Imagine a world where a reliable product has gained ground for the past few decades, gaining notoriety as being perfect in almost every way and the measure by which all others are compared, only to be disrupted by a competitor you never even saw coming because they never before showed interest in your particular market.
This is very similar to what Amazon did to retail, what Disney will continue to do to Netflix, and what PSA did to Colt and other AR-15 manufacturers.
Well, PSA is about to do it again, but this time, to the handgun market. Palmetto State Armory has just announced their newest line of guns, called The Dagger. The Dagger is essentially a $300 Gen 3 Glock 19.
Cloak and Dagger Marketing:
Many of the other gun manufacturers like to make a big deal about things to try and create hype for an-about-to-be-released product, as they do what I refer to as, ironically enough, “cloak and dagger marketing” about things that are, frankly, not groundbreaking.
PSA doesn’t need to do that sort of thing because, whether they realize it or not, they’ve mastered the art of market disruption. How do I know?
As someone who goes to marketing conferences, reads a lot of marketing books, listens to marketing podcasts, and just generally studies marketing practices, I can tell you that the companies who disrupt an industry are the ones who win the biggest.
That’s why Colt did so well with the 1911, Glock did so well with their G17, and how well PSA will do (if the product is reliable), with their new pistol. I’m not saying this is the next 1911 or Glock, because it is based on the Glock. What I’m saying, however, is that this can be a game changer.
PSA didn’t need to do any cloak and dagger marketing. They just brought the dagger with them to the industry’s biggest event, taking every chance they could to get on camera to get the word out.
By the way, I define “cloak and dagger marketing” as a soft release, or announcing a part of something to tease your audience to build hype before you stab them with your dagger (which is the full product). It’s kind of shady and tends to just piss people off because they make guesses at what the product is, and they’re never right.
Palmetto State Armory needed no hype and brought the dagger to SHOT Show and stabbed us all with it as they took advantage of their largest asset: The Gun Media. When other companies are utterly afraid of us because we may say something bad about them or their product, some companies, like PSA, welcome us with arms wide open.
We got them like:
Because they’re disruptors, they shook the entire industry last week. I had to go back 4 different times just to get someone on camera to talk about this new gun because their booth was slammed with nobody available to do our interview.
They need to be careful with these two things:
Once they get any bugs worked out (if necessary), and if they prove reliable, they’ll have a winner on their hands. There are essentially two things that’ll hurt them if they can’t get it right:
- The first thing that could hurt them is if it’s not reliable. Reliability is key here, and the consumers in the gun industry, once they have a bad taste in their mouths, are not quick to forget.
- Second, not being able to keep up with demand will cause shoppers to look elsewhere. I really hope for their sake that they’re building up stockpiles of these PSA9 handguns, because everyone I’ve spoken to plans to buy at least one. If people can’t get them it’ll piss everyone off.
If they can get those two right, they’ll disrupt the entire handgun industry. PSA doesn’t play around when it comes to putting guns in the hands of the American People, and they’ve gotten exceedingly good at it.
Glock and others will feel this:
Disruptors in any industry eventually cause competitor wallets to shrink because they suck up so much of the market share.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Glock is going to be going out of business or anything. Reason being, the people who are looking to buy a Glock and can afford one aren’t looking for anything that costs less money. Those gun owners who want Glock Perfection will continue buying more Glocks as they see fit.
As such, this is the case with PSA’s rifles. Many people who own, say, an LWRC rifle, for example, have no intention of buying a rifle from PSA, and actually frown upon those of us who do.
Much in the same vein, they won’t be losing people who are already sold on, and have no plans to leave, Glock. After all, many people who own Glock pistols love to tell us regular folk just how wrong we are for not sharing their sentiments.
But, I can almost guarantee that they’ll feel this in some way. In fact, with the price point being under $300, they’ll be losing people who have yet to fall in love with the brand, choosing a more affordable option from the get go … that more affordable option, by the way, is essentially the same thing.
The companies that will be hit the hardest, will be Taurus, SCCY, and similar brands without the reach and power of the big 5-10 handgun manufacturers. Essentially, if you’re not Glock, S&W, Springfield, SIG, Ruger or one of the other top companies, this is going to hurt.
The reason why this is, I believe, is because those who couldn’t afford a new Glock, went to one of these other companies. This new PSA Dagger is essentially a $300 Glock pistol, just made by Palmetto State Armory.
Why would they choose to buy a Taurus G2 or G3 when they can buy a Dagger with a steel guide rod, based off a reliable design?
Again, I say, this is going to hurt.
Other Disrupting Gun Companies:
There are occasionally disrupting gun companies who show up in an area where they weren’t invited. Mossberg is likely the most recent one. It’s possible that Palmetto State Armory saw how welcoming the industry was when Mossberg got back into pistols and said, hey we can do that, too.
SIG Sauer also disrupted the gun industry with the release of the high capacity micro compact. They released a pistol that became a market others are trying to mimic. Were they first to this market? No, not really but they did it better.
Technically, SCCY was first to that market, but SCCY didn’t do it as well and were plagued with problems that they’ve not been able to rebound from. Because of this, SIG gets the title as the disruptor in this category, and have been killing it with the 365 since.
Another disrupting company that many don’t think about, who may have actually started this whole Gen 3 Glock thing, is Polymer 80. I was at the SHOT Show a few years back when Polymer 80 was on the NEXT Level introducing their Gen 3 80% Glock frame and jig.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, and they could have taken the handgun market by storm had they implemented the way PSA is likely going to do. Don’t get me wrong, P80 is doing fantastic work and have disrupted a different aspect of the handgun market — but it’s way different than PSA is likely to do.
Where do we go from here?
Honestly, I hope this is a lesson for the rest of the gun industry on what to do when it’s time to release a new product. Hype is overrated to the extreme and dies down quickly. Not to mention that if you release a new product the right way you get the hype you wanted, anyway.
Look at all the hype surrounding PSA right now. Of course it’ll die down, but people will continue to follow this news and pistol until it is eventually released in March, at which time they’ll sell a ton of guns.
Unless, of course, they suck. But, I don’t think they will suck. I think they’ll be pretty good guns. Time will tell.