Shotgun Owner's Survey: Who's Happy and Who's Not

By Randy Wakeman

There are, of course, all kinds of surveys in the marketplace. Some are from companies that sell surveys, some from little postcards that are mailed and counted. Surveys are reported all the time. One of the most familiar names in ratings numbers is Nielsen. There are reportedly approximately 10,000 households with Nielsen set top boxes across the United States. These 10,000 sets and other factors are used to make programming decisions for many millions of potential television viewers.

To give you an idea of how painfully small the Nielsen sampling might actually be, consider that an estimated 76,300,000 people watched the finale of "Seinfeld." It gets even more problematic when the ratings are broken down by demographics. Recently, only 135 students were monitored as "college students." Therefore, 135 students defined their demographic for the entire United States. Despite the puny survey numbers, fortunes are made and lost because of them, with untold millions of dollars of advertising dollars spent using them as a basis. It is an amazing situation.

With these prefatory remarks, here is a small, admittedly unscientific, survey of shotgun owner satisfaction and dissatisfaction broken down by brand name and instigated by me. While small in numbers, religions have been started on less and the medications doctors prescribe (or avoid) are based on studies of smaller numbers of people. In this case, nothing is being sold and no medication is prescribed. Let's look at the survey results, starting with the happy scattergunners.

Favorable Shotgun Owner's Survey

Browning has the largest favorable rating, perhaps not a surprise to many shooters. Browning's lead is even more substantial of you include some of the Winchester voters in the mix. I would not include all Winchester votes, but nevertheless the old Winchester has not existed for close to thirty years and Browning has had control of the brand for nineteen years.

Remington did well, placing second in brand satisfaction, despite their many changes of ownership. Although some still might think DuPont has something to do with Remington, that association ended back in 1993. The current entity, combining Remington, H&R/NEF, Bushmaster, Marlin and others is a young company. In any case, Remington did well in the survey.

Beretta finished third in satisfaction, 10 percentage points behind Browning and four points behind Remington. The biggest and most impressive voter turn out in my view was "CG," short for Caesar Guerini. Caesar Guerini, out of Brescia, Italy, is headed up in the United States by Wes Lang and markets only high quality Over/Under shotguns. Despite being not well known, their customers seem to be satisfied out of proportion to their market share.

Perazzi received one favorable vote and most of the other high-end guns, such as Purdy, H&H, Piotti and Grulla were simply not represented in our small survey. If you only build a hundred or so guns a year, you simply do not have enough customers to be represented in a poll such as this, no matter how satisfied they may actually be. Now, on to the less satisfied shotgun owners.

Unfavorable Shotgun Owner's Survey

In general, far fewer owners were unsatisfied with their shotguns. (Satisfied owners out reported unsatisfied owners nearly three to one.) Almost one quarter of those who were unhappy reported that it was a Remington brand gun that made them less than satisfied, although in actual numbers, well over twice as many Remington owners were satisfied as dissatisfied. The Beretta Holdings Group, which includes Beretta, Benelli, Franchi and Stoeger, did not fare particularly well, either. Franchi and Stoeger both made more people unhappy than they did happy. Perazzi guns managed to tick-off one person, balancing the one person they satisfied in the first poll. Mossberg also left more people unhappy than happy.

Nothing nearly approaching a firm conclusion can be made from these two informal polls. However, that will not stop me from injecting a few final comments based on my own experience.

First of all, far more customers reported satisfaction than dissatisfaction, so our industry is generally doing a good job. That is a VERY GOOD THING in these troubled times.

Cheap guns rarely make people happy. Franchi, Stoeger, Mossberg and other guns built only to a low price point, and not a performance standard, rarely please the active shooter. A gun you have to buy twice is no bargain.

Browning doesn't get it right all the time, but with over a seven to one favorable rating from respondents, they obviously get it right more often than not. Remington has many satisfied customers, but probably needs to devote some attention to improving their quality control. Fortunately, the new Company seems to be doing exactly that. Caesar Guerini is worth a close look and worthy of your consideration if you are looking for a satisfying O/U as opposed to a utility gun.

We have many new offerings this year, from Benelli, Browning, Ithaca and Remington. Things are always changing, so it will be interesting to revisit this next year and see how the landscape has changed. It should be interesting.

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Copyright 2009 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.