Without a doubt one of the biggest mistakes I see new gun owners make is blindly trusting sales associate’s recommendations and making a purchase based purely on that. They defend this decision with, “They know more than you, they work at a gun store.” They have a false beliefs that gun store employees are:
1. More knowledgeable than anyone else.
2. Aren’t out to swindle them.
In order to combat the bad information produced by the sales associates across the United States I reached out to a good friend of mine that’s employed by a high volume dealer that’s familiar with many of the incentive programs sales associates have to push certain brands.
At the time of writing this article, my friend requested to remain anonymous. They’re still in the industry and this could negatively impact them.
While my friend isn’t familiar with all of the incentive programs that exist in the firearm industry, he’s familiar with two of the most common. These are used by both firearm manufacturers and accessory manufacturers alike.
Type 1: A sales associate gets points via submitting pictures of receipts to the manufacturer. Points add-up over time and result in free products.
Type 2: A sales associate gets points via submitting pictures of the 4473, specifically the page that shows the information on the firearm & date of sale. This may have changed recently with the change to the 4473 that puts the firearm’s information on the front page with the purchaser’s private information. My friend isn’t entirely sure though as they don’t participate in any of these programs.
Springfield Armory: Springfield Armory only requires an image of the receipt for an individual to gain a point for the sale. The following are the point requirements/rewards a sales associate can get:
Hellcat: 30 points
GI 1911: 30 points
XDM: 35 points
Saint: 40 points
M1A: 55 points
TRP 1911: 60 points
Sig Sauer: Sig Sauer also offers a similar incentive program for sales associates. An associate submits a picture of the receipt and the Sig representative confirms the serial number/date of sale on their end. Each submission is worth ~50 points.
If you see a store pushing Sig’s in an oddly hard way, chances are there’s a chance to earn additional (up to 10x more) points per sale at that time.
Sig’s incentive program does change regularly based on the products that they’re trying to offload at any given time (including optics). In order to reach a free firearm sales associates do have to sell substantially more than for a Springfield.
While not super accurate, here’s an example of the point requirements for associates to get free guns from Sig:
P320: ~3,500-9,500 points (depending on the model)
P365: ~5,000 points
P226: ~6,000 points
MPX: ~17,000 points
There’s also different tiers for their incentive program/different incentive programs. For instance there’s “Sig Elite Dealers” who have to post daily on social media pushing Sig Sauer’s products. As an example, here’s a screenshot from an Elite Dealer’s photo feed:
Leupold/Vortex: Leupold and Vortex share very similar incentive programs for sales associates. When an associate sells a product from either company they save a copy of the receipt. After the associate has amassed a collection of sales receipts they send them into their respective company.
Leopold or Vortex then assigns a value to the receipts they’ve received which the sales associate can use to claim free products.
It’s not only big box stores like Cabela’s that participates in programs such as these, small local shops can participate in them as well. You should not feel like your local shop is exempt from being influenced by these programs just because they’re small.
There’s two thing I want to clarify as we close this article out. First and foremost, not all sales associates are sacks of shit that push products specifically to get themselves free stuff. Many of them push customers to look at different superior products that don’t yield them a sales trophy.
To avoid the bad clerks, go in with a list of questions you know the answer to, and ask them. If they answer incorrectly, leave. (Ex: “Are grip safeties really beneficial?” or “What has the most stopping power?”)
A message from my friend to all of you:
“A sales associate’s job is to sell products, not to educate customers. It’s wrong to expect them to know anything more than how to process the transaction. Seek education from educators.”
Secondly, not all manufacturers have incentive programs that get free product into the hands of sales associates and some of them only have the incentive programs to reward their high volume dealers that almost only sell their brand exclusively; such as Glock.
Now that those two things have been clarified, I hope you’ve enjoyed this PSA and that you go into the gun store armed with some knowledge of your own.