Flashlight Options Have Never Been Brighter
By Pat Covert
Savvy firearms retailers know accessories sales are a big key to lighting up the bottom line, and flashlights are an excellent category for doing so. One reason flashlights are so lucrative is every firearm owner can use one, whether they’re into hunting and sports shooting, or if they need one for law enforcement or basic self-defense.
This category spans the user universe; and the profit margins, as with many accessories, are excellent. In addition to flashlights you also have subcategories such as gun-mounted lights, headlamps, lanterns and bike lights from which to generate even more profits. Are you getting your share?
Flashlights and related accessories have been a fast-paced category for the past few years thanks to rapid gains in innovation and technology. As a consequence, the onus has been placed on the firearms retailer to keep up with these changes in order to give their customer the latest, greatest products. We thought it would be interesting to talk to four insiders — two from the manufacturing side plus two storefront firearms retailers — on the frontline of flashlights sales to get their comments on what’s selling in this lucrative market.
Packing A One-Two Punch
Representatives from two major manufacturers provided their observations on what they see as the hottest trends today.
“As always the market is pushing to provide brighter, smaller and lighter products,” stated Andrew Wright, SureFire public relations manager. “That said, there is also a significant spike in interest of rechargeable products.”
Wright forecasts a similar shift in gun lights, “The same trend of products getting brighter, smaller and lighter is true for weapon lights as well, with a definite emphasis on size and weight being important — especially in the concealed-carry market.”
When asked about Surefire’s hottest sellers, Wright informed, “Our Fury line of lights is definitely one of the most popular product lines we have. They’re robust, extremely bright and relatively compact for the output and beam pattern. As far as weapon lights go, our X300 Ultra series of lights is by far the best selling. Its 600-lumen output combined with a compact and lightweight package makes it an awesome product for handguns and long-guns alike.”
Braent Hong, Fenix Lighting sales manager, provided his take on flashlight trends and hot sellers. According to Hong, “Fenix will gradually develop and perfect the product line layout of the FD series focusing flashlight, and study remaining runtime and intelligent output selection technique in depth. A number of new ‘intelligent’ flashlights will gradually be launched.”
As for hot tickets in the Fenix line? Hong relayed Fenix does well with the PD35TAC, TK16, TK15UE, TK20R and TK32 models.
“These lights are very popular for tactical usage, law enforcement, as well as hunting thanks to their functionality and performance,” Hong shared. “As for the production of gun lights, Fenix will focus on shotgun lights to meet the demands of the hunting markets.”
On The Frontlines
You can’t get any closer to the flashlight consumer than the point of sale, so it’s beneficial for business owners to garner some insight from the retail side. Jeff Chastain is in charge of marketing and buying for Simmons Sporting Goods, a very successful, all encompassing outdoors retailer in Bessemer, Ala.
“We’re seeing a trend in flashlights with higher lumens in a much smaller, compact size,” Chastain said, mirroring the same comments as the manufacturers above. “The newer LED lights offer a longer burn time and less pull down on power sources.”
As for weapon lights, Chastain concluded, “Our customers are going for multiple choices in light beams — from high intensity to strobe versions. Combination models with built-in lasers, like the Streamlight TLR-2, are popular.”
Hoover Tactical Firearms, as the name implies, is a retailer focused on tactical and self-defense located in Hoover, Ala. Hoover Tactical incorporates a firearms training classroom and indoor shooting range inside their large complex. Not only do they sell a wide range of handguns and long guns, but accessories like flashlights and weapon lights as well.
Weapon lights are currently in demand at Hoover Tactical, according to General Manager Kerry Bradley.
“Right now the up-and-coming trends for us continue to be weapons lights. Next would be small compact lights that can be placed in the pocket — the brighter the better. I can remember when I thought my 75 lumens light was the bee’s knees. Now you’d have to strike a match to see it burn,” he said.
As for specific brands and models, Bradley noted, “Overall we sell a lot of Streamlight, Fenix, NEBO and SureFire. The Streamlight TLR-1 is what I call the gold standard for us. It delivers up to 800 lumens, is very durable, fits a lot of weapons and has a huge selection of holsters available. They’re almost indestructible and have been that way for years. Also the inexpensive Fenix lights are a good seller for us.”
Colt AmRam-800 Judge
SureFire Combatlight MaxVision
Streamlight Strion DS HL HPL
As a retailer, you’re likely aware profit margins in flashlights, weapon lights and related accessories are more forgiving than those in the highly competitive firearms end of your business. By keeping up with hot trends and stocking these products you’re creating an excellent opportunity for secondary sales. Since this is a fast-paced category, it’s important to have an informed sales staff who can make wise recommendations to your customer in order to close the sale.
You should also display your flashlights prominently. Some retailers place their flashlights near the checkout counter for a “grab-and-go” secondary sale. In addition, there are extra profits to be made beyond flashlight and weapon light sales with other enlightening accessories such as bike lights, headlamps and lanterns for field use — all of which have benefitted from the innovations in LED lighting as well. The profits are there for the taking … all you need to do is hit the switch!