bodyguardEdward WilksThe Tradesmen, Rifle, Colo.

At The Tradesmen, owner Edward Wilks sees a number of related trends that begin with more women than ever taking the establishment’s concealed carry certification class.

“It used to be, out of a class of 16, I’d have maybe two women,” says Wilks. “Now, at least half my students are women and sometimes more.”

The handguns these ladies favor? BUGS, or what are often called “back-up guns,” because of their smaller size—usually semi-automatic pistols chambered in .380 Auto. The Smith & Wesson Bodyguard semi in .380 is his top seller right now, and for just under $400 customers get one with a laser sight.

More than ever, self-defense handgun ammunition is moving off the shelves here, too. Again, .380 Auto leads the pack, this time in the form of the Civil Defense 50-grain loads made by Liberty Ammunition.

Across the board, long gun sales are way down. “Shotgun sales are dead,” says Wilks. “I’m selling a few rifles—but only a few.”

However, fully automatic firearms are moving surprisingly well here, despite the fact that they are very expensive. Wilks recently moved a pair of consecutively serial-numbered full-auto M-16s, for example, for over $20,000 apiece.

Optics are big movers, too, and the market here, Wilks notes, has shifted. “We used to sell a lot of $50 to $100 rifle scopes,” he says. “Now, people are spending $300 and up for a nice Leupold or Vortex model. Spotting scopes, rangefinders and binoculars are steady sellers, too.”


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