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How Gunsmiths and Small Local Gun Shops are Surviving (and Thriving) through the “Retail Apocalypse”

Manufacturing Design for 3D Printing Metal 3D Printing firearms stainless steel

gunsmith_metal_3D_printing.jpgJust a few months ago, Gander Mountain filed for bankruptcy—shutting down some of the largest firearms superstores in the country and proving that practically no industry is safe from what commentators are calling the “Retail Apocalypse.”

Gander Mountain isn’t alone either.

Gunsmiths and smaller local gun shops (often seen as an important pillar of the gun community) are starting to feel the strain as well.

Competing with online vendors who have millions in buying power, ship guns for free, and don’t charge sales tax, it’s hard for a local shop to keep up with the prices offered by websites like Sportsman’s Outdoor Superstore.

These local gun shops are vital for educating new shooters, bringing them into the hobby, and helping them choose their first or second gun. But once that shooter is on to buying his tenth gun, he/she doesn’t really need their help anymore, and is more concerned than anything else.

That’s why a handful of gunsmiths and local gun shops are changing things up—and getting into manufacturing …

Capitalizing on cutting-edge technology like 3D printing and Additive Manufacturing, local shops are leveraging their firearms experience & expertise to create new aftermarket parts and upgrades for popular weapons platforms. Ranging from 3D-printed polymer grips and components to MIM-spec 17-4PH stainless steel muzzle devices, triggers and more.

Unlike traditional manufacturing, these 21st Century techniques don’t require millions in up-front cash outlay. You don’t have to purchase any specialized hardware or deal with massive production orders. Instead, with an additive manufacturer like 3DEO, you can “pay as you go,” with orders as small a hundred units at a time and no up-front equipment purchases.

So let’s say, for example, that your shop’s gunsmith has some ideas about how to improve on traditional flash hiders for AR-15’s. All you’d have to do is draw up your designs, ship them to 3DEO, specify a desired quantity (anywhere from 100 to 10,000), and your creation will be included in the next production batched, billed to your account then shipped right away. You retain all rights to your new creation, all you have to do is brand it, package it, and sell it.

If it doesn’t sell, no harm done. You’re only out the production cost on the first 100 units. But if it does sell, then 3DEO can help you scale up your operation and keep the cash flowing for years to come; meeting demand and keeping you from “selling out” on your hottest new product.

This unique solution provides a few important advantages for local gun shops and gunsmiths:

  • It allows you to provide a unique new product that your competition can’t replicate or undercut, insulating future revenue and boosting your profit margins.
  • It lets you leverage your expertise to start building a unique brand that customers will want to support. That means instead of being one of a dozen gun shops, you become the only AK-47 specialist in the tri-county area.
  • It’s the most cost-effective manufacturing opportunity in American history—giving you the chance to turn a relatively microscopic investment into the foundation for the next Magpul.

When the going gets tough, the tough adapt and survive.

3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing are already a viable alternative allowing gunsmiths and local gun shops to leverage their unique expertise into a product line that can potentially save their businesses and help them better serve customers.