Since opening its doors five years ago, Southeastern Gun Supply has carved a niche in the Bulloch County area with gun collectors and enthusiasts with a shift in sales to tactical weapons.
"The biggest trend we have seen is that the sales in tactical guns, both pistols and rifles, has gone up steadily since we opened - with the exception of the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009," said store owner Garth Long. "It may be because our staff has exceptional knowledge of what is available in the current market, which you don't find at the ‘big box' retailers. However, we still cater to all gun enthusiasts, outdoorsmen, etc."
Long said more and more people are buying guns as investments, often seeing values increase significantly in short periods of time.
Also, Long said there has been a big increase in the sale of ammunition, as many believe that will be the path pursued by legislators to implement additional gun control is this country.
"Ammunition buying is what we have noticed lately," he said. "More and more people are stocking up on ammo, holding on to it. A number of these patrons say that they think if gun control is on the horizon, it would be in the form of increased prices in ammunition and or taxes on it, similar to what has occurred in the cigarette industry. You have to have ammunition for guns to work."
Long said his operation has become an FN Law Enforcement Dealer.
"This means that we are able to offer deeper discounts to a number of emergency response and law enforcement who are looking for this type firearm," he said. "Being able to offer this to patrons is just another way we set ourselves apart from just a store that sells guns. We have gun knowledge, which goes along way when someone is looking to make an investment in a firearm."
Gun collector Gary Pinard has been dealing with Southeastern for the last few years.
"As an avid collector, Garth has helped me facilitate both the selling and purchasing of several guns for my collection," he said. "I am particularly interested in military firearms from World War II forward."
Pinard said he considers those working at Southeastern Gun Supply to be experts.
"Their expertise is unique to this area," he said. "Their knowledge of Class 3 weapons alone is very unusual. I am not aware of any gun store in the immediate area that is as credentialed as they are. And, they provide tremendous customer service, whether you are buying, selling, or having a gun repaired."
Long said he has two full-time gunsmiths on staff that remain very, very busy.
"We always see a spike in gunsmith services during hunting season, but on average we are working on enough guns to keep two people going," he said. "They do everything from standard cleaning to customizing tactical guns as well. I have seen them dress up everything from a ‘pink' AR-15 (tactical rifle) to a ‘zombie ready' tactical rifle. If you can think up ways to customize your gun, these guys can do it. Again, we have the knowledge to work on the guns."
Southeastern is a licensed Class 3 dealer which means that they deal in NFA Class 3 weapons. This includes, but is not limited to, full auto machine guns/pistols (that are legally transferable) and sound suppressors/silencers.
"We cater to all sorts of collectors from all over who are looking to ‘enhance' their collections with full auto and other Class 3 items," Long said. "Generally, if a collector is looking for or trying to sell an item, they will contact me to see if I can find a buyer for their item or they will have me find what they are looking for.
"The full auto market has a finite number of guns, therefore no more are being manufactured for sale to civilians, which can make finding a particular one difficult," he said. "For the most part, collectors and investors are my only clientele that purchase and or sell Class 3 machine guns. A Class 3 machine gun can only be transferred if it was legally registered prior to the NFA (National Firearms Act) that became law in the 1980's."