Who Are We?

“Multiple handgun owners tend to buy more often,
shoot a bit more and read a lot about handguns.”

Pistol rack by Hyskore

Part of my job is to make sure I have a sense of what you like when it comes to all things handgunning. Historically, since I’m basically one of you and enjoy virtually all things about handguns and related goodies, I’ve listened to my own heart. If I like it, chances are good most of you would like it too. But to make sure I’m not living in a closet, I also take reader calls and letters, attend trade shows, shoot at public ranges when I can, visit gun stores in my travels and otherwise try to keep my eyes open. What I’ve learned is we handgunners are pretty much alike — only different.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) is the political-action body for the outdoor industry. They serve manufacturers by keeping a sharp eye on litigation, laws, industry needs and trends, and are a strong right arm for gun owners and businesses in our industry. Dealers use info supplied by the NSSF to better serve their customers, and we sometimes use the info to help keep our editorial focused in a direction you’re likely to enjoy.

Recently the NSSF offered a comprehensive study on handgun ownership. After interviewing over 10,000 handgun owners, a research firm hired by the NSSF came up with some interesting facts and figures. I was surprised by a few points, and not surprised at all by others. First off — and something that didn’t surprise me — is the fact the majority of handgun owners typically own more than one handgun, with the average being 7.4 guns. I think I own a few of those “.4” guns and am determined to make them whole some day! Only one in 10 respondents own a single handgun. The majority of their handguns were purchased new, and most (91 percent) are described as pistols, which we’ll assume are semi-autos. Interestingly enough, the most popular caliber is 9mm, followed by .45 ACP and then .22.

Multiple handgun owners are motivated shooters, with the average having gone shooting 26 days in 2011, firing an average of 1,589 rounds during the year. Seventy percent are likely to buy another handgun in the next 12 months.

Single handgun owners are slightly different. They are bit younger (50 vs. 56 years for multiple owners), and half of them (52 percent) bought their handgun within the past 5 years. The younger group is also the most online focused, with 16 percent buying their handguns online. They also rely on online sources (manufacturer’s websites: 57 percent or blogs: 51 percent) to help with buying decisions. Just over 54 percent of single handgun owners are likely to buy another in the next 12 months. They use their handguns for home-defense primarily (42 percent), and non-competitive shooting (28 percent). However, 59 percent own their one handgun strictly for personal protection/defense, and 33 percent have concealed carry permits.

According to the study, “Single handgun owners mention home defense significantly more often as the main use of their most recent purchase than those who own multiple handguns (42 percent vs. 22 percent).” Also, both groups didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about their purchase, with an average of 3 months or less between deciding on buying and making the purchase. Accessory purchases tended toward holsters (69 percent), cleaning kits (58 percent) and defensive ammunition (52 percent). On average, 73 percent of purchased ammo is centerfire, with 27 percent rimfire. Average ammo purchases are 200 rounds of centerfire and 506 rounds of rimfire (a bit more than a “brick” of .22).

It’s nice to know almost 70 percent of us like to shoot with one or more friends, and almost 60 percent of us have introduced someone to shooting handguns in the last 12 months. Keep it up! I was interested to note 52 percent of us shoot on private land (shows where shooters tend to live?), 42 percent at public ranges and 33 percent at private gun clubs.

Sources And Brands

I confess it made me happy to see magazine articles are the “most-referenced” info source for handgun purchases 40 percent of the time; with manufacturer’s websites listed as 49 percent of the time, and online forums and blogs at 38 percent. According to the survey, a majority of shooters rely on print and online info sources before making a purchase.

One fact stood out to me, and you might find it of note. Multiple handgun owners tended to rely on a cross-section of articles, online sources and friends to make a buying decision. Single handgun owners tended to rely heavily on the advice of a trusted friend for their first purchase, then used other resources for more info. The lesson is to be available if someone you’ve introduced to shooting needs your advice to make that all-important first purchase!

A point that semi-surprised me in the “Importance of Information Sources” section, a television advertisement was listed as “important” only 5 percent of the time when making a purchasing decision, for both classes of handgun owners. Overall (for both classes of owners), 55 percent ranked magazine articles as important when making a buying decision. So there, TV.

What brands are owned? Among all handgun owners, 38 percent own Rugers, 33 percent S&W, 17 percent Glock, 15 percent Taurus, 14 percent Springfield, 13 percent Colt, 10 percent SIG SAUER, 9 percent Beretta, 7 percent Browning and 7 percent Kimber (with others listed at lower rates). Note, some own multiple brands, of course.

So, it looks like multiple handgun owners tend to buy more often, shoot a bit more and read a lot about handguns. First-time purchasers ask the advice of friends before buying, but once they own one handgun, often look to purchase another within a year and rely heavily on online info sources. From what I can tell interacting with you, most Handgunner readers own multiple handguns, but we do have a growing body of new/first-time owners. So, a nod of my head to you old-timers, and a hearty welcome to the new team! Let’s make sure we help ’em out.

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