FFL Experience with Glock?


The Rabbi
March 22, 2005, 10:43 AM
Among my various fantasies is opening up a gun store (like about 50 other guys here). I have worked at one for some time (now out of business) so I have a pretty good idea of the business end of one.
I am thinking of stocking only Glocks as the new gun line and am wondering what others' experience with Glock has been. Please send any sensitive info by PM. Thanks.

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March 22, 2005, 10:53 AM
I personally don't have anything against Glocks, they shoot nice, at least the ones I have shot. But I still choose not to own one. Don't like the feel of it in my hand, the springy toy feeling trigger, "Safe Action" idea, or the asthetics of the Glock. Not to mention that generally when I go to a range, and I see a person pull out a Glock, I know they cannot shoot.

Don't mean to offend any Glock owners here, but that has been my experience. They are accurate, and they are versatile for a combat situation. However, I don't plan on being in a combat situation, and if I am, I'm pretty sure my Sigs will do the job just as well.

Hopefully Glocks won't be your only gun in stock.

March 22, 2005, 10:59 AM
Among my various fantasies is opening up a gun store (like about 50 other guys here). I have worked at one for some time (now out of business) so I have a pretty good idea of the business end of one.
I am thinking of stocking only Glocks as the new gun line and am wondering what others' experience with Glock has been.

Sounds like you're limiting yourself to a small market. Since I'm not a Glock guy I'd come in look around maybe handle a few guns, say thanks and leave. You would be missing the money I came to spend. I'm not trying to offend Glock owners or you, it would be the same if all you stocked was 1911's, Beretta's, SIG's or whatever.

March 22, 2005, 11:02 AM
Stocking Glock and only Glock is a recipe for business failure within the first year and this advice comes from someone who likes Glock and works as a gunsmith for a large independent retailer.

A wide variety of Military and older used firearms along with a diverse selection of handguns will ensure your success.

Look at the stock of the larger melglomart stores and carry the stuff that they don't.

My advice comes from someone who works for a independent gun stiore that has been in the game since 1968 and deals with having to compete with Gand** Mtn, Dic**, 'Dunh**s, W**-Mart and a few others.

We won't become rich but we aren't starving either. Good luck.

The Rabbi
March 22, 2005, 11:20 AM
Let me say right off that I just dont like Glocks. I've shot them a few times and all the reasons people dont like them are the same reasons I dont. Heck, I carry a Smith Model 19 most of the time.
This will be a very small store, enough for one person to look after. Most of the new gun business will be custom order. The gun makers themselves pretty much created the situation where you have to stock huge numbers of different guns or you wont have EXACTLY what the customer wants. If you have a blued Kimber in .38 Super then its a sure bet the customer will want one in stainless. And for $800 or whatever he should be able to get exactly what he wants.
The succesful big store near here advertises something like 2000 guns in stock. At an average of $500 a gun wholesale you can tell what he has in inventory. Who needs it?
I would really prefer not to stock any new guns. The other succesful dealer I know here basically doesnt. He works out of a hardware store and 90% of his business in via internet.
But let's face it: Glock is the standard PD issue here and in a lot of places. It s probably the best selling gun, reasonably priced (for a new pistol) with many variations. It is a meat and potatoes gun with steady demand and wide appeal.

Sounds like you're limiting yourself to a small market. Since I'm not a Glock guy I'd come in look around maybe handle a few guns, say thanks and leave.
2400, what were the last 2 new guns you bought and how far apart? You might avoid the new glocks but you would surely be interested in the large and changing number of used guns and mil-surp stuff. Or maybe you just stick your head to "see what I can't live without."

W Turner
March 22, 2005, 11:33 AM
Glocks would be a good start, but don't fall into the trap of recommending them over everything else. Sell the customers what they want, not what you want them to have. I have a friend that owns a gun shop and if you walk in and ask for a Sig all he will do is tell you how great Glocks are and why you should buy one.

Here is what I like to see in new gun selection when I walk into a store:

60% Value Priced guns- not cheap but good values like Ruger and CZ semi-autos, Kel-Tec pocket guns, used S&W and new Taurus revos, Savage centerfire bolt actions in a variety of calibers, Mossberg Shotguns, CZ Rimfire bolt-actions, Marlin Lever guns in popular calilbers like .30-30, .45-70 and .357/.44mag

30% Premier guns - RemWinRugerCZ bolt action centerfires, Glock/Sig/Beretta/Springfield XD semi-autos, S&W and Ruger .357/.44 mag revolvers, Ruger 10/22 target models, Springfield GI series 1911's, Remington Shotguns, Bushmaster AR's

10% Showcase guns - Colt/Sig/Springfield/Para-Ord/S&W 1911's, Old collector type S&W revolvers, SA Revolvers (could also be in the premier line), Colt AR's, Benelli/Beretta shotguns, conversation pieces like a .500S&W Mag revolver, .50BMG Bolt-Action, etc.

On the new guns, don't compete with Wal-Mart. Don't sell standard Savages for $75 more, don't sell the Remington 710 or the Mossberg ATR 1000, don't sell Remington 870 Expresses, don't sell standard Ruger 10/22's, you get the idea. Be honest with the customers and tell them that Wal-Mart sells it cheaper than you can buy it. Encourage them to come back for the accessories that Wal-Mart doesn't sell though.

On used guns, if you can't sell for $50 less than Wal-Mart, don't buy it. Otherwise, price them by what YOU would pay for them. Don't put $250 on a regular Marlin 336 in .30-30 with the safety when Wal-Mart is selling them for $269 + tax.

Used guns are money makers if you are smart.

$10 transfers

Clean, well arranged quiet store w/o pushy sales people. I was very good friends with the guy above and all but refused to buy form him becuase of his attitude and sales tactics.

Have a good selection of specialized ammo for hunting, personal protection, cowboy action, etc. Don't focus on practice loads for common calibers. Keep a good selection of mil-surp calibers.

I know this is long, but I think it is fairly representative of what most people want.


March 22, 2005, 11:34 AM
2400, what were the last 2 new guns you bought and how far apart? You might avoid the new glocks but you would surely be interested in the large and changing number of used guns and mil-surp stuff. Or maybe you just stick your head to "see what I can't live without."

I bought a new Springfield, a Beretta and a Ruger so far this year. As I said and you quoted "Since I'm not a Glock guy I'd come in look around maybe handle a few guns, say thanks and leave." I'm sure if you were in my area I stop in from time to time and see what you have. I've bought quite a few used guns from shops over the years.

Spreadfire Arms
March 22, 2005, 01:15 PM
let me jump in here to a very interesting discussion. an advantage to carrying only one line of new pistols is you only have to do one buy-in instead of several buy-in's (minimum orders to qualify as a dealer).

the disadvantage is if some other FFL in the area wants to compete with you all he needs to do is discount his Glocks to less than yours. that can be a severe dent in your pocketbook.

also if there is a Glock LE dealer in your area, they will give a tremendous discount to military and LE buyers. im talking like $398 - 445 for NIB Glocks with 3 mags. hard to compete with that.

before i opened a store in the area, i'd check all the other competition in the area and see what they aren't selling. for example, i'm in the AR-15 and Class III market. i don't have to compete with alot of other dealers in this area because i don't sell what they sell. if everyone in your area is selling NIB Glocks I'd consider other options.

good luck and email me if you want to talk about anything else.

Bear Gulch
March 22, 2005, 01:27 PM
I'd also talk to glock about the costs in establishing oneself as a Glock distributor. It will get you better prices from them so you can offer your customer better prices. For instance for some companies you have to buy x number of guns in x calibers. If your market isn't going to move them you have to figure out ways to deal with that.

I am a big believe is offering peeople what they want. How many glocks will one person buy? Gun shops live and die on establishing a solid customer base. You make money on repeat busines not just a one time sale. A variety of guns makes that more likely.

March 22, 2005, 02:44 PM
In this area that would be a hard nut to crack. Gun show prices for Glocks run in the low $400. I know a couple of dealers, and they're basically selling these guns at profits of less than $20 and making it up on volume. These are guys working out of their homes and selling primarily at shows.

I'd hate to try to run a store and pay for my overhead out of those kind of profits.

Old Fuff
March 22, 2005, 03:01 PM

I see no reason you shouldn't consider what you are, but I would take into account what some others are saying.

That said, if you consider going ahead, do the following:

1. Check out Glock's Stocking Dealer plan, and also find out if there are any others in your area.

2. Take the necessery course, and become a certified Glock armorer. Being able to professionally service what you sell will always be a big plus, and may bring you business from others (stores, individuals and police departments) that can't or don't have armorer service.

March 23, 2005, 04:21 AM
The guy in my area that I go to for all my gun stuff is in a very small 1-man shop, it gets crowded with more than 3 people on the "customer" side of the counter. He carries a few of everything and will order whatever you want and can usually have it in a few days. I think your best bet would be to have a small selection of the more popular guns from the more popular makers, maybe 1 or 2 from each manufacturer so a customer can at least get a feel for the quality/features of that particular brand. If they want something in a different caliber or bigger/smaller than what you have you can always order it for them. I think the key for this approach would be to compete on price, especially since you don't have to throw down a bunch of money up front to keep a couple hundred guns in-stock. If you combine that with good, friendly service (making people feel welcome and taking the time to answer questions you know about, and try to get them to someone/where for questions you don't know about) I'd imagine you'd do pretty well.

My dad's friend owns an "old-people equipment" store, he sells scooters and chair lifts, stuff like that. He'll go to the trade shows, tell the manufacturer how many of each item he wants, will pay cash for all upfront and has them hold all of the items until he's ready to have them delivered. He can get really good prices since he's paying upfront and has a guaranteed number of products, but he doesn't have to worry about finding space for them which allows him to keep his rent costs low. This is contrary to the previous paragraph, but is just another idea for you to ponder. Cash is KING.

March 23, 2005, 10:59 AM
I like Glocks. I currently own a 23. But I also like (and own) of other types of handguns too. If I walked into a shop that carried only Glocks, I would not stay long. It would be....well...boring. I would not be any more excited to walk into a shop that only carried Colts, or Kimbers, or Sigs, and so on.

To even have any hope of succeeding, you will need to have a mainstream selection of firearms. You will need to appeal to as many customers as possible.

I think W Tuner is on the right track. You will need a selection ranging from entry-level/budget (but not Jennings .22 type of junk) to a few higher end models.

I like to see and feel a firearm I am interested in buying. I have walked into shops with money burning a hole in my pocket but not sure what to buy. Being able to see/feel/move action/dry fire has helped me make a purchase.

Don't be political with your inventory (although there may be exceptions to that from time to time). Don't tell someone who wants to buy a Kimber why they should by a Colt. Don't tell some who wants a 9mm why they should buy a 45. Customers may not have a clue what they want to buy. Help them find what they want, don't herd them to what you want them to buy (a sale on a low profit margin gun is better than no sale on a high profit gun).

Respect women shoppers. My wife and I have walked out of a gun shop because the salesman kept talking to me....not my wife when she was looking for her first handgun. When we found a shop that had a salesman that talked to my wife, she bought a handgun (Ruger 22/45). A good friend of hers who wanted a .357mag had to walk out of a shop because they would only talk to her about Lady Smiths. She did not want...and I quote "some little girly gun". She wanted a full sized, 4", six shot revolver, period.

Three words.... Accessories, Accessories, Accessories. Carry spare mags and holsters. Cleaning supplies, range bags, ammo...lots of ammo, etc. You will probably make more money on that stuff anyway. For me, I like one-stop shopping. I am will to pay a few extra bucks for something knowing I can get it right there and then. A package deal on a gun, cleaning supplies, targets, ammo, etc may be very attractive to a first time buyer.

Make it as obvious as you can that you are willing to order items and do transfers.

Be involved with a customer. Talk to them. Find out if they are a fist timer or go to three gun matches on a regular basis. Most first time buyers are basically scared and don't know what to do. Talk to them and make them feel comfortable about buying a firearm.

Try to have as much knowledge about your products as possible. Don't be that guy that hands a box of 45 GAP to someone who asked for 45 ACP and say it will work just fine (just an example).

Just like starting any business, it is a chicken and egg scenario. You need money to build an inventory, you need an inventory to make money. You will have a long road before you begin to see a net profit.

These are just my opinions on what I like to see at a gun shop. I know you were asking more about Glocks rather than business advice. I guess I got carried away. Glocks should be part of any inventory, plain and simple. But you will still need some selection from other manufacturers to appeal to a wider range of customers.

Good luck with your endeavor if you give it a go.

Sergeant Sabre
March 23, 2005, 11:00 AM
Glocks are good pistols, because they are adequately accurate and reliable. Also, they make pistols in .45, .40, .357sig, and 9mm and make three different sizes of each. So, on top of being a good service pistol, they make all the most desirable calibers in whatever size you want. Also, people sing about them in rap songs and they get on TV a lot. With those factors above, it's no wonder that Glock has a large share of the market.

But they don't have it all. By far. The store I work at sells more Bersa Thunder .380 pisols than any other handgun by a large margin. By not stocking them, you're missing out. You're also missing out on all of the guys who want Springfields, Kimbers, Colts, and Ruger or Browning target pistols. Let's not even think about all of the wheel-gunners you are alienating.

Yes, carry Glocks. But not only Glocks.

The Rabbi
March 23, 2005, 11:05 AM
There might be some confusion here.
I didnt say I would ONLY carry Glocks. Only that in new guns I would only carry Glocks. Used guns could be anything I thought would sell. As some others have mentioned, to get the best pricing you need to be direct with the factory and to do that means a major investment in inventory. I dont have enough money to do that with 2,3,4 manufacturers. Obviously I would be happy to order anything a particular customer wanted or do a transfer.
I wouldnt really expect to make much money on the new guns (yet another reason not to put in a big stock) as the margins on them suck. The margins on new Berettas are about 8% and who needs that? The money is to be made in used guns, trades, ammo and accessories.

March 23, 2005, 12:26 PM
Besides Glocks I would look into carrying the Springfield XD line of handguns. They are in a postion to give Glock a run for their money.

March 23, 2005, 01:34 PM
Okay, I see what you mean now. I can only speak for myself but I have bought very few used guns over the years. I can count them on one hand. I the only time I have bought a used gun is when it was a deal I could not refuse.

You are looking at new Glocks only for "new" inventory but will take trades on the new Glocks and use them for as "used" inventory and/or buy your own used guns for inventory. Correct?

I think the same issue still applies. You will do better with a mixed inventory of new firearms, IMHO.

I would really try to find out from current dealers how many people by new vs. used. Granted you have a better margin on used but there still needs to be a reason for people to walk into your shop. That reason may very well be a new gun. If you don't have what they want in a new gun (something other than a Glock) they will look elsewhere.

If I want to buy a new Sig 229 and walk into your shop only to find new Glocks, I will probably not care about your used inventory. I will go somewhere else to buy a new Sig 229. Unless you can give me a smoking deal to make it worth my while to wait for the Sig. But then, as you know, you don't have much margin to do that and what is the point of the hassle to order it if you make no money on it? Profit on accessories won't mean anything if I leave the store.

Once again, that is from my perspective (and I am nobody other than a potiental paying customer in somebody's gun shop). You really need some stats on used vs new to see if your business model will be profitable.

This is by no means intended to rain on your dream of having your own shop. I am only providing you with the opinion that I believe you will be limiting the number of poteintial customers and therefore profits.

In the end you have to follow your heart and instincts. I have no doubt someone told Sam Walton that his idea for a discount store would not work.

If it was easy, all of us would have our own gun shops. :D

March 23, 2005, 03:10 PM
Is St. petters at your door becuase your store sounds like it could be heaven. :cool: :cool:

The Rabbi
March 23, 2005, 03:21 PM
If I had 2000 new guns in inventory I would still have a very good chance at not having exactly what you wanted. And I would also have over $1M in inventory that was just sitting there. The mark-up on new guns is probably somewhere about 10-15%. Do the math: a store big enough to hold 2000 new guns (or even a mix new/used) would cost probably $5,000/month to operate. That's just breaking even, no money to the owner. At 15% markup you would have to sell about $34,000 a month. With an average sale of $600 that's about 57 guns a month, roughly 3 a day, every day. I dont know many stores doing that. I know a couple that didnt. Or knew, I should say.
People dont want a SIG 229. They want a SIG 229 with the new DAK trigger. Or one in blue. Or one in two-tone. Or whatever other variants the company makes. And at $700 they should be able to get what they want. But that doesnt mean I have to stock it. So I can stock one and mark it up 20% to cover the 6-18 months it will sit there. You'll take what's there at that price now. Or I can custom order it and mark it up 10% and you get a discount on the gun for waiting for 3 days. Your choice.

March 23, 2005, 04:41 PM
If I were only to carry one new brand it would be (flame suit on) S&W. 1 buy in gets you both revolvers and autos, including a 1911 thats getting very high marks , a polymer gun in 3 calibers and two sizes (SW99) and their standard line of autos which includes some super bargains for the less than enthusiast buyer like the Sigma series ($289.00 retail), 908 , 910 as well as the TSW line of standard S&W autos which has been trimmed to eliminate a lot of the finish variations. Plus if you live in an area that has a revolver market you can cater to that crowd as well.

The two most successful shops in my general area are both S&W stocking dealers.

my .02

The Rabbi
March 23, 2005, 04:48 PM
I thought about that. I'm an S&W stockholder so that adds to my enthusiasm. But again, how many PDs use Smiths? I know some do, but the one here does not. Actually none of the state agencies here I know of issue anything but Glock. It might be the most known name brand around (yeah yeah, Colt but they dont make anything anymore) given the penetration of LEOs. Their line is extensive but not overwhelming and everything they make is good. Smith makes some great guns. They make some real losers too (did I mention my mini-Sigma?). There is one stocking dealer near here. His prices suck and there have been rumors of non-kosher dealings. And I dont think he does too well with the line.

March 23, 2005, 04:54 PM
you may want to check and see what stipulations glock would have for you to become a dealer. i know some local shops have stopped carrying new glocks because glock insists on the dealer maintaining a certain amount of models in stock.

i might be wrong about it though. check with an real expert.

March 23, 2005, 05:24 PM
If you only stock Glocks you will hit the wall in record time.

In Knoxville we sell:

Sig vs. Glock - 4 to 1

Kimber vs. Glock - 3.5 to 1

S/A 1911 vs. Glock - 2 to 1

S/A XD vs. Glock - 3 to 1

S&W vs. Glock - 2 to 1

Glock pistols do sell, we are always reordering them, but, have to sell them at a really low mark up to move them.

If you're wanting to have a store that will stay in business you must stock what your customers are looking for, as well as what their buddy is looking for too. We were very Glock heavy for the first year and did well, but when we expanded our handgun lines we really took off.

BTW: You don't have to be a "Glock Stocking Dealer" to sell them. You can order them from your friendly neighborhood distributor all day long.

The Rabbi
March 23, 2005, 05:36 PM
How many new guns do you stock in the store?
Which make has the highest mark-up?
Which gun-makers are you direct with?
What is the difference in price between using a wholesaler and going direct?

Yes, again. Ideally I would stock everything made in every variation and so would be ready to sell to whomever came into the store. I would also need to get the best pricing from my supplier on all of them to be competitive with the other stores in the area and what someone on the Internet is selling them for. Possible but a tough nut to crack with less than $1M in the bank.

March 23, 2005, 05:48 PM
We've got a 15,000 sq ft building w/indoor range. Our total sq. ft. of pistols if roughly 2500 sq. ft., and we have roughly 300 handguns in stock and turn them over almost as soon as they hit the case. We are direct with about 20% of our lines and the rest is made up by distributors.

One big misconception people have is that Glock is direct. They are not. Their "Stocking Dealer Program" is a once a year promotion that allows you to purchase up to 15 pistols (2 per model max) for a discount. And those are purchased through a distributor, as are all subsequent Glocks purchased from then on. All the "GSD" gives you is the ability to send 1 person to become a "Certified Glock Armorer" and special pricing on parts from Glock for said "CGA."

As far as "who has the highest mark up?" I'm not sure if you mean brand, going through a dist. or going direct. Many makers will do direct, but you'll get better pricing from the distributors. Many makers won't do direct so you're left with dealing with the distributors.

As far as distributors go, there are many out there and their pricing is about the same between them. The kicker is who offers the best rates for shipping and who gets the better allotments of what's "Hot" the quickest.

The Rabbi
March 23, 2005, 06:26 PM
As far as "who has the highest mark up?" I'm not sure if you mean brand, going through a dist. or going direct. Many makers will do direct, but you'll get better pricing from the distributors. Many makers won't do direct so you're left with dealing with the distributors.

I guess my question was, which brand provides you with the best mark-up.

March 23, 2005, 07:00 PM
Used guns.

The Rabbi
March 23, 2005, 07:03 PM
Heck, I knew that. :)

March 23, 2005, 07:04 PM
Mark up is the same across the board. And the margin is about the same. Most bigger dealers mark up roughly 10% or $25 whichever is greater.

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