Boost Sales With Little-Known Features

You’re not a firearms retailer for too long before you run into the customer who is unhappy because the gun he bought from you didn’t have the features its manufacturer promised it would. “This was supposed to have a ‘butter-smooth’ action, but it’s rough as a cob!” (Funny how the customer didn’t notice it when he handled the gun in the shop.) Or, “The manufacturer guarantees MOA accuracy, but this thing can’t keep all its shots in a dishpan!” (Amazing how often that turns out to be the customer’s fault, and not the gun). I’m sure you have a few more similar comments you can add.

Let’s look at an opposite phenomenon — the firearm or related personal-defense product, which has a feature the manufacturer didn’t advertise. This provides you an opportunity to let the customer in on a “secret feature” to give him or her a personal-protection advantage.

From a retailer’s point of view, three good things come of that:

You have an important selling point your competitor on the other side of town doesn’t know about, which clinches the sale for you instead of for him.

At no cost to you or your gun shop, you’ve “sweetened the sale” with added value, the value in this case being tactical. Customer appreciation. Added value. Things that keep customers coming back to you instead of going to the competition.

The most important factor: The “hidden advantage” you’ve shared with the customer and put in the customer’s hands, may literally save the customer’s life one day.


The full-length recoil spring guide under the barrel of the 4-inch XD-45
Service pistol from Springfield Armory protrudes very slightly ahead of
the muzzle, which creates a stand-off effect.

Benefits Of Stand-Off Capability

Many people on both sides of the gun shop counter aren’t aware of “stand-off capability” — yet it can mean the difference between life and death. Semiautomatic pistols are the most popular defensive handguns today. Most of them are designed in such a way that, if the muzzle has to be pressed against an assailant who is trying to commit murder, the barrel/slide assembly is pushed rearward — out of battery — and the pistol will not fire.

I remember one case in the Midwest where a cop was down on the ground, being beaten to death, and desperately tried to shoot the assailant. He couldn’t. By pressing his service pistol against the man, the barrel/slide assembly was pushed out of battery, and nothing happened when he pulled the trigger. Only something close to a miracle saved his life.

However, there are semiautomatic pistols that will fire in this situation. One is the Springfield Armory XD pistol, with a 4-inch or shorter barrel. The pistol’s long, full-length recoil spring guide under the barrel protrudes very slightly ahead of the muzzle. This keeps it from being pushed out of battery on a contact shot. The same is true to a somewhat lesser extent with longer-barrel XD and XD(M) pistols, since at certain angles off “straight in” they can still be pushed out of battery. Stand-off capability is also found in some subcompact 9mm pistols, such as the Beretta Nano and the SIG P290 series.

To demonstrate this to a customer, “dry-fire” by pressing the muzzle of the (carefully checked) unloaded pistol against something firm (a book laying on the counter, for example) and pulling the trigger. The ideal device for this demonstration is the “Safe Direction” ballistic containment pad, which is designed to absorb bullets and is a great corollary sale item itself. It’s available from the Ravelin Group (


Accessories like the Streamlight TLR-4 light/laser unit adds stand-off
capability to pistols by keeping the muzzle clear of contact.

Offer Life-Saving Accessories

You likely have customers who don’t think they need a light or light/laser unit to go on the integral sight rail of their pistols. However, whatever they think about the importance of identifying and hitting their target in the dark, you might want to remind them a light protruding forward from under the muzzle creates stand-off capability.

I know a police officer whose life was saved in a close-range death battle because of this feature. The suspect shot him several times and he went down. The officer drew his department-issue .40, and returned fire effectively. Badly wounded but still able to fight, the gunman fell on top of the cop with his stolen pistol still loaded, and still trying to murder him.

The cop rammed his own pistol against the man’s head, and pulled the trigger three times. Not until the last shot did he feel his antagonist go limp. The officer recovered from his multiple wounds, thanks to his indomitable will, a Safariland ballistic vest that stopped the bullets and a Streamlight TLR-1 light attached to his service pistol. He was using the exact same make and model pistol as the Midwestern officer mentioned earlier, whose gun wouldn’t fire at press-contact distance. In the Southern officer’s case, the stand-off capability created by the gun-mounted light allowed him to finish the fight with a satisfactory conclusion.

For your customers who keep a 1911 as their bedside home companion, you may wish to offer the stand-off device produced for railed 1911s by master gunsmith and shooting incident survivor Dave Lauck (

Dave has lots of other good stuff for your gun shop, too. Finding a holster for your customer’s daily-carry 1911 that is equipped with Lauck’s device might be a problem, but for the never-holstered “bedside gun” or “under the cash register gun,” this accessory can be a life-saver.

Of course, a revolver has built-in “stand-off capability” due to its design. A friend of mine is now safely retired after a long and very dangerous career with the CIA, during which he was involved in multiple gunfights. In some of those, the attacker was so close he had to thrust his revolver into the antagonist and pull the trigger. Today, though he’s a credentialed gun expert who owns many fine autoloaders, he still carries a revolver by choice.

Another friend was involved in a dozen or more shootings during a nearly 40-year career in law enforcement. In the first, he had to press the muzzle of his S&W Model 10 revolver into the chest of his opponent, and shoot or die. He shot. He only went to a semiauto when his department insisted. Last I heard, his personal preference was still a short-barrel Smith & Wesson .38 Special.

Stand-off capability can be sold as one of several particular semiautomatic pistols. It can be sold as an accessory to a pistol the customer already owns. It can be sold as a very real and well-established advantage of the revolvers already in your showcase.

And, most importantly, it can save your customer’s life.
By Massad Ayoob

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