By Russ Thurman
In the highly competitive race for success in the marketplace, the challenge is forecasting the next “big thing” — the product that will create a consumer “must-have” purchasing reaction. While firearms are the foundation of the industry, it isn’t always the gun that drives firearm sales or establishes a trend.
A number of years ago, in a Shooting Industry interview, a dealer recounted a customer selecting a flashlight designed to be attached to a handgun’s rail and said, “I want to buy a gun that this will go on.” In those days, rail-equipped guns weren’t common, but as more rail accessories were introduced, the more in-demand the feature.
For the dealer, it was quite a moment: “Wow! The accessory was driving the sale of a firearm.” Naturally, manufacturers responded with more rail-equipped firearms.
Today, suppressors are the next “big thing.”
The suppressor market is growing, driven by consumer demand and a genuine need to address the loud report of a firearm being fired. Yes, there are some consumers who purchase suppressors because they’re 007-wannabes, but they aren’t driving sales or creating a trend.
Recreational shooters, hunters, competitors and those purchasing firearms for home defense are the primary consumers in this category.
Way beyond the “cool factory,” suppressors are increasing the enjoyment of target shooting, with the added benefit of reducing felt recoil.
Suppressors permit hunters to hunt without hearing protection or living with the aftereffects of hunting rounds being fired next to their ears. In March, Iowa became the 42nd state to legalize the private ownership of suppressors, and the 39th state to permit hunting with suppressors.
Suppressors are also important to gun ranges, addressing the most common complaint against existing and proposed ranges: noise.
Yes, suppressors’ time has come.
Numerous companies have addressed the suppressor market for years, most notably, SureFire. More recently, other companies are taking advantage of the growing suppressor trend and, in turn, creating additional, all-important “buzz.”
At the 2016 SHOT Show, Ruger grabbed a lot of attention with the introduction of the Silent-SR. The entry of Ruger into this segment should not be taken lightly. Ruger doesn’t chase fads; it creates products that motivate profits. They obviously recognize the profit potential of suppressors. Ruger’s webpage featuring the Silent-SR provides a wealth of information, not only on the product, but also on suppressors. Visit www.ruger.com/micros/silent-sr.
Also new for 2016, Browning is offering two pistols that are factory ready to accept suppressors: The Black Label 1911-22 Full Size Suppressor Ready with Rail and the Black Label 1911-22 Compact Suppressor Ready with Rail. Visit www.browning.com.
Others manufacturers that are invested in this product segment are GLOCK, Mossberg, Remington, Savage Arms and SIG SAUER, among others.
Ruger’s introduction of the Silent-SR reflects the
rapidly growing demand for suppressors.
Creating A Loud Buzz
Credit must be given to the role the American Suppressor Association (ASA) has played in educating everyone — in and out of the industry — about suppressors, and lobbying, along with other organizations, legislators throughout the country to relax restrictions on suppressor ownership. Late last year, ASA announced the introduction of the Hearing Protection Act on Capitol Hill. The legislation will remove suppressors from the National Firearms Act. Visit www.americansuppressorassociation.com.
SilencerCo is a major player in this product segment. In addition to introducing innovative products, the company has helped educate those in and out of the industry on suppressors. At SHOT Show, SilencerCo introduced the Maxim 9, the “world’s first integrally suppressed 9mm pistol.” SilencerCo products were among those grabbing the attention of dealers at SHOT. Visit silencerco.com.
SilencerCo also is promoting passage of the Hearing Protection Act with its Fight The Noise campaign. Visit www.fightthenoise.org/take-action.
NSSF offered a retailer seminar at this year’s SHOT Show, “Making Money Selling NFA Products,” promoting the session with: “Without a doubt, the growing demand for suppressors is looking to be one of the biggest things to hit retailers in decades.” The seminar was sold out. Visit www.nssf.org/factsheets/PDF/Suppressors.pdf.
Creating High Volume
There will be additional companies entering this segment of the market, as more consumers seek firearms that will accommodate this growing “accessory” trend. And, as SilencerCo has demonstrated, there will be more suppressor-integral firearms coming out of factories. Which, in turn, will create additional high-volume in the highly competitive race for success.