Selling The Guns Of The Champions
There is a certain kind of customer. You know the type. He may never win a tournament at his local course, but he will only buy the golf clubs used by the pros. He may never take his car off the highway and onto the track, but by golly, he wants to drive what the NASCAR champions drive.
Every now and then, you encounter that customer in a gun shop. When he comes in wanting to buy what the “combat pistol champions use,” you want to be able to sell him exactly what he wants. But to do that, you have to know what those champions are, in fact, using.
There is always the question, “Yeah, but doesn’t so-and-so shoot Brand X because he’s sponsored by that company, and paid to shoot Brand X?” Sometimes, the answer to that question is, in fact, “Yes.” But it’s amazing how often the answer is, “So-and-so was winning with Brand X before Brand X got wind of it, and that’s why Brand X chose to sponsor him (or her).”
A case in point is Jerry Miculek (whose last name, by the way, is pronounced “Mish-you-lack”). Jerry showed up as an enthusiastic young Cajun at the big-money Second Chance shoots with his own long-barrel Smith & Wesson revolvers. It was only after his super dedication — and, some say, supernatural talent — brought him to national dominance in the revolver games that the executives in Springfield, Mass., wisely recruited him onto Team Smith & Wesson.
One more question you may need to deal with is, “Did the product really win for them, or did they win for the product?” That answer can go either way. Dave Sevigny shot his way to world championships with Glocks. He is now sponsored by FNH USA. No one expects him to leave the winners’ circle.
Maria Harbin and Jason Koon (team captain) shoot for Team HK
as the company continues its presence at competitions.
What Brands The Winners Are Shooting
Beretta 92 pistols are the guns to beat at the NRA’s Distinguished and President’s Hundred championships, against the only other eligible guns, accurized 1911 .45s. Ernest Langdon won the IDPA Nationals and many more titles with a Beretta 92, and today, perennial match winner Ben Stoeger (seen on History Channel’s “Top Shot” as a resident expert), still swears by the Beretta.
Colt 1911 pistols have won every centerfire and .45 award there is to win at the NRA National Pistol Championships. They’ve been used to win USPSA national and IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation) and Bianchi Cup championships in the hands of such shooters as the late, great Ray Chapman and the legendary Ross Seyfried and Mickey Fowler, respectively. Today, the top Colt-sponsored shooter is probably Mark Redl.
CZ-USA pistols have won the IPSC world championship in the hands of Angus Hobdell, who uses a sophisticated variation of the CZ 75 design. Vance Schmid, a longtime veteran of the practical pistol shooting “pro tour,” won the 2012 Bianchi Cup Production Gun championship with a CZ Shadow.
Glocks have won in all the practical shooting theaters, in the hands of such greats as Sevigny, Randi Rogers, Junior Champion Tori Nonaka and today’s “man to beat,” Bob Vogel.
Heckler & Koch: Todd Louis Green won the National Tactical Conference match with his HK45 a couple of years ago. More recently, young ace Jason Koon was named captain of Team HK running a P30 9mm pistol, like all their shooters.
Ruger GP-100s often win Stock Service Revolver (SSR) matches in state and regional IDPA competition, and they are huge among the competitive cowboy-shooting crowd. Ruger is quite proud of Gilbert “Cisko Kid” Guerra, who has won multiple major championships with their Vaquero series six-shooters.
SIG SAUER’s P220 was the gun in the hand of Ernest Langdon when he won the Custom Defense Pistol championship against 1911 .45s at the IDPA Nationals a few years ago. Bruce Gray still wins with SIGs in major matches around the country.
Smith & Wesson rules the NRA’s Police Service Revolver Championships. Open, Distinguished, Service Revolver and Off-Duty police shooting events are consistently won every year with Smith & Wessons. Every national champion and world champion Stock Service Revolver shooter in IDPA has used a 4-inch, K-frame Smith, including the man who currently holds both those titles, Craig Buckland. The Enhanced Service Revolver IDPA champ is perennially Jerry Miculek with his Model 625 .45 ACP sixgun, the same gun he has used to win the American Handgunner Match, the IPSC/USPSA revolver championships and the top titles in ICORE (International Congress of Revolver Enthusiasts). Other top champions shooting Smith & Wesson handguns include Annette Aysen, Julie Golob, Doug Koenig, Laura Torres-Reyes, Tom Yost and many more.
Springfield Armory 1911s have been used by many champions to take national titles, and by their resident world champion Rob Leatham to rule in IPSC. Rob has also dominated in Bianchi Cup Production class shooting with the Springfield XDs.
Taurus recently signed Jessie Harrison-Duff to “ride for their brand.” Expect this great woman champion to do the company proud. She won the Ladies Championship in both Limited and Open class at the last USPSA Nationals.
Know Name-To-Brand Connection
The list of champions and their chosen firearms goes on. Some defensive guns are designed for super-compact concealed carry and simply don’t have matches geared for their attributes. The Kahr, NAA and Rohrbaugh come to mind, among others.
When you get the customer who wants to protect himself with the defense-type handguns used by the fastest- and straightest-shooting champions in the world, knowing the name-to-brand connections may help you make the sale.
By Massad Ayoob
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