Gun Related Article from the Boston Globe


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dk-corriveau
August 13, 2006, 09:19 AM
Just a business article I thought some of you might be interested in.

What the best-dressed weapons are wearing this season
By Rob Walker | August 13, 2006

When Steve Lauer developed DuraCoat, it was a technical innovation with a practical application. In the few years that it has been on the market, it has been adapted to serve an aesthetic function, as well. While such adaptations seem to happen all the time these days, there are still some objects that seem unlikely subjects for snazzy customization. Guns, for example.

But if you visit the website of Lauer Custom Weaponry, you'll see quite an impressive array of graphic treatments that can be given, through a DuraCoat spray-on process, to a pistol, a shotgun, a carbine, or a semiautomatic rifle for between $50 and $100.

DuraCoat Camopacks with Peel 'n Spray templates come in varieties like Bengal (a brown-and-white pattern with bold black tiger stripes), Advanced AmStripe (a black, green, and tan pattern that is one of several designed by Lauer's 22-year-old daughter Amy) and Diamond Plate (to make a gun look like a sheet of diamond-plate aluminum).

Most of his patterns are not the hyperrealistic sort favored by hunters, although some, including a popular digital-camo pattern, are military-inspired. Many simply look ``striking, to say the least," as a review in a magazine called Guns & Weapons for Law Enforcement put it. Another option is to go with one of DuraCoat's ``Electric Colors," like sunburst yellow, lime green, rose, or lavender.

Lauer wasn't thinking about decorative possibilities when he was developing DuraCoat, which he began selling in 2002. He runs a paint-and-drywall company, as well as a construction business, in Chippewa Falls, Wis. He has a finishing shop, where much of the work involves doors and refrigerators and the like, and he lets his employees use the equipment on their own projects after hours.

Sometimes those projects included putting finishes on guns to protect them from weather and rust. Lauer noticed that the available gun-finishing processes were a hassle, involving primers or etching or baking, and nothing seemed to work on all parts of the gun. After several years of tinkering, he came up with DuraCoat, which can be easily applied and works on stainless steel, carbon steel, alloys, synthetics, and even Teflon.

He soon got attention from manufacturers. For example, DPMS Inc., a maker of AR-15- and M-16-style rifles, became a customer. But he has found another audience among ``hobbyists, small gun shops, and gunsmiths," he says. He even has a small shop in his facility, where he pays attention to what the walk-ins say about the DuraCoated guns they buy: ``If you listen to their conversations, half of them are about the protection, and the other half are about the cool factor."

Carol Vinzant, the author of a recent book about the firearms industry, ``Lawyers, Guns, and Money," says one reason the ``cool factor" might matter is that there's been little technical innovation in the consumer-gun market for decades. ``The last real technological innovator in the gun industry was John Browning," she says. ``And he died in 1926."

And while the gun shopper has traditionally treated his or her firearms as quasi-sacred items, maybe even this category is not immune to customization in an era of ``Pimp My Ride," laser-etched laptops, and an infinite number of cellphone covers. ``Gun owners and retailers are having fun with the color combinations," The Chippewa Herald recently wrote in an upbeat profile of Lauer's business. ``The possibilities are endless."

The possibility of multicolored weapons prompted Mayor Michael Bloomberg to sign legislation in July banning the sale of gun-coloring kits in New York. (This complements an earlier law banning toy guns in realistic colors; the point is to minimize confusion between real and toy firearms.) Lauer was promptly interviewed by about 30 reporters who, he says, generally didn't seem to know much about guns or gun owners.

He says his customer base is not urban bad guys but rather rural gun owners who take safety seriously. He adds that he sells to law-enforcement agencies that use blue-colored guns for training and to search-and-rescue operations that use yellow or orange guns, as well as to competitive shooters who simply want to stand out.

And while basic, functional, nonsnazzy matte black is still the ``big seller" and is used for its practical rustproofing qualities, creative aesthetics have been good for business. Between DuraCoat's practical and style-oriented applications, Lauer doesn't see business slowing down anytime soon. ``There's a lot of guns," he says. ``There's far more than you'd ever imagine."

Rob Walker writes the Consumed column for The New York Times Magazine.

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4v50 Gary
August 13, 2006, 10:27 AM
Thanks for sharing.:D

PromptCritical
August 13, 2006, 11:18 PM
The possibility of multicolored weapons prompted Mayor Michael Bloomberg to sign legislation in July banning the sale of gun-coloring kits in New York.

Well, since they've already dealt with all the other problems New York has....:rolleyes:

Wes Janson
August 13, 2006, 11:28 PM
I think I would personally argue that the last bit of innovation was the Glock, but that's just me. And it really wasn't much of an innovation either, compared to what Browning did.

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