The Storage Solution

Secure Sales From First-Time Buyers

By Carolee Anita Boyles

One key aspect of gun safety is secure storage. Whether a gun owner is storing his or her firearm in a residence, business or in a vehicle, there is a wide range of options available. Brian Bourgoin is the hunting and gun department manager at Outdoor Emporium in Seattle. He’s seen an increase in customer interest in safe gun storage at his store.

“Our customers are looking at a variety of security solutions ranging from full-size gun safes in the home to small bedside storage for emergency access — and also for when they have to securely lock their gun in their vehicle,” he said.

While laws governing concealed carry in a vehicle require the handgun to be under the owner’s control, Bourgoin pointed out “there are many places where concealed carry is prohibited.” This, he said, means a firearms owner would need to leave their gun locked out of sight in the vehicle — which creates its own set of problems.

“People realize the average vehicle’s glove box provides little in the way of security. It’s often difficult to put one of the lockable gun boxes under the seat due to automotive electronics that limits the space available. I think this is an area where the industry could develop better customer options for in-vehicle storage,” he added.

Customers are buying a lot of home security solutions as well, according to Bourgoin.

“The brands of safes we sell are American Security, Sports Afield, Cannon, Rhino Ironworks and Bighorn, Heritage, Winchester and Stack-On,” he said. “On the small side of things, we also sell GunVault and Liberty Quick Vault lines. When it comes to travel, if you’re just going to the range or traveling on commercial airlines, we carry a range of nylon soft padded and hard-sided aluminum or plastic travel cases.”

Bourgoin said Outdoor Emporium relies on more than just sales floor exposure to sell gun safes.

“We participate in a variety of community awareness programs to promote gun safety such as Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Free Safe Gun Storage Giveaway Events,” he said. “Here, the public can come and learn about safe gun storage and get a free lockbox or trigger lock. We’re also a member of the King County LOK-IT-UP Program that promotes the safe storage of firearms by saving customers 10–15 percent off select storage devices or lockboxes. When you combine that with the fact there’s no sales tax on guns safes in Washington State, there are a lot of incentives for customers to secure their firearms.”


Fort Knox Vaults

Who Are Today’s Safe Customers?

In Oklahoma City, Miles and Jayne Hall owned H&H Shooting Sports for over 30 years. In that time, Miles observed a recent change in safe buyers.
“They’re younger, and they’re very conscious about securing their items,” he said. “And it’s not just guns they wanted to secure. The guns are obvious, but then they talked about putting their coin collection, stamp collection, jewelry and special photos in the safe as well.”

Miles said these buyers want more than just a steel box to store guns and other items in.

“They want the amenities,” he noted. “They’re looking for something that’s well built, and is almost like a piece of furniture. They also don’t argue about the cost. These customers do a lot of research, and they want something pretty and durable.”

Jayne pointed out another trend the Halls noticed in their store: “Customers would buy the small safes and put their important papers in them, and then put them in the bottom of the big safe. That’s double protection for the things they really need to take care of. It’s like their own safety deposit box but they don’t have to go to the bank to get to it.”

Jayne identified Liberty and Browning as the store’s most popular brands. “H&H also carries Winchester and Fort Knox,” she added.

Miles pointed out several reasons for the shift in who’s buying safes. “The biggest reason is the audience has dropped in age. These customers find out information differently than the older audience does.

It’s obvious to them what’s good product and what’s not good product. It’s amazing to me that young people are so adamant about protecting their stuff,” he said.


Stack-On QAS-1514-B

The Halls also observed a lot of sales in small safes for bedside or other quick access locations.

“It’s often a customer’s first purchase,” Miles said. “A customer may come in for one of those, and then when he’s done his homework decides he wants a bigger one.” These customers are also interested in biometric safes, including finger swipe models.

“We’d sell more of the finger swipe safes than we do anything else in small, quick-access safes,” Miles said. “If you think about it, the customers who are buying these safes are from the same audience that uses finger swipes to activate their iPhones.”

Getting the word out about what is currently available at your store, Miles said, is all about education and communication.

“What worked best for us was television, newspaper and radio,” he observed. “We found our ads that push a sale don’t do nearly as well as an ad that educates the buyer with a good price. We explain all the benefits and then say ‘It’s normally $2,995 but we’re running a special for $2,500.’ It’s a better pitch for us. These customers aren’t as much bargain hunters as they are quality hunters.”

Miles also disseminated infor-mation on Facebook and on the store’s website.


Americase AT-AR-15


Liberty HDX-250



A “Safe” Delivery

Mike Cowan, owner of Cowan’s Guns & Ammo in Basin, Wyo., said his biggest storage sellers right now are home safes.

“In our area, we’re dealing a lot with people breaking into houses for drugs, or for money, jewelry and guns,” he said. “It’s getting to the point now people are buying safes just to put their prescription medications in them. In fact, one of our local pharmacies was broken into a year or so ago, and what saved them was all their narcotics were locked into a gun safe.”

All of this is creating a new market for gun dealers who carry safes. When a customer purchases a safe, Cowan said, he makes sure it gets delivered to the person’s home.

“What I have in my store is demonstration models, so the person can come in and select what they want,” he said. “We usually do a custom order, because most customers want to change things just a little bit. Then the safe comes in on a delivery truck. The delivery truck drops it at the person’s house and sets it on the porch with a pallet jack. Then it takes three or four of us to actually move it into the house and put it where the person wants it.”
H&H also provides a delivery service for safes, which has grown into a considerable success for the store in winning business.

“We have all the right equipment, and the right delivery truck,” Miles said. “The truck has no markings on it because when you’re delivering a safe to someone you want it to be like you’re delivering a piece of furniture. When I owned H&H, the department I got the most compliments on was my delivery crew.”

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Personal Defense Sales Today

Be A “One-Stop” Shop For Your
Customers’ Defensive Needs

By Tim Barker

It’s just before noon when James Beach walks into Central Florida’s East Orange Shooting Sports. With the look of a man who’s been here before, he heads for a display of compact handguns. Beach wants a closer look at a Walther PPS, his current leading contender for a new concealed-carry piece.

Like most customers who make their way into the shop, located in a suburb of Orlando, Fla., Beach has already spent some time online researching his next purchase. “It’s good to come in and be an educated consumer,” he said.

For the next 20 minutes or so, he chats with the shop’s owner, John Ritz, over a variety of options and possible alternatives to the Walther. Ritz pulls several guns — Rugers, Kahrs, Smith & Wessons — from the display case, offering Beach a chance to see how each feels in his hands. They discuss Beach’s plans for the gun.

And so it is the customer finds himself holding a Smith & Wesson revolver.

He’s not ready to buy yet, but as he heads for the door he admits the exchange with Ritz has opened his mind to new possibilities. “I don’t even look at the revolvers normally. But now it’s posed another option for me,” Beach said. “I’m going to go home and do some more research.”

This was, in many ways, the ideal encounter for Ritz, who bought the store in 2006. During the past 10 years, he’s pushed a transformation of the business, aiming to be the kind of place where customers find a welcoming atmosphere, low-pressure sales and solid advice on self-defense products.
“The goal is to make the industry seem less threatening — more inviting to people,” he said. “Even the restrooms are set up to be restaurant-grade. Everyone should feel comfortable.”

Like other stores with a heavy emphasis on handguns and accessories, East Orange is a logical stop for shoppers considering personal defense purchases.
The key to those sales, Ritz believes, is an approach that’s tailored to each customer. Collectors and more experienced shooters like Beach need less handholding. But newer shooters, particularly those looking for their first self-defense purchase, need realistic, and honest, advice.


N82 Tactical Pro Tandem Series IWB Holster


Sig Sauer ROMEO4

The Starting Point

East Orange has a simple approach for those customers making an initial foray into self-defense firearms. First question: What have you shot before? “Most people have had some kind of experience, even if it’s just a BB gun,” Ritz noted.

Second question: What’s it going to be used for? Will it be carried, kept at home or in the car? Concealed-carry customers are a significant market in Florida. And part of the store’s job is helping people understand what the law means. It’s not unusual, for example, for a customer to think a permit is required to even own a gun, Ritz said.

While the store offers concealed-carry classes several times a month, it’s not something they push on new gun owners. They’d prefer to see novice shooters gain some comfort with their guns before trying to carry them.

“Training with concealed firearms should be a few steps down the road,” said Michael Munro, the store’s manager.

Once the sales associate knows a little more about the customer, they’ll start exploring gun options that best fit the person’s needs and desires. Some people insist on a frame-mounted safety, others refuse to consider revolvers.

“Normally if I pull out three or four guns, their eyes will be drawn to something,” Ritz said. “We shop for cars by how they look, so that’s okay.”
At least as a starting point.

From there, they’ll discuss the pros and cons of various guns, with the aim of selecting the one that’s right for each customer. And with many first-time shoppers expecting to buy only one gun, they often end up with a midsize option: “The GLOCK 19 is the best seller in this store,” Ritz said.

The experience is similar across town at Oak Ridge Gun Range, located south of Downtown Orlando and about 10 miles east of the region’s popular tourist corridor.

Owner John Harvey said it’s common for customers to come in with at least some idea of what they want. Often it’s because of a review they read in one of the gun magazines.

The store tends to push novice self-defense shoppers toward revolvers, for the simplicity: “It doesn’t jam. And if you haven’t touched the gun in five years, you squeeze the trigger and it goes off,” Harvey observed.

But not everyone is open to the advice, however.

“Semi-autos are sexy,” Harvey said. “And a lot of times, customers will still want a semi-auto.”

So they seek out GLOCKs, Springfields, Smith & Wessons and SIGs, he added.


Smith & Wesson M&P45 Shield


SureFire XC1 & PIG Full Dexterity Tactical-Alpha Glove

Expand The Sale With Accessories

While the gun may be the thing that draws most customers into stores, it’s really just the beginning in terms of sales opportunities. Once the gun has been selected, talk at East Orange generally turns to holsters. Associates will pull various models off the wall so the customer can get a feel for different options.

Galco is the top seller, with a wide range of styles, though IWB is the most popular, according to Munro. “They’ve got a good product offering that will fit most of what anybody is looking for,” the store manager said.

East Orange offers a range of knives, including a strong selection by Benchmade, but they’re generally sold more as tools. Ritz prefers not to push knives as a personal-defense option.

While he isn’t a fan of lasers for self-defense, Ritz is an avid proponent of weapon-mounted lights. “It’s nice to be able to see and make sure it’s something you want to have your gun pointed at,” he said.

And there are, of course, customers looking for something less lethal than a gun — either as an extra defensive alternative, or because they don’t like the idea of shooting someone.

East Orange sees modest sales of Tasers — in part, because they cost as much as some guns. But they also offer stun guns and pepper spray, an inexpensive defense alternative at $10–$15 a can. They come with the added benefit of being allowed in places where guns might be forbidden.

The urge to have a non-lethal option is something to which Ritz can relate: He keeps a can of pepper spray in his own car. “Being in the industry, the last thing I ever want to do is pull my firearm,” he said. “If I can avoid doing that in my life, I’d really like to.”

Oak Ridge also offers a range of options in the non-lethal department; one of the popular sellers is bear mace. “It’s nasty, hideous stuff,” Harvey said. “I know people who’ve accidentally hit themselves with it. They just curl up on the floor and moan.”


After walking a customer through a SIG 938 purchase, East Orange Shooting Sports
Associate Michael Bonnick presents some additional concealed-carry holster options.
Are you taking advantage of add-on accessory sales like this?

Promote A “Judgment-Free Zone”

Both stores offer range facilities — a major draw, for a few reasons, including the ability to offer customers an opportunity to try out different types of guns before making a purchase.

East Orange also sees its range as a way to offer instruction and advice. And it’s something of a community-building tool that helps create a comfortable atmosphere for new shooters who may worry how their guns will fit into their lives.

“It’s a judgment-free zone,” Ritz said. “It gives them a reason to come back. So they’re more likely to be repeat customers — and to become dedicated enthusiasts.”

At Oak Ridge, Harvey looks to the range to generate extra sales beyond the gun. That’s why each gun purchase comes with a month’s worth of free instruction and range time. The average buyer, he said, will return four times after making a firearm purchase.

“This means ammo sales, holsters, cleaning supplies, gun oil etc.,” said Harvey, who has been in the business for three decades.

Both stores offer classes; with Oak Ridge putting a heavy emphasis on concealed-carry instruction. Classes are offered several times a week. They have five NRA-certified range instructors, two of which are women. It’s a strong draw, according to Harvey, for women who are interested in buying guns for self-defense purposes.

In addition to concealed-carry classes, East Orange offers two different types of short courses aimed at newer shooters. The first is a one-hour introductory course, for one to three people. It costs $40–$50 per person, and includes range time and ammo. They also offer a short class that covers basic fieldstripping and maintenance. The cost is $25, which includes a cleaning kit.

For both shops, the goal is to offer a sort of one-stop shop for customers interested in personal defense. Guns are clearly the top draw. But, according to Harvey, “Some people don’t want a gun. We give them a whole range of alternatives.”

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Late Season Strategy

Make The Most Of Late
Hunting Season Sales

By Carolee Anita Boyles

With hunting season winding down, many sporting goods stores start thinking about turkey season and spring fishing. Savvy dealers know, however, the end of hunting season can be almost as productive as the early season.

The key? Understanding how the latter part of hunting season is different from the pre-season, and stocking the products late season hunters need.

Richard Sprague is president of Sprague’s Sports, located in Yuma, Ariz. Late season for his store occurs during the coldest part of the year, when winter has really kicked in and the weather is as cold as it ever gets in Arizona. Hunters in his area are going after a mix of species all season.

“We have doves and we have archery antelope and elk, and those all kind of happen at the same time,” he noted. “Then we go into quail and duck. After that, rifle season for deer opens up — and then we’re into late season rifle elk.”

Sprague said the early part of the season for him is filled with sales of items for dove shooting.

“In late August and early September, we get real busy with dove season opening,” he said. During this part of the season he also has a lot of sales in bowhunting.

“As we get farther into the season, my product mix shifts away from archery and shot shells and becomes more rifle focused,” Sprague added. “Customers also look at a lot of optics, especially for setting up rifles for long-range shooting.”

According to Sprague, customers continue purchasing guns even late in the hunting season: “Some of them wait until the last minute. A lot of customers also wait until the last minute to get their kids set up and get them ready to go hunting, too.”

Sprague observed his late season customers buy a wide variety of brands and calibers.

“They buy across the spectrum,” he noted. “They buy the Savage Axis II, the Ruger American and the Savage Trophy Hunter combo packages with the different scopes they’ve been putting on them the past couple years. Ruger also is doing a Vortex package, which has been pretty popular.”

The Browning X-Bolt also has been a strong seller for Sprague’s Sports, as well as the Tikka T3. “And now we’re seeing sales of the Tikka T3x,” he added.
Popular calibers also cover the waterfront at Sprague’s Sports.

“Our customers buy .243 and 7mm-08, .30-06 and .270,” Sprague said. “The short mags are popular for us, and then the Win. Mags. We do a lot of .30 Magnums here in the West, because people can see and shoot so far. They like a stable bullet with distance.”

Those same shooters like riflescopes with custom elevation capability.

“They like a scope with a custom elevation dial so they can range it,” Sprague said. “They can dial to the yardage and hold right on the target.”

Popular optics at Sprague’s Sports include offerings from Burris, Leupold, Vortex, Swarovski and Zeiss.

“We do a lot of scopes that either have multiple aiming points on the vertical crosshair or have a custom elevation dial,” Sprague said. “This category has just exploded because people are demanding it. Even for people who aren’t aspiring to shoot over X number of yards, they just want to be better in the field with their equipment. So if there’s an opportunity and the equipment is available, they buy it.”

These buyers aren’t just new or young shooters; they include most of the old-timers who come into Sprague’s Sports.

“There still are a few guys who don’t want to learn how things work,” Sprague said. “They just don’t want to think about it, and they’ll stay traditional. But they’re the minority now, instead of the majority. Most people are embracing new technologies and the opportunities they bring.”


Garmin Oregon 750t


Sitka Timberline Jacket

Camp & Field Accessories

Besides guns and optics, Sprague said, his customers are purchasing a number of accessories during the latter part of the season.

“They’re buying clothing to make themselves more comfortable in the field, and they’re getting better quality gear, such as backpacks, to accommodate all the stuff they’re taking to the field,” he said. “The stuff they’re taking to the field may include an extra tripod, higher power binoculars, better rangefinders and optics with built-in rangefinders.”

Customers are also buying better gear for their hunting camps.

“They’re buying things from Yeti, as well as from other manufacturers,” Sprague said. “For camp, Yeti products are crazy popular.”

Lighting solutions are a big deal to Sprague’s customers too.

“Lighting options are continuing to expand and grow,” he observed. “There are lots of great flashlights that burn brighter and give you more options on different modes of lighting to have better battery life. They’re all LEDs and are from Streamlight and SureFire. Browning also makes some pretty good options, and there are some other, lesser-known brands as well. NEBO has some good options.”

GPS technology continues to progress, as the sales of GPS-based products grows.

“GPS products by Garmin in particular continue to evolve, with more mapping and other features for a reasonable price,” Sprague said. “Two-way radios from Midland and Motorola also continue to improve. They have longer range and are clearer, with reasonable price points.”


Hornady Precision Hunter


Dealers report Tikka’s new T3x line (Compact Tactical Rifle
model pictured above) has been a strong seller among hunters.

What About The Youth?

At Black Bird in Medford, Ore., late season customers are mostly youth hunters.

“The only late rifle seasons are draw hunts for youth hunters,” said Sporting Goods Manager Tom Gascon. “These hunts don’t apply to the entire state; it’s just certain units. Youth who participate in these hunts must be aged 12 to 17, and they must have an adult with them.” Quite a few of these young hunters are girls, he added.

These late season hunts are long enough for customers to buy some serious gear while participating in them, according to Gascon. “They’re 20 days on average,” he noted. “There are youth elk hunts and youth deer hunts.”

As you might expect, the weather tends to be colder during these late season youth hunts — which presents new sales opportunities.

“These hunters are buying cold weather gear,” Gascon said. “During the early season, breathable clothing is what sells really well. But during the late season is when the heavyweight gear sells. Sitka Gear is really nice.”

The calibers these hunters purchase depends on the size of the child and the amount of recoil they can comfortably shoot.

“They’re buying .243, 7mm-08, .308, .30-06 and some of the Mags,” Gascon said. “One model that’s been selling really well for us is the Ruger American. It’s a well-built rifle; it’s accurate and shoots well — and is well priced.”

Besides guns, youth hunters are buying pack frames and dehydrated food.

“Dehydrated food is always a good seller for us,” Gascon said. “We carry Mountain House and it sells very well.”

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Practice AR Handling With a .22

AR-15 rifles, by their nature, offer continuity across the platform. Train on one brand of AR-15 and you can pick virtually any other and, for the most part, everything will be the same. If you like to shoot an AR a lot and want to train a lot, while not burning through all your precious .223 ammo, consider an AR-15 chambered in .22LR. This CMMG MK4 T 22LR retails for $899.95 and functions exactly like it’s .223 big brother. And if buying one for the training value isn’t really your thing, this gun is an absolute hoot to shoot and a great way to introduce youngsters to the AR platform with a lesser round.

This CMMG sports a Nikon P-Rimfire scope and mount, which I’m going to ignore for now because there are too many other fun things to mention just about the gun. So I’ll get back to you with a fuller review including the scope, okay?

Here are the specs from the CMMG website:

Caliber: 22 long rifle

Barrel: 16, 1:16 twist, M4 profile, 4140 CM, SBN

Muzzle: A2 comp., threaded 1/2-28

Hand Guard: CMMG RKM11 KeyMod hand guard

Furniture: A2 pistol grip, M4 butt stock with 6-pos mil-spec receiver extension

Receiver: Forged 7075-T6 AL M4 type upper, AR15 type lower

Trigger: Single stage mil-spec style trigger

Weight: 6.3 lbs (unloaded)

Length: 32 (stock collapsed)

Since I’m fresh off completing a Gunsite 123 Carbine class, I’m appreciating the CMMG’s overall feel. I ran through most of the basic handling functions taught in the class and found a virtual match in this .22LR version. Some differences include the charging handle which, on this model, has a much shorter travel. The mags look and feel the same when inserted but obviously the feeding mechanism bears a different design.

Some other notes…


Looks just like an AR, ya? Feels like one, too. Fit and finish are outstanding, to say the least. This is a serious gun but outrageously fun, too.


Mag release right there. Check.


Bolt release. Right where it should be. Safety, too.


Charging handle. Just have to get used to about half the travel as a typical AR. Forward assist is there, too. Never needed it.


And, on the business end, a flash suppressor.

In a brief range session, I ran through a few magazines of .22LR and found it difficult to … wipe the grin off my face. You know an AR-15 chambered in .223 is easy to shoot; chambered in .22LR it is even easier. And more fun, too!


Precision plinking made possible by this great Nikon scope… But you’ll have to wait for a later review for more info.

— Mark Kakkuri (text: 248-328-2538)

NYPD Approves Springfield Armory XD-S For Off-Duty Use


By Jade Moldé

A special edition of Springfield Armory’s XD-S 9mm pistol has been approved by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for carry by off-duty uniformed officers. The NYPD officers may also carry the XD-S 9mm “NYPD model” as a backup gun while on duty.

The NYPD Firearms and Tactics Unit worked in cooperation with the Springfield Armory engineering and design teams to develop a version of the XD-S pistol that conforms to the exact requirements of the NYPD. After passing the department’s rigorous testing procedures, the XD-S was approved for use with no performance modifications and only minor adjustments to meet NYPD policy guidelines.

“We’re pleased that we were able to work with the team in the Firearms Training Section to meet specific needs of the department,” said Dennis Reese, CEO of Springfield Armory. “Our engineering team developed a new disconnector and grip safety spring that adjusts the trigger pull weight of the XD-S to the specific policy requirements of the NYPD.”

The NYPD XD-S pistol includes many of the features that have made it popular in the commercial concealed-carry market. A mere 0.9 inches wide and weighing 23 ounces, the XD-S is easy to carry concealed.

The Springfield Armory law enforcement team completed the XD-S Armorer’s Training Program prior to the official launch of the program to all uniformed officers.

“The concealed-carry community has responded to the XD-S with overwhelming approval, so we’re pleased that law enforcement officers can use it, too,” Reese added.


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Nighthawk Custom Partners With Korth Arms

Nighthawk Custom, known for its high-end 1911s, has partnered with Korth Arms, the storied German firearms manufacturer, to bring Nighthawk-designed, Korth-built revolvers to the U.S. market.

Nighthawk Custom and Korth Arms have also entered into an exclusive distribution agreement for all Korth firearms being imported into the U.S. Certain models have been enhanced to meet U.S. gun buyer’s needs and desires, according to Nighthawk officials.

“This collaboration with such a renowned maker as Korth, who has the same attention to detail and unwavering commitment to quality that Nighthawk does, is a natural progression for both of our brands. We are proud to have our name on these Nighthawk-influenced Korth revolvers,” states Mark Stone, owner and CEO of Nighthawk Custom.

The initial offering of Nighthawk/Korth revolvers will begin with the Mongoose, an L-Framed .357, 4-inch revolver (the Mongoose is also available in 3-, 5.25- and 6-inch barrel lengths), the Super Sport, an L-Framed 6-inch target/hunting/competition pistol and the Sky Hawk, a concealable 9mm, 2-inch double action gun available in other barrel lengths (3 and 4 inches).




Sky Hawk

Super Short

Brothers and owners of Korth Arms, Andreas Weber and Martin Rothmann, also expressed their excitement on this new partnership. “Uniting with Nighthawk Custom on this venture allows Korth to bring our unique and exclusive products to the U.S. market with a company that has the same quality standards, the same passion for their products and the same moral compass,” said Martin Rothmann, co-owner and chief developer.

Added Co-Owner Andreas Weber, “The pairing of the companies into the U.S. market complements both brands. Having our classic designs Americanized to the Nighthawk standard allows more shooters to enjoy and appreciate the level of functionality and beauty a revolver can achieve.”



MarketPlace Insight Increases Century’s Profits

MarketPlace Insight (MPI), a leading source of data analytics and insights for the outdoor industry, is helping manufacturers turn data into a competitive asset. The company leverages data ranging from transactional data on to data from email subscribers. In a recent press release, the company announced its efforts helped Century Arms grow new lines of business and increase profitability company-wide.

“The analytics from MPI have enabled us to create a new multi-million dollar line of business from scratch. It’s also enabled us to create huge growth and profits across the rest of the company, creating double-digit growth this year. We have a certain line of pistols that sold a few thousand units in 2014. This year, that number will increase by 500 percent,” said Jim Drager, COO of Century Arms.

Drager noted the data and analytics are a “huge part of that growth” and have “[unified the company’s] decision-making and actions.”

“We’re working very hard to bring together the most comprehensive data, spanning all manufacturers, models, and customer demographics, to provide unparalleled insight into outdoor enthusiasts,” said Ryan Nokes, director of MarketPlace Insight. “We see this as a win for everyone. Manufacturers and advertisers gain a better understanding of their customers — what content they consume, what they’re interested in, what media they watch, what they buy and why — and in turn, outdoorsmen and women get a more targeted, customized experience based on their needs and interests. Our data allows the industry to move from guesses and gut instinct to facts and data-driven intelligence.”

To learn more about how your business can improve decision-making with access to MPI data, contact Christen Everly at Media Lodge,, (952) 847-4437 or (612) 306-2274.


B2B New Partnerships

Tactical Gear Distributors (TGD) is now stocking a selection of FN America firearms and Böker knives. According to David Nau, president of TGD, “Tactical Gear Distributors is pleased to partner with FNH USA; this iconic company has a rich history of service with the American military. Nau also welcomed Böker, saying TGD is “confident military retailer and commercial retailer bases will do very well with the Böker product Iine.”

Zanders Sporting Goods has announced it is now stocking Colt’s new solid copper hollow point (SCHP) centerfire pistol ammunition. With on-target penetration and expansion, this all-copper ammo is ideal for concealed carry weapons. Zanders also announced it is expanding its inventory of archery supplies. “We’re excited to offer an ever-expanding line of archery products and accessories to our customers,” said Darell Seibold, archery buyer for Zanders. “Not only will we be expanding our already robust inventory, we‘ll be offering products from trusted brands such as Bear Archery, Carbon Express, and many more.”

Ruger’s ARX line of ammunition, manufactured by Polycase Ammunition, is now being distributed by MidwayUSA and Davidson’s Inc.

Crow Shooting Supply announced it has added two lines of firearms to its offerings: Mossberg and Thompson/Center firearms. Mossberg adds 360 new SKUs to Crow’s selection, while T/C adds 120.

Blackbird Products announced the appointment of OMG Associates LLC as its representative in the Southeastern United States (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, W. Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama). Mike Hannigan, president of Blackbird Products said, “We are very enthusiastic about further growth and are thrilled to have OMG Associates representing our fine products in the Southeastern territory.”

Breakthrough Clean Technologies has signed with Outdoor Outfitters Group to be their representative in the Midwest. Outdoor Outfitters will represent the Breakthrough Clean brand along with its line of cleaning products in 12 states in the heart of the U.S.

Baschieri & Pellagri has added four new representatives to sell the company’s products in the U.S. The Italy-based shotgun ammunition manufacturer chose GB Stumpp & Associates, Frontier Sales and Marketing, Ferguson-Keller Associates and Owen J. Brown Associates.

Kahr Firearms Group (KFG) has partnered with H&G Marketing to represent their products in the Southeastern U.S. The marketing group will represent Kahr as well as Magnum Research and Auto-Ordnance products. “With the growing demands we have been experiencing from strong sales to our consumers, dealers and distributors, we just felt we needed to expand our sales efforts quickly and effectively. H&G, with their impressive client list and proven sales efforts, convinced us that this would be a good fit,” said Frank Harris, VP of sales and marketing for the Kahr Firearms Group.

Blue Heron Communications announces it has partnered with SIG SAUER Inc. to provide PR and marketing support to the New Hampshire-based company’s firearm, ammunition, silencer and airgun divisions. “A fixture in this industry for over 25 years, Blue Heron’s reputation for delivering proven communication methods across diverse product categories will greatly assist SIG SAUER as we continue to expand our new business units into broader markets,” said Tom Taylor, CMO and executive VP of commercial sales for SIG SAUER.

Creedmoor Sports Inc.has selected Source Outdoor Group (SOG) to promote its growing line of shooting gear and accessories, plus the company’s precision ammunition, Creedmoor Ammunition. “We’re going to greatly expand our reach with a lineup of new products and a number of innovative marketing and PR campaigns,” said Greg Kantorovich, owner of Creedmoor Sports. In addition, Diamondback Firearms has also selected SOG. “We looked at several marketing agencies in the industry, and it was clear to us that SOG was going to be the best fit for Diamondback,” said Bobby Fleckinger, owner of Diamondback Firearms.

H&N Sport announced Chevalier Advertising Marketing and Public Relations is its agency of record in the U.S. This new partnership will combine H&N Sport’s nearly 190 years of experience in precision projectile manufacturing with Chevalier’s 63-plus years of experience in brand development, public relations, advertising and marketing within the shooting and outdoors industry.


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Flourishing In The Face Of Growing Competition

By Massad Ayoob

In June 2001, firearms enthusiast Ernie Traugh (rhymes with “Draw!”) fulfilled a life-long dream and opened a gun shop in Marion, Iowa, a suburb of Cedar Rapids. The facility was all of 1,200 square feet, and he would soon have two full-time employees at Cedar Valley Outfitters. At the time, there were three other gun dealers in the area, one of them a behemoth Gander Mountain store — and this didn’t even count the “Monster Mart” firearms retailer, Wal-Mart, in Cedar Rapids.

Before long, there were five other gun shops in the area. One of them was a spare-no-expense modern facility of substantial size, complete with a state-of-the-art indoor range, a tremendous attraction in a region whose four-season climate makes outdoor recreational shooting less than pleasant for the customers. This competitive store had been built at an estimated cost of more than $3 million. How was a small businessman supposed to compete with that?

Ernie Traugh competed by expanding his sales space three times over, hiring three more employees, and racking up millions of dollars in sales. Here’s how he did it.

A Focus On Defense

In April 2013, Ernie moved Cedar Valley Outfitters into a 3,600-square-foot facility in the same strip mall, having outgrown the original workspace.
While Iowa is heartland hunting country (to that end, Cedar Vally Outfitters sells a full range of hunting rifles and shotguns), Traugh recognized early on personal defense was the core of the gun market in his particular region.

His strategy? “Truly, it came down to only selling guns I would trust my own life to,” he said. “We won’t sell certain brands that haven’t proven themselves in the field, or have shown themselves to be unreliable or problematic. It’s our rule. When new guns come out, we go out and shoot the heck out of them. If they work, then and only then will we sell them to our customers.”

His best-selling products are in line with what many have observed around the country. “The GLOCK 43, S&W SHIELD, and Ruger LC9s Pro are our best-selling guns; we sell all we can get,” he says. “In long guns, MSR platforms, and particularly those from Ruger and S&W, are dominating sales.”
Sales Tip: Don’t ignore police sales! Traugh is a part-time sworn police officer himself, and his appreciation for cops shows through, and earns the trust of his local market.

“Law enforcement is almost 20 percent of my business,” he noted. “We’re the Blue Label GLOCK dealer in the region, and one of only two in the state. We’re also the only Perfection dealer here in Iowa. A Perfection dealer for GLOCK has to buy guns in larger quantities, and carry the full line of GLOCK products. We sell several hundred GLOCKs per year.”

While the Blue Label program from GLOCK does not give a big margin per gun, it increases volume — while also increasing ancillary sales. The Blue Label program also encompasses civilians who shoot in the GLOCK Sport Shooting Foundation matches (GSSF), who burn up a lot of ammo and buy a lot of spare magazines, aftermarket sights, etc. GSSF shooters buy ammo by the case, not by the box, and tend to buy from dealers who support them and their chosen sport.

Editor’s Note: For more insights on the GLOCK Blue Label program and to see if it works for your store, see Mas’ column in the September 2015 issue. Visit


Traugh tests new guns for reliability before he carries that
model in his shop. Here, he wrings out the new Honor Guard 9mm.

Create Your Advantage

Remember, trade-in guns are profit centers! “We sell a lot more ‘used guns’ than most of our competition,” Traugh noted. “The profit margins can be significantly more, too. A lot of our inventory comes in through police trades.”

Training provides another advantage for Traugh over his competition, which he started doing in 2008. He now personally teaches Combat Focus Shooting and several other I.C.E. courses under the umbrella of well-known training instructor Rob Pincus. Ernie does 45–60 classes a year himself, counting Iowa CCW courses, doing the live-fire work on rented outdoor ranges in hospitable weather. In winter, he offers indoor hand-to-hand, weapon retention, women’s self-defense, pepper spray and Kubotan (mini-baton) courses, bringing in outside subject matter experts to teach as necessary. He hosts 12–15 outside classes per year. Traugh comments, “Training is profitable. It constitutes less than 5 percent of my sales, but more than 20 percent of my profit.”

Another important point: stay on top of sales trends. I arrived at Ernie’s shop a week after Iowa passed a law approving silencers, and Ernie already had a SilencerCo rep in the shop giving his sales staff a tutorial on the product. “I think our sales patterns will change now that we have suppressors, and I expect to sell more bolt actions for people who want the most silent rifles for farm pest eradication. I have more people coming in to buy threaded-barrel rimfire rifles. We have tremendous backorders for suppressors already.”


Traugh, second from left, helps a customer with a 4473 while the
rest of his staff deals with the other customers in his store.

Community Exchange Benefit

When “little guys” are up against “big guys,” strategic alliances make sense. Says Traugh, “We try to work with other small shops. At one other shop, the owner is an AK manufacturer, but not into training. I send people to his shop for custom AKs, and AK work, and he sends people to me for training.”

Ernie is active in the Iowa Firearms Coalition, as a member of their executive board. It’s his way of giving back to the shooting community. Altogether, the flourishing of Cedar Valley Outfitters in the face of increasing and massively better-funded competition is proof “ethical marketing” is not just a buzzword, but also a strategy that works for small businesses in the ferociously competitive field of retail firearms sales.

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Get Creative To Provide Personal Protection Tools For Women On The Go

By Lisa Parsons-Wraith

Airline travel presents a conundrum to personal defense-minded women. Weapons of any kind are forbidden in the cabin of an airplane, and regulations regarding checked baggage vary from airline carrier to carrier. Before women reach their destination, they’ll need to do some serious homework to make sure they’re in compliance with local laws. This can be especially challenging when international travel is involved. So, what’s the best personal-defense tool for the female traveler? Just like any personal-defense situation, the more tools a woman has in her toolbox, the better her odds of avoiding or surviving an attack while traveling.

Perhaps the most innocuous seeming (and versatile) defensive tool women can take with them anywhere is the tactical flashlight. Flashlights have many advantages and uses, the first of which is women can carry a flashlight anywhere without restriction. The first rule of personal safety is avoidance, and this is where the flashlight shines brightest. Tactical flashlights are designed to be blindingly bright — which is the purpose they’re best suited for — to blind an attacker, giving a woman time to get away. Most flashlights also come with a lower light setting, making them useful for everyday situations as well..


Sabre RED’s Runner Personal Alarm will stand out to your active customers.
The alarm features a pull-ring, which will activate a 130-dB alarm that can
be heard up to 1,000 feet away.

In the worst-case scenario where a woman has to physically engage with an attacker, tactical flashlights can also be used as a bludgeoning weapon. Quality hard-anodized aluminum housing flashlights are strong enough to cause pain on impact and many tactical flashlight models come with bezel edges that can be used for defense. The bezel edges also make these flashlights ideal for emergency situations like breaking glass to escape a vehicle.

When assisting women in choosing a tactical flashlight for defense, an important consideration is size. Flashlights the size of a baton make great clubs, but odds are it would be under the seat of the car when a woman needs it because it’s too big and bulky to carry on a regular basis. Likewise, a tiny keychain model is too small to be effective. A high-lumen, palm-sized flashlight is the right tool for the job. Companies like SureFire, Fenix and Streamlight all carry a wide range of tactical flashlights that would work for personal defense. Stocking a variety of tactical lights, both in terms of price and features, will give women the options they need to buy the right tool for their needs.


Crkt James Williams Tactical Pen

A “Layered Approach” To Defense

Kathleen James, VP of operations at the Arms Room in Dickinson, Texas, said women often come to her store looking for a means of personal defense while traveling. The Loaded Ladies of the Arms Room, the local women’s shooting group, recently held an event where they discussed non-lethal defensive options and how to use the things women typically carry in their purse to defend themselves. One of the outstanding options mentioned was a high-quality flashlight. James said her store carries a wide range of flashlights from companies including Streamlight and Browning, but her personal favorite is a SureFire flashlight.

“SureFire flashlights are really bright, they last a long time, come in different cases and just give you more options,” she observed. “The Browning flashlight with a striking tool is also a good choice.”

Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) offers a flashlight and tactical pen designed by personal-defense expert James Williams. This combination of non-lethal tools can be carried just about anywhere, and provide a woman with a layered approach to personal protection. The flashlight is used to blind the attacker, and if this isn’t enough of a deterrent, the tactical pen can be used to disable him. Several other companies like SureFire, Smith & Wesson and Gerber Knives also offer tactical flashlight and pens that can be used as a potent, multi-layered non-lethal defense combo.

A word of caution for your customers traveling with defensive items, such as a small baton on an airplane: A friend of mine ran afoul of TSA when she took her keychain model Kubaton through a security checkpoint. She admitted the item was for personal defense and, as a black belt, she knew how to use it. TSA confiscated it and she spent some uncomfortable moments explaining herself when they declared it a lethal weapon and thus illegal to take on an airplane. Even non-lethal defensive tools need to be checked for air travel.

The Well Armed Woman founder, Carry Lightfoot, notes small flashlights, and other non-lethal items such as the Cat or Brutus keychain with point jabber ears, or the Monkey Fist — paracord rapped around a metal ball — are also good non-lethal defense options. “I see self-defense for women when traveling as a layered approach — situational awareness is key,” she stated. “When in unfamiliar areas all of our senses must be on high alert at all times and women must trust their gut, no matter what.”

Traveling with a gun or knife is Lightfoot’s first preference, but if local laws make traveling with those impossible, she said, the items mentioned above should always be near at hand. When it comes to securing a hotel room, Lightfoot suggested women should always use the extra door locks no matter what time of day. “There are door braces and small door alarms that can provide extra layers of security to your room,” she cautioned. “Don’t forget any adjoining rooms as well.”


Cat Self-Defense Keychain

Final Thoughts

The Arms Room also carries small personal-defense items and James said small safes disguised as everyday objects are a good way to secure valuables. One of the more popular cache safes is disguised as hairspray or lotion, so it can be left out on a counter while hiding valuables in its false bottom.

“A good old whistle is also a good way to get attention because people aren’t used to hearing it,” she noted. Another option is a personal alarm, but some would argue the whistle is more effective as people have become accustomed to ignoring car alarms and will be less likely to investigate.
A valuable resource for anyone who travels is The Traveler’s Guide to the Firearm Laws of the 50 States by Attorney J. Scott Kappas. In addition to touching on the various state laws related to firearms, Kappas provides information on non-lethal weapons as well. It’s a great resource for helping women decide what type of personal protection they can use while traveling.

The bottom line: When it comes to women’s safety while traveling, dealers need to offer creative solutions to a very real problem. The first choice for most women would be a knife or firearm, but these choices can be impractical for reasons explained earlier. Consider the accessories you carry in your store and how they can be used as defensive tools. It would make a great ladies’ night topic and could add up to increased accessory sales for your store.

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