TAKING STOCK

Everything an AR-15 maker says consumers want in their gun

This is the stock of the Ruger AR-556, an AR-15 type gun made by Sturm Ruger. The stock is one of many customizable components that make AR-style weapons popular. Ruger isn’t the only company that manufactures this type of gun, but its corporate discussions with shareholders and analysts provide insight into just what it is that gun buyers are looking for.

The ability to customize makes the AR-15 an option for a variety of markets. This gun has a telescoping stock, pistol grip, and flash suppressor, all of which can run afoul of gun laws in certain jurisdictions.

We have very kind of obscure and obtuse regulations relating to certain stock configurations. This one here, [is] produced with the Hera stock, designed to make it legal and compliant in the State of California.

Chris Killoy, as CEO

May 9, 2017

Annual shareholder meeting

The ability to customize and personalize an AR-15 has more than regulatory appeal.

There’s a lot of cool things that you can add onto an AR.

Chris Killoy, as CEO

Aug. 3, 2017

Quarterly earnings call

The rear sight on this model collapses, allowing it to remain connected to the gun while other aiming devices are being used.

When you’re looking to choosing optics, for example, you have to be careful you don’t over-niche the product and pick – make a choice for your consumer that they might prefer to make on their own.

Chris Killoy, as CEO

Nov. 1, 2017

Quarterly earnings call

The use of components with standardized attachment slots allows for further accessorizing.

A lot of these, again, mix-and-match combinations, calibers, scopes, stocks, things that…get the consumer excited to get off the couch, come into the gun store and look at his next Ruger purchase.

Chris Killoy, as CEO

May 9, 2017

Annual shareholder meeting

Price is important, too. AR-15-type guns are often described as “affordable.”

With the AR-556 program. Where, based on the promotion we had there, we netted the price down from the kind of the average street price from $599 down to $499, and that had a very measurable impact at retail.

Chris Killoy, as CEO

Aug 3, 2017

Quarterly earnings call

The price is a reason Ruger says it is able to win sales to police departments.

We have done some law enforcement sales on the AR-556 because it hits a very attractive price point as great quality product.

Chris Killoy, as COO

Nov. 2, 2016

Quarterly earnings call

Last year, Ruger was even worried that deals in the marketplace had reached too far, as smaller manufacturers dropped their prices to near-cost levels.

There was a lot of discounting. You saw prices out there for some of the off-brand ARs going down to $399, and it was some very, very heavy discounting.

Chris Killoy, as CEO

Nov 1, 2017

Quarterly earnings call

Primarily though, Killoy says sales are driven by making things that customers can get excited about.

As long as you come out with something new and that excites consumers, even in a category like the [AR-15], you can still get their attention and you can get some of those discretionary dollars.

Chris Killoy, as CEO

Nov. 1, 2017

Quarterly earnings call

For instance, a gun with beige components found a welcome market.

We did one of our AR-556s made down in Mayodan, we call it FDE, it’s flat dark earth, that’s just a color, very popular with the military.

Chris Killoy, as CEO

May 9, 2017

Annual shareholder meeting

Of course, there’s another factor: politics.

We just have to encourage our customer base to get back up in the range, burn up some ammo, enjoy the sport, and get back into the store and you remember how much fun it is to start buying a few more guns for fun, not just because you think they might be banned in the future.

Chris Killoy, as CEO

Aug. 3, 2017

Quarterly earnings call

You’ll find that those products that are most at risk from political fix are the ones that have the greatest volatility. When the volume level of the politics increases, their sales skyrocket. And when it tapers off, those sales plummet.

Michael Fifer, as then CEO

Nov. 2, 2016

Quarterly earnings call

Images provided by Ruger

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