Your “Other” Salesperson — Displays


Retired Army Special Forces Sergeant Major Ray Millican demonstrates the
Nighthawk Custom drop-in trigger display at Pro Arms in Live Oak, Fla.

“When they feel it, they own it.”

In adult education theory, I’ve heard it said what we see has more impact than what we hear — and what we feel and experience has more impact still. When we teach hand-to-hand self-defense and verbally describe something like escaping a chokehold, we can see skepticism or puzzlement in students new to the game. 

When the instructor demonstrates the technique on an assistant instructor, we can see the light bulb starting to turn on for the students. But when we put them out on the floor and let them try it themselves, the transfer of the skill is completed. 

Something similar happens in merchandising and sales. You wouldn’t buy a suit at the Men’s Wearhouse without trying it on, stretching and flexing, to make sure it fits and you’re going to be comfortable in it. You wouldn’t buy a new car without a test drive. The test drive tells you if it’s going to handle the way you want and if it really fits your needs.

It can be the same with guns. How many times have you heard a customer tell you he could have bought a gun cheaper at the Monster Mart, but he bought it from you because the big-box store insisted on keeping trigger locks on display guns, and they damn sure weren’t going to buy a gun if they didn’t know the feel of the trigger pull?

Let’s look at a couple of examples.


Located in Berryville, Ark., Nighthawk Custom maintains a squad of pistolsmiths who build high-end 1911s that sell for thousands of dollars apiece. In general form and function, they might look the same to a gun newbie as a clone gun made in Turkey and designed to carry a three-figure retail price tag. What makes them worth several times this price is Nighthawk’s accuracy, reliability, smoothness of action and sweetness of trigger.

Now, with new guns a customer can’t experience accuracy or reliability in your shop. That will come when they own and shoot them. But they wouldn’t be looking at a gun like a Nighthawk Custom if they didn’t already know these guns had a reputation for those attributes.

What they can determine in your shop is the feel. The glassy smoothness of the slide running on the frame, and the crisp and easy trigger pull.

When Nighthawk realized not every customer could afford one of their premium-priced guns, they decided to market their drop-in trigger. But how could a customer “test drive” that?

Nighthawk has answered the question with the ingenious display shown here. It includes a Ring’s dummy gun fitted with the drop-in trigger. This allows the customer to, in essence, dry-fire it. He or she can feel then and there what it’s going to feel like in their own less-expensive 1911 at home.

A seldom-touted but very real advantage of such a display is if it’s mounted on the counter, the customer can be alone with it without tying up staff who are making sales elsewhere in the shop. The customer can try it on their own and only then catch a salesperson’s attention and say, “Tell me more about this!”

Nighthawk Custom’s Landon Stone tells Shooting Industry, “The drop-in trigger display is $592 and it includes the display, blue gun [with a stainless trigger in it] and a black DTS in the window.”

Stone added, “The retail price of the drop-in trigger is $299 apiece and the discount to preferred dealers is 20% off, unless you buy five or more triggers and then you get 30% off. The dealer can buy 10 triggers at 30% discount and get the display for free.”

For more information reach out to Stone at 

Crimson Trace LaserGrips Display

Probably the most popular brand of laser sight is Crimson Trace. For many years now, they have offered a display package that has sold boatloads of the products for dealers all over the country.

The displays include, for example, their LaserGrips — which easily attach to various pistols and revolvers, the “demo guns” being Ring’s blue dummy guns. As mentioned above, these display units can be left on top of counters like the Nighthawk display for customers to try by themselves without having to distract sales staff from other patrons.

A customer instantly feels the experience of their finger automatically activating the forward-projected laser dot. They see a red dot appear on whatever they’re pointing at (or, with my favorite version of the Crimson Trace LaserGrip, the stronger and longer-ranged green dot).

When the customer shows interest, now is the time for your salesperson to step in and point out the product’s added advantages. If the customer has imperfect vision, they are reminded if they can see the target, they can see the dot and don’t have to worry about finding front sights that look fuzzy to their particular eyes. (Sales tip: show the customer even in a situation where they can’t bring the handgun to line of sight, the laser unit still allows precise aim.) 

If the customer thinks point-shooting is a good idea, remind them a laser sight like this one will greatly improve their hit potential.

For your customers who teach others to shoot (which is almost all of them with friends and family, even if they’re not designated instructors!) having the student hold the dot on target and smoothly bring the trigger back is a “quick fix” for jerking the trigger.

Crimson Trace now offers “carry optic” sights, which are available, as well as the laser units, for these displays. The customer can see how if the battery goes out, the iron sights are co-witness with where the dot should be visible and can get the job done without the dot.

To see about getting one of these displays for your shop, go to

Hands-on displays like these sell product. In effect, they put another salesperson in your shop. 

Remember the opening principle, “If they feel it and experience it, they own it?” In retail, this can translate to “If they feel it and experience it, they want to buy it.”

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