“Start Them Young” – Guns in a Rainbow of Colors

According to Shooting Sports Retailer, “More companies are offering pistols, rifles and shotguns built for smaller-framed shooters these days, with a dizzying array of models, colors and calibers to choose from. Making sure your customers get the best fit could help bring the next generation into the shooting sports.”27 The article, “The Best Guns for Smaller Shooters,” warns:

Youth with orange pistol NRA PA
Photo from NRA’s 2014 Great American Outdoor Show (VPC)

Lenin was famously quoted as saying “Give me just one generation of youth, and I’ll transform the whole world.” With this in mind, developing the next generation in the shooting sports isn’t just a business decision: The survival of the firearms world depends on the political will of those who come after us, which is a direct result of their involvement in the shooting sports.

So for reasons both fiscal and political, it’s critical to provide products well-suited to young shooters. Although these guns have traditionally been called “youth models,” when we started looking at the current offerings, we saw many called “compact” versions instead. This implicitly points out that while we’re using age as our primary qualifier, the features that make a gun well matched for young people also help the gun fit other shooters who are small of stature, such as females.28

Most common are pink guns for women and girls. At the online Sportsman’s Outdoor Superstore, potential buyers can browse “Guns with Color,” which includes pistols, revolvers, rifles (including numerous assault rifles), and shotguns. Under pink pistols are weapons from Beretta, Browning, Cobra, Kel-Tec, SCCY, Ruger, Sig Sauer, Taurus, and Walther. Pink guns for females are a key marketing tool for girls:

Mossberg Pink Long Guns PA NRA Show Colt Muddy Girl Camo AR Children 024
Photos from NRA’s 2014 Great American Outdoor Show (Sue Roman, VPC)

  • “When 8-year-old Sara saw the gun, she knew she wanted to shoot it. Even though she’d never shot a gun before in her life and had never shown an interest in shooting, once she took a look at the ‘Muddy Girl’ from Henry Repeating Arms, she wanted to take her first shot.

“New in 2014, this Henry mini-bolt rifle, called the Muddy Girl, sports its namesake’s camo pattern — a zany hot-pink-purple-and-black combination that belongs on more guns than just this little wonder. It makes a lifestyle statement for females that says, ‘This gun is mine. Get your own…’

“Sara, a ‘girly-girl’ who likes to cheerlead, left her pompoms behind, yet still coordinated her pink-and-black matching apparel for the photo shoot. Out on the range, her Aunt Marti — a pro-staffer for Mossy Oak and Moultrie Products…showed her how to shoulder the gun and how to weld her cheek to the curvy, synthetic stock…

“’I like the color and the size of this gun,’ said Sara. ‘And I also like that it didn’t kick me and it was easy to use…’

NRA InSights muddy-girl
Eight-year-old Sara, NRA Family InSights

“Its one-piece synthetic stock has been designed with just the right angle for little hands to grasp the gun firmly and still pull the trigger with confidence.”29

  • Writing in Junior Shooters magazine, 12-year-old Casey Lutz is featured with a pink CZ bolt-action youth rifle. Says Lutz: “When my dad brought home the gun, a CZ 452 Scout, chambered in 22 long rifle, I was excited to see that the gun was pink! My first thought was, ‘Finally, a cool gun for a girl!’ It’s nice to see that companies like CZ make guns specifically for young women shooters. The second thing I noticed was the gun was small and compact and was designed to fit kids.”30

P 16 girl with pink CZ rifle for children JS Summer 2011 Vol 9_Page_1 - Copy
Twelve-year-old Casey, Junior Shooters, Summer 2011

A crayon-box of colors is offered for guns specifically targeted at youth, including the 22 caliber weapons through which they are most likely to be introduced to shooting.

  • Smith & Wesson offers a 22 caliber version of its M&P15 (M&P stands for Military & Police) AR-15 assault rifle in bright colors that include Pink Platinum, Purple Platinum, and Harvest Moon Orange.31

M&P 15-22 _Page_2
Bright-colored .22 assault rifles featured on the Smith & Wesson website

  • Savage Arms’ youth rifle, the Rascal, presents the gun in child-friendly colors: red, yellow, orange, pink, and blue. In an ad for the youth rifle, the company promises that the firearms deliver “ONE SHOT, ONE THRILL !”

Children 029 Savage NRA Insights 12-13 Savage Rascal Ad Page 10
Savage Arms youth rifles are featured at the NRA’s 2014 Great American Outdoor Show (Sue Roman) and in NRA Family InSights

  • On its website, featuring assault rifles “built by Americans, for Americans,” Black Forge Weapons offers “Youth Model” AR-15 assault rifles that come in orange, violet, green, blue, and red.32

“Youth Model” Black Forge AR-15-style assault rifles

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Next – The “Fiscal and Political” Benefits of Marketing Guns to Children