Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Boomsticks: Love is blind.

*Ring!* *Ring!*

"Coal Creek Armory, Tamara speaking. May I help you?"

"Yeah, do you got any Blastomatic 2000's?"

"No sir, I don't have any Blastomatics in stock at all."

"You expecting any in?"

"I'll happily special order you one, but I don't currently stock any Blastomatics. You can read into that what you will."

"You just hate Blastomatics, don't you?" *Click!*

Truthfully, I don't think I "hate" any brand of guns. There are plenty out there that don't do a thing for me, and that I wouldn't buy for myself, but that's because I know what I like and spend my limited personal money on those guns. If I ordered inventory based on what I like, the store would contain nothing but old S&W revolvers, antique military rifles, and $1,000+ custom 1911's. And we'd have one customer: Me.

Because I am in the business of selling guns, however, I have to stock what all kinds of people like. Because showcase space and dollars are finite, I won't be stocking everything. Because our business model is based on happy repeat customers coming into the store and giving us their money over and over again, I sometimes make stocking decisions that raise the hackles of the brand loyal.

I'll call a spade a spade: The "Blastomatic" from the initial phone conversation was Taurus. For about an eight month stretch, I didn't stock in any new Taurus handguns. This isn't because I "hate" them; I don't have the energy or the inclination to "hate" a gun brand. This isn't because I have no experience with them: I've owned several Taurus handguns myself in the past and had satisfying ownership experiences with each of them. More importantly, I'd sold hundreds and hundreds of them over the previous decade, and they seemed to offer good value for the money to the customers. Then, in early '05 something happened. Maybe it was a statistical fluke, but I wound up sending more Taurus handguns back for warranty work right out of the box in a three or four month stretch than I had in the past several years combined:

1) We ordered 25 stainless Model 85's to sell as part of a "CCW Package", with a certificate for our CCW course, eyes, ears, and a box of ammo included. Of those guns, six wound up having to go back to Taurus, for problems as diverse as a hand too short to rotate the cylinder, a cylinder stop bolt that didn't, and congenital absence of a single action sear.

2) We never stocked the 24/7, but we transferred three through the shop. All three went back to Taurus for warranty work.

3) Of the 8 Taurus Model 94's that have passed through my logbook since X-mas '04, two have been shipped back to Miami. One of them took two trips.

4) We sold five Taurus Model 905 IB's in the same period. All but one have gone back to the factory. One had so much endshake right out of the box that it wouldn't reliably light off primers. It went back to Taurus for a fixin'. They didn't. Customer pissed. We shipped it back again with a note saying "Please stretch crane this time!"

Now, there are some guns by the company that I expect problems from (the non-"Pro" Millenniums have had a pretty abysmal track record over the years, for instance,) but the small-frame revolvers are their bread-and-butter guns; the bugs in that design were worked out when dinosaurs roamed the earth. So I reluctantly decided to hold off on stocking new Taurus handguns even though they had once been a great profit center for me, because I didn't want to use my customers as guinea pigs for the company's newly-spotty QC.

Bring this up on an internet gunboard, and you're a hater. Joe Smith has had three Taurus pistols and they're all great and how dare you insult his guns! You're just a snob! Stupid gun store clerks don't know anything!

It gets hard to take, which is why I just don't bother anymore.

As a postscript, I'm a big believer in time and tide changing all things. Back in July, I experimentally started stocking a few Taurus small-frame revolvers back in. Five or six Model 85's and a Model 94 or two later, there haven't been any complaints. Maybe things are shaping up for Taurus. We'll see...


Anonymous said...

I've put about 2000 rounds through my 1999-vintage PT911, and thankfully it works rather well.

It does have a problem where the magazine eject button rotates around so that it won't work properly. Doesn't bother much, so I don't worry about it though since I'd rather have my little carry piece on me than send it away for 3-6 weeks.

fuzzbert_1999@yahoo.com said...

What about the new TAURUS PT1911 .45 ACP? Any experience with it?

Anonymous said...

I understand the way you feel. Many years ago I purchased a M85 in stainless for the ex before she was the ex; it was a decent little J frame when J frames were having a rough time from S&W. I always liked the little pistol, but I haven't seen it in about 15 years now. I don't mind that at all, since the ex was in posession of it at that time.

About 7 years ago during pretty lean times I picked up a pair of PT111's. The price was definitely right, the size and caliber was a good fit for the need, and best of all, SWMBO would assent to carry it.

Yeah, they have a trigger pull like trying to drag a piano down a gravel road with your fingertips. I did smooth mine up a little by dry-firing it a couple of thousand times after doing a little polishing on the striker and channel. It's still a $200 pistol (at best) and that's not going to change the fact that it was purchased stricly as goblin repellent in tough times.

It's sure not a Glock, but it's not exactly an RG, either. I bought it because it's what I could afford at the time, but when I could afford better, I bought a SIG. I like the price points for Taurus, I appreciate the lifetime warranty, and I think they have a niche in the marketplace. I think it's great if you can't afford more, but if you can, step up a level.

I still own both and don't have an intention to sell them, even though we've both moved to better pistols-she, to a 1911. I don't foresee buying more Taurii in my future, though.

I've been an influence in the sale of Taurii to others at my local neighborhood firearms emporium and I sleep well at night.


Anonymous said...

I still haven't forgiven Taurus for discontinuing those gorgeous little Ti big-bore snubbies in .44SPL and .45 Colt. 5 rounds of flaming pain in a blue anodized 20oz package you can hold in the palm of your hand? Hell yes!

I've never quite understood those who have enough wrapped up in their hardware to take personal umbrage when said tools are criticized. I find the Glock and H&K kool-aid drinkers particularly amusing.

"Glocks don't blow up! The shooter was limp-wristing! Or reloaded lead bullets! Or limp-wristed his reloads! Gaston is GOD!!"

"Yes, the magazines are $60! I don't see the SAS / GSG9 / Seal Team 6 complaining about the price of magazines! I'm PROUD to pay $250 for a flashlight that I can't use on other pistols!"

You're more than welcome to make fun of my Chinese 1911. What people think of my piece is much less important than what I can do with it!

Hobie said...

Sounds to me as though you know how to run your business...

FWIW, if you stocked what you'd like you'd have two customers. I'd likely move there.

Anonymous said...

I've had one problem with the firing spring return spring sticking with my Taurus Ultra-lite. Too much dry firing according too the "smith". Service repair, free, took less than 5 minutes and years of trouble free service after that.

I never had a whisper of trouble from my Glock 17. I bought it as a back up for my issue revolver when they first came out. Accurate and never jammed. Sold it after I no longer needed it. I don't have anything againist them. Just never bonded.

Hey Rabbit! I bought my second ex a stainless 85 just before the end of that relationship. I miss that gun ;-)

I'm with you on your gunshop preference Tam. Smith are so smooth and I love the history of my old milsurps. The solid feel of a 1911 .45 is an anchor when there's trouble about!


BobG said...

I only own one Taurus, the 44 special 2" snubbie. Haven't had any problems with it, myself. Most people don't see as many guns as a person in the business, so I tend to give more weight to someone who sells/trades them for a living.

Zendo Deb said...

Everything goes in waves. No doubt there is some cost-concious bean-counter newly hired at Taurus who thought he could cut corners and make more money.... add it warranty problems and people like you dropping them from inventory, and well those corners make comeback to cut that bean-counter.

Fletch said...

How odd that most people don't seem to understand some basic laws of economics.

If you don't sell items that most people want, you don't make money. If sell items that few people want, you make little money, and take up space that could be filled with items that people DO want.

Why do people take everything so personally nowadays?

theirritablearchitect said...

"Why do people take everything so personally nowadays?"

Because kids are taught to pay attention to their feelings these days, in detriment to their schooling.

Thin skinned nancy-boys, that's the reason.

Porta's Cat said...

My travails with the 24/7 are now the top "google search" on "taurus 24/7 .45 review", I think.

I, too, had (and still do) a VERY servicable Taurus 66 in .357, bought back when WalMart still sold handguns and I hadn't been married yet. Love that gun. Got a chance to "get a free 24/7" and I loved it all up until the time I took it to the range. The sad thing about that is that many people have had that exact same experience. For a "factory stock" semi, the Taurus 24/7 is sweet in the hand, has a nice trigger, and looks the part. It just can't walk the walk.

Anyhow, what was the other part of the blog entry again?

fuzzbert_1999@yahoo.com said...

We sort of answered our own question:

My brother-in-law bought one of the new TAURUS PT1911 .45 ACPs today and on the 3rd clip the extractor sheered. The seller replaced the gun the same day, so time will tell if it was a fluke or shoddy manufacturing.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you Tammy, I used to be in the business and while I'm no fan of Glock if that's what a customer wanted I'd order one. As for getting a run of defective guns I would do as you, hold off on stocking them until whatever their problem was is corrected, Returns cost in time, money and customer goodwill, the last being an intangible but important all the same. Few ever get rich in the gun business but it's still worth the effort.

Anonymous said...

I am definately not going to flame you. I carry a PT24/7 in 9mm, but like anything mechanical (i.e. like my Jeep) guns can have problems. I definately commend you for not wanting to use your customers as testers for Taurus. I'd buy a Taurus 94 if I didn't want to end up having to buy new grips right away (to small for me) because I've shot one and its a great little gun. Every one has their opinions and while I'd much rather carry a $1000+ 1911A1 (except with a long trigger) I carry the Taurus because I can afford it.

Anonymous said...

Taurus sucks. So does CCA.

Anonymous said...

"Taurus sucks. So does CCA."

Thank you for filling out the complaint card.

Your detailed description of the areas we needed to improve has helped us make things better for future customers. :)