corralling approximately $100,000 to support the public range on county land. Salida Gunshop is also expanding — an indoor gun range is in the works for instructional training, shooting skills classes and gunsmithing.

If you’re interested in promoting youth and ladies shooting, reach out to Boy Scout troops, 4-H Clubs and other youth groups. Let them know you’re promoting the shooting sports as a safe and fun pastime. Many groups are looking for unique activities that build useful skills and get kids outside. Make it a safe and entertaining event where kids experience success and get to hit fun and engaging targets. The parents in attendance will see the joy it brings to the kids and want to get in on the action.

Even more importantly, if a family hasn’t had any experience with the shooting sports, it will show shooting in a positive light and it will benefit your business in the future. As Steinke said, all firearms dealers can, at a minimum, occasionally donate their time, ammunition and firearms to encourage new shooters. It’s an investment in the future that will more than double over time.

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Click To Read More Shooting Industry October 2016 Issue Now!

What’s Trending In Handguns?

Dealers Share Their Insights On Top Sellers,
Best Services For Repeat Customers

By Mark Kakkuri

This year, a few handgun manufacturers rolled out some noteworthy goods: Kimber revealed its first revolver, the K6s. Ruger brought forth the Ruger American Pistol, a new polymer duty pistol. And Nighthawk Custom started carrying high-end Korth revolvers. Yes, that’s a broad spectrum of product offerings in the handgun market. So clearly these manufacturers think there’s a market for them — or at least they’re hoping there will be.

Since we’re still seeing record gun sales and plenty of interest in self-defense, law enforcement and sporting handguns, Shooting Industry decided to check in with a couple of dealers to see what’s hot in the handgun market and why. David Freeman and David Loeffler head up Texas Gun Pros in North Richland Hills, Texas, and Loeffler’s Guns in Grants, New N.M., respectively.

SI: How are you dealing with the increased demand for handguns?

Freeman: “We deal with multiple distributors and we monitor their inventories daily to see what’s available in the most popular handguns for our store. In fact, we keep standing orders for Taurus PT111s, Smith & Wesson M&P Shields, SCCYs and a few other models that sell as soon as they hit the door.”

Loeffler: “There’s a small increase in sales in my area. Definitely an increase in interest in personal carry and home-defense firearms, and sales are fairly steady. The last seven years have shown a slight increase in interest, but the economy for this area has been hard hit by the increase in regulation of coal mining and in the energy industry. There have been many who have lost jobs and disposable income has dropped precipitously.”

SI: How has a change in demand affected what you offer to customers?

Freeman: “Early in the year there were shortages for GLOCK 42, GLOCK 43 and GLOCK 19 pistols. Almost all of this year, until recently, Taurus PT111s, S&W Shields and Springfield XD-S models have been in high demand because of the popularity of civilian concealed carry. The same goes for the Springfield EMP and their smaller 1911s.” Freeman also relayed he provides extended customer service to great effect: “We have the ability to special order almost anything. So we spend our inventory dollars mostly on what we know people are looking for.”


Springfield Armory XD(M) OSP

Loeffler: “We maintain a selection of new and used guns in the lower-to-middle price range with some higher-end firearms mixed in as well. My wholesalers do a good job of keeping a selection of types on hand but selection of a particular make and model can be iffy.”

SI: What trends are you seeing in sales of handguns? And how would you rank
the sales of, say, polymer semi-autos compared to 1911s and revolvers?

Loeffler: “There’s a demand for lighter weight polymer frame guns for personal carry, but for shooting pleasure the 1911 is popular, yet a slow seller.” He says revolvers are about a third of his sales for personal defense — and about 2:1 prefer double action over single action. “The single action is still popular in rural New Mexico in both .22 LR and larger calibers for hunting and just plain fun.”

Freeman: “For the past two years, the single-stack nines have had the highest demand. Right behind these are the smaller nines with more capacity. When those guns are short in supply, we offer easier-to-get alternatives we know will work for a customer’s intended use. For example, a CZ-P07 is an excellent carry gun, as is the SAR-B6. We can get these.”

SI: Are you seeing increased interest from handgun hunters or target shooters? And if so, what’s the reason behind it?

Freeman: “Because we teach [Texas] License to Carry courses, the bulk of our business is for defensive handguns. This is followed closely by MSRs. Currently, we’re not getting a lot of hunters, but we’re expanding and expect that to change.”


Taurus Millennium G2 PT111

Loeffler: “The change in handguns for hunting here in New Mexico is not actually for hunting with a handgun, but for personal defense from both two- and four-legged predators when archery hunting. And target shooters provide steady sales; I’m expecting an upturn when the county range comes online in a year or so.”

SI: How about the concealed carry/personal defense market?

Loeffler: “There are inquiries daily about concealed carry/personal defense. I have two local instructors I recommend for basic handling and concealed carry instruction. Overall there’s been a huge increase in interest and the classes we’re offering are full.”

Freeman: “Most of our business is from the concealed-carry and/or home-defense market, primarily because we’re a training facility first — with gun sales as an added element. But I have to say: Our revenues last year were 70 percent from gun sales, 30 percent from training. The smaller guns sell well — but we don’t push .380s at all. We’ll sell one, but only if the customer fully understands what they’re getting. We simply don’t feel they’re the right solution for personal defense until we’ve helped the customer explore other options.”

SI: What are customers coming back to your store most for — training, gunsmithing, gear, more guns?

Freeman: “Customers usually come to us first for training, then come back for firearms and additional training. Because we approach every sale as instructors, rather than salesmen, we get a lot of repeat business. People like being educated more than they like being sold.”

Loeffler: “The gunsmithing side of the business is steady, and there’s a small increase in reloading inquiries. With the availability of ammunition online, I’m not seeing more than a 1 or 2 percent increase in ammunition sales here.”


Remington RM380

SI: What are you offering in incentives to get customers in the door and how are you getting them to buy add-on products?

Freeman: “We send out email flyers weekly, and on special occasions we’ll let people know when we have desirable or hard-to-get firearms. We also offer a 5 percent discount forever on in-stock firearms for people who have attended one of our classes. Add-on products are just a natural part of the educational process. We don’t tell people they need something without educating them about why they need it (or why they should want it).”

Freeman also points out first-time handgun buyers will have immediate gear or accessory needs, right out of the gate. “They need a holster or purse, and if they’re going to wear it, a good gun belt. Almost everyone these days wants an UpLULA magazine loader once they’ve tried one. They need ammo, both range and personal-defense, and they need cleaning supplies. We offer a free gun cleaning class each month, not just to our existing customers, but to anyone who wants it (subject to seating limitations), and we help those that attend buy the right kind of cleaning supplies so they don’t overspend.”

Loeffler: “Our customers prefer a broad availability of accessories and gear. Mostly just having ammunition, holsters, paper, DuraSeal and steel targets, magazines, magazine loaders and magazine carriers available gets them sold. That, along with free advice, helps handgun sales.”


courtesy of Heckler & Koch

“It’s Just Getting Crazy Out There.”

Freeman says the most surprising thing about the handgun market so far this year is, “we continue to see people come in who have previously been afraid of guns or maybe anti-gun and something has turned a switch in them to make them feel not only that they need a gun at this point in their lives but also that they need to know how to safely own and operate it.”

The impetus behind a new customer’s decision to buy can be a myriad of reasons. “We hear very interesting stories,” he says. “Some who live in gated, high-end communities tell us of break-ins, robberies and such that happened to them or a friend or family member. Others are concerned about the possibility of terrorist sleeper cells in the U.S. Some are concerned that ‘it’s just getting crazy out there.’”


American Handgunner Celebrates 40 Years Of Groundbreaking Content

Forty years ago, the U.S. was in the midst of celebrating its Bicentennial, Steve Jobs cofounded the Apple Computer Company in a garage and a magazine devoted to all things handguns made its debut as the first of its kind on the newsstands. Since 1976, American Handgunner has set the standard when it comes to delighting readers with eye-popping images, engaging reviews and a cast of knowledgeable, yet talented writers.

With the launch of the September/October 2016 issue earlier this year, American Handgunner celebrated 40 years on the newsstands. Ruger’s American Pistol was on the cover, and other highlights from the issue include “The Impossible Python,” how the .50 GI is alive and well and a “Close Look” at sights/optics and accessories.

In his Insider column, Publisher and Editor Roy Huntington saluted Handgunner’s readers for sharing in the publication’s success, writing, “That first issue, Sept/Oct 1976, rewrote the book on gun magazines and has spawned copycats galore over the years. We’re still number one in the quality of our readers and the affection of the industry. You guys are handgunners and love to shoot, reload, compete, collect, train, defend and you all cherish your families, your friends and your country. So do we.”

To stay up to date on what your customers are reading about in American Handgunner visit www.americanhandgunner.com.

Salutes to the entire American Handgunner team for achieving this milestone!

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Click To Read More Shooting Industry October 2016 Issue Now!

Hot Knives!

Latest Trends Show Cutlery Industry Is Still On Fire

By Pat Covert

The BLADE Show, held every June in Atlanta, is the cutlery world’s best barometer of industry health — and this year’s event was no exception. Attendees last year saw a huge increase in both youth-driven companies and younger consumers alike. In 2016, this trend continued at an accelerated pace, and in an encouraging sign, there was a noticeable uptick in participation from the international community. Follow along as we give you a tour of some of the hot new offerings!

Tactical And EDC Standouts

Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT) won the BLADE Show’s Most Innovative Imported Knife award for their Ken Onion Field Strip Homefront folder. Serious looking with a hint of retro cool, the Homefront (8.3 inches overall with a flipper opener) can be taken apart in less than a minute — making cleaning mud and grit a snap. Truly innovative, the Homefront will be a home run among your customers. MSRP is $150.

Böker Plus Knives’ biggest seller in 2015 was the Urban Trapper series of everyday carry (EDC) folders. These modern Brad Zinker designs are nothing short of slick. Soon, there will be a more compact version, the Urban Trapper Mini, with four different frames: Titanium, Cocobolo Wood, Carbon Fiber and G10. The blade length on the Minis will be 2.75 inches, making them ideal for small, everyday carry. The first issue is the Titanium model, with a suggested retail of $99.95.

The Hogue Knives folks were all smiles after winning the 2016 Freedom’s Guardian Award from Knife Rights, the cutlery industry’s equivalent of the NRA. The company’s new X5 series of folders were on display and featured an arched profile, anodized aluminum frame, CPM 154 stainless steel and a slick button lock blade release. Available in a choice of blade styles, the X5’s MSRP ranges from $209.95 to $259.95.

Spyderco’s Pattada, the newest folder in their Ethnic Series, carries on the banner in spades. Long and sleek, the 8.76-inch (open) Pattada has its roots in Sardinian ethnic knives called “resolzas.” Designed by Spyderco owner and founder Sal Glesser, this resolza is modernized with clean lines, G10 handle scales and a top-shelf Böhler-Uddeholm N690Co stainless steel spear point blade. MSRP is $289.95.

The American-Made Knife Of The Year award went to Spartan Blades’ SHF (Spartan Harsey Folder), a handsome blend of sculpted Titanium and S35VN stainless steel. The SHF won’t be available until later in 2016, but the Metis model folder has already hit the shelves. This is a gentleman’s EDC: 6.75 inches in overall length with a sweet upswept S35VN blade and full Titanium frame with integral lock. Every bit as tough as it is stylish, the Metis has an MSRP of $340.

The Zero Tolerance 0456 was released just before the BLADE Show and has already proven to be a hit among end users. Designed by custom knifemaker Dmitry Sinkevich, this 7.7-inch (deployed) 3-D machined, two-tone Titanium frame folder is a bulldog in stylish attire. The blade has a flipper opener with a CTS-204P stainless steel hybrid of clip point and reverse tanto styles. The blade pivot, frame spacers and pocket clip are done up in a striking anodized blue. MSRP is $300.

Designed by SWAT officer Lee Smith, the ESEE Tertiary push knife is based off the company’s wildly popular Izula model. The Izula-style blade is a 2.5-inch clip point of 1095 high carbon steel (an ESEE standard) with a black powder coat. Overall length is 5 inches. Optional handle scales are Izula black G10 units and the knife comes with a black molded plastic sheath with removable clip plate. MSRP is $162 with scales, $130 without.

The Steel Will Gekko folder has been one of their most popular models, so much so that customers begged for a smaller version for a light EDC. Steel Will obliged with the new Gekko Mini Series — sporting handle options in Burgundy Micarta, Green Canvas Micarta and Black G10. Fully extended, the new Minis will check in at 7.87 inches, with 3.5 of that in the blade. MSRP for the Minis is $199.95.


CRKT took home the BLADE Show’s Most Innovative Imported Knife award for
their Ken Onion-designed Homefront folder with Field Strip technology.
It can be disassembled in less than a minute for cleaning.


Silver Stag Deep Valley Elk Stick

Hunting/Survival Edges

Hunting and survival-type knives continue to be an in-demand trend among knifemakers, and several new introductions caught the eye of BLADE Show attendees.

Benchmade’s new Crooked River AXIS Lock, part of their HUNT Series of fixed-blades and folders, may be the best-looking hunting folder ever produced. Seriously. The 5.3-inch handle is a sweet combination of grey anodized bolsters with Dymondwood scales, further accented with an orange pivot collar and back spacer. A 4-inch stonewashed clip point of CPM-S30V stainless steel does the cutting chores. MSRP is $210.

Designed by popular outdoorsman Brian Griffin, Schrade’s new SCHF42 Frontier fixed-blade is as hot as a cap pistol. At 9.95 inches overall with a 5.12-inch 1095 high carbon steel drop-point blade, the SCH42 can handle a myriad of field chores. Buyers have a choice of black or brown Grivory handle scales. MSRP is a very affordable $75.56, which also includes a leather sheath.

Habilis Bushtools, a favorite of the bushcraft set, continues to grow its line of survival and camp knives. The new Companion model, a compact 6.35-inch fixed-blade with an upswept 3-inch clip-point blade, attracted interest. The full-tang design features 1095 high carbon steel and a comfortable bag handle of orange/black layered G10 composite. The Companion is priced at an affordable MSRP of $99, perfect for the younger crowd.

Battle Horse Knives’ new Bushman, a super-sized version of their popular Bushcrafter model, is a beast. At 10.75 inches overall — 5.25 inches in the blade — the Bushman is made for heavy-duty camp chores. This handful of a fixer features easy-to-sharpen O1 tool steel and Micarta handles. Battle Horse offers three blade grinds: Scandi, Saber and Full Bevel. Its MSRP is $250, which includes a beefy leather sheath.

Smith & Sons Knife Company is a family business, founded in 2011. The Ultralite is a 7-inch overall fixer with a 3.7-inch deep-bellied drop-point blade designed for skinning game and light camp chores. The compact Ultralite features D2 blade steel, Micarta handle scales and a horizontal leather sheath. MSRP is $215.

TOPS Knives has moved onto the production phase of the new B.O.B. Fieldcraft folder after two years of prototyping and testing. This folding version of their popular B.O.B fixed-blade has virtually the same lines and, according to Marketing Director Craig Powell, the blade can be used for batoning — a testament of its strength. Overall length is 9.75 inches and the 1095 high carbon steel modified Scandi blade is 4.38 inches. MSRP for the B.O.B. Fieldcraft folder is $250.

Gerber 06 Auto


Bear & Son B-400-LD


Jim Bruhns president of Hogue Knives, proudly displays the 2016 Freedom’s Guardian
Award trophy from Knife Rights — the cutlery industry’s equivalent of the NRA.

Save The Date

BLADE Show 2017 will once again be held at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta, running June 2–4. Visit www.bladeshow.com for more information.


SB Tactical Ramps Up OEM Efforts

Continuing the company’s aggressive rebranding campaign and product portfolio effort, SB Tactical has announced new OEM partnerships with IWI US, KRISS USA and CAA USA.

“The evolution of our brand and products showcases our commitment to growth and innovation. This is an exciting time for SB Tactical; we look forward to forging strategic relationships with new partners and fans of the PDW Pistol community,” said Amy Pevear, SB Tactical VP of marketing.

IWI’s UZI Pro and Galil Ace firearms will be equipped with SB Tactical’s UZI PSB (Pistol Stabilizing Brace) and Galil PSB, while KRISS USA’s Vector SDP pistols feature Vector PSB braces in both black and FDE. CAA is now shipping the Non-NFA RONI featuring a SB Tactical PSB.
SB Tactical also has existing partnerships with SIG SAUER, Century Arms, LWRCI, Zenith Firearms and Maxim Defense.
Visit www.sb-tactical.com

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Click To Read More Shooting Industry October 2016 Issue Now!

Women Continue To Benefit From Shotguns Designed Just For Them

By Lisa Parsons-Wraith

Clay busting, whether it be skeet, trap or sporting clays, has always enjoyed enormous popularity with women. It’s proven as a great non-threatening introduction to the shooting sports and has inspired many women to further engage in other firearm-related activities. Kim Rhode’s record-breaking sixth consecutive appearance in the Olympics and her status as the first female to medal in six consecutive games (and the first summer Olympian to accomplish this feat!) should inspire more women to try the shotgun sports. Capturing bronze in the women’s skeet shooting event at Rio 2016, Rhode’s status as an Olympic hero is assured.

As we’ve noted in this column before, women’s enthusiasm for the shotgun sports hasn’t gone unnoticed by firearms manufacturers and there are more shotguns for women to choose from than ever. Here’s a look at just a few of the great shotgun offerings women have to choose from:

CZ-USA’s shotgun designed for women is called the Lady Sterling. Created with special stock dimensions that allow most women to keep their heads up and eyes on target and an adjustable comb to help fine-tune the fit, this shotgun has a lot going for it. An increased pitch of around eight degrees makes it much more comfortable on the shoulder for women, as well. Built on CZ’s Upland Sterling receiver, the Lady Sterling is chambered in 12-gauge with 28-inch barrels, handling both 2.75- and 3-inch shells. The gun comes in Turkish walnut with an adjustable comb and laser stippling, extractors, F, IM, M, IC and C chokes, and has a manual tang safety.

Ithaca Gun Company entered the women’s market with the Model 37 Featherlight Ladies Stock pump-action. The gun features a unique drop of comb, drop of heel, cast pitch and toe out. Since this stock is designed for women shooters, the ergonomics make it comfortable for women. It’s only available in 20-gauge, and is well suited for pheasant hunting or clays. Other features include: a receiver machined from a single block of steel, solderless barrel system, a lengthened forcing cone to reduce recoil, classic game scene engraving and a fancy black walnut stock and forend. The 37 Featherweight weighs in at 6.8 lbs. and three Briley choke tubes round out the package.

The sheer versatility of the Mossberg Flex 500 makes it a good choice for women looking for an all-around shotgun. The Flex is a tool-less locking system, which allows the shooter to simply switch stocks, forends and recoil pads for a variety of shooting applications. The modularity of this shotgun design means a woman’s favorite turkey gun can quickly be turned into a home security weapon. Available in many 12- and 20-gauge configurations, there’s sure to be a Mossberg Flex shotgun to fit your female customers’ needs.


Beretta’s A400 Xcel is a light-recoiling 12-gauge competition
shotgun with a number of women-friendly features.

Italian Beauties Boost Options

The Beretta A400 Xcel is a low-recoiling, clay-busting semi-auto designed for competition. It reliably feeds all types of shells from 2.75 to 3 inches, whether they’re light target loads for competition or heavier loads for the occasional upland bird hunt. A hydraulic shock absorber and Micro-Core buttpad reduce recoil by 70 percent ­— the Xcel is built to recoil parallel to the comb, so there’s less chance of the gun hitting a woman’s cheek. The Xcel comes in 12- and 20-gauge variants.

Beretta’s A400 semi-auto series also comes in a lighter-weight version of just 6 lbs., 10 oz. in 12-gauge called the A400 Lite. Despite its reduced weight, women will appreciate the fact it will not kick excessively because it’s a gas-operated semi-auto and has Beretta’s Kick-Off recoil reducer in the stock. Essentially a shock absorber, the Kick-Off compresses as the gun comes back under recoil, softening the blow to your shoulder. The gun comes in a choice of 26-, 28- or 30-inch barrels, all chambered for 2.75- and 3-inch shells.

The A400 Lite brings shotguns into the high-tech world with Beretta’s GunPod 2, a sensor in the stock that records shots fired and miles walked. The Bluetooth device connects to social media and women can even send out GPS coordinates should they need assistance. Even though it’s not designed specifically for women, the A400 Lite has features they’ll want such as an adjustable stock and a set of spacers, which allow for adjustments for users to create a custom fit.

Women looking for a turkey gun will appreciate features on the Beretta A300 Outlander Camo Turkey. While also not designed specifically for women, this model sports a Realtree Xtra finish, a shorter, 24-inch barrel, a stock that can be shortened up to an inch (with only a screwdriver needed) and stock shims to alter the gun’s dimensions to better suit a female owner.

The barrel has fiber-optic front and rear sights and the receiver accepts a scope mount for an optical sight, such as a scope or red-dot. It has studs to accommodate sling swivels, making it easier to carry though the woods. All in all, this 12-gauge’s features make it an ideal turkey gun for women.

The Rizzini V3 Youth and Female Competition model, distributed by Fierce Arms in Gunnison, Utah, has a stock with a shorter overall length and a raised Monte Carlo comb to meet the needs for lady shotgunners. The gun’s design helps limit recoil and improve the fit for small-statured women. The V3 comes in 12- and 20-gauge, and barrel lengths of 28 and 30 inches to accommodate different shooting styles.


Strike A Balance

Blaser USA out of San Antonio, Texas, distributes the German-made Blaser F3 Ladies shotgun. Designed with women in mind, Blaser took extra pains to dampen recoil with the Speedbump recoil system from Speedbump StockWorks. This system also allows for an adjustable length of pull from 13.5 to 14.625 inches. Another feature on the F3 Ladies Gun is a four-way adjustable comb that can be set up as an extractor or ejector, with the extractor variant allowing for easier opening and closing of the action.

The F3 Ladies shotgun balance can also be adjusted through a weight system in the stock and forend called the Blaser Balancer. This allows the shotgun to be modified to any woman’s style. The shotgun features Blaser’s IBS anti-doubling system to prevent fan firing and Blaser’s EBS ejecting system. The system activates when the gun is fired and cocks the ejecting spring when the gun is opened, keeping resistance to a minimum. Also standard on the F3 are Briley Extended Spectrum Choke Tubes and key. The 12-gauge weighs in at a nicely balanced 8.75 lbs.

Whether your customers are gearing up for the fall hunting season or busting clays, there are many shotgun options available to women. Fall is perfect for a women’s shotgun clinic and get women thinking about gearing up for shotgun shooting sports. Have plenty of branded vests, hats and clothing to coordinate with the shotguns you sell. Women are fiercely brand loyal and will be proud to sport accessories touting their favorite shotgun’s name.

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