Business Blog

Understanding the American Firearms Buyer


Gun Sales Up! Gun Sales at All-Time High! You’ve read dozens, perhaps hundreds of headlines like that over the past few years. Indeed, gun enthusiasts have been on an unprecedented spending spree. Some estimates place the number of guns owned by Americans at more than 300 million.


If you’re in the firearms or outdoors industry, you’re no doubt tuned into those facts. Now, the National Shooting Sports Foundation is helping retailers gain a better understanding of who’s buying all those guns, and why. This is vitally important to figure out who their customers are and what other products and accessories they might be interested in.


Here is a sneak peek at a new consumer segmentation analysis conducted by the NSSF, Southwick Associates and The Brand Depot, LLC. It drives home the point that not all gun owners are the same. Their motivations to purchase vary widely. Take a look at this snapshot, which summarizes how the analysts broke down the various segments to make them easier to study, and think a bit about what type of consumer you’re trying to focus on in your business.


Consumer Segment Percentage of Buyers Since 2000 Females
Hunter 11% 25%
Collector 8% 24%
Social Shooter 8% 25%
Skills Builder 12% 43%
Urban Recruits 4% 34%
Protector 26% 34%
Guardian Gary 15% 0%
Debbi Defense 15% 100%


Hunter - As the name implies, the Hunter owns firearms for the purpose of hunting. One of the older and most rural segments, the Hunter is not concerned about concealability, but seeks quality while remaining price sensitive.


Collector - Not necessarily looking for rare or antique firearms, this mostly-male Collector segment wants to possess different types of firearms. Slightly older and wealthier than the other segments, they hunt and shoot, but are not avid participants. Price and versatility are not a concern.


Social Shooter - Diverse in its rural versus suburban spread, the Social Shooter is interested in firearms as a way to spend time with friends. Price is a concern, and versatility is desired in a firearm. After the Hunter segment, this group is more likely to purchase a long gun than other segments.


Skills Builder - Suburban with modest incomes, the Skills Builder is not outdoorsy and is the youngest of all segments. With higher rates of female and minority participation, this segment

does not own many firearms but wants to be proficient with the firearms they own. Concealability and low weight reflect their interest in personal protection.


Urban Recruits - Urban Recruits have lower income, are price conscious and seek versatility in their firearm purchases. Largely urban and suburban, these relatively new owners have the highest proportion of minorities (25%), low rates of target shooting participation, and the highest rates of law enforcement and military background.


Protector - The largest segment, the Protector is typically a family-oriented professional with slightly above average income. They do not describe themselves as outdoorsy, but strongly define themselves as protective of their families and home and know what they want in a firearm when they visit the retailer.


Guardian Gary - Guardian Gary is another distinctly different protection-oriented segment. This all-male segment is a slightly older buyer who is more likely to define himself as tech savvy, analytical and old-fashioned. He is not a hunter but enjoys the outdoors. Personal protection away-from-home is a lesser concern than keeping the homefront safe. Not interested in recreational shooting.


Debbie Defense - An all-female segment, Debbie Defense is interested in personal protection, at- and away from home. Young and more ethnically diverse, she enjoys the outdoors. Debbie Defense wants concealability and light weight in a firearm, but is not set on specific product features or brands when she starts shopping for firearms. Recreational shooting is of little interest.


Editor’s Note: We’ll keep you up to date on these and other trends here at the Realtree Business Blog, always with the goal of helping you grow your business. To find out more about how Realtree and your brand or business can share success, contact us today!