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Shooting Industry March 2012 Digital Edition - Page 20

Defense Personal Defense Market Guns And Gear For Geezers Massad Ayoob I t is a generally accepted fact in the firearms industry: The average age of “civilian” gun owners is creeping upward. Many of your best customers, enthusiastic gun collectors and shooters are getting older — and becoming, like myself, “gun geezers.” In addition, in troubled economic times, we’re seeing some folks who have reached retirement age without feeling the need to own a firearm, but are developing that need now. When catering to the youth market, the big thing is finding a gun that fits a still-growing body. At the opposite end of the age demographic scale, it’s more a matter of finding one that’s easier to operate effectively with deteriorating physical strength and eyesight. Self-proclaimed gun geezer Massad Ayoob likes this Geezer Gun with Geezer Sights. The Glock 17 fires soft-kicking 9mm, and features easy-to-see Advantage Tactical sights. Addressing Ease Of Manipulation Issues our grayer customers may have a rheumatologist on speeddial. Arthritis. Bursitis. Old injuries that don’t just flare up anymore — they sometimes keep burning. And, of course, the gradual decrease in physical strength and loss of muscle tissue that come with advancing years. Suddenly, Old Joe the Platinum Class Customer finds he can’t run his favorite blaster with the same alacrity as in his salad days. One reason striker-fired polymer pistols are so popular these days is because their slides are easier to “rack.” The operator is not struggling against a hammer that’s holding the slide forward with the considerable power of the mainspring, and not just a recoil spring. Of course, you can show the customer how to cock the hammer beforehand to alleviate that extra pressure, but it’s an extra new trick to teach an old dog. Y The lighter weight of the polymer-frame guns is also an advantage. When we think “old age,” we can’t help but think of hip replacements, lower back problems and more. Lighter handguns are more comfortable for anyone to carry, but the weight alleviation is particularly appreciated by those with bad hips and aching lower backs. Recoil is another issue. One very strong trend I see among my fellow “seniors” is ratcheting down from their old favorite .45 to a 9mm — simply because the recoil is so much lighter. When I was young, shooting full-power .44 Magnum was exhilarating. Now, it’s simply uncomfortable, and on the days when the arthritis is acting up, it’s downright painful. When discussing this with a customer, it’s a good idea to make sure your ammo shelf includes some modern, high-tech, high-performance 9mm hollowpoint. Many of your customers in this age group imprinted on the handgun back in the day before such ammo was available. It was a rule of thumb then that you got your best “stopping power” from a larger-caliber handgun, and that going down from .45 to 9mm was lowering your ability to project fight-stopping wound potential. The gap between the two calibers has become much narrower with today’s ammunition. Its ready availability makes the purchase of a new 9mm a lot more palatable to someone who has spent decades getting peace of mind from the presence of the .45 that is now painful to shoot. In the long-gun/home-defense realm, the 12-gauge shotgun was the standard tool for protecting hearth and home during your geezer customer’s formative years. He may think of the 20-gauge only as a quail gun, and scoff at the current sales of .410chambered firearms for home defense. Ammo Suggestions Light-kicking 20-gauge is no slouch for home defense. Seen here is 8-pellet NML Custom #1 buckshot load for 20-gauge. 20 MARCH 2012 Subscribe to SI DIGITAL

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