Trendsetting L.E. Products Provide Opportunities For Growth.
The Law Enforcement and Tactical Gear sections at SHOT Show 2013 were jammed with buyers of every description, from government agency representatives to military buyers, and distributors to independent retailers.
Products presented by manufacturers in these sections attract a lot of attention because the next wave of innovative products often debut here — allowing attentive dealers to increase sales in both the civilian and law enforcement markets.
“Quite often, manufacturers who make gear for law enforcement tweak them a little after a year or two, and then make them available in the civilian market,” said Dierdra Cauley, NSSF’s director of exhibitions and conferences. “Products that come out in law enforcement first usually are the state-of-the-art, more innovative and technical products.”
Cauley says once law enforcement uses the products and manufacturers make a few changes to them, they gain attention in the mainstream marketplace.
“They bring a certain ‘coolness factor’ into the civilian market. Even small retailers go to the law enforcement sections, because they can get an idea of what’s coming out in the market in the next couple of years,” Cauley said.
In addition, Cauley points out, many retailers are starting to bid on local law enforcement agency contracts as another segment of their businesses — which increases the popularity of the Law Enforcement and Tactical sections each year.
Marna Tracy, owner of newly opened Tampa Tactical Supply in Riverview, Fla., maintained a strategic focus while looking at firearms in the UTAS booth.
“UTAS builds a bullpup shotgun similar to the Kel-Tec KSG, except I can get the UTAS guns in about eight weeks,” she said.
The UTS-15 is a 12-gauge tactical dual-feed pump-action shotgun with 14+1 capacity. It has a 20 1/2-inch barrel and handles 2 3/4- or 3-inch Magnum shotshells.
At the Lewis Machine & Tool (LMT) booth, Monica Sipp, director of sales and marketing, said many buyers were interested in their M4.
“It’s a true mil-spec M4,” she said. “The barrels are machine-gun-grade barrels because we’re a DOD contractor.”
In addition, a proprietary bolt and Picatinny rail system allows users to attach accessories along the entire length of the M4’s rail.
Erik Lowry, with Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms in Pittsburgh, Pa., said his customers would welcome anything in a modern sporting rifle platform. The rifles on display at the Core15 booth piqued his interest.
“They have some nice piston-driven AR systems that are really proven,” he said. “We supply to the Pittsburgh Police Department, and those are the ones they prefer.”
Core15’s piston-driven models include the M4 Piston Rifle, MOE M4 Piston Rifle, MOE Mid-Length Piston Rifle, the TAC M4 Piston Rifle and the TAC Mid-Length Piston Rifle. All models have a mil-spec forged 7075-T6 lower receiver and 7075-T6 M4 upper.
Throughout the show, the problem many dealers faced was nearly every firearm manufacturer was backlogged, thanks to record-setting sales — an unsurprising development to Lowry.
“Unfortunately, we’re finding everyone is pretty much sold out,” he said. “That’s not a big surprise, but we really were hoping companies would come here with some inventory.”
Kevin Thomas, general manager of Surplus Ammo & Arms in Tacoma, Wash., was looking at modern sporting rifles and components. His customers want anything he can get his hands on.
“Everybody wants one now, because they know they may not be able to get one later,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what the brand is; if it’s a black rifle, they want it.”
One of the better-selling models in Surplus Ammo & Arms is the Colt Defense Model LE6920 Carbine. With the four-position, fully retractable buttstock, the carbine is less than 30 1/2 inches in length and weighs 6.8 pounds.
Thomas’ customers also like the Del-Ton DT Sport Carbine, which has a 16-inch lightweight barrel, with 1×9 twist, and a six-position M4 stock. Another popular choice with his customers is the DPMS Panther AP4 Carbine, which has a forged 7075 T6 lower receiver and forged 7075 T6 A3 flattop upper.
Rich Hart, owner of Hart’s Guns in Uniontown, Ohio, spoke with many manufacturers in an effort to purchase ARs for his store.
“Everyone is pretty much sold out for the entire year already, so it’s going to be a struggle to get any,” he said. “I sell at lot of Stag Arms, but my customers also like Daniel Defense, Bushmaster and Colt.”
Hart said he sells a lot of Stag Arms Model 1 and Model 2, which feature 16-inch, chrome-lined 1/9-twist barrels; and the Model 6, which has a 24-inch, stainless steel 1/8-twist barrel.
“The Colt Model 6920 also is a great seller,” Hart said. “The other top-requested guns are the Daniel Defense models DDM4V3, DDM4V4 and DDM4V5.”
At the Serbu Firearms booth, owner Mark Serbu said the company’s model BFG-50A attracted a lot of attention.
“It’s a .50 BMG semiautomatic rifle that would be banned by Feinstein’s assault weapons ban,” he said. “Late in 2012, we started making AR-15 lower receivers and had planned on selling entire rifles, but because of the current craze, parts are almost impossible to find.
We sold out our entire run of 100 receivers in a matter of days. We currently have a backlog of orders, which exceeds our 2010 total sales figure.”
The BFG-50A, with a 26-inch barrel, takes standard 10-round M-82 magazines and has a three-lug rotating bolt, dual plunger ejectors, sliding plate extractor and hydraulic recoil buffer.
Daren Evans, with Dixie Gun Worx, based in St. George, Utah, liked what he saw in the Griffin Armament booth.
“Their muzzle devices are on the cutting edge,” he said. “The cost is good, and profit margins are good for dealers. They put out some good suppressors.”
Evans specifically liked the M4SD II Flash Comp, which combines the functions of a muzzlebrake, tactical compensator and flash suppressor. It’s pre-drilled, is 2 1/4-inches long, and can be permanently attached to 14 1/2- to 16-inch M4 carbines.
Retailers were flooding into the EOTech booth to examine the company’s array of Holographic Weapon Sights. Used for years by the military, company representatives say they are reaching out to the consumer market.
“Our sights have been in the industry for 15 years,” said Lisa Kemp, EOTech marketing communications and brand manager. “We have always had a strong base in the military and in DOD, but now we’re moving into the commercial side of the business, and we’ve started producing a crossbow sight, the model 512.Xbow — our hunting categories are expanding. We’ve recently produced our one millionth sight using the same technology we’ve always used.”
Brian Fiderer, with Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms in Pittsburgh, Pa., is sold on the Holographic Weapon Sights.
“You can’t go wrong with EOTech,” he said. “Besides selling them, I personally have a Model 520, and I like the design and the fact it takes AA batteries.”
Capt. Kevin Karley, a purchaser for the South Dakota Highway Patrol in Rapid City, S.D., was looking for accessories to make patrol rifles more functional.
“We’re looking at slings, collapsible stocks and light systems,” he said. “We like Raine slings, and lights from Safariland. We’ve identified several products we’re going to get in for testing.”
Nicho Perkins, marketing specialist for Morovision Night Vision, said the company has reengineered their PVS-14 standard night vision monocular; the new model reads a thermal signature.
“The new PVS 14-TM has a weapon reticle in it, so it can be weapon mounted, helmet mounted or head mounted,” Perkins said. “It takes all the same adaptors the PVS-14 takes, so if an agency already uses the PVS 14, it can use the new PVS-14 TM, as well.”
The unit has variable geometric display and digital brightness control, with an analog RS-170 video output.
The First Spear booth was crowded with military and L.E. buyers looking at the company’s new line of plate carrier vests, including the Strandhogg, Siege and Sloucher.
“One difference between us and everyone else is we don’t have MOLLE,” said Dave Kent, who handles First Spear’s special mission requirements. “Instead, what we have is backwardly compatible with mil-spec MOLLE. It’s a laminated, laser-cut fabric; we’re able to cut between 40 and 48 percent of the weight off the vests.”
First Spear also has replaced the hook-and-loop closures common to plate carriers with their Tubes technology closures.
Michael Halbreich, one of the owners of Stoddard’s Range and Guns in Douglasville, Ga., admired the new nickel-boron finish WMD Guns uses on its firearms.
“It’s a great new finish,” he said. “By putting it inside and out, they’re fully protecting the guns. It’s almost impervious to scratches. From a cleaning standpoint, it’s a wipe-down gun. It eliminates all the harsh solvents; it’s essentially a cloth wipe down and the gun is good to go. From what I can see, it looks like the gun will run even without lubrication. I don’t think you can even overheat it. That’s the most exciting thing I’ve seen at the show.”
WMD Guns provides aftermarket coating services for many firearms.
Save The Date
The SHOT Show will return to the Sands Expo & Convention Center Jan. 14-17, 2014. Visit www.shotshow.org.
Story By Carolee Anita Boyles, Photos By Jade Moldé
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