VOLUME 22, NUMBER 2 FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
This year retailers will see well-designed products at both ends of the price spectrum. That’s called a win-win. PG. 32
FIRING LINE: Smith & Wesson’s rimﬁre version of its popular M&P is right on target PG. 26
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S H O T B U S I N E S S ❚ ❚❚ F E B R U A R Y/ M A R C H 2 0 1 4 ❚ ❚❚ V O L . 2 2 , I S S U E 2
COVER PHOTO BY TOM THULEN FOR WINDIGOIMAGES.COM
OPTICS 2014 The big challenge for retailers these days is matching
A LEGACY OF KNOWLEDGE Mail-order giant Brownells is
the right optic to the right firearm at the right price. Fortunately, this year retailers will see well-designed products at both ends of the price spectrum. BY ROBERT SADOWSKI
celebrating 75 years of dispensing parts and professional knowhow. And the best is yet to come. BY ROBERT F. STAEGER
NSSF Update 18 19
FROM THE NSSF Promoting
RETAILER TOOLBOX FFL
Compliance Consultants can help protect your shop
AMMO IMPASSE NSSF
urges “sporting purposes” exemption
NSSF sues Calif. cities
21 21 21 22 23
FIVE STARS Two ranges
receive Five Star ratings
A&D BOOKS NSSF offers
EDITOR’S NOTE Staying
NEWS BRIEFS Lipsey’s gets new building, logo; Crimson Trace’s testing regime; Federal sponsors Pass it On; Muck Boot’s social media mastery
FYI How a gun shop in the middle of nowhere sells nationwide
FIRING LINE Smith &
UNDERCOVER SHOPPER Seeking a
ahead of the pack is absolutely necessary
Wesson’s new rimfire M&P .22
shotgun for turkeys and home defense in Virginia WHAT’S SELLING WHERE NEW PRODUCTS
SOL’s Origin survival kit; Browning’s Summit Shooting Vest; ProGrade’s simplified ammunition; and more
free A&D books to members SHOT SHOW Member exhibitors benefit in 2015 NSSF DELIVERS VALUE YOU SHOULD KNOW Log on to the new NSSF website
FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014❚❚❚SHOT BUSINESS❚❚❚1
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SLATON L. WHITE, Editor
Staying ahead of the pack
y first job out of college surely wasn’t anything to write home about. I worked for a roofing warehouse, delivering shingles and 100-pound containers of asphalt. The job itself really wasn’t all that awful, but having to deal with the owner’s son made it feel like I had descended into purgatory.
Margaret M. Nussey, Managing Editor David E. Petzal, Shooting Editor Maribel Martin, Senior Administrative Assistant James A. Walsh, Art Director Judith Weber, Production Manager CONTRIBUTING EDITORS
Larry Ahlman, Barbara Baird, Scott Bestul, Philip Bourjaily, Chris Christian, Christopher Cogley, David Draper, Jock Elliott, William F. Kendy, Mark Kayser, Peter B. Mathiesen, Brian McCombie, Tom Mohrhauser, Robert Sadowski, Robert F. Staeger, Peter Suciu, Wayne Van Zwoll
ERIC ZINCZENKO, Executive Vice President
He believed he was to the manor born and viewed the family enterprise as his personal ATM. The parents wisely set him up in a separate business, one walled off from the cash cow they had worked all their lives to build. True to his nature, he promptly ran the business into the ground and, later, after the passing of his parents, managed to do the same to his inheritance. These long-ago events came to mind while I was reading a pair of articles on two incredibly successful and long-lived businesses in this
month’s issue of SHOT Business, both by contributing editor Robert F. Staeger. The subjects of his profiles are Brownells, which is celebrating its 75th year, and Lipsey’s, which is marking its 60th anniversary. Both are household names in the shooting sports industry and need no further introduction from me. Each has thrived through the years because they offer unbelievable levels of customer service. They have also benefited from entrepreneurial leadership that has never forgotten their humble beginnings. But something else is at work as well. These remain family
enterprises, ones in which the succeeding generations never took success for granted. According to Staeger, Frank Brownell told him, “The first generation finds a blank spot, creates an idea, puts a wall around it, and calls it a business. The second generation’s responsibility is to put in a management team and grow it at a pace they can manage. But it’s still under the management and brain of that second-generation leader. It puts together a treasury—a cash pile. The third generation immediately fires the second generation—because with any luck, you’ve outgrown their abilities—and spends the cash pile growing the company. We basically did that.” I’ll bet there’s a host of Ivy League MBAs who have never figured that out. In Lipsey’s case, it was adapting the mantra “You can’t become complacent.” Second-generation president Laurie Aronson told Staeger, “I hate the phrase ‘Just keep doing what you’re doing.’ That’s a sure way to close your business. Something may have been a hit, but now what? What’s the next thing?” Questions like that propel a business forward, helping it to keep ahead of the pack. And if you value success, that’s exactly where you need to be.
Slaton L. White, Editor
Gregory D. Gatto, Publisher Paula Iwanski, National Sporting Goods Director Brian Peterson, West Katie Logan, Sporting Goods Sales John Driscoll, Vice President, Corporate Sales Elizabeth A. Burnham, Chief Marketing Officer Ingrid Reslmaier, Marketing Design Director
Tara Bisciello, Business Manager
Robert M. Cohn, Consumer Marketing Director Barbara Brooker, Fulfillment Manager
Laurel Kurnides, Group Production Director Stefanie La Bella, Associate Production Director
Chairman, Jonas Bonnier Chief Executive Officer, Dave Freygang Executive Vice President, Eric Zinczenko Chief Content Officer, David Ritchie Chief Financial Officer, Nancy Coalter Chief Operating Officer, Lisa Earlywine Chief Marketing Officer, Elizabeth Burnham Murphy Chief Human Resource Officer, Leslie Glenn Chief Brand Development Officer, Sean Holzman Vice President, Consumer Marketing, John Reese Vice President, Corporate Communications, Dean Turcol General Counsel, Jeremy Thompson
SHOT Business (ISSN 1081-8618) is published 7 times a year in January, February/March, April/May, June/July, August/September, October/ November and December by Bonnier Corporation, 2 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10016-5695, and is the official publication of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Flintlock Ridge Office Center, 11 Mile Hill Road, Newtown, CT 06470 (203-426-1320). Volume 22, issue 2. Copyright © 2014 by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. All rights reserved. Editorial, circulation, production and advertising offices are located at 2 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10016-5695 (212-779-5000). Free to qualified subscribers; available to non-qualified subscribers for $25 per year. Single-copy issues are available for $5 each. Send check, payable to NSSF, to: SHOT Business, c/o NSSF, 11 Mile Hill Road, Newtown, CT 06470-2359. SHOT Business accepts no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts and photographs. All correspondence should be accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope. Requests for media kits and advertising information should be directed to Katy Marinaro, Bonnier Corporation, 625 N. Michigan Ave., Ste. 1270, Chicago, IL 60611. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY, and at additional mailing offices. Printed in the USA. For Customer Service and Subscription questions, such as Renewals, Address Changes, Email Preferences, Billing and Account Status, go to: shotbusiness .com/cs. You can also email shotbusiness@emailcustomer service.com, in the U.S. call toll-free 866-615-4345, outside the U.S. call 386-246-0188, or write to SHOT Business, 2 Park Ave., New York, NY 10016. For editorial inquiries, write to Slaton L. White, SHOT Business, 2 Park Ave., New York, NY 10016 REPRINTS: E-mail email@example.com. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to SHOT Business, P.O. Box 422494, Palm Coast, FL 32142-2494.
2❚❚❚SHOT BUSINESS❚❚❚FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
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Bits & Pieces
NEWS BRIEFS NEWS
Winchester Improves Ballistics Calculator App
Two years ago, Winchester introduced its Ballistics Calculator at Winchester.com, following with apps for iPhone and iPod Touch. Now app has been updated to make the calculations more comprehensive. The original app allowed users to choose centerfire rifle ammunition and compare different cartridges with charts and graphs. The updated version now helps users discover aiming points, impact points, and trajectories for rimfire, shotgun, slug, and handgun hunting ammunition. “We listened to the great feedback, and now the Ballistics Calculator is improved,” said Brett Flaugher, Winchester Ammunition’s vice president of marketing and sales.
Lipsey’s new 83,000-square-foot distribution center—also in Baton Rouge, but more than triple the company’s current space—is scheduled to begin operation in April.
Gearhog.com Is Up and Running
Gearhog recently announced the official launch of its website, Gearhog.com. The site offers daily deals on hunting, shooting and other outdoorrelated products. After signing up as a member on the website, users will be e-mailed daily about new deals. “The popularity of daily deal sites has really taken the world by storm, and we’re absolutely thrilled to now have a site catering to shooting, hunting, and the outdoor world,” said Clayton Whipple of Brownells. Virtually all daily deal websites work within the same “everybody wins” framework. In this case, Gearhog.com gets the user traffic, brands get their products to the masses, and consumers get the discount.
Lipsey’s New Look
en years ago, Lipsey’s was celebrating its 50-year anniversary. That’s the sort of occasion that prompts some looking back, and can spur a look forward as well. In this case, Lipsey’s decided to retire its long-standing tagline, “Same Day Shipping,” in favor of something more expansive and aspirational: “Aim Higher.” The company incorporated the tagline into its old logo, and it served them well for another 10 years. But as the company reaches 60, company president Laurie Aronson recognizes it’s time for another change. “We’re a progressive, forward-moving company, and our company has changed so much over the years,” says Aronson. Aronson is a third-generation Lipsey and has been with her family’s company for more than two decades. “Technology was really a very big part of this whole branding thing for us. We wanted our brand mark to show velocity and speed—not just to reflect our website, but also the other technology that we offer to our customers, and to our salespeople internally.” The new logo, a sleek capital L in a stylized gun sight, speaks to not just the company’s trade partners, but also the end consumer. “I think overall we have, as an industry, really started to come to the This product is from sustainably managed forests and controlled sources.
here and the now,” says Aronson. “That’s what it reflected. We wanted something fresh and fun. We decided on something in that gunmetal gray, reflective of the products that we carry. “We really just wanted it to reflect our new customer,” says Aronson. “Our business was built on the hunting business; it’s part of our heritage. We’re still in the hunting market, of course, but the product mix of what we sell has changed so much. Pistols have become a very big part of our business. Our new logo shows that we’re a forward-moving company. I mean that in terms of our product knowledge, our product offering, our exclusives, and our technology. “We came up with ‘Aim Higher’ 10 years ago, and that is probably as important as the mark is itself,” says Aronson. “‘Aim Higher’ is something that we strive for personally and professionally. We love that it has so many meanings; we use that term internally all the tie. And who knows? In the future, we may have other plans for ‘Aim Higher.’” Aiming higher certainly applies to the company’s personnel decisions. Aronson maintains that putting the right people in the right positions is key to the company’s success. “There’s no doubt that what I’m most proud of, in looking around, is the team we’ve built here,” she says. “When we bring people into our community, we really do screen them carefully to make sure that they’re a good fit with our Lipsey’s culture—that desire to do things as we do, and to serve our cusFEBRUARY/MARCH 2014❚❚❚SHOT BUSINESS❚❚❚5
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NEWS BRIEFS tomer the way they should be served. We’ve really built a team with a skill set that I think doesn’t even compare to others in the industry,” says Aronson. “I think we’re really good at building relationships. Not just with our customers, but with our vendors and other industry professionals. I feel like you can say the name Lipsey’s to anyone in the industry, and they’re not going to have just heard of us, but they’ll know someone at the company.” And with a venerable family-owned company like Lipsey’s, those relationships sometimes go back generations. “If you look at the manufacturers, there are several family businesses in the firearms manufacturing business. Then I look at my customer base, and again, there are some customers that have been doing business with me for 30 or 40 years, and some of them are on their second or third generations. So what you see is a nice trend of family sticking together, and younger generations stepping in where either their fathers or grandfathers left off. We’ve got several generations of people who started out here all those years ago, and that’s something we’d like to continue.” But while relationships keep the door open, it’s important to open the door to new business as well. “Obviously there are other people in the industry who are selling the exact same products as we are,” says Aronson. “So we can only differentiate ourselves either by exclusives or in service. “Service, hands down, we’ve got that,” she says. “I don’t feel like there’s a lot of
“We’ve got to be thinking all the time, even when times are really good. I hate the phrase, ‘Just keep doing what you’re doing.’ That’s a sure way to close your business.” competition in that area, because our salespeople really do form relationships. Our customers have become our friends over the years, and no doubt we take care of our customers very well.” The right product mix is crucial, however, and Lipsey’s spices it up by offering a number of appealing exclusives. “We’re one of the few distributors that actually puts out several exclusives during the year,
and they’ve just been gangbusters,” says Aronson. “We’ve had pistols on the cover of magazines before, and they’ll say ‘Lipsey’s new exclusive.’ Not ‘Ruger’s New Flattop,’ but ‘Lipsey’s New Flattop.’ So the consumer is starting to get to know the Lipsey’s name. “You can’t become complacent,” says Aronson. “We have to keep thinking of ways to improve the service we provide to customers, find a different product mix to offer them. We’ve got to be thinking all the time, even when times are really good. I hate the phrase, ‘Just keep doing what you’re doing.’ That’s a sure way to close your business. Something may have been a hit, but now what? What’s the next thing?” One new thing this year is bringing is a change to the company’s home location. Lipsey’s is building a new, 83,000-squarefoot distribution center—more than triple its current space—with plans to occupy it in April. It’s been a long time coming, says Aronson. “Our office space right now has been really good, but it’s getting cramped. We keep hiring people and we have nowhere to put them. I think we’ve pushed ourselves as much as we can.” The warehouse is also jam-packed, making getting to the right products more difficult. “We are so looking forward to this move,” says Aronson. “I think we run efficiently now, but we’re going to be able to do things we haven’t been able to before, with the luxury of space.” (225-755-1333; lipseys.com)
—Robert F. Staeger
WINCHESTER AMMUNITION NAMES AHERN GROUP SALES AGENCY OF THE YEAR The Ahern Group—which represents sales of quality hunting, shooting, and law enforcement products in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas— has been named Winchester Ammunition’s 2013 Commercial Sales Agency of the Year. The prestigious award was presented to the Ahern Group at the company’s recent national sales meeting in Collinsville, Illinois. “It’s an honor to pres-
ent the Ahern Group with this award,” said Brett Flaugher, Winchester Ammunition vice president of marketing, sales, and strategy. “The award is a tribute to the hard work of Ahern Group in reaching key retailers and distributors with new Winchester Ammunition products.” Winchester Ammunition presents the Commercial Sales Agency of the Year award annually to an agency that shows an out-
Winchester honored the Ahern Group at its annual sales meeting. standing body of work in helping all Winchester Ammunition customers be successful. “We are very honored and excited to be receiving
this award from Winchester,” said David Puckett, Ahern Group president. “Our customers have grown accustomed to the consistent innovation and the legendary excellence of the Winchester brand. This year’s demand has been exciting, and we are committed to investing in our future in order to meet the respect and satisfaction that Winchester Ammunition and our customers deserve.”
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Crimson Trace Testing Is Unequaled Ever wonder how much product testing goes into Crimson Trace laser sights and light products before they are produced, packaged, and shipped? The short answer is: lots. After Crimson Trace products are created by in-house engineers and designers, the prototypes are tested for fit to their intended gun frames. Electrical systems, battery pockets, and many other details are also checked. But that’s just for starters. Engineers next install batteries, install the Lasergrip onto a working firearm, and then the product and a tester head to the company’s on-site test firing range. Once inside, the Beta-testers lock and load—and start shooting. When the smoke clears, thousands of
Test firing on Crimson Trace’s range reveal any problematic design elements before a product reaches the public.
rounds have landed downrange in the bullet trap. It’s the onthe-firearm and in-the-hand tests that determine if a product performs as planned. On a recent in-range Beta test at Crimson Trace’s headquarters, 15 shooters shot more than 12,000 rounds while testing two new products. That’s a lot of time in-hand, on the range, and in test mode. The average shooter spent about
one hour pulling the trigger before hand fatigue set in. Then, the next shooters stepped up to the firing line and continued the test process. Product testing consumes up to 120,000 cartridges per year. Beta testers also examine product packaging, battery-installation guidelines, and sighting standards. Product details are re-examined and complex notes are written and reviewed. Then the
test grip or product is removed, thoroughly examined, retested, reinstalled, and tested once again on the firing line for recoil resistance and fit. Any product flaw discovered along this grueling process can result in a possible redesign or modification. If that happens, the entire process can begin again. Only the best products survive. “Crimson Trace products undergo many levels of Beta testing and extensive range shooting sessions before the products are ever approved,” says Michael Caulk, director of engineering. “This testing means our customers can depend upon the product they select and install on their firearms.” Customers have positively weighed in by purchasing nearly three million Crimson Trace products since the company was founded nearly 20 years ago.” (800-442-2406; crimsontrace.com)
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Federal Ammunition Passes On the Outdoor Connection Federal Premium Ammunition and Pass It On—Outdoor Mentors have announced a new three-year sponsorship commitment to help expand and grow the Pass It On mentorship program. The
organization is currently working in several states to implement outdoor mentoring partnerships that provide more opportunities for kids to learn to hunt, shoot, and fish.
Pass It On—Outdoor Mentors brings outdoor experiences to naturedeprived kids.
“With our emphasis on reaching children with no connection to the outdoors, we depend on support from the outdoors industry,” says Mike Christensen, president of Pass It On. “Having Federal Ammunition on our team will greatly enhance our ability to get kids outdoors.” “Research by a number of organizations confirms that new hunters and shooters are recruited by a mentor. Growing this model is good for the future of hunting and shooting,” says Federal Premium Ammunition’s conservation manager Ryan Bronson. “Pass It On bridges the gap between youth mentoring organizations and hunting organizations, and that’s why we chose to support it.” Pass It On partners with state fish and wildlife agencies, conservation organizations, and youth organizations to give atrisk children opportunities to participate in outdoor sports and activities. “Too many children today don’t ever get the chance to experience the great outdoors,” Christensen says. “We’re working to change that.” (800-322-2342; federalpremium.com)
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SIG Sauer has joined forces with Honored American Veterans Afield (HAVA) to help wounded servicemen and women return to outdoor activities. The manufacturer is committing a portion of the proceeds of sales from its new SB15 Pistol Stabilizing Brace, designed to help disabled shooters use the modern sporting rifle platform, to HAVA. “HAVA has been at the foreront of helping veterans get back into the shooting sports,” said Bud Fini, SIG Sauer vice president of marketing. “We’ve seen firsthand the positive impact from getting these veterans back to the activities they love.”
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ING HER I
Video production agencies November Studios and Rusted Rooster have partnered to create video content for TV and outdoor industry clients.
EST . 1939
November Studios and Rusted Rooster Form Partnership Two of the outdoor industry’s leading video production agencies will now be working as one. November Studios and Rusted Rooster Media, each of which produce a number of outdoor related television programs, recently announced a new strategic partnership. The idea is to better serve their respective clients while also helping to develop new client relationships. November Studios is the production company behind Whitetail Properties and Wallhanger TV while Rusted Rooster produces Dropped: Project Alaska and Backcountry Quest. This new partnership will allow the two production companies to share a common goal of showcasing the great outdoors in ways that haven’t been done before. Rusted Rooster, led by Jason Brown, Chris Keefer, and Casey Keefer, has, since 2001, produced more than 400 original episodes, 150 TV commercials, and collected more than 40 national production awards. Boutique production company November Studios, run by a group of hunters that includes Paul Sawyer, provides client service work for
many of the industry’s most recognizable brands, including Winchester Ammunition, Realtree, Tink’s, and Scent-Lok. “Chris and Casey Keefer and I founded Rusted Rooster when we each realized we shared the same vision—to bring the outdoors to viewers’ living rooms in new and innovative ways,” says Jason Brown, Rusted Rooster co-owner and executive producer. “Our partnership with November Studios allows us to take everything to the next level for our outdoor industry clients.” All client service projects for both companies, including the production of TV ads, short films, Web videos and custom projects, will now be a collaboration between Rusted Rooster and November Studios. “Like the Rooster guys, at November Studios, we’re always going to be tip-ofthe-spear,” said Paul Sawyer, November Studios owner. “Rusted Rooster and November Studios think alike. We want to push the envelope. We want to lead the outdoor industry in video production and we want to continue producing amazing work for clients who are or want to be industry leaders.” —Peter Suciu
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JESSIE DUFF EARNS GRAND MASTER RANK WITH USPSA Champion shooter Jessie Duff has become the first woman to earn USPSA’s Grand Master title.
World-renowned champion shooter Jessie Duff recently broke a new barrier, becoming the first woman to earn the title of Grand Master from the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA). In earning this prestigious classification, Duff had to maintain an average above 95 percent in shooting classification courses. Her performance in 2013 included top wins in USPSA’s Open, Limited, and Single Stack National Championships, as well as multiple top wins in the Steel Challenge World Championships and earned top titles in the Arkansas Sectional Championships and Steel Challenge National Championships. “I am honored to have earned the designation of Grand Master with USPSA,” says Duff. “This is something I have been working toward my entire shooting career, and I’ve come this far
thanks to a lot of hard work and a lot of support.” Duff is recognized as one of the most accomplished competition shooters in the world and is setting a new precedent for female shooters across the country. As female participation in shooting sports is on the rise, Duff ’s most recent accomplishments and continued success are contributing to an increase in involvement of women in competitive shooting. “Jessie is one of the best shooters in the world,” says USPSA executive director Kim Williams. “USPSA is proud to announce her historic record as the first woman to ever reach this ranking in Practical Shooting.”
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LIBERTY SAFE MEETS GROWING DEMAND FOR U.S.-MADE PRODUCTS As global economic conditions continue to change, the demand for U.S.-made products seems greater than ever. Last year, Liberty Safe took great strides to meet that demand by investing more than $15 million in capital equipment to increase its production capabilities. This has allowed Liberty to produce as many as 550 safes a day, making the firm the largest high-capacity safe manufacturer in the world. The increase in capability has also created hundreds of U.S. jobs. Liberty currently employs more than 500 American
workers, most located in its Payson, Utah, facility. “Our goal as a company is to produce the bestbuilt safes on the planet,” says CEO Kim Waddoups. “The only way to do that is by investing in the best technology and putting that technology into the hands of a skilled team. Our current production looks nothing like it did five years ago. We have made many changes to increase our capabilities while maintaining the quality for which Liberty is known.” Waddoups also notes that sales of all safes last year exceeded market
expectations. “Liberty has been the market leader, surpassing all other manufactures in production and volume,” he says. “The service, quality, selection, and value we offer has separated us from the pack in the safe industry. Liberty also offers a lifetime replacement warranty against fire and attempted theft for every safe.” (866-537-0165; libertysafe.com)
Safe at home: Liberty Safe’s increased production capacity allows manufacture of 550 safes a day.
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Testing…Testing…Testing There’s a reason Walther has a welldeserved reputation for performance and reliability—the manufacturer has earned it. If you have a customer who hangs up—maybe he’s concerned about the price because Walther products command a premium—let him know the price includes a rigorous testing program that’s far more onerous than anything he’ll put the gun through. “Gun producers can only sell to the German police if their guns were tested to police specifications,” says Peter Dallhammer, Walther law enforcement product manager. “This is a state test, overseen by state employees, done in the Ulm Proof House.” In other words, it’s true third-party testing. The police want to make sure the firearm will work in hostile environments. “We hand over five test guns,” Dallhammer says. “Initial inspections include measuring spring loads and checking overall dimensions. Then state inspec-
Walther’s pistols built in the Ulm, Germany, factory must pass a strict federal testing protocol.
tors select one gun for a drop test.” Once the drop test has been concluded, one of the guns will be dry-fired. The inspector loads dummy rounds and pulls the trigger for 5,000 cycles. After that, the three remaining guns will be endurance– tested with 10,000 rounds each. The last obstacle to certification is the barrel-obstruction test. It consists of two parts, both of which involve seating a
bullet in the barrel. “The first test uses a bullet seated just deep enough to allow feeding a live cartridge into the chamber,” says Dallhammer. “In the second test, the bullet is driven through the barrel until it reaches the muzzle.” Both tests involve live firing and a thorough assessment of any damage. “A good-quality gun will not be affected by the first test,” Dallhammer says. “But the second test is far more demanding.” Bulges and cracks in the barrel are acceptable, but if the barrel ruptures and sends parts flying, the gun fails. “If you pass all this you can legally enter a tender for the German police,” Dallhammer says. All of which is to say that the gun will perform under a wide range of challenging circumstances. Tell your customer it’s like seeing the “Bottled in Bond” seal on a bottle of premium bourbon. It’s an assurance of quality. (479-242-8500; waltherarms.com) —Slaton L. White
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Muck Makes Social Media Connection With interactive social media integrated into nearly every segment of the lives of younger consumers, the Original Muck Boot Company has been reaching out and communicating with them in droves. Muck has been actively using Facebook for more than three years, communicating about new products and getting customer feedback, all while creating enduring relationships with consumers. Muck’s page is an active, minute-to-minute correspondence with an audience that’s grown to 30,000 fans. Traffic has also expanded to Twitter and the hugely popular Instagram. “We see traffic that is measurable, active, and keeps us on the cutting edge of what our consumers see as our brand identity. It has been a major resource for us,” says Sean O’Brien, Muck Boot’s global director of retail footwear. Events such as contests for discounts, kids picking their favorite colors, or having fans write captions to emotional outdoor photos are regular occurrences, with prod-
The Original Muck Boot Company has embraced social media as a prime way to reach younger customers.
uct giveaways as part of the mix. The key, O’Brien says, is to offer something new nearly every day. This kind of effort can’t be a part-time effort. “As any experienced social media editor will tell you, there must be a full-time gatekeeper,” he says. Hollywood Public Relations, Muck’s PR agency, manages much of the day-to-day strategies of the site. “Where many companies fail in social media is just not pay-
ing attention. You have to be responsive— and I mean now, not at the end of the day,” says Darlene Hollywood, the PR company’s principal. Last October, Muck created a one-hour live event on Facebook with the company’s product designer. Called “Hunting for the Perfect Pair of Boots,” the live feed needed four people to type answers to questions. During the Q&A, 489 new Likes were received. In addition, there were more than 159 comments and 75 shares. Both promotions doubled the company’s website traffic for months. What Muck has learned—a lesson yet to be to understood by many—is that maintaining a viable social media site takes a lot of work. But the results are truly worth all the extra effort. “Sure, it takes time and personnel to interact with the site,” O’Brien says. “But the ‘Aha’ moment is that it’s essentially free promotion, advertising, and feedback all in one.” (855-377-2668; muckboot company.com) —Peter B. Mathiesen
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Use Your Own Standard Shellholders
Reloaders will love the E-ZEE Prime’s quick-change collar and unitized primer trays. Using standard shellholders makes priming and change-over uncomplicated, fast and easy, and this product will do the same for your sales. Eliminate fussing with small primer punch parts. The correct sized punch assembly is engineered into each tray. A cutoff gate further speeds changes. In addition, the quick-change collar makes the change-over process a “snap”. With ergonomic design and optimized leverage, the E-ZEE Prime offers the comfortable, controlled feel needed for precisely seating primers during extended priming sessions. Includes large and small primer trays
1/15/14 11:33 AM
NEWS BRIEFS The MeoStar 1–6x24 RD is Meopta’s first scope with a 6X zoom, offering a wider field of view on lower power.
Meopta Aims High
When retailers begin stocking Meopta’s new MeoStar R2 riflescopes, they’ll notice a new wrinkle; the first scope in this new product line—the 30mm MeoStar 1–6x24 RD—is also the manufacturer’s first scope with a 6X zoom ratio. For hunters more accustomed to 3X to 9X zoom scopes, the new configuration may take some getting used to, but according to Reinhard Seipp, general manager and COO of Meopta USA, the 6X offers a lot of advantages. “The advantage of a 6X zoom is the wider field of view when the scope is on its lowest power,” he says. “And, at its highest power, the detail is extremely sharp. It provides the best of both worlds, and hunters like that versatility.” “We have a new, proprietary lens coating in the R2 series called MeoLux,” Seipp says. “This advanced technology enables 99.8 percent light transmission per glass surface, resulting in 95 percent transmission through the entire scope. Put simply, this allows hunters to see better and hunt longer.” Another strong selling point of the scope, Seipp
says, is a pair of red-dot reticle options, both of which can be easily seen in bright sunlight. “The reticles allow for very fast target acquisition, which is a great benefit when hunting dangerous game. But they also help a deer hunter take that buck of a lifetime, which typically gives you just seconds to take the shot.” The new RD8 illumination system features eight levels of reticle intensity. “In this manner, the brightness level of the red dot can be adjusted to accommodate ever-changing light and weather conditions in the field,” he says. Meopta has really put itself on the map the past couple of years, winning, among other honors, a Best of the Best Award from Field & Stream. Along the way the manufacturer has developed a reputation for offering hunters superior “European” glass at an affordable price. Indeed, the quality is so good, consumers may wonder how the company can get that quality at the asking price. “When we introduced the Meopta brand to the United States in 2006, we opted to focus on the product, not the brand,” Seipp says. “We have invested in research, advanced design,
and new technologies, such as MeoLux, instead of big marketing campaigns. We aimed for the premium segment and required premium product to get there. The downside of this strategy is that one cannot ask a premium price until the brand positioning and recognition is established. I am sure our products will become more expensive as we grow, but we aim to provide good value and performance.” One program that has really helped build consumer awareness is Meopta’s partnership with Cabela’s. “Our strong partnership with Cabela’s—we manufacture their Euro riflescopes and binoculars— coupled with our own increased communications efforts are helping to increase brand awareness,” Seipp says. He does admit, however, that much of this increase in brand awareness has been more of a grassroots effect. “Hunters try our optics. They are pleased with the performance, and then they go tell their friends.” Word of mouth is truly the way to go. SRP: $1,595. (800-8288928; meoptasports optics.com)
1/14/14 6:33 PM
Back in the Woods and Streams
Last fall, work-boot manufacturer Weinbrenner announced the re-introduction of its storied Wood N’ Stream line of outdoor footwear. Originally established in 1957, the Wood N’ Stream line encompasses both domestic and imported models. “These hunting boots will feature proven technology leveraging Weinbrenner’s extensive industry experience and manufacturing capability for high-value, high-performance products,” company president Patrick Miner says. “We believe sportsmen will appreciate the superior comfort, durable construction, and quality materials that go into each pair of Wood N’ Stream boots.” Features of the re-introduced line include the Visible Gel System (VGS) and the GENflex3 series. According to Miner, the VGS lessens repetitive impact stress in the heel with three layers of shock absorption, which reduces stress on the knees and back. SRPs range from $100 to $300. (800-8260002; weinbrennerusa.com)
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Call Today — for all your profit making details! The re-introduced Wood N’ Stream line reduces repetitive impact stress.
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On the Move Recent promotions and hirings in the industry
Adam Burt has been appointed president of Blue Book Publications, in addition to his ongoing role as head of business development. Burt will lead a shift toward strategic digital content delivery and online subscriptions.
GSM Outdoors has promoted Ben Smith to marketing manager. He will be responsible for media budgets and product distribution to key influencers. In addition, Smith will continue his sales responsibilities with current accounts.
Christopher E. Kubasik
The Safariland Group has appointed Christopher E. Kubasik to its board of directors, effective immediately. In addition to serving on the board, Kubasik will also chair the company’s audit committee.
Traditions Performance Firearms has hired Neil Sanders as vice president of sales. Sanders will manage the company’s network of national sales reps as well as nurturing relationships with distributors and retailers.
Benelli USA has named Tom Kaleta as its new VP of marketing. Kaleta, who has more than 20 years of marketing experience, will be responsible for Benelli USA’s strategic marketing direction for its family of brands.
Wyoming welcomes the outdoor products manufacturing industry.
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Remington Defense’s new Concealable Sniper Rifle (CSR), a 7.62 NATO/.308 Win. bolt-action, will initially be available for LE and military use, but may soon join the civilian ranks.
Remington Defense Debuts New Concealable Sniper Rifle
My first shot with Remington Defense’s new Concealable Sniper Rifle (CSR) was a miss, although I didn’t feel too terrible about sliding the .308 Win. bullet just over the top of the circular, 12-inch steel target— at 400 yards! I worked the bolt, chambered another round, and made a hit, then two more before taking on a bull’s-eye painted on a steel door 600 yards in the distance. According to my spotter, my next three shots were misses. I was a little frustrated by the third “Miss!” my spotter called out, so I racked back the bolt to clear the CSR, twisted around, and asked him, “Just how bad am I missing?” “Like an inch left and an inch or two high on every shot,” he said, grinning. “Miss!” That, I decided, was a set of misses I could live with. It was also quite a testament to
Remington Defense’s newfor-2014 CSR, a 7.62 NATO/.308 Win. bolt-action that will be available to law enforcement and military customers this year. It very well could hit the consumer market soon afterward, too. Built on a RACS Lightweight Chassis, with a 16-inch carbon barrel made by Proof Research, the CSR comes in at a surprising 9 pounds. Remington Defense took the bolt action it uses on its MSR sniper rifle and shortened it to create the Remington CSR Titanium Action with a 60-degree throw. The CSR has a right-folding, lightweight, and fully adjustable buttstock and a modular handguard with removable accessory rails. The rifle I used had a black Cerakote Gen II IR-reducing finish. The rifle employs a detachable magazine, and uses a two-position safety. It will also come in a
20-inch fluted barrel version, and alternative calibers are in the works. Pull down on a throw lever under the barrel, and the CSR easily breaks down into five separate components that will easily fit into a suitcase or other less noticeable package. “Right now, the CSR is being built strictly for a government contract,” says Adam Ballard, product manager for DPMS Firearms. “There isn’t a consumer version, yet. But we are expecting it will have a lot of potential in the consumer market as the government contract plays out.” I fired the CSR at Gunsite in Paulden, Arizona, one of the nation’s top shooting facilities, last month as part of a Freedom Group new tactical products seminar. This CSR was equipped with a Leupold Mark 6 3–18x44mm scope, and I was using Remington Premier Match ammunition,
with 168-grain MatchKing BTHP bullets. As a civilian recreational shooter, I can’t wait for this rifle to hit the consumer market. It was extremely accurate, and had a smooth-as-silk twostage trigger. The bolt worked easily and locked positively. With an Advanced Armaments Corporation 762-SD suppressor on the end of the barrel, the rifle had very minimal recoil. Admittedly, my experiences with the CSR were limited. But to be dinging steel at 400 yards with shot number two, and then coming within a few inches of the bull’s-eye at 600 yards? That tells me the CSR will have a lot of applications for rec shooters like me who like pegging steel at distance, and it should have some impressive long-range hunting applications, too. (800-5488572; remingtondefense .com) —Brian McCombie
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U P D AT E
FROM THE NSSF
B Y S T E V E S A N E T T I , N S S F P R E S I D E N T/ C E O
FROM THE NSSF
Promoting Project ChildSafe Members of NSSF and the entire industry can help get the message out
rom my earliest days as a firearms instructor at Virginia Military Institute in 1968, I have valued firearms safety as one of my highest callings. Having taught many hundreds of persons the basic firearms safety rules and being involved with numerous firearms industry safety programs during the last 45 years, I am extremely proud to be counted among the many volunteers who have successfully devoted their time and energy to help prevent firearms accidents. Their efforts have resulted in fatal firearms accidents dropping by more than 20 percent in the last 10 years, now constituting less than 1 percent of all fatal accidents nationwide (see accompanying pie chart). Fatal firearms accidents are at a century-long low, accomplished in the face of a surge in both the number of firearms (300 million) and record numbers of firearms owners (about half the households in America). One of the truly gratifying accomplishments of the firearms industry has been its devotion to the safety of its products. More than 60 million locking devices have been furnished as original equipment by firearms manufacturers with new firearms sold during the last 20 years, and Project
Fatal ﬁrearms accidents have dropped by more than 20 percent in the last 10 years, now constituting less than 1 percent of all fatal accidents nationwide.
ChildSafe, NSSF’s home firearms safety program, has distributed an additional 36 million gun locks with its firearms safety kits. Furthermore, retailers carry a wide variety of locking devices—from safes to lockable boxes and other types of appropriate security devices. These devices help prevent accidents, and they are available now—consumers don’t have to wait for unproven technology that relies upon batteries to keep their firearms secure from children, unauthorized adults, the mentally unstable, and thieves. Project ChildSafe urges responsible firearms owners to consider their individual circumstances and secure their guns when not in use. Our member companies have helped support Project ChildSafe in many different
Natural Heat or Cold 1% Firearms 1% Drowning 1% Mechanical Sufocation* 2% Chokingb 4% Fire, fames or smokea 4%
Poisoning 50% Falls 29%
Pie chart data courtesy of the National Safety Council’s Injury Facts® 2013 Edition b
a Includes deaths from conflagration, regardless of nature of injury. Inhalation and ingestion of food or other object that obstructs breathing
ways, ranging from helping our promotional efforts and supplying volunteers to help with the more than 15,000 Project ChildSafe launches held across the country since 1998, to placing Project ChildSafe links on their websites, to direct monetary contributions, and even indirect contributions via their NSSF dues and fees collected from their participation at our annual industry gathering, the SHOT Show. We could not do this or any of our other firearms safety publications, online videos, posters, and DVDs without the unstinting support of our NSSF members. For this, you have our sincerest thanks. We can never count the exact number of firearms accidents, thefts, and unauthorized accesses that have been prevented by Project ChildSafe and other industry safety programs, but I can assure you that all of us, working together, have helped protect the public. Help us spread the word that a responsible industry and its responsible customers are voluntarily doing a lot to improve firearms safety and decrease accidents. Media coverage of needless tragedies only fuels anti-gun sentiment and falsely creates the impression of a worsening situation. But the truth is that we are experiencing a boom in gun safety. Let’s keep working together to reduce firearms accidents and misuse even further!
President and Chief Executive Officer, NSSF
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U P D AT E
B Y PAT R I C K S H AY, D I R E C T O R , R E TA I L D E V E L O P M E N T
R E TA I L E R T O O L B O X
FFL Compliance Consultant Team Experts with ATF experience will visit your store
his month we are featuring a tool NSSF offers that will provide the benefit of peace of mind: our FFL Compliance Consultant visit. NSSF provides its members the opportunity to undergo a one-day training inspection. This training is conducted by our team of former ATF managers and executives who have each amassed more than 25 years of experience working in the ATF. Furthermore, our consultants have each conducted, overseen, and reviewed literally thousands of inspections of firearms retail locations. Additionally, they are vetted prior to joining our team and have demonstrated strong support of our industry and our Second Amendment rights. In short, these are good, well-qualified people who believe in what we are doing and are here to help.
The training inspection is designed to mirror the inspection that the ATF would conduct. Our consultants will review your 4473 forms, your inventory, and your A&D books. Understand, however, that our consultants are on site for just a day, so this is not a 100 percent review of all your forms, books, and inventory. Their visit, nonetheless, allows them to identify systemic errors and common themes. If you have a specific area of concern, or would like our team to focus on providing training for your staff, they will certainly tailor the training day to meet your needs. Once the daylong training is completed, the consultant will provide a findings report, similar to what the ATF would provide after an inspection. This report details the issues that
the consultants have identified, the relevant regulation(s) from the Federal Firearms Regulation Guide (the White Book), and, most important, how to properly correct the errors identified in the report. This report is provided solely to the person who commissioned the site visit; no one else sees it. NSSF’s goal here is to help support the ATF’s mission of voluntary compliance. We want to help identify and correct any issues that might impact your license, your reputation, and your livelihood
before an ATF inspection occurs. NSSF so strongly believes in the value of this program that we heavily subsidize these training audits for our members. We know the razor-thin margins that the firearms retailers operate under. Because of that, we pay the majority of our consultant’s travel expenses (airfare, lodging, rentalcar fees, meals, etc.) and any incidental charges they might incur. The total cost to our members is only $499. There are no hidden fees or additional charges, and NSSF does not profit.
This program was set up to help the firearms retailer and to promote, protect, and preserve the shooting sports. I receive frequent feedback from our members, like this note from Jackie Gengler at Alaska Illusive Arms, near North Pole, Alaska: “We just completed our first ATF inspection last week. We passed and were not told of anything for which we would be written up. In short, the site-visit program works. We will happily be renewing our membership to help other FFLs get started right as well, as
We want to help identify and correct any issues that might impact your license, your reputation, and your livelihood before an ATF inspection occurs.
we appreciate your speaking up for all lawabiding gun owners during these turbulent political times.” Ben Minkel of Cedar Falls Tactical, in Farmington, Missouri, wrote: “Thanks again for all of your help. [Nick Scouffas was] very thorough and really helped us understand the reasons why many of the regulations are needed. We have received your suggestions and have already started putting them in place and making the necessary changes. The service you provide is fantastic, and I would recommend it to anyone.” What’s the price of such peace of mind? For an NSSF member, it’s $499. For more information on this program or to schedule an audit, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, 203426-1320 ext. 216.
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Coalition Demands Action to End “Sporting Purposes” Impasse
coalition of organizations led by NSSF, representing millions of sportsmen and women, requested that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder of the Justice Department, through ATF, finalize and start implementing the necessary “sporting purposes” exemption to the definition of armor-piercing ammunition established by the Gun Control Act of 1968. Since California governor Jerry Brown signed into law last fall the first state ban on traditional lead ammunition for hunting, the ability of manufacturers to bring alternative ammunition products to market is increasingly crucial to the continued vitality of hunting
and recreational shooting. The widespread production and availability of this ammuni-
tion relies on assured markets, provided by reasonable regulation and enforcement at the
federal level. ATF’s refusal, as of yet, to apply the sporting-purposes test is leading to
A “sporting purposes” exemption to the definition of armor-piercing ammo would foster innovation.
a lack of certainty necessary for many companies to invest in the research and development needed to generate technological advancements in highperformance and costeffective ammunition. If this continues, it will cost the economy the loss of hunters and recreational shooters, contends Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel, in an NSSF blog post. “For example, in 2012, the firearms and ammunition industries were responsible for $33.36 billion in total economic activity,” he wrote. “In addition, hunting alone supports nearly 700,000 jobs.” You can read the full letter on the NSSF blog at nssf.org.
NSSF FILES LAWSUITS AGAINST GUN-CONTROL ORDINANCES The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has filed lawsuits against the cities of Sunnyvale and Pleasant Hill, Calif., and their city councils to prevent the enforcement of recently enacted ordinances that are detrimental to local lawabiding firearms retailers. In the complaint against Sunnyvale, NSSF and U.S. Firearms Company LLC, a local retailer, challenge portions of the city’s new guncontrol ordinance that violates and is preempted by state and federal law. The law imposes an onerous regulatory burden on firearms retailers, requiring them to keep ammunition sales logs and personal information
on their customers, and expands and duplicates an existing reporting requirement for lost or stolen guns. In the NSSF and City Arms East LLC lawsuit against Pleasant Hill, NSSF and the local retailer are challenging the city’s ordinance on the
grounds that it violates and is preempted by state zoning, firearms, and labor laws. In addition, the ordinance authorizes unconstitutional warrantless searches and requires liability insurance for uninsurable willful or criminal conduct, as well as violates federal law governing the firearms industry. “There is no reason for this [Pleasant Hill] ordinance other than, perhaps, a political display that targets a legitimate business,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. The lawsuits seek to enjoin enforcement of the two ordinances.
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TWO RANGES RECEIVE FIVE STAR RATING Two NSSF member ranges—Nashville Armory in Nashville, Tenn., and Florida Firearms Academy in Tampa—have received Five Star status from NSSF. This elite rating recognizes excellence in all aspects of man-
agement and operations, including appearance, manage-
ment, amenities, customer development and service, and com-
munity relations. After an evaluation of their submitted self-appraisals, the ranges were visited by NSSF shooting promotions manager Zach Snow, which led to each being awarded the Five Star rating.
A&D Books Available to NSSF Members A Firearms Acquisition and Disposition Book is a key element in any FFL’s compliance plan. For firearms retailers, this book provides a permanent record of all purchases and sales of firearms as required under the Gun Control Act of 1968. NSSF offers this three-holepunched, 46-page book with 920 entry lines for free
to NSSF retailer members. Members may order a maximum of 10 through the Members Only section of nssf.org. Need assistance with your Member I.D. and password, necessary to access the section’s shopping cart? Contact Samantha Hughes, NSSF member services coordinator, at email@example.com.
Member Exhibitors Benefit in Announced SHOT Show Pricing Structure for 2015
SSF’s ongoing mission to promote, protect, and preserve hunting and the shooting sports requires the financial support and influence that each member contributes to the strength of the Foundation. Although the SHOT Show benefits the entire industry that NSSF represents, only 25 percent of SHOT Show exhibitors are currently NSSF members. To gain more support from all SHOT Show exhibitors and to increase the bene-
fits of belonging to NSSF, a new threetiered SHOT Show exhibit-space pricing structure is being implemented for the 2015 SHOT Show, through which NSSF members will see due recognition of their membership. An E-blast, which went to all SHOT Show exhibitors in midDecember, explains the new pricing structure for 2015. You can read that E-blast at nssf.org/share/
TOP 10 COMPLIANCE PROGRAM ISSUES
The National Shooting Sports Foundation’s team of FFL Compliance Consultants, all former ATF officials with years of experience in conducting and supervising FFL inspections, now conduct in-store training inspections for NSSF members. At a meeting late last year, the team identified the issues they most often came across while conducting these training sessions. In reverse order, they are: Failure to have a trained back-up record keeper. Failure to record, in the case of imported firearms, the name of the foreign manufacturer and the U.S. importer in the bound book and on the Form 4473. Failure to complete multiplehandgun-sale form. Failure to report multiplehandgun sales to the chief law enforcement officer in their area. Failure to enter sale of firearms in the bound book. Failure to enter firearms left for repair into the bound book in a timely manner. Failure to have a set routine for entering firearms into their bound book. Failure to have a separate file for Forms 4473 for which NICS/POC checks were done but no firearm was transferred. Failure to sign Forms 4473 on transactions denied by NICS. The most common error, and the one that is most easily fixed, is the failure of the customer to enter his or her middle name completely in Box 1 of Form 4473. You can read more about these issues and see the consultants’ recommendations at the NSSF Blog Oct. 15, 2013, at
8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
© 2014 National Shooting Sports Foundation, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SHOT Business®, SHOT Show® and all other trade names, trademarks and service marks of the National Shooting Sports Foundation appearing in this publication are the sole property of the Foundation and may not be used without the Foundation’s prior express written permission. All other company and product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.
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U P D AT E
NSSF Delivers Value NSSF Provides Disaster Relief
ONE MEMBER’S EXPERIENCE
hen natural disasters, in the form of Hurricane Sandy in the eastern U.S. and tornadoes in Oklahoma and northern Texas, left incredible destruction in their wake in late 2012 and early 2013, respectively, NSSF stepped up. The organization made grants available as dedicated aid for business loss or damage to qualifying member companies located in federally declared disaster areas, with emphasis on providing relief to storefront federally licensed firearms retailers and shooting ranges.
Member: Dennis W. Benston Owner/Operator Business: The Ammo Shack Engelhard, North Carolina
Description of Business: “The
Ammo Shack offers the retail sale of firearms and hunting accessories, as well as minor gunsmithing. I started the business in 1993 as an ammunition and hunting-supply dealer, with an initial inventory of $4,000. In less than two months, I was reordering more ammo and hunting equipment, and in 1997, I received my FFL and began selling firearms. The simple gunsmithing (including cleaning, scope mounting, and minor repairs), along with the sale of firearms, ammo, and accessories, gave me more business than I could handle, so in 2005 I retired as a district forest ranger and began to run the Ammo Shack fulltime. The Ammo Shack offers more ammunition than any nearby alternative, and we’re told by visitors that we have more than their local big-box stores.”
NSSF Disaster Relief to Members: “The
NSSF offered grant money to member retailers who had damages from Hurricane Sandy. I received such a grant, and the money was spent replacing the Ammo Shack’s damaged, leaking shingle roof. It now sports a 28-gauge steel roof, which promises to be much more resistant to damage if we have the misfortune of encountering another hurricane.”
Value of NSSF membership: “This
organization has brought together manufacturers and firearms retailers to form a bond to protect our Second Amendment rights and allow our grandchildren to own and enjoy owning firearms and hunting afield. NSSF has helped keep me abreast of issues and changes in the business. I attended a Retailer Education Seminar in Greensboro, North Carolina, which helped me prepare for a possible ATF inspection. NSSF’s SHOT Show gives retailers insights into every aspect of the firearms industry. And, of course, I will always be appreciative of the assistance and compassion NSSF demonstrated in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.”
Interested in NSSF Membership?
Promoting the great American tradition of hunting and shooting is what the National Shooting Sports Foundation is all about. For our members, it’s more than a sport; it’s a way of life. Join the more than 10,000 companies and individuals who have already discovered that NSSF Delivers Value! To learn more, visit nssf.org/join or call 203-426-1320 for Bettyjane Swann, NSSF director of member services (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Samantha Hughes, NSSF member services coordinator (email@example.com).
22❚❚❚SHOT BUSINESS❚❚❚FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
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B Y B I L L D U N N , M A N A G I N G D I R E C T O R , M A R K E T I N G C O M M U N I C AT I O N S
U P D AT E
YO U S H O U L D K N O W
How to Use NSSF’s New Website NSSF.org is the industry’s information hub
SSF recently revamped its entire website at nssf.org, the firearms industry’s hub for information and resources. The new site is easy to navigate, and visitors can find a ton of information there—whether it be facts and backgrounders on the latest issues or updates on industry-related news in Washington, D.C., and our state capitals. Here are some things to look for on the new site.
RETAIL NEWS AND TRENDS By clicking on the “Retailers” tab or simply visiting nssf.org/retailers, you will find an entire section dedicated to providing retailers with the latest news and trends affecting their businesses—from ATF and NICS updates to the latest industry sales figures.
COMPLIANCE RESOURCES If you’re looking for compliance tools, NSSF has a number of very good resources on its website—information on what the top compliance issues are, how to conduct an ATF physical inventory, what to expect during an ATF inspection, and related material.
LEGISLATIVE ACTION CENTER This component of NSSF’s website gives you a look at current federal and state legislation affecting the industry. You’ll find links to contact your legislators, research and track legislation, and see the latest news and updates.
RESEARCH NSSF offers a great deal of research on its site. Reports on buying trends and participation and the annual Firearms Retailer Survey Report are particularly helpful. See everything NSSF has to offer at nssf.org/ research.
VIDEOS AND WEBINARS NSSF’s site offers a selection of video resources for retailers. These
include videos on merchandising, firearms inventory, and a “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy” series on how to better detect and prevent straw purchases. View them at nssf.org/retailers.
BULLET POINTS Want to stay up to date on issues affecting the industry? Look no further than the NSSF’s weekly e-newsletter. Published each Monday, “Bullet Points” is a quickread roundup of what you need to know—the latest industry news, research, legislative alerts, and more. View the current issue and archives, or subscribe to it for free at nssf.org/bulletpoints to receive it in your inbox.
RANGE RESOURCES For those retailers who also operate shooting ranges, NSSF’s site provides an enormous amount of range management information. Find resources, publications, information on NSSF’s Five Star Rating, and browse the archive of The Range Report, a newsletter for shooting facilities. Visit the ranges section of the site at nssf.org/ranges.
CUSTOMIZED MARKET REPORTS Want to learn more about your store’s location? Order an NSSF Customized Market Report (CMR). These reports drill down into the demographics of your area and will aid you in building well-targeted marketing efforts. Get more details and order a CMR at nssf.org/research/CMR.
RETAIL PUBLICATIONS Published guides for firearms retailers are also available in the retailers section of the site. These include NSSF’s “Employment Guide for the Firearms Retailer,” “Financials for the Firearms Retailer,” “How to Write a Business Plan for the Firearms Retailer,” “Merchandising Guide for the Firearms Retailer,” and the “Advertising and Marketing Guide for the Firearms Retailer.”
PULL THE TRIGGER Do you have an e-newsletter that you send to your customers? NSSF offers a library of helpful tips for gun owners that can be easily copied and pasted right into your store’s newsletter. NSSF encourages all of its retailer members to utilize this resource to improve their newsletters and to encourage gun owners to head afield and to the range. Learn more at nssf.org/pull thetrigger.
MEMBERSHIP While you’re on the site, be sure to become an NSSF member, renew your membership, or upgrade to a Premium Retailer Membership, which offers the best protection for retailers in the industry. The process is quick and easy. Not only will you receive access to the many member benefits of NSSF, but you will also help support the association’s mission to promote, protect, and preserve hunting and the shooting sports on behalf of our industry. Visit NSSF’s revamped website today at nssf.org and nssf.org/retailers. FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014❚❚❚SHOT BUSINESS❚❚❚23
1/14/14 3:03 PM
BY SCOTT BESTUL
Gun owners are learning to love e-shopping, and this Missouri shop is all over the trend
ohn Dawson admits that his shop, Osage County Guns, is in the middle of Nowhere, Missouri. And when asked how many of his customers are from his home state, let alone the immediate area, he doesn’t hesitate before answering, “Not many.” Yet Dawson’s shop is a thriving business that stocks more than 3,000 firearms and keeps 13 full-time employees hopping.
How do they do it? They sell guns the same way Amazon sells books. “I started in my uncle’s brick-and-mortar gun shop, and was his Number Two employee for several years,” Dawson says. “But I have a background in Web design and marketing, and I realized we needed to grow that aspect of the business. I felt there was a lot we could accomplish there.” Dawson has accomplished enough that it’s safe to say Osage County Guns is the gun trade’s answer to eBay. Here are seven solid lessons he’s learned.
LEARN THE LANGUAGE
“We’ve saved a ton of money because my brother and I are both tech-savvy,” Dawson says. “If you contract out the work of setting up and maintaining a website, you’re talking 150 to 200 hours some months, and those guys charge $100 an hour. If you don’t speak computer, hire a young guy who does. There’s no better way than to keep it in-house.”
GO FULL-LINE “We carry a full
line of several brands, which means we have in-stock or on order firearms from SIG Sauer, Kimber, Smith & Wesson, Springfield Armory, and Ruger. When you get a reputation among fans of those companies for having a good inventory, they keep coming back.”
EXPLOIT NICHES Dawson keeps
his fingers on the pulse of the market by careful study and attending major events like the SHOT Show. “One thing we’ve had a lot of success with is being a source for the do-it-yourself MSR guys,” he says. “We carry a lot of strip lower and upper receivers from brands like SIG Sauer, Spike Tactical, and Primary Weapons. We package them up and have 30 to 50 sets on hand virtually all the time. We’re starting to
Designed by a wounded vet, SIG Sauer’s stabilizing brace for MSRs is a hot item.
get recognized by the MSR guys for having stuff like that at an affordable price.”
SHOW YOUR STUFF “We
photograph our guns in-house,” Dawson says. “It’s time-consuming, but our customers appreciate it and we have the equipment and talent to do so. When we display something on our website [Osage County also sells on GunBroker, eBay, and Amazon], you know what you’re buying because we’ve got the firearm right here and we shot the picture ourselves.“
SHIP IT RIGHT When the only way to get your product to the customer is shipping, you better understand it perfectly. “We can ship long guns with whoever has the best price,” Dawson says. “But virtually all our handguns are shipped USPS. Because of liability and insurance issues, FedEx and UPS will only ship handguns via air, which quadruples the cost. We’ve met with them about this issue, but to no avail. So they lose our business.”
AVOID THE MIDDLE-MAN
Drop-shipping—where the “retailer” never actually stocks the product, but facilitates the shipping from a distributor to the customer for a small fee—is increasingly popular, but Dawson shuns the practice. “We’re still a gun shop,” he says. “We sell stuff we have to customers we can talk to about it, and we like to be in control of our inventory. It’s just better business.”
GET LEAN AND MEAN
“Everything we do centers around efficiency, and we’re constantly meeting to get better about it,” Dawson says. “We have only 13 employees, but we ship most guns as soon as we see the buyer’s FFL, which means within 24 hours or less for established customers.”
HOT TREND ITEM
Osage County Guns is quick to respond to market trends, and one of the latest is a stabilizing brace for MSR pistols. “The original was designed by a wounded vet who needed it to shoot well. Once it got approval from the ATF, MSR buyers were all over it,” says owner John Dawson. “We’ve sold close to 800 units since October, and demand keeps climbing. That’s one benefit of gaining a rep among e-shoppers and MSR guys. When they search for an item like this, they know they can get it from you pretty quick.”
24❚❚❚SHOT BUSINESS❚❚❚FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
1/14/14 11:42 AM
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1/8/14 2:02 PM
BY CHRIS CHRISTIAN
Shooters waiting for a downsized version of the popular M&P pistol will not be disappointed ntroduced in 2005, the high-capacity polymer-framed S&W M&P became an instant success. Since then, the basic action design has evolved into compact double-stack models and slender single-stack guns. The latest version departs from centerfire calibers and emerges as a dedicated .22LR pistol, with all the handling qualities of the original M&P.
The M&P .22 (SRP: $419) is built with a polymer grip, an aluminum-aerospace alloy slide, a metal internal frame, and the black finish of other M&Ps. It features a 4.1-inch barrel and weighs only 24 ounces empty. Dimensionally identical to my M&P 9mm, it fits the same Blade-Tech holster I use for it in action-pistol competition. The operating controls are also the same: a reversible magazine release, an ambidextrous slide release and thumb safeties, a takedown lever, a magazine safety, and a Picatinny rail on the dust cover. The trigger is pure M&P; mine broke at a crisp 4.7 pounds. The M&P .22 does not feature interchangeable backstraps. The solid grip feels the same as an M&P 9mm with a medium adapter or an M&P .45 with a small one. But the biggest difference is the M&P .22’s blowback action with a fixed barrel. Field stripping for cleaning is different than for the centerfires, but simple nonetheless. Magazines are available in 10and 12-round versions, a dropfree design that exits the gun quickly. I have the 12-rounders
Lay the M&P .22LR and the 9mm side by side, and only the barrel markings or bore will tell you which is which.
and they easily load to capacity. The sights are dovetailed into the slide—both the front (black) and rear (white dot) are drift-adjustable for windage, and the rear sight is clickadjustable for elevation. I took the gun out of the box (with no cleaning or lubrication) and checked the sights from a 25-yard benchrest. The gun shot left and significantly high. Windage was easily adjusted by sliding the rear sight to the right. But after dropping the elevation screw to its lowest setting, I was still about 4 inches high. Removing
the rear sight-elevation screw and shortening it with a Swiss file gave me enough additional down adjustment to put me dead-on at 25 yards. It took a few minutes, but it is worth remembering if a customer has issues with elevation settings. Once zeroed, I began putting rounds through the gun with the same action-pistol and Steel Challenge practice drills I use with my centerfire M&Ps. The ammunition on hand were CCI Mini-Mag HP, Federal Gold Medal, Federal Value Pack bulk rounds, and CCI Stinger. These are all high-speed (1,200 fps)
loads that are normally recommended for conversion units and full-size rimfire clones of standard service pistols. After more than 400 rounds, I was still waiting for my first malfunction. I then tried some subsonic loads—CCI Pistol Match and CCI Segmented HP Subsonic—which also functioned perfectly. That’s a level of reliability I’ve yet to see from any upper-unit conversion kit and few full-size .22LR pistols. After about 500 rounds, I cleaned the gun and accuracytested at 25 yards. All the highspeed loads produced consistent five-shot groups of 2.5 to 3.25 inches. That’s more than adequate for the games I’d be using the M&P .22 for. I then tested the CCI Pistol Match. The first group was 1.5 inches, with three rounds almost touching. The next three groups did the same. This gun likes the CCI Pistol Match! Finally, I ran the gun through three Steel Challenge matches for another 400 rounds. I’m still awaiting that first malfunction. That’s impressive performance. (800-331-0852; smith-wesson.com)
Closing the Sale
ny shooter who owns a centerfire M&P and wants to add a .22LR pistol to his collection should be an assured sale. It operates the same and is an excellent way to build shooting skills with lessexpensive .22LR ammo. Non-M&P owners will find this pistol stands on its own for handling, price point, and exceptional reliability with a wide variety of .22LR loads. In those states that allow it, don’t forget to point out that the 12-round magazine capacity exceeds that of many other guns in the same price range. That could be a selling point for some.
26❚❚❚SHOT BUSINESS❚❚❚FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
1/14/14 11:44 AM
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9/10/13 11:22 AM
A turkey hunter looks for a home-defense shotgun in Virginia
ith so many options available in home-defense shotguns these days, I went on a search in Lynchburg, Virginia, to see if someone would help me find the perfect fit for my lifestyle. I told sales associates that I am a turkey hunter who uses a 12-gauge pump and turkey loads—in other words, I wouldn’t be bothered by a home-defense shotgun and any associated recoil. I even told them that I use my turkey gun as my defense gun. If they asked, I said price didn’t matter.
A SNEER SAYS IT ALL
➤ I started at the top, a bigbox store in a shopping center. It offers everything from a budget Savage to the
upscale VersaMax by Remington. A young fellow immediately asked if he could help me. When I told him about my quest, he got that deer-in-headlights
look. He then questioned an older sales associate, who pointed to the top rack of black shotguns. That guy looked over at me...and sneered. (Talk about custom-
er service!) The young guy then proceeded to do the point-and-tell-the-price method of shotgun selling. I asked basic questions, such as, “How many rounds does it hold?” He also informed me that the VersaMax is an “expensive gun.” A customer standing next to me said, “Ma’am, you might want to shoulder one of the guns.” At that point, the sales associate said, “Sure, if you want to see one, I’ll get it down for you.” I said no thanks and left.
➤ The second store lies at the outskirts of town, looks brand-spanking-new, and also offers a range to customers. I showed up a little early, and a staffer unlocked the door for me. But then we started on the same tired exercise as Store A: Point and tell me the price. Eight models of great shotguns for home defense stood in racks on the floor. One sales rep offered me a 20-gauge because that’s what his wife uses. That done, he left me to shoulder the guns by myself. I adjusted the stocks to check fit. The other sales rep, who was on the phone, said to me, “You can adjust those stocks.” Duh.
ALL BY MYSELF
28❚❚❚SHOT BUSINESS❚❚❚FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
1/14/14 11:47 AM
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UNDERCOVER SHOPPER STORE C
THE 12-GAUGE NOSE JOB
➤ This place bills itself as a hardware/gun store. The sales associate worked with me to show me a wide selection of shotguns. First, he chose a Benelli M4 Tactical shotgun and then pointed out the semi-auto features. (Now we’re talking!) He told me it would be the best gun for my purposes, if I could afford it. He followed that with “If
that moment ever comes when you have to use one, would you really care about the price?” But after that high point, things went south a bit when his enthusiasm took us into the world of pistol-grip shotguns—Mossberg Cruisers— behind the cash register. I asked him how to shoot one of these guns, and he told me to point it in front of my face and sight down the barrel. Right. I know better than
that—and so did the guy at the cash register, who asked me if I’d ever had my nose broken. It made for an awkward moment between the two sales associates.
FRIENDLY, LOCAL COLOR
➤ Next stop was a pawnshop in downtown Lynchburg. It offered lots of guns but only one Mossberg Cruiser, which
obviously had seen a lifetime of use. This place seemed neat and clean, and I especially liked the family buzzing around, answering the phone, talking to customers, and interacting with each other. They even told me that the best place for lunch happened to be across the street, at a renovated Woolworth’s. I sat at the counter with the locals and enjoyed a great cheeseburger and sweet potato fries.
How’d They Do? Customer Service
The point-and-talk method of selling guns never works, and neither does sneering at your customers.
The sales associate knew he was in the gun department, but not where the personaldefense shotguns had been stocked.
Regardless of service, the store had a super lineup of shotguns.
I had such high hopes until the sales associate left me by my lonesome at a rack with shotguns.
I’m not sure what the staff knew about the shotguns, except for the prices.
Another great selection of shotguns.
Except for one miscue, I experienced attentive, knowledgeable help. The sales clerk showed me the top of the line after asking what my price range was, and he offered all types of suggestions.
I had to take off a star for the shotgun-shooting advice. Other than that, the guy knew about the different options available.
Of all four stores, this one had the best selection of shotguns.
The staff made sure someone attended to me straight away. A sales rep (the owner’s son) even got off the phone and then called over a gun expert.
The gun expert knew what I wanted. Better yet, he also knew how to operate the Cruiser properly.
This shop had only one shotgun.
SCORING SYSTEM: Outstanding:
Here’s a store where you can get the stuff to fix up your place and defend it, too. With knowledgeable salespeople and a wide range of shotguns, anyone in the market for a personaldefense shotgun could feel comfortable shopping here. Located in a popular area of Lynchburg, this place also sells ammo. Ace Hardware & Gun Store 2200 Lakeside Drive, Lynchburg, VA 24501 434-385-6388
30❚❚❚SHOT BUSINESS❚❚❚FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
1/14/14 11:47 AM
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1/10/14 10:39 AM
This year sees well-designed products at both ends of the price spectrum ››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››› BY ROBERT SADOWSKI
february | march 2014
he big challenge for a retailer these days is matching the right optic to the right firearm at the right price. Fortunately, manufacturers have been busy adding features to lower-end models to make them more appealing to a broader range of customers. And at the top end, where users are far less price-sensitive, you’ll be able to recommend truly astonishing high-end glass. Either way, your customers win. And when that happens, you win.
1/14/14 12:08 PM
february | march 2014
1/14/14 12:08 PM
Barska The AR6 1–6x24mm riflescope is designed for
short- and medium-range tactical shooting. Features include fully coated lenses for enhanced light transmission.
february | march 2014
➣ The TICO-Series thermal-imaging optic mounts in front of a daytime scope, enabling thermal vision in day or night operations. The TICO-336 (SRP: $6,195) has a 336x256 microbolometer sensor and a frame rate of 30 or 60 Hz, and the TICO-640 (SRP: $6,195) has a 640x480 sensor and 30 Hz frame rate. The display is a color OLED matrix with video out-
put capabilities. (800910-2826; atncorp .com)
➣ The AR6 1–6x24mm (SRP: $299) riflescope is designed for short- to mid-range tactical shooting and hunting. The 30mm tube design and fully coated optics provide high light transmission for a bright, crisp image. (888-666-6769; barska.com)
➣ The 17 Super Mag Scope Series includes two models, a 6–24x44m (SRP: $159.95) and a 4.5– 14x44mm (SRP: $139.95), that are designed for the Winchester 17 Super Magnum cartridge with a ballistic ranging reticle for 20- and 25-grain bullets. The Tactical Weapon 30mm Tube Scope series offers a mildot reticle and a fixed parallax setting at 100 yards. Models in 1–4x24mm, 2.5– 8x36mm, and 3.5– 10x40mm are available. The Tactical Weapon 223 Scope series has five additional models: a fixed-power 4x30mm (SRP: $89.95), as well as variables in 1–4x24mm (SRP: $117.95),
2–7x36mm (SRP: $149.95), 3–12x40mm (SRP: $169.95), and 6–18x40mm (SRP: $184.95). Designed for military and law enforcement, the line includes two sets of interchangeable turret caps calibrated for .223 Rem. or .300 AAC Blackout. (954-5815822; bsaoptics.com)
➣ The XTR II line of riflescopes feature a 5X zoom, zero-click-stop adjustment knobs, and either front, rear, or dualfocal-plane designs. The seven models include a 1–5x24mm, 1.5–8x28mm, 2–10x42mm, 3–15x50mm, 4–20x50mm, 5–25x50mm, and 8–40x50mm with illumi-
Burris The XTR II line of riflescopes feature 5X zooms, click-stop adjust-
ment knobs, and either front, rear, or dual-focal-plane designs. In all, seven new models will join the line.
1/14/14 12:08 PM
(SRP: $299.99), 4x40mm (SRP: $349.99), and 6x50mm (SRP: $399.99). They feature digital zoom, image capture, and video recording. The new Gen I nightvision 2.5x40mm (SRP: $599.99) binocular weighs only 17 ounces and has a built-in infrared illuminator (IR). The Truth Laser Rangefinder (SRP: 279.99) uses ClearShot Technology to help bowhunters range through branches and other objects from 7 to 850 yards. It can be calibrated to correspond with the speed of the bow via the sight system. (913-752-3400; bushnell.com)
➣ The Elite Tactical Hunter line expands with the Elite Long Range Hunting Scope (LRHS) in 3–12x44mm (SRP: $1,499.99). This is the first hunting riflescope offered by Bushnell with a firstfocal-plane reticle. It gives hunters the ability to range targets at any magnification using the G2H mil-based reticle. The Elite Tactical 1-Mile ARC laser rangefinder (SRP: $599) has 7X magnification and ranging capabilities out to one mile with 1-yard accuracy. The new Excursion HD open-bridge-design binocular is available in two configurations: 8x42mm (SRP: $179.99) and 10x42mm (SRP: $199.99). Three new night-vision optics in the Equinox Z monocular line include a 3x30mm
➣ The HookUpz adaptor (SRP: $25) connects a Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone to a full-size (32mm–50mm objective lens) binocular to take pictures or video directly through the binocular. The HookUpz adaptor for CloseUp Monocular (SRP: $30) also works with a Samsung Galaxy S4. (631-963-5000; carsonoptical.com)
Bushnell The Elite Tactical 1-Mile ARC
laser rangefinder has 7X magnification and ranging capabilities out to 1 mile with 1-yard accuracy.
Hi-Lux The 1X TAC-DOT will fit on a
variety of firearms, including MSR-style rifles, bolt-action rifles, shotguns, handguns, and even modern muzzleloaders.
dispersion (ED) glass and a dual-focus mechanism for course and fine focus. (310-328-9560; celestron.com)
➣ The Regal M2 series of spotting scopes includes three models: the compact 65ED 16–48x65mm (SRP: $499.95), the 80ED 20–60x80mm (SRP: $699.95), and the 100ED 22–67x100mm (SRP: $849.95). The Regal M2 series all have extra-low
➣ The Laser and Light Converter (SRP: $80) is designed to be used with
Carson The HookUpz adaptor con-
nects a Samsung Galaxy smartphone to a binocular.
february | march 2014
nated reticles. Combo packages feature a 1–5x24mm with AR-P.E.P.R. mount and FastFire III with scope tube FastFire mount or the 1.5–8x28mm and FastFire III with mounts. The Veracity precision riflescope line is designed for varmint hunters and includes four models: 2–10x42mm, 3–15x50mm, 4–20x50mm, and 5–25x50mm. They feature 5X zoom and front focal plane (FFP) reticles for accurate reticle measurements at any power setting. (970-356-1670;
1/14/14 12:09 PM
february | march 2014
The X-Ray 600 laser rangefinder boasts 6X magnification. It includes AI (Angle Intelligence) that acounts for uphill or downhill targets.
an existing laser or flashlight to help a user see farther at night. Five additions to the CP Tactical Optics line include the compact AO Lite Open Micro Reflex Sight (SRP: $90), the ultra-compact AE Lite Enclosed Micro Reflex Sight (SRP: $62.99), the SE Lite Enclosed Reflex Sight (SRP: $96.99) with an integrated class IIIa red laser, the Small Battle Sight (SRP: $74.99) with a 3 MOA dot, and the Large Battle Sight (SRP: $49.99). (800-724-7486; center pointhunting.com)
➣ The Rail Master Pro Universal Fit Laser and Light CMR-205 (SRP: $279) combines a red laser with a 100-lumen LED light in a 3-ounce
compact package that will fit any Picatinny or Weaver rail. (800-442-
2406; crimsontrace .com)
➣ Halo Optics is a new brand that offers laser rangefinders. The X-Ray 600 Laser Rangefinder (SRP: $149.99) boasts 6X magnification and a maximum range of 600 yards. The rangefinder takes advantage of components sourced from Opti-Logic. It includes AI (Angle Intelligence) technology that accounts for shooting up or down slopes. The X-Ray 900 (SRP: $209.99) ranges out to 900 yards. It also has AI technology. The XRT model (SRP: $129.99) ranges out to 500 yards. (800-847-8269;
Lasermax Guide Rod Lasers for Glock pistols now feature Native Green technology. This feature is designed to enhance visibility under daylight shooting conditions.
➣ The 1X TAC-DOT (SRP: $129.95) is suitable for a variety of firearms—MSR-style rifles, big-game rifles, shotguns, handguns, and even modern muzzleloaders. An integral clamp works with a Picatinny- or Weaverstyle mount. Target acquisition is fast with the 4 MOA red-dot reticle. The LER line of long eye relief scopes now includes a 2–7x32mm LER Scout with BDC reticle ($199) that’s calibrated for the .308 Win. cartridge and designed for use on the Ruger Model 77 Gunsite Scout rifle. The 3–9x40mm M40 Tactical Hunter ($419) has been reconfigured for hunting with an improved rangefinding capability. The 3–9x40mm M40 USMC Sniper scope ($419) recreates the famed optic used on the M40 sniper rifle from the Vietnam War. It features an etched-glass yardage scale and an olive drab anodized finish. The M73G4 (SRP: $359) is a replica of the famed scope used on the M1903A4 sniper rifle and countless centerfire and rimfire rifles. This ¾-inch tube scope has been enhanced with a modern optical erector unit and fully multicoated lenses for maximum light transmission. (888445-8912; hi-luxoptics .com)
1/14/14 12:09 PM
➣ The latest in the TGL series of laser sights is the UTA-TA (SRP: $104.95) designed for the Taurus 738 TCP and 709/740 Slim pistols. It fits into the gun’s housing seamlessly, matching the dust cover and trigger guard. (928-6493201; laserlyte.com)
binocular line now has a 10x30mm model (SRP: $129.99) designed to adjust to fit smaller faces. In addition, it has an eye relief suited for novice users or those with eyeglasses and sunglasses. Two additional mid-size roof-prism binoculars in the BX-2 Acadia line are the 8x32mm (SRP: $214.99) and 10x32mm (SRP: $249.99) models. The BX-3 Mojave line of binoculars is expanded with two lightweight 8x32mm and 10x32mm models (SRP: starts at $464.99). The next generation of the DeltaPoint, the DeltaPoint 2 (SRP: $499 to $564) retains the patented motion-sensor technology, which instantly detects motion and activates while automatically adjusting the brightness to the environment, but now also includes a manual brightness adjustment for users who prefer brighter or dimmer dots. The premier VX–6 riflescope line now has a 4–24x52mm side-focus model (SRP: $1,749.99,
Konus The T30 series expands with
the compact 3–12x50mm model, which features a dual-illuminated BDC reticle.
$1,874.99 with CDS). The VX-6 line features a powerful 6X zoom. CDS (Custom Dial System) models give users the ability to match the cartridge to the scope.
with multi-coated optics and the second focal plane BCR-1. The illuminated BDC reticle is calibrated for .223 Rem./5.56 NATO ammunition.
➣ The affordable DMS (Designated Marksman Scope) 1–6x24mm DMS-2 (SRP: $399.99) has been reconfigured
➣ Guide Rod Lasers for Glock pistols now feature Native Green technology (SRP: $388 to $399). This feature is designed to enhance visibility under daylight shooting conditions. (800-527-3703; laser max.com)
➣ The BX-1 Yosemite
Meopta The MeoStar R2 1–6x24mm RD has a 6X zoom, as well as an illuminated reticle for fast target acquisition.
➣ The next generation of the MeoStar riflescope series is the R2 1–6x24mm RD (SRP: $1,595) with a 6X zoom. The illuminated reticle february | march 2014
➣ The T30 series expands with the compact T30 3–12x50mm ($499.99) with a 30mm tube, multicoated lens, and glassengraved mil-dot illuminated reticle. The M30 2.5–10x52mm ($629.99) has a dual-illuminated BDC reticle, anti-canting level bubble, and side parallax wheel. The fast-focus PTS1 3x32mm Prismatic Sight (SRP: $399.99) offers an illuminated sight in four colors (red/blue/ green/black). The SightPro Atomic QR Tactical Sight (SRP: $229.99) has an integrated 1-inch riser for use on MSRs. (305-262-5668;
1/14/14 12:10 PM
Leupold & Stevens The BX-2
Acadia line gets a pair of new binos, an 8x32 and a 10x32. The Mojave line also expands in 2014.
(SRP: $299 to $349). The BL-HD binocular line is a lightweight open-bridge design. Models include 8x33mm (SRP: $499), 8x44mm HD (SRP: $559), 10x44mm HD (SRP: $579), 8x52mm HD (SRP: $659), and 10x52mm HD (SRP: $689). (866-4693080; minox.com/usa)
Nikon The Monarch 5 line adds three new
february | march 2014
models, all with Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass for enhanced clarity.
options—either the K-Dot 2 or 4C-RD— allow for fast target acquisition and are well suited for dangerous game or close-quartercombat situations. (800828-8928; meopta sportsoptics.com)
➣ The ZA 5 HD riflescopes have been redesigned with high-definition optics, the RTA (Rapid Target Acquisition) optical sys-
tem, and 5X zoom. The three HD lines include the ZA 5 HD, ZA 5i HD, and ZA 5 HD TAC. The ZA 5 HD riflescopes have seven variants from $589 to $959. The ZA 5i HD is available in the same models as the ZA 5 HD, but with illuminated reticles (SRP: $689 to $1,039). The ZA HD TAC line offers three models: 1.2–6x24mm, 3–15x50mm, and 5–25x56mm (SRP: $899 to $1,099). The TAC models have lockable, quick-target adjustment and illuminated tactical reticles. The ZV 3 line of economical riflescopes now includes a 3–9x50mm (SRP: $299 to $349) and 4.5–14x44mm
➣ The latest addition to the NXS Compact riflescope line is the 2.5– 10x42mm (SRP: $1,800), which incorporates a larger objective lens so it is effective in low light without compromising weight and size. It uses DigIllum digital-reticleillumination technology and is compatible with night-vision equipment. The competitively priced 4–14x56mm SHV riflescope (SRP: $995, nonilluminated; $1,195, illuminated) uses the same glass and internal components as the NXS series riflescopes. The SHV line (Shooters, Hunters, and Varminters) has a lower retail price due to limited options and configurations. Nightforce Optics’ first spotting scope, the TS-82 Xtreme Hi-Def 20–70x82mm (SRP: $2,600), uses APO fluorite glass for truer colors and razor-sharp resolution with no distortion from edge to edge. An iPhone 4 or 5 can be attached for photos or videos. Both straight and angled eyepieces are available.
(208-476-9814; night forceoptics.com)
➣ The Target Master line now includes five new models: 1.25– 5x20mm (SRP: $199), 2.5–10x42mm (SRP: $219), 4–16x44mm (SRP: $250), 5–20x50mm (SRP: $279), and 6–24x50mm (SRP: $299). These scopes have a glass etched mil-dot reticle. (800-553-4229; legacy sports.com)
➣ The Monarch 5 line now has three additional models, the 8x56mm (SRP: $749.95), 16x56mm (SRP: $799.95), and 20x56mm ($899.95). All feature Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass for clarity. The lightweight body is made of fiberglass-reinforced polycarbonate resin that is covered in rubber armoring. The Aculon Rangefinder (SRP: $169.95, dark green; $189.95, XTRA Green) is ultra-compact and lightweight with a 6X magnification. It delivers accurate readings from 6 yards to 550 yards. The Archers Choice rangefinder (SRP: $279.95) is designed specifically for bowhunting and uses ID Technology for angle compensation. The latest generation of the Prostaff line is the Prostaff 7 (SRP: $299.95) with ranging ability out to 600 yards. (800-2486846; nikonsport optics.com)
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➣ The Quantum LSQ19 (SRP: $3,599.96) and Quantum HS19 (SRP: $4,199.96) thermal monoculars are designed for optimal heat detection and observation in both day and nighttime operations. (817-225-
Both feature fully multicoated lenses and premium BAK4 prisms for brightness, resolution, and edge clarity. The Revolution riflescope line now has a Revolution/TAC 3–9x40mm with TACMOA reticle. (877-798-
➣ The latest tactical optics models are the Battlezone Tac.22 2–7x34mm riflescope (SRP: $239.99) and the Battlezone 6–18x44mm. The Tac.22 is designed for use with .22 LR cartridges; the Tac-MOA reticle and the turrets are calibrated to .22 LR 36-grain bullets at 1,260 fps. The 6–18x44mm features fully multi-coated lenses, Bullet Drop Compensation System (BDC), and TAC-MOA reticle. The Bullet Drop Compensation System comes with two adjustment dials calibrated in .223 Rem./5.56mm NATO (55-grain bullets at 3,100 fps) and .308 Win./7.62mm NATO (168-grain bullets at 2,650 fps). The Accelerator Reflex sight will work with rifles, shotguns, and handguns, and is designed to deliver a crisp sight picture. It has four illumination settings and an automatic shut-off feature to preserve battery life. The economical Renegade line of binoculars has expanded with a 8x36mm and 10x36mm.
➣ The Compact Green Laser (CGL) sight (SRP: $179.99) easily attaches to pistols and uses an ambidextrous digital on/ off switch. (877-4313579; sightmark.com)
➣ The Military 8x30 R laser rangefinder is designed for military, LE, and tactical operators. It is compact and ranges from 25 to 1,700 meters. The mil-based SUMR targeting reticle provides redundancy to the LRF in the event of battery failure or a target beyond the laser’s range. Nighthunter riflescopes include a 1–5x24mm, 1.6–8x42mm, 2–10x50mm, and 3–15x56mm. All were intially designed for night
Quantum LSQ19 and Quantum HS19 thermal monoculars are designed for optimal heat detection and observation in day and night operations.
Redfield The two Battlezone Tac .22
riflescope models have been designed for the .22LR cartridge.
hunting in Europe and are well suited to North American and African game hunting. They feature Steiner Smart Illumination, an illuminated reticle that offers continuously variable dimming of the red dot. The new generation of Predator binocular in 10x42mm, 8x42mm, 8x22mm, and 10x26mm offers 4 percent better light transmission and is a good entry-level German optic. (970356-1670; steinerbinoculars.com)
➣ The next generation
of SLC binoculars includes an 8x42mm (SRP: $1,921), 10x42mm (SRP: $1,999), and 15x56mm (SRP: $2,777). Built on the reputation of the SLC line, they offer advanced state-of-the-art coatings and proven HD optics. CL Pocket Binocular in 8x25mm (SRP: $888) and 10x25mm (SRP: $954) offer big performance in a compact, lightweight package. When folded, the CLs is easy to transport; when opened, it reveals a fullsize binocular. (800426-3089; swarovski optik.com)
february | march 2014
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Vortex The two Razor HD Gen II riflescopes are built for dialing in long-range shots.
february | march 2014
Swarovski The next generation of
SLC binoculars includes an 8x42mm, a 10x42mm, and a 15x56mm, all of whch offer state-of-the-art coatings and proven HD optics.
➣ Tangent Theta, based in Canada, has acquired the assets from the former Premier Reticles Limited. For 2014, it has designed a new series of military-quality riflescopes. Initial product offerings include the Professional Marksman Series riflescopes in 3–15x50mm (SRP: $3,697) and 5–25x56mm (SRP: $4,250). Both have 34mm tubes. A lighterweight version of the 3–15x50mm (SRP: $2,998) uses a 30mm main tube. All incorporate non-translating windage and elevation knobs, zero-stop mechanisms, and illuminated first-focal-plane reticles. (tangenttheta.com)
➣ The VCOG (Variable Combat Optical
Gunsight) 1–6x24mm (SRP: $2,270) combines the toughness and function of combat-proven ACOG sights with a variable-power optic. (248960-7700; trijicon.com)
➣ The Triton 30mm Lightweight Tactical TriColor red-dot sight (SRP: $149.99) has a 5 MOA reticle in three reticle colors (red, green, blue). The Tru-Brite Xtreme Dual-Color Tactical Compact riflescope combo (SRP: $159.99) includes one-piece, 1-inch rings and mount, and features a dual-color illuminated mil-dot reticle. The Tactical 3–9x42mm Tactical Illuminated reticle riflescope combo (SRP: $179.99) has a one-piece, 30mm tube equipped with a mil-dot reticle
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Zeiss The Conquest
HD line gets an upgrade with three new models designed for hunters who need increased magnification.
Truglo The 30mm Lightweight Tactical Tri-Color red-dot
and BDC (Bullet Drop Compensating) turrets calibrated for .223 Rem. and .308 Win. (888-887-
out the zoom range. Available with MOA or mrad turrets and reticles.
➣ The Razor HD Gen II 4.5–27x56mm (SRP: $2,999) and 3–18x50mm (SRP: $2,599) are all new and built for dialing in precision long-range shots. The L-Tec Turret System has an integrated pop-up-and-down locking mechanism that prevents accidental elevation adjustment. The lockable illumination dial is integrated into the side-focus adjustment knob for easy access and features 11 intensity levels of illumination with off positions between each setting. The first-focal-plane glass-etched reticle ensures subtensions remain accurate through-
➣ The economical KASPA tactical line expands with the Tactical 3–12x44mm Mil/Mil scope (SRP: $334.95). It features an illuminated EMDR (Enhanced Mil-Dot Ranging) reticle and turrets with .1-mil per click. Dark Earth is the latest finish available for the KASPA tactical 1.5– 6x32mm (SRP: $309.95) and 3–12x44mm (SRP: $354.95) models. New to the KASPA hunter line are a 3–9x40mm (SRP: $279.95) and 4–16x44mm (SRP: $319.95), both with illuminated Dual-X reticles. For long-range work, the KASPA
6–18x44mm Long Range Scope (SRP: $319.95) offers side-focus parallax adjustment and three reticle choices: classic Dual-X, precision Ballistic-X, or Varmint Enhanced Ballistic-X. The 3X Prism Scope (SRP: $319.95) features an internal prism and 30mm objective design for a compact optic that’s well suited for hunting, competition, and tactical use. The KASPA 10x42mm binocular (SRP: $129.95, tan; $149.95, Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity) is ergonomically designed for easy handling and extended viewing. (608836-0922; weaver optics.com)
➣ The Terra 3X line now has a 3–9x50mm Z-Plex (SRP: $499.99), a
3–9x50mm RZ6 (SRP: $555.54), a 4–12x50mm Z-Plex (SRP: $555.54), and a 4–12x50mm RZ8 (SRP: $611.10). The compact Terra 3X riflescopes are lightweight, with a 1-inch tube and MC anti-reflective coatings. The latest addition to the Conquest series is the HD5 3–15x50mm designed for low-light conditions with a large objective and four reticle options: Z-Plex (SRP: $1,144.43), Locking Plex (SRP: $1,277.77), Rapid-Z 600 (SRP: $1,222.21), and Rapid-Z 800 ($1,222.21). Additions to the Conquest HD binocular line include three models with 56mm objectives: 15x56mm (SRP: $1,611.10), 10x56mm (SRP: $1,666.66), and 15x56mm (SRP: $1,777.77). (800-4413005; zeiss.com)
february | march 2014
sight has a 5 MOA reticle in three colors.
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42❚❚❚SHOT BUSINESS❚❚❚FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
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Mail-order giant Brownells celebrates 75 years dispensing parts and professional know-how
GACY OF KNOWLEDGE story by
ROBERT F. STAEGER //
1939, a young man was struggling to keep his Shell service station afloat in Montezuma, Iowa. Things weren’t going well. He didn’t realize he was allergic to the alcohol used in car radiators back then; he only knew he that some days he had dizzy spells that would knock him for a loop. It was there, laid out in bed and unable to conduct business, that perennial tinkerer Bob Brownell began fixing and restoring guns. “In those days, there were no restrictions,” says his son, Frank, current chairman of the board of Brownells, the company his father founded. (Frank ran the company as president from 1983 to 2008.) “They’d just sell them like silverware and teapots. He’d buy them, tear them apart, rebuild them, and resell them. Most of it was pistol work, which he could do lying on his back.” That started him down the road that created the all-thingsfirearms retailer that’s celebrating its 75th year. When Bob was on his feet again, he began looking into a way for gun shops to blue the metal in guns on their own. Using a combination of fertilizer and lye, he perfected the concoction, boiling and packaging it in the basement of his home. He set up a gun shop in young Frank’s bedroom; Frank’s bed folded up and was hidden behind a drape during business hours.
Top left: Bob at the 1949 NRA show; right: a 1960 expansion of storage space; bottom: Bob and Frank manage a busy call center in the 1980s.
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A LEGACY OF KNOWLEDGE
From top: In-house printing; the Monte Theatre location, and a view from its balcony; Brownells HQ, circa 1977; a mail run, 1950s; pallets on loading docks, 1970s; the modern office; assembling clay pigeon throwers.
Bob began carrying hardto-find parts and tools for gunsmiths. “He couldn’t find what he wanted,” says Frank, “and so he figured other people couldn’t, either.” He set up a small sales brochure and began taking mail-order sales from around the country, acting as middleman between buyers and manufacturers. He’d also create some of his own specialized tools for gunsmiths, finding them through other gunsmiths or making them himself. “His brain was always thinking of how to do it better, how to communicate it better,” says Pete Brownell, Frank’s son, Bob’s grandson, and current CEO of Brownells. One such innovation was glass bedding, a process that bonds the uneven surfaces of a gun’s action to its stock. It had been used in other industries, but it was Bob Brownell who brought it to gunsmithing. “He came up with the packaging and the name, and ballyhooed the hell out of it,” says Frank. “It became a staple of the industry.” Meanwhile, Bob was also pursuing a writing career, penning a column in American Rifleman called “The Jack Leg Journal,” among other endeavors. And the business itself kept moving—from the furnace room of a bakery to the basement of a Masonic hall to a rehabbed old movie theater. “All of this time, he kept finding these new products,” says Frank. “In a really great year, there might be eight or 10 new products. I grew up following him around—learning to hunt, learning to fish, and getting involved in the business.” Frank was far from the only person Bob taught. “Grandpa wanted to professionalize the gunsmithing trade,” says Pete. One of the ways he did this was through his gunsmithing newsletter, called Gunsmith Kinks. Packed
with tips and information, mechanical and otherwise, the newsletters have been collected into four large volumes, the first one published in 1968. “He loved to write,” says Frank. “He was a journalist at heart.” Collecting techniques from his customers and passing them on via the newsletter, Bob Brownell was crowdsourcing before it was cool. Another Brownells publication, 1959’s Encyclopedia of Modern Firearms, was a breakout hit. The book consisted of exploded manufacturers’ diagrams of all guns in production, with descriptions of every piece, as well as information from military firearms manuals. “Our buyer ordered three of every gun part,” says Frank. “Screws, springs, pins, all the stuff that held them together. Then he measured all of those, and wrote down the average. Nobody had that kind of accuracy in those days.” “That was probably the one book that we did that really defined Brownells as the information source to the gunsmithing trade,” says Pete. “Because it gave all the gunsmiths out there the kind of information they needed to be successful. And then we started to layer on more and more information about being a good gunsmith. It was information like that that we’ve had as a mandate in the marketplace for the past 60, 70 years.” In the meantime, the parts and tools business blossomed. “In the early days we’d add maybe 10 new products in a year,” says Frank. Under his stewardship, Brownells began to carry more and more new products. “Today we’re looking at 2,500 to 3,000 every year”—all of them backed by Brownells’ original moneyback guarantee. “Dad liked the products he selected well enough that if
44❚❚❚SHOT BUSINESS❚❚❚FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
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PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY BROWNELLS
you as a customer were not happy with it, you could send it back and trade it in or get a refund,” says Frank. “It was all about making the customer happy, because if you had a happy customer and one product didn’t work out, they’d be back. Because they knew they could trust you.” That generosity extended to time and knowledge. In the company’s early days, Bob wrote countless letters to customers helping them use products. “The CEO of the business was the tech support,” remembers Pete. “And as phones took over for letters, he became the first helpline.” The Brownells call center now has 63 phone agents answering customer questions. “As the world has gotten so much closer together, we make sure we stay right at the cutting edge,” says Frank. “With next-day delivery, and with a person answering the phone, not a menu. You will get somebody that can help you, immediately, with a smile and a real live voice.” Pete agrees. He’s overseen adding informative videos and other tools to the Brownells website: “The thing that’s changed over time is the media through which we communicate, and the speed at which we communicate, but not the core philosophy of keeping the customer well informed.” There have been other ways the business has changed over the years. The military’s move to the M-16 platform spurred an interest in MSR rifles at home, and a corresponding interest in accessories…and in fixing their own guns. “At the time when the gunsmith disappeared from the local community, these guys had to learn to do it themselves,” says Frank. “And the modern sporting rifle platform is perfect for that. It’s like a
Christmas tree; you can hang anything you want on it.” Frank’s tenure as president saw the company’s first major increases in product line, as the company began carrying not just parts, tools, and springs, but sights, grips, no-skid wraps, and more. Frank’s basic criteria was simple: “If you could hang it on a gun, or use it to improve your ability to use that gun, then it was something we’d seriously look at.” “That’s part of Frank’s legacy,” says Pete. “The accessorizing really started to come into the marketplace in the ’50s and ’60s. Before that it was replacement parts from the factory.” “We helped a lot of young gunsmiths achieve their success by giving them a channel to the marketplace,” says Pete. Manufacturers like Ed Brown, Bill Wilson, and Ron Power all enjoyed greater exposure through the Brownells catalog. Timney Triggers made just one model before they were carried by Brownells; the exposure helped them understand the national market and expand their offerings. In helping these entrepreneurs, Frank helped Brownells grow, as well. Recalling an idea he heard at a business seminar, he explains: “The first generation finds a blank
spot, creates an idea, puts a wall around it, and calls it a business. The second generation’s responsibility is to put in a management team and grow it at a pace they can manage. But it’s still under the management and brain of that second-generation leader. It puts together a treasury—a cash pile.” And that’s where the third generation comes in, to make the most of the accumulated funds. “The third generation immediately fires the second generation—because with any luck, you’ve outgrown their abilities—and spends the cash pile growing the company,” says Frank. “We basically did that.” “There was a leadership style that Grandpa had, there’s one that Frank had, and there’s one that I have,” says Pete. “They really match the size and the industry’s growth. I think we’ve matched it up really well. As the industry got really big and professional, our organization has been agile enough to adjust to the customer demands of the time.” Pete’s tenure has overseen more changes for the company. In 2011, Brownells expanded into carrying ammunition, by acquiring Crow Shooting Supply. Crow’s owner, Steve Crow, approached the company with the idea, as he was
Left: Frank and Bob Brownell, circa 1946; top: Frank, rejoining the company in 1964; bottom: Bob in 1990, having nurtured his company into an industry stalwart.
getting bogged down with the minutia of running a business. “We had someone who was extremely talented in the ammunition market,” says Pete. “But he was so encumbered with back-office stuff. We knew if we could supply him with the back-office support, we could let Steve do what he loved the most.” Another upcoming change is a move to a new facility this year. “We were out of space to grow in Montezuma,” says Pete. “We also needed a larger pool of people to recruit from. We just couldn’t support that kind of workforce out of Montezuma.” After a nationwide search, the company chose nearby Grinnell. “Iowa had the best combination of culture and values and workforce.” The new, 200,000-squarefoot warehouse in Grinnell will begin operation this spring. Soon afterward, the offices will move to the same area. The current facility in Montezuma will house Crow’s ammunition business, now expanding into firearms themselves. The new site will also have a showroom and pickup location. Pete is hoping to use it to train some gunsmiths in valuable away-from-the-bench skills. A nearby gunsmithing school could be sending some students out as interns, so they’ll be more employable in the retail market. Professionalizing gunsmiths goes deep into this company’s DNA, beginning with its founder, and continuing today with such events as the Brownells Gunsmith Job Fair. “Grandpa took a passion, and took a skill set that included writing and communicating and inventing, and put ’em all together to create a business that today we still follow the main tenets of,” says Pete. At every level, one generation teaches the next.
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W H AT ’ S S E L L I N G W H E R E
Uncle Oly’s WA Gun Shop, Mount Vernon
This small, family-run store keeps more than 100 used firearms in stock. Much of its new inventory is custom ordered. Handguns continue to hold the lion’s share of this dealer’s turns during February, and SIG P238s and Ruger SP101s are seeing the most action. Ammo stocks are better than average. “For a small shop, we do well getting ammo through a local distributor, but we are still short for rounds like .22-250, .243 and .22,” said owner Brian Oly. Bolt-action rifle orders are up. Weatherby Vanguards and Remington 700 Varmint models in .243 and .223, along with a few .30/06s, are receiving attention. Modern sporting rifle sales are steady, with DPMS and Bushmaster turning the best numbers.
AZ Sprague’s Sports, Yuma
Specializing in LE and military sales, this large Arizona independent rests just 15 minutes from the Mexican border. Although the end of quail season is in sight, a few sales are still trickling in for Browning Citori over/unders in 20 and 28 gauges. MSR sales continue to turn at the rate of about one a day at this store; Smith M&Ps, Rock Rivers, and Colts are all posting strong numbers. “We’ve seen a large shift in MSR sales to hard-nosed varmint hunters. It’s not that we don’t sell bolt guns to these guys, but it’s just not very often,” said manager Chad Converse. Handgun sales are brisk, with Smith Shields, Glock 19s, and Ruger LCPs all hovering near the top of the chart. A few CZs and Savage boltactions are selling in .243.
Midwest City Gun KS Bull Shop, Alton
Located on Highway 24 in northcentral Kansas, this large independent keeps more than 3,500 firearms in stock. Handguns still rule the winter, with SIG 1911s, Smith 686s in .357, and numerous Smiths and Rugers in .44 Mag. doing well. Sporting clays shotguns are also warming up the counter, with Browning Citoris and its trap guns selling better than last year. “As a retailer, we try not to be hyper-responsive to the market and its trends,” says manager Kelly O’Connor. “Often we can’t respond quickly enough, and when do, the event is over. That’s why we stick to a product that we know and that will be in demand for a long time.” Ammo stocks are trickling in at this retailer, and are expected to improve throughout the spring.
MO Lock-N-Load, New Haven
Operating two locations, this shop keeps a wide variety of hunting supplies that includes firearms, archery, and outerwear. Handguns are commanding major action this winter. High-traffic items include SIG P220s, 938s, and 238s. Ruger LC9s are also selling well. MSR sales have slowed to one turn a month. “We have a large number of MSRs on the rack, but there doesn’t seem to be any local demand,” says owner David Kassebaum. “I’m sure we’ll turn them over during the year, but we’ll be much more cautious during the next MSR boom.” Sporting shotguns are picking up, with a few turns on Franchi over/ unders. Meanwhile, ammo is still in short supply, with .22 and .243 calibers still very difficult to inventory.
Rocky CO Mountain Shooter’s Supply, Fort
Collins Keeping more than 50 safes and 600 firearms in stock, this retailer has seven indoor shooting lanes, as well as an off-site 1,000yard outdoor range 30 miles away. A full-time gunsmith is on staff. Handguns are always hot here, and lately Ruger LCRs and Sig P20s are moving very well. Rifle sales also are climbing. “That 1,000-yard range has really made a difference in our customers wanting to shoot distance. It makes them either want a new gun, or modify an existing one, especially with high-grade optics,” said counter salesman Jim Smith. Bolt-action rifle are trending up, and Smith says strong sellers here are Tikkas, Remington 700s, and Browning X-Bolts, many in .308 and .243. Ammo stocks are improving.
Western Trail NE Sports, Scottsbluff
With more than 1,000 firearms in stock, this large western Nebraska independent also stocks fishing and camping gear. MSR sales have slowed to two a week, with most sales posting with Windham and Rock River. Handgun sales are still high, even compared to last year, with significant numbers of Ruger LCPs, Smith Shields, and Walther .22s all selling well. Ammo stocks are on a slight upswing, but could still be better. “We haven’t seen more than an occasional case of .22 ammo for 14 months,” says owner Bruce Rollins. “Having hunting calibers like .243, .22-250, and .270 in short supply is hurting our rifle sales.” Winchester Model 70s and Weatherby Vanguards are still selling for varmint season.
46❚❚❚SHOT BUSINESS❚❚❚FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
1/15/14 11:06 AM
B Y P E T E R B . M AT H I E S E N
Gun NY A&K Sales, Corfu
Inhabiting the old town post office, this storefront uses 2,400 square feet and keeps an average of 700 guns in stock. The store services all the firearms it sells. Shotgun sales have been slow since the fall. “With the high cost of lead and shot shells, our shotgun leagues are falling apart. The ripple effect has forced a genuine slowdown for any type of trap or skeet gun,” says owner Ken Wahl. Pistol sales across the board are solid, and inventories for Ruger handguns have improved, pushing LCs and LC9s to the top of the sales chart. Demand for anything 1911 has stayed high, while Glock 19 and 21 inventories continue to improve. Bolt-action varmint guns are especially in demand. Weatherby Vanguards and Savage XP Trophy
South GA Googes’, Hazlehurst
Located in southeast Georgia, this rural general sporting-goods store (and gas station and butcher shop) stocks 250 used and new guns. Winter is all handguns for this retailer, with turns dedicated to Glock 17s, Ruger LCPs, and Taurus 686 revolvers. “Winter is a strange time for us. It’s the only time of the year when we won’t sell a shotgun or rifle, just pistols and revolvers,” says partner Ray Googe. With .22 ammo hard to keep in the store, this retailer reports ammo stocks are barely adequate.
Final Flight TN Outfitters, Union City
Resting on the eastern edge of the Mississippi flyway, this western Tennessee shop displays more than 3,000 firearms. Although waterfowl season is wind-
packages, principally in .223, are selling well. Ammo stocks are still inconsistent, though there are some improvements in the pistol calibers.
Bob’s Gun CT Exchange, Darien
With 500 firearms in stock, this retailer is just 15 miles from the New York state line, and specializes in handguns and reloading supplies. Handguns have been hot; Glock 19s, Smith Shields, and Smith 686s have all made fast turns since the holiday season. Ammo stocks are not ideal, but are improving. “We can get most of what we need, but still only in limited amounts. We actually have .22 ammo in stock, but it would be nice to see more,” said counter salesman Hunter Tassitano. Rifles are starting to move, with a few Remington 700s and Savage BMags in .17 HMR leading the way.
ing down, shotguns are still garnering plenty of attention. Benelli Super Black Eagle IIs and Beretta Extremes are still turning daily. Handguns continue to move, with SIG P20s and P22s in the high spot. Kimber 1911s are also especially hot. Ammo remains frustrating, however. “We have 20 tractor-trailers worth of ammo on backorder. It’s just been plain pitiful,” says gun department manager Billy Hazelwood, adding that despite the shortage, he has experienced exceptional service direct from Hornady. MSRs are turning at about two a day, with SIG 516s and Smith & Wesson M&P VATCs holding the top slots. Sales of varmint bolt-action rifles are steady as well. Savage package guns and Remington 700s in .243 continue to be in high demand at the store.
& Howe, NJ Griffin Bernardsville
Keeping 900 firearms on display in their New Jersey store, this retailer specializes in shotguns and rifles. The small, custom facility produces Griffin & Howe Brand rifles, side-bysides, and over/unders. Trap, skeet, and sporting clay guns are hot here, with B. Rizzini and Blaser F3s making daily turns. Other notable sellers include Beretta Silver Pigeon 686s and some Perazzis. Used guns are also strong. “While shotgunning plays a strong role in our retail mix, long-range rifle shooting is where we see great potential,” says president and CEO Guy Bignell. “To that end, we’ve hired a Navy Seal rifle trainer and opened a 500yard range at our shooting facility.” Hunting rifles are just starting to move; Dakota Arms and Blasers are selling to clients traveling to Africa.
Nagel’s Gun TX Shop, San Antonio
From its humble beginnings in Robert Nagel’s garage in 1942, this shop has grown into one of the larger independent gun shops in the state of Texas. Handguns are especially hot this winter, with steady turns on Glock 19s, Smith M&Ps in .40 and Smith Shields. The .22 ammo shortages are starting to hurt. “It’s keeping young shooters away from the sport,” says counter salesman Gilbert Trevino. “For years, ammo has been a big part of our winter business. Clearly not this year.” While the lack of ammo is frustrating, MSR sales are still brisk, with up to three a day crossing the counter, mostly SIGs and POF P415s. Other quick movers include homedefense pump shotguns from Mossberg and Remington. FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014❚❚❚SHOT BUSINESS❚❚❚47
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GRAND SLAM ®
Weaver’s legendary Grand Slam® scopes are reborn with a new, even more precise Grand Slam Micro-Trac ® Erector system inside and a cutting-edge exterior design that features an all new Ocular Adjustment Eyepiece. Contact Dealer Services at (866)223-9388.
Ocular Eyepiece One-piece, machined aluminum, ocular adjustment eyepiece is stronger, sleeker and easier to use
An even more precise Micro-Trac ® Erector system for unshakable elevation and windage adjustments
T O U GH S HO T S . R O U GH P L A C E S . weaveroptics.com
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Browning Both the men’s and women’s versions of the Summit Shooting Vest feature a large back pocket for empty shells. Grade, Match Grade, Safari Grade, and Tactical Grade—for shooters of every caliber. The key to the full line of premium quality ammunition lies in part in the practice of ProGrade’s hand-loading process, which is done entirely in the United States. One example of the full line is ProGrade Hog Grade, which includes proven winners such the Barnes TAC-XP, known for superior knockdown power, and Hornady rounds that will not deform on impact, creating a large, deep wound channel. ProGrade Hog Grade ammunition is available in 14 different calibers in 28 variations for rifle and handguns, including .223 Remington, .44 Magnum, and .357 Magnum. (406-777-5670; progradeammo.com)
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Browning New in Browning’s shooting vest line for 2014 are the men’s Summit Shooting Vest and Summit Shooting Vest For Her. Both feature durable shooting patches on right and left shoulders with sewn-in Reactar G2 pad pockets (pad sold separately), 100 percent mesh body for ventilation, twoway front zipper, bellows shell pockets, side tab adjustment, and large back pocket for empties or other gear. Men’s Summit Shooting Vest is available in Tan/ Chocolate/Taupe, Black/Gray/Charcoal, or Tan/Green/Dark Grey in sizes S–3XL. SRP: $85. Summit Shooting Vest For Her available in Cream/Plum/Dark Grey, Tan/Sage/Pink, or Tan/Brown/ Cinnamon with women’s cut sizes S–2XL. SRP: $85. (800-876-9326; browning .com)
ProGrade Ammunition ProGrade Ammunition is an ammunition company that has simplified the process
of choosing ammunition by handselecting ammo components based on usage categories. With more than 250 variations in the complete line of pistol and rifle ammunition, ProGrade has created 10 grades of product—Defense Grade, Hog Grade, Varmint Grade, Cowboy Grade, Hunter Grade, Bear Grade, Range
When Zippo Outdoors looked at the LED light market, the company determined what was needed was a truly rugged lantern capable of enduring hard use in camp. The Rugged Lantern features a metal support cage and rubberized corners to cushion it from everyday use; in fact, the lantern can survive drops up to 5 feet. The lantern is water-resistant—it will float if knocked into the drink—and has three brightness settings. Power is via a rechargeable lithium-ion battery (runtime is as long as 40 hours on low). The lantern also incorporates a flashing SOS feature should an emergency arise. SRP: $89.95. (814-368-2700; zippo outdoor.com)
water-resistant Rugged Lantern from Zippo Outdoor has rubberized corners to protect it from the shocks of hard use. It has three settings (plus an SOS feature); on the low setting, its rechargeable lithium-ion battery will run for 40 hours. FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014❚❚❚SHOT BUSINESS❚❚❚49
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Umarex An authentic replica of a Colt 1911 that fires steel BBs, Umarex’s Colt Commander sports an eight-round drop-free magazine.
Go to: www.ShotBusiness.com for free info.
The Colt Commander is an authentic replica of a Colt 1911 that fires steel BBs and has a cycling slide to boot. It features a skeletonized trigger, a commander-style hammer, and an eight-round drop-free magazine. SRP: $119.99. The spirit of weapons history is captured by legendary replicas such as the new Legends C96, a simulation of a 19-round semi-auto Mauser. The magazine drops free for easy loading, and it has an adjustable rear sight above the simulated wood grip, concealing a 12-gram CO2 compartment. SRP: $99.99. Built upon the success of Umarex’s first Makarov air pistol, a variant of the wellknown Russian pistol—the Makarov Ultra—still has an all-metal frame, but it now includes the blowback slide cycle of modern-day airguns. Its drop-free magazine holds 16 steel BBs, and it shoots at 350 feet per second. SRP: $89.99. (479-
The Shadow Series of pop-up ground blinds (Powerhouse, Phantom X, Phantom, and Mirage) have now been upgraded with the new Silent Track window curtain system. This system is designed to offer multiple window opening options, customizable on the fly. Each curtain has a track on each end that allows it to be slid quietly to any position or opening height. This lets the hunter set up for what he’s planned and adapt for the unexpected. Other features include durable custom carry bags that can carry a bow or gun and blind chair, oversize zippers, a bow hanger, oversize stakes, and strong and flexible poles. (800-344-2577;
The Laser-Plinking-Can (SRP: $104.95) reacts by jumping up and falling over just as a real can would when hit with a laser from any of LaserLyte’s training cartridges or other laser trainer tools. The cans are powered by a 9V battery and come three to a pack. The Training Tyme Kit (SRP: $199.95) combines the LaserLyte Trigger Tyme Compact Pistol, the LT-PRO universal pistol laser trainer, and a Reaction Tyme Target to register hits. The kit offers a $40 savings over the same products sold separately. (928-6493201; laserlyte.com)
Browning The upgraded Phantom pop-up ground blind (in Browning’s Shadow series) now incorporates the Silent Track window curtain system.
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Giant International Giant International, the exclusive licensee for Motorola Talkabout two-way radios, has unveiled the first series of Talkabout consumer two-way radios featuring Bluetooth capabilities. The Motorola Talkabout MU350R two-way radios blend powerful wireless communications with practical emergency preparedness features and robust weather proof housing for maximum peace of mind. By pairing the Bluetooth-enabled Motorola MU350R with a Bluetooth headset, hunters can communicate wirelessly. They can easily monitor their radio channel and press the built-in push-to-talk (PTT) button when they need to share important information or alert the group to impending danger. And, for situations where greater flexibility and unrestricted communication is needed, a Bluetooth PTT button can be clipped onto a vest, connecting wirelessly to the radio and headset, letting hunters talk while staying focused on their game. (Bluetooth headset and PTT button are sold separately.) The MU350R features Talkabout Clear, which enhances sound quality for clearer transmissions at a higher volume by reducing distortion with a Class D amplifier. With its unique Digital Signal Processing (DSP) technology, hunters have even greater audio clarity, making it easier to communicate with others in the field or at
camp. And when silence is golden, hunters will appreciate the VibraCall function, which silently alerts them to incoming transmissions by vibrating without disturbing game. SRP: $149.99 per pair, which includes two radios, two belt clips, one wall-charging adapter with y-cable, two 1300 mAH NiMH rechargeable battery packs, and an emergency checklist. (shopgiantintl.com)
Simmons Optics The Whitetail Blackout trail camera allows hunters to covertly monitor game and land activity around the clock, thanks to the black LED night-vision technology. The camera features 18 black LEDs with a 30-foot flash range; a passive infrared (PIR) sensor detects motion and animal activity at up to 40 feet. Other features include a six-month battery life and a 1.2-second trigger speed, as well as a 5MP camera that captures full-color high-res daytime images and high-quality B&W nighttime images. The trail camera also gives hunters the ability to capture VGA video clips either day or night. Date, time, and moon stamps are displayed on every image and video, and a Âź-20 socket on the base of the camera and an adjustable web belt make it easy to attach the camera to a tree or bracket. For added security, the camera is also cablelock-compatible. SRP: $129.99. (800-4233537; simmonsoptics.com)
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crowshootingsupply.com Laserlyte The Laser-Plinking-Can set gives laser training the traditional feel of plinking cans on a fencepost. Source Code: EBT
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PHOTO BY LUKE NILSSEN
A complete survival kit that fits in your palm, the SOL Origin gathers the most crucial lifesaving gear in one compact, waterproof kit. Tools included are TinderQuik fire starters, 150-pound-test braided nylon cord, mil-spec stainless-steel wire, and an emergency sewing and fishing kit. There’s more: survival instructions for more than 60 hazards, a liquid-damped compass, and, secured in a button-release slot, a folding lockblade knife. The knife itself features a 100dB rescue whistle, an ultra-bright LED light in the handle, and an AUS-8 steel drop-point blade for precision cuts. Oh, and the inside of the kit’s lid doubles as a signal mirror. (800-324-3517; surviveoutdoorslonger.com) (Continued on page 49)
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T H R E E P R E M I U M L I N E S . O N E L E G E N D A R Y B R A N D.
/// VICTORY // CONQUEST / TERRA
56 mm of light-gathering awesomeness. THREE NEW 56 mm MODELS
15x56, 10x56, 8x56
New 56 mm CONQUEST HD Binoculars coming soon to your authorized dealer. A revolution in design, ergonomics and optics, CONQUEST HD binoculars produce colors that are vivid and natural and details that are crisp and sharp. The new 56 mm models offer up to 15x magnification and increased light transmission, and are the ideal companion in low light situations and wide open country. Your adventure begins at www.zeiss.com/sports. facebook.com/CarlZeissHuntingUS
AdID: 25198 SHB0314
1/16/14 12:21 PM
Published on Feb 18, 2014