Safety: New-Generation Gun Owners

Shifting Market Creates Added
Profitability For Dealers.

In today’s market, many dealers consider safety products to be the first add-on to every firearm purchase. From eye and hearing protection to gunlocks and mini- and full-size safes, protecting consumers and everyone who may come into contact with a firearm is of paramount importance. In fact, today’s younger gun owners, many of whom are women, demand it.

At Nagel’s Guns in San Antonio, Texas, the sales staff does not allow a firearm purchaser to leave their shop without filling out a form that contains 30 safety tips. This drives the safety message home in a concrete way.

“Especially with first-time buyers, we really try to make them understand the safety part of owning a gun. We recommend safety products to them, whether or not they buy them here,” said Mark Mercer, Nagel’s assistant manager and 30-year firearm business veteran.

That same strong emphasis on safety and safety products is also in place at Town Gun Shop Inc., which has been in business for 30 years and has stores in Collinsville and Richmond, Va.

“We make safety a good option. Some smaller dealers may have the mindset that if they just sell that gun, they’re good. But safety is an important part of it, especially for new shooters,” said Kary Manion, retail manager at Town Gun Shop.

And safety products are good for business.

“They are very profitable add-on items,” Manion said. “And a lot of companies are making an effort to market safety products specifically to youth and women, even making some of the items in pink.”


The Browning Sporter Series Pro Steel Safe is available in four models,
ranging in gun storage capacity from 23 to 60 firearms. Safes feature a
12-gauge steel body and 1,200-degree, 45-minute fire protection.

New Attitudes

Are there differences in how younger consumers and women view the issue of firearm safety?

Mercer says he doesn’t have to sell the “new generation” of gun owners on safety, whereas the older generation — those who grew up in an era where guns were a natural way of life — may need some encouragement. Additionally, more and more women are becoming firearm owners today, and they are helping to push the safety message, according to Mercer and Manion.

“I see more and more younger families coming in here. They’re looking at having a gun at home for protection, but they have a 3-year-old or a 5-year-old. So, being able to lock it up is just as important as owning the firearm,” Mercer said. “I used to hear, ‘I’ll put it in the top of the closet,’ a lot. I’m not hearing that as much as, ‘How can I lock this gun safely away?’”


The Wiley X PT-1 tactical eyewear is engineered to protect the vision of
soldiers and law enforcement in the field. The PT-1 is offered in single-,
two- and three-lens packages.

Protect The Gun Owner

Safely securing firearms is very important, but no more so than gun owners protecting themselves. Fortunately for dealers, consumers today realize this. Many veteran shooters are paying the price for the failure to realize the importance of protecting their hearing and eyes.

“With a lot of our older shooters, we have to ‘talk up’ to them because 30 or 40 years ago, there wasn’t much discussion about ear or eye protection, and many of them are hard of hearing now,” Mercer said.

Some consumers still only purchase simple, standard earplugs, yet most shooters prefer earmuff protection, and electronic models have grown in popularity.

“We sell a lot of Howard Leight earmuffs. They’re really affordable, but still have a high-decibel rating. They’re comfortable enough to wear for a couple hours without feeling like you have your head in a vise. With their electronic muffs, you and I can be sitting at the range, communicating with each other, and when a gun fires, and hits a certain decibel level, they’ll click on, damping the sound,” Mercer said.

In protective eyewear, Howard Leight is Nagel’s top-selling brand.

“We carry multiple-lens combinations — different colors for different types of shooting or brightness,” Mercer said.

At Town Gun Shop, the number-one brand in ear protection is Radians, with the Champion line coming in second in sales.

“Both companies make different lines, from the cheaper ones to the nicer electronic versions, as well as roll-in foam earplugs,” Manion said. “Radians is also our top-selling brand in shooting glasses. They have some reasonably priced glasses, but we also sell a lot of the nicer ones — impact-resistant and military grade, even goggles — to our law enforcement customers.”


Power Muffs from Walker’s Game Ear feature 9X hearing
enhancement, 50dB of power and a Noise Reduction Rating of 24dB.

Securing Firearms

More firearm dealers are selling full-size safes today, driven by consumer demand to prevent unauthorized access to firearms and theft. It’s a combination of the safety aspect and the “protect my investment” factor.

Nagel’s carries a large selection of Browning floor safes, along with several other brands, including the Safari Series from Cannon. The safes have a wide range of features, including adjustable shelves and loops to secure various-sized firearms. Yes, full-size safes can be pricey, but Nagel’s offers a range of prices to fit every pocketbook.

“We sell some 5-foot safes that are under $1,000 and some in the $600 to $700 range. We sell some affordable lines of safes for the guys who may have three or four long guns. And they have even more uses, which makes them nice. When I got mine home and opened it up, my wife realized she could put her jewelry box and important documents in it,” Mercer said.

At Town Gun Shop, Manion reminds customers that the cost of a safe is often lower than a firearm’s price tag.

“If you buy a safe in the $1,000 range, that’s the price of a good rifle and scope. A nice shotgun may cost more. If someone breaks into your house and steals that one item, that’s the price of a safe,” Manion explains to customers.

Currently, Town Gun Shop stocks the Winchester, Champion and Browning lines of larger safes, and is planning to stock Canon, as well.

“Right now, we have a sale on some of our safes. We have them from $699 on up to around $2,000, depending on the model,” Manion said.


GunVault’s advertising features testimonies from consumers who
praise the quick access features of the company’s handgun safes.

Handy Safes, Security

Quite popular with customers at Nagel’s and Town Gun Shop are smaller handgun safes that sell in the $100 to $200 range. With both stores doing a brisk handgun business, consumers are looking for a handy way to secure their firearms.

“We carry a lot of the DAC safes customers can keep by their bedside. These are single-handgun, maybe double-handgun safes that are a little more convenient and faster to get into than a big safe. DAC makes some that are biometric, that recognize your handprint. They also make some that just take a simple, four-digit entry to get into. Some actually run off the tips of your fingers,” Mercer said.

“We carry a lot of the GunVault line of small handgun safes. Those sell really well for us. Most of them are under $150,” Manion said.

Manion also urges his customers to purchase products that will protect their firearm while at the range.

“I like to see people using a good range bag or gun rug when they go out to shoot so the gun is not just lying around. I consider that a safety item,” Manion said.
Both Nagel’s and Town Gun Shop sell standard trigger and cable locks. These are effective deterrents for unauthorized use, although Mercer says some customers are concerned about being able to locate the key and unlock their guns in a hurry, especially at night.

“We find the electronic safes are more convenient and faster for the consumer to get into. And they are extremely safe. You’re not going to take a butter knife and pry one open,” Mercer said.

Smart Business

Dealers who make safety a top priority with their customers are enjoying added profitability and the peace of mind that comes with knowing they may help prevent a tragedy. Safety is not optional. It’s good citizenship and smart business.

guns article

GUNS Magazine Connection

Gear Topping Your Customers’ Wish List

Dealers, you tell your customers they need to protect themselves and their equipment. They hear it from their significant others, and see it posted at the range. And the pages of GUNS Magazine are relaying the message, as well.

The September “Quartermaster” column in GUNS — “Safety Gear & Bug-Out Bags: They’re Both About Protecting Your Assets” — features the recommendations of John Connor, highlighting top picks in eye and ear protection, shooting gloves, bags and more.

To see which products your customers will be looking for on the shelves of your store, visit and scroll down to September 2012.

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