Scoping handguns: increase your sales by helping customers gain a shooting edge.

Author:Diss, Mark

Handguns are likely a main feature of your gun shop. You probably carry them all: handguns for self-defense, handguns for hunting, handguns for target shooting and handguns for competition. In addition, you have all the accessories to go with them, from cleaning kits to cases.

But what about handgun optics? Do you sell many of them? Many dealers don't, often because optics aren't the first add-on that come to mind when they sell handguns. Plus, handgun optics are different from riflescopes and selling them effectively takes a different approach.

Do You Have A Market?

If you have customers who are handgun hunters, they'll find using a scope beneficial.

"The problem with open sights is the very short sight radius," said Chris Lalik, of Bushnell. "Any kind of scope makes a huge difference in terms of shot placement and the ability to shoot at the beginning and end of the day."

For your customers who are competition shooters, the decision to scope their handgun depends on the kind of events they are entering. In IDPA, for instance, shooters can't use optics. In other competitions, it depends on class.

"Some games have two classes, with optics as the defining issue," said Ken Jorgensen, of Smith & Wesson. Competition shooters who use optics often shoot red dot sights, he said.

"That's where red dots and sights with heads up displays really come into their own," Jorgensen said. "You find the dot, put it on the target, pull the trigger and move on. In a lot of competition shooting, reaction time is the name of the game. You have to have good hits fast."

Scopes also help mature shooters continue in the sport longer, because finding iron sights through bifocals and trifocals can be challenging.

Match The Scope--Don't Oversell Power

Handgun optics come in three categories: traditional crosshair scopes, red dots and holographic sights. If your customer is putting a traditional scope on a handgun, be sure to sell him one that has long eye relief.

Many handgun shooters use a 2x or 3x fixed-power scope. Even handgun scopes with low power have a small field of view because of the long eye relief. Going to a higher magnification reduces the field-of-view even farther.

"One problem most variable handgun scopes have is as you turn the magnification up, your eye relief shortens," Lalik said. "At about 5-power, the handgun is close to your head. so you're not shooting with the same position."

Another issue with higher-power scopes is stability.

"Once you get...

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