Gun Safes

A Priority, Not An Upsell

Image: phive2015 / Adobe Stock

With instances of gun violence dominating the news cycle, coupled with the upcoming midterm elections, the firearms industry is yet again public enemy number one. While most of the claims being hurled are no doubt politically motivated and, in many cases, rooted in ignorance and misinformation, gun owners aren’t exactly doing themselves any favors when it comes to taking control of the narrative. Hear me out.

Did you know an estimated 4.6 million kids live with unlocked, loaded guns in the home?1 Or that gun thefts from vehicles make up the largest source of stolen guns? The latter statistic is from a study by the Everytown for Gun Safety organization that analyzed FBI crime data from 2011 to 2020, spanning up to 271 small-to-large cities across 38 states. From 2019 to 2020, at least 180 cities saw a rise in gun thefts from vehicles,2 but keep in mind not every state requires gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms. Columbia, S.C. — the capital of my home state — ranked third for the highest rate of guns being stolen out of cars across the nation, with the majority stolen from cars parked outside of homes or in parking garages.

If we expect anti-gunners to believe we’re not all lunatics and believe in safe, responsible gun ownership, we need to walk the walk. And a big part of it is for firearms dealers to prioritize the sale of secure gun storage options — and not treat it like an upsell or afterthought.

Barriers To Entry

When it comes to selling gun safes and other secure firearms storage options, one of the most common barriers to entry we’ve heard from dealers is that for many people, square footage and shelf space are limited. And because security products don’t have as high a turnover rate as other product categories, many opt only to sell smaller solutions such as cable locks and trigger guards. The problem, as we all know, is gun locks won’t stop someone from stealing a weapon the way a storage unit will.

Square footage isn’t the only barrier to entry, however. Other factors dealers consider when deciding what types of security products to offer include freight costs, whether you can order safes in a quantity that allows a trucking company to handle them in a stable load, how you’ll move inventory once it’s received (i.e., forklift), whether you’ll offer setup and/or delivery services and what level of technology your customers are comfortable with.

SnapSafe Super Titan XXL

Selling Points

With so many barriers to entry, it’s easy to understand why many small- and medium-sized independent dealers opt not to stock safes in-store, particularly larger-sized vaults. The reality is selling gun safes is not only the responsible thing to do as a dealer, but it can also be incredibly lucrative.

Mitch Hyatt, VP of Hyatt Guns (Charlotte, N.C.), attended an NSSF seminar several years ago that stuck with him. The presenter said, “I can stock just about anything in the space a gun safe would take up and turn it over several times in the time it would take to sell one safe, but there are few single items I can sell and make a $500–$600 return.”

When it comes to gun safes, Hyatt said some dealers mistakenly focus on the profit margin as a percentage rather than the actual dollar figure.

He has a point. Say you choose to offer a selection of apparel that takes up roughly the square footage a few gun safes would. How many shirts and hats would you have to sell to match the return from the sale of a single safe?

To improve the churn rate on secure storage products, there are a few things dealers can do. The most important is educating your sales staff on your state’s laws and tax incentives.

“As a high-volume gun shop, we feel it is our responsibility to provide our customers with every available option for secure storage.”

Mitch Hyatt Vice President, Hyatt Guns

As you know, federal law requires licensed gun dealers to sell every handgun with a secure storage or safety device.
Oftentimes, these are included by the firearms manufacturer. While there is no federal law requiring gun owners to use the devices, more than half of states have taken a more punitive approach by enacting child access prevention laws, allowing criminal charges to be brought against an adult who intentionally, recklessly or negligently allows children to have unsupervised access to firearms.

If you’re a dealer in one of these states, make it a priority to educate your customers on the existence of such a law at the point of purchase.

Additionally, a handful of states now offer tax breaks to gun owners for safe storage purchases. Depending on the state sales tax rate and cost of the safe, these tax breaks can yield hundreds of dollars in savings for your customers.

And lastly, “The more you can display, the more you can sell,” said Hyatt.

Planning Inventory

Based in Charlotte, N.C., Hyatt Guns is America’s largest gun store. With more than 20,000 sq. ft., they stock more than 7,000 guns on any given day. To complement their massive selection, they also maintain the largest safe showroom in their area.
“As a high-volume gun shop, we feel it is our responsibility to provide our customers with every available option for secure storage,” confirmed Hyatt.

To meet every possible price and size combination, Hyatt carries storage products from a variety of manufacturers, including Champion Safe, Superior Gun Safe, Hollon Safe and American Security.

“As an independent retailer, we’re very aware of what the big-box stores are carrying, and we want to be able to differentiate,” he noted. “So, we maintain a little bit more of a hands-on selection and a bit more in terms of quality to offer to our customers.”

Hornady RAPiD Safe Keypad Vault

Hyatt also stocks Hornady, SnapSafe, ShotLock and Vaultek for dedicated handgun storage and security in vehicles.
Again, having a large warehouse and forklift makes carrying this range and variety possible.

Rather than stocking a full product line from any single manufacturer, Hyatt said they pick and choose based on makes/models.

Each price class has its own bestseller, and having one size or price class often helps to sell another. This is where stocking a wide variety comes into play.

Hyatt not only stocks a variety of price points and sizes, but also colors and technological features.

“Color is actually one of the most overlooked options by dealers,” he shared. “Naturally, black and gray safes are the bestsellers, but you can’t have an entirely black and gray showroom, so we’ll mix in a little blue or another pop of color.”

To meet the needs of customers across the spectrum, Mitch Hyatt says his store stocks a robust inventory of
different safe brands and product lines. “We maintain a little more of a hands-on selection,” he lends.

Technology: How Much Is Too Much?

Hyatt Guns offers a range of mechanical and electronic gun storage options, though Hyatt said they stay away from hyper-technology because it’s often expensive and difficult to service.

“The mechanical dials and simple digital safes have great failsafe options,” he said. “We can help customers set these up, and we work with several local locksmiths if they ever need one. But, with the larger vault safes, when you get into the fingerprint technology, oftentimes it leads to replacing the whole unit, and you have to deal with whether the manufacturer will take it back or replace it.”

For the small individual gun safes, he said fingerprint technology doesn’t seem just here to stay, but to continue dominating the market.

Hyatt added that cost-wise, the individual gun biometric gun safes are now competitive enough with the electronic push-button safes it’s become kind of hard to carry the latter.

Hornady Manufacturing seems to share a similar sentiment in regard to technological advances.

“Technology is always changing and evolving, but consumer confidence in technology fluctuates,” said Seth Swerczek, marketing communications manager for Hornady Manufacturing. “For that reason, the technology route we’ve chosen, we’ve stuck to. We’re always looking to be innovative, but without sacrificing quality and reliability.”

The individual gun biometric gun safes are now competitive enough with the electronic push-button safes it’s become kind of hard to carry the latter.

Their philosophy is why Hornady Security’s signature line is its RAPiD safes that utilize patented RFID technology to offer the quickest, most dependable access to one’s firearm while providing unmatched security from unauthorized users.

Its most popular model, the RAPiD Safe Keypad Vault, is a great starter unit for those new to RFID technology. It retails for $148.99 and includes two RFID tags that can be selectively programmed to open this safe and any other RAPiD safe a user owns.

In 2014, Hornady’s VP, Jason Hornady, looked to diversify the company’s product offerings which led to the purchase of SnapSafe the following year.

SnapSafe stands apart in the industry for its unique, modular gun safes. The simple yet secure modular assembly system locks the safe’s 9-gauge steel exterior walls together in less than 30 minutes using only a wrench, which is included with every shipment. This simple assembly makes the safes ideal for any room or space and keeps valuables, firearms and other possessions secure.

Available in four sizes — the Titan, Super Titan and Super Titan Double Door XL and XXL (starting at $1,969) — the modular design is economical to ship and can be delivered directly to a customer’s door. Once it arrives, it can be carried piece by piece to any location in a home and then easily assembled or moved.

The heaviest piece of a SnapSafe varies with the model, ranging from the door of the Titan at 92 lbs., to the back panel of the Super Titan XXL at 180 lbs., but it’s still less than a quarter of the safe’s total weight.

SnapSafe’s ease and versatility make it an ideal solution, especially for renters, active-military families or those in homes with low ceilings, stairs, basements or other confined spaces. The company’s product line also includes the SnapSafe Vault Door (starting at $1,769), a 12-gauge steel door and frame that can replace any standard-size 32″ or 36″ door opening, such as a closet, room or storm shelter.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is there are far too many gun safe and secure storage options beyond cable locks and trigger guards for dealers not to provide a range of options for their customers. If, as an industry, we’re trying to communicate the extent to which the majority of gun owners are proponents of safe and responsible gun ownership, dealers need to consider this product category as a necessity and priority, not an add-on or upsell.


Click To Read More Shooting Industry October 2022 Issue Now!