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Jeff Grody

Issues with Canadian Data – EasyExport Insights™ Monthly Analysis

By EasyExport Insights™ No Comments

We have discovered some issues with the U.S. Government export stats for Canada.

If you read or use our reports, please read this column. The Canadian issues are significant. We expect to resolve them, but, until then, you will want to understand them to give proper weight to our reports.

–     The Problem

In EasyExport Insights, we report on exports of 22 categories of firearms and related products. The data we use is published monthly by the U.S. Census Bureau.

We recently discovered that the Census Bureau data does not include exports to Canada in seven of the product categories we track. Not only that, the data that is not included in those seven categories appears in other categories, inflating the exports to Canada in those categories.

The seven product categories that include exports to every country except Canada, and the associated Schedule B numbers, are:

Issues with Canadian Data

Let’s look at revolvers to see the impact. The table showing the top 25 export markets for revolvers (page 8 of this issue) doesn’t include statistics for Canada. Canada may well be the number one market for revolvers exported from the United States but, whatever, the actual volume of exports is, the published data says it’s zero. No exports of revolvers at all to Canada, according to the published data.

We think, but aren’t yet certain, that revolvers are lumped in with pistols, thereby artificially inflating the volume of pistols exported to Canada (see page 7).

So, the published data understates U.S. exports of revolvers to Canada and overstates U.S. exports of another category, probably pistols.

Revolvers are just one example. A similar phenomenon is occurring with each of the other six categories.

–     How Could This Happen?

This issue traces to the way the Census Bureau determines exports to Canada.

In the case of every country except Canada, the published export data comes from AES filings submitted by exporters when their products leave the U.S. In AES filings, products are identified by 10-digit Schedule B numbers. The Census Bureau counts the products and values by Schedule B number, publishes the data and we turn that data into our reports.

AES filings are not used to calculate exports to Canada. Instead, when determining how much product – of any type – the United States exports to Canada, the U.S. Government measures the amounts received by Canada rather than the amounts that left the U.S.

In theory, that shouldn’t matter. The amounts leaving the U.S. to Canada should equal, more or less, the amounts entering Canada from the U.S. They probably do.

But the United States categorizes products one way in its 10-digit Schedule B system and Canada categorizes the same products differently in the 10-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) it uses to measure imports. The first six digits of the U.S. Schedule B product categories are identical to the first six digits of the Canadian HTS codes for the same categories. However, the two systems use very different approaches to assigning the final four digits.

Therefore, when it compiles statistics for exports to Canada the Census Bureau translates the Canadian 10-digit HTS data into the correct 10-digit Schedule B categories.

At least, they try to.

Thinking it would be simple, we attempted to do it ourselves. In a few cases, it wasn’t hard. With respect to the others . . . well . . . after spending hours poring over the numbers, we threw our hands up. In a number of categories, it can’t be done, at least not without making a few judgments/assumptions/guesses. The Census Bureau makes them but we don’t yet know what they are.

Further work is underway. We expect to get to the bottom of this and will report back in a future issue of EasyExport Insights.

–     How to Interpret Our Reports for Now

For now, we recommend that you take the following into account when using our reports:

  1. When viewing our Worldwide Exports table (page 5), you can be comfortable that the bottom row is accurate. Regrettably, until we sort this out, there is a risk that every other number in that table is either too high or too low. We believe that in some instances the errors could be material.
  2. Every bar and dollar amount in the Worldwide Exports graph (page 6) is potentially off, high or low.
  3. In the 22 tables that show the top 25 destination countries for each product category (pages 7-28), take the following into account:
  4. You can take the data for every country other than Canada at face value.
  5. If the table contains data for Canada, the Canadian numbers could be accurate, or high, or low.
  6. If the table does not contain a row for Canada, that’s almost certainly because the Canada data for that product is rolled into another product category. The absence of exports of a product category to Canada does not mean there were no exports to Canada or that Canada was not in the top 25 destination countries.
  7. The bottom row in every table is somewhat off due to the likely under- or over-inclusion of data pertaining to Canada.

–     Apology

We apologize for not catching this sooner. The underlying mistake isn’t ours, but we bring our reports to you in the belief that they are substantially accurate, and we want you to feel comfortable relying on them.

When we began publishing EasyExport Insights in July 2020, we conducted an analysis of the accuracy of the data we use. The results are reported in EasyExport Insights No. 2. We uncovered some minor issues, discussed in that issue, and we did learn that the Census Bureau’s export data for Canada is derived from Canadian import data. We didn’t see how difficult it is to align the Canadian and U.S. 10-digit codes until we tried to do it ourselves.

As noted above, the story doesn’t end here. We do believe it will be possible to bring you better data for Canada soon.

No More Product Spotlight Reports

We have discontinued our Product Spotlight feature. We concluded that our monthly reports on the top 25 markets for each product category do a good job (leaving the Canada issues aside) and that the Product Spotlight feature wasn’t adding much value.

New Zealand Added to Country Spotlight

In this issue, we add New Zealand to the countries we will follow every month. Please see pages 29-30 for the last 36 months of exports to New Zealand for all 22 product categories.

 View: EasyExport Insights September 2020
 Download: EasyExport Insights September 2020.pdf

international firearms marketing data

The 6 Keys to Using Data to Drive International Marketing of Firearms

By Firearm Export Sales No Comments

Suppose you knew that the countries with the best prospects for increasing international sales of your products were Canada, Australia, Germany, New Zealand and France.

Would you know how to translate that information into sales?

We’re not international marketing experts, but we do generate monthly market research reports about exports of U.S. firearms and related products. How international market data can be used to generate sales is of great interest to us, so we will pass along what we have learned from the experts.

Target the Best Markets

For starters, it’s important to recognize that “the international market” is a collection of markets. Each country is a unique niche, with its own laws, culture, history of firearms usage and opportunities for sport shooting.

Publicly available market data can help you identify and prioritize the countries that are likely to offer the best opportunities for growth. That’s the first step in finding the users of your products and honing your messaging to them.

EasyExport Insights ( is a free monthly downloadable report that provides detailed export sales statistics for 20 categories or firearms and related products.

Use EasyExport Insights to identify the international markets in which your products are likely to sell best.

Take Control of Your Brand

American exporters of firearms have traditionally relied very heavily on their international distributors, dealers and representatives to establish their products’ position in international market. There hasn’t been a good alternative, so this approach has made a lot of sense.

Now there are better alternatives that give you the power to control your brand in international markets in much the same way you do in the U.S.

In the U.S., your distributors and the dealers who stock and promote your products are your valued distribution partners, but you and the users of your products define your brand. You have the ability to do the same in thing in international markets.

Think Online

The Internet is the source of your new power to control your brand internationally.

Using market data to target a small number of the most promising international markets, you can employ search engine optimization strategies and social media (like influencer marketing) to reach and engage dealers and end users of your products.

Start SmallEasyExport now connects U.S. exporters to 82 Countries.

If you know which markets are the ones where you are most likely to succeed, choose a small number, perhaps the top two or three. Implement your international digital marketing strategy only in those countries at the outset.

Learn on a small scale what works and what does not before scaling up.


Reach your market in the countries you target by creating an online presence in those countries. International marketing experts call this “localization.”

Did you know that Google’s “search engine” actually consists of more than 200 search engines? The searches that lead U.S. customers to your .com website won’t do the same for potential customers in Australia searching on If you want Australian customers to find you easily, you need to acquire a domain.

Establishing a localized presence in an international market involves more than acquiring a local domain. The local domain is used to create a gateway to your U.S. website. The gateway uses the local language and culturally tuned messaging to speak to your local audience in ways that will be meaningful to them.

Partner with Marketing Experts

There are talented people who can help you develop international digital marketing programs that fit your budget.

If your team already “gets” digital marketing in the U.S. market, you have the first piece in place. On the other hand, if you want some fresh ideas on how to market more effectively online, Garrison Everest’s Josh Claflin, a digital firearms marketing veteran, has posted a collection of thoughtful pieces on digital marketing strategies for the firearms industry.

To learn more about the international aspects of digital marketing, you will find everything you might want to know in the IBT-Online video library. This fantastic resource will open your eyes to the potential benefits of localizing your website and the relative ease with which it can be done in targeted markets. The videos are free, of course. If they lead you to action, IBT-Online can help you design and implement an international digital marketing strategy with very affordable service packages. They also can show you how to use state-administered STEP grants to cover a portion of the funding to get you started.

Do you want to use the best international market data to drive your international marketing? EasyExport subscribers have exclusive access to reports drawn from the EasyExport system that enable them to understand the purchasing preferences and “buyer personas” of the people who buy their products and similar products. Schedule a call to learn more.

Firearm Exporters: Take These 6 Steps to Prepare for a Visit from the Office of Export Enforcement

Firearm Exporters: Take These 6 Steps to Prepare for a Visit from the Office of Export Enforcement

By Firearm Export Sales No Comments

If you export firearms, you could receive a call at any time from the U.S. Office of Export Enforcement (OEE) asking to visit your company.

Do you know what how to respond?

Here are 6 recommendations.

Say Yes

If you export firearms, it is a very good idea always to be ready for a visit from government regulators or law enforcement.

OEE generally calls to request and schedule meetings. Say yes but schedule the meeting a week or two out so you have time to prepare. The meeting should take place at your facility, not off-site.

If OEE calls in advance to schedule a visit, assume that they are not coming to arrest you or to execute a search warrant. If that were the case, it is unlikely they would give you a heads up.

Much more likely is that the visit is part of OEE’s normal outreach to industry. These visits are intended to be, and can be, very helpful to you as an exporter.

Consider Whether To Contact Legal Counsel

The first thing to do after setting the meeting date and time is to consider whether to bring in legal counsel. If your company has an export compliance program and you believe that your export business is being conducted lawfully, you probably don’t need your outside counsel at the meeting, but you may want to check with your counsel anyway for peace of mind. If your company employs attorneys, then you should ask one of them to join you.

The analysis of whether to bring in counsel is not the same if you have no export compliance program or, worse, if you know that your organization is not following the rules. In either of these cases, it is wise to give legal counsel a chance to help you prepare.

Also, if OEE agents show up unannounced with a search warrant, call your attorney immediately and do nothing until you have spoken with counsel.

Most practicing attorneys are not familiar with firearm export regulations. If your attorney is among them, consider contacting Phil Milks, Johanna Reeves, Scott Braum or Camden Webb.

If you engage legal counsel, implement the recommendations below only as directed by your attorney.

Prepare Yourself to Discuss These 6 Topics

If you will be meeting with OEE, you want to be prepared to discuss these 6 topics:

  • The products your company exports
  • The foreign recipients to whom you ship
  • The countries to which you ship
  • The end uses for which customers outside the U.S. purchase your products
  • Your export compliance program
  • The location of your export records and the name of the person responsible for export record-keeping.

If you are knowledgeable about these topics, you can go into the meeting with confidence and you will convey a positive impression.

Check the State of Your Export Records

Your company is required to retain records of firearm export transactions for 5 years and they should be easy to locate. These are the most important records for each transaction:

  • Purchase order and any other purchase documents (e.g., sales contract, letter of credit)
  • Export license, if required
  • Export license decrementation record, if applicable
  • Record of usage of Low-Value Shipment (LVS) license exception and other license exceptions, if applicable
  • Signed end-user statement
  • Import permit from purchaser, if required
  • Destination control statement
  • Packing slip
  • Commercial invoice
  • Warranty certificate, if applicable
  • Air waybill
  • Shippers letter of instruction, if applicable
  • EEI submission via AESDirect, including ITN
  • Delivery confirmation
  • ATF Form 9, if applicable
  • Denied party screens on parties to the export, including records of any determination that apparent matches were false positives.

You do not need to make these records available to OEE as you would for an ATF inspection. Becoming familiar with the state of your company’s records is simply information you want to have in advance of the meeting. If you discover that your records are incomplete, there’s no need to volunteer that information. Instead, use the discovery of incomplete records as an opportunity to improve record-keeping.

Meeting Day EasyExport now connects U.S. exporters to 82 Countries.

Be sure there are at least two people from your company at the meeting. If you have an export compliance manager, that person should be in attendance and should be at least as well-prepared as you are.

Plan to use a comfortable meeting room in the administrative portion of your facility. You will not be required to provide a tour of any portion of your facility, unless they arrive with a valid search warrant, and there’s no reason to offer a tour. So, assume the visitor(s) will travel from the front door to the meeting room and then back out.

Don’t be alarmed if two agents show up for the meeting and if one of them is from the FBI. That happens and doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Ask for official identification and make a photocopy. If you maintain a visitor record (you should), it is okay to ask them to sign in.

Be aware that the visitors are likely to arrive with quite a bit of information about your export activities based on the AESDirect submissions that you or your freight forwarders have submitted. One reason for the preparation recommended above is to make sure they don’t know more about your export activities than you do.

When you sit down, collect their business cards, introduce your attendees and explain their roles in your company. Then, listen to what the visitors have to say. If you are asked questions you can answer, answer them. If they ask to see any documents or ask you to provide detailed information about one or more transactions, offer to put the information together and email it to them unless you have it handy and want to give it to them right away.

During the meeting you may be asked to contact OEE if you encounter suspicious individuals or transactions in your export activities. Tips can be very helpful to them and they appreciate information they receive from industry.

When the meeting is over, be sure you are clear about anything on which you have agreed to follow-up.

After the Meeting

After the visitor(s) have left, consider whether anything that came up at the meeting warrants seeking legal advice. If so, contact your attorney promptly.

If there’s nothing that requires legal help, then be sure to follow-up on anything on which you agreed to get back to them. If the agent(s) made recommendations, try to implement them.

If the preparation or meeting has revealed weaknesses in your compliance program, fix them. If the weaknesses constituted violations of regulations, consider whether to submit a voluntary self-disclosure.

Sound scary? If you sell firearms, parts, accessories, or optics online and want a safe and cost-effective way to export them without making mistakes, EasyExport probably can help. Schedule a call to learn more.


3 Actions You Should Take To Boost International Sales During the Year with No IWA

By Firearm Export Sales No Comments

Smart people turn setbacks into opportunities.

Are you disappointed that this year’s IWA Outdoor Classic was canceled and that the next IWA won’t take place until March 2021? Have you found other ways to hit your international marketing goals for this year?

With IWA not an option, maybe 2020 is a good time to test new ways to connect with international customers and build your brand in the international market. New export regulations took effect on March 9. New doors have opened.

You may find that you can achieve objectives you thought were lost for the year and set yourself apart from the competition.

We have three ideas that are easy and inexpensive to implement. Do them now and you may find that you can turn the loss of IWA into a very good opportunity for your business.

1. Create an “International Booth” on your website.

Companies in the firearms industry miss a big opportunity to build brand loyalty and sales in the international market by treating international visitors the same as domestic customers.

If you want to reach new customers and end-users in other countries, and sell more to your existing customers, one approach might be to cater to needs international site visitors have that your U.S. customers don’t have. Show them you understand their unique needs and that you care about them.

No one does this. Check your competitors’ websites. With the change in export regulations that took place on March 9, it’s okay to put the welcome mat out for your international website visitors. Be among the first.

Here are some suggestions for your international booth:

  • Consider adding an “International” menu at the top of the page, where the important stuff goes. That by itself sends a good message. Most websites speak to international visitors from the bottom of the page.
  • Might it help to create a landing page for visitors to your website from other countries, a home page just for them that identifies the resources you provide for them, with links? If you like the idea of an international booth, this is where it would go – a background graphic with links to the resources mentioned below and others.
  • Give visitors an overview of which of your products are available in the international market and which aren’t. Help them avoid spending time on products they can’t buy.
  • If you ship directly to international end-users, tell them that you do and how to make purchases through your website. If you ship only to certain countries, make it easy for international visitors to check whether their country is among them. If you sell only through dealers, identify the dealers.
  • If you are soliciting new dealers or distributors, say so and tell them what to do next.
  • Create an “international sales and support” page. Post dedicated “international customer support” and “international sales” email addresses. Train international specialists on your product support and sales teams. Maybe develop and post a set of FAQs for international firearm customers.
  • Post your international terms of sale here so they’re easy to find.

There are lots of ways to implement these suggestions and other ideas you will come up with. The point is to make it clear that you are enthusiastic about the people in other countries who are looking at your products and that you are eager to help them learn more.

Action item: Schedule a meeting of your team or designate an individual in your organization to create an international booth for your website. Set an implementation deadline in 2020.

You can improve the face you show the world and drive more sales.

2. Explain how your company is using the new export regulations to make it easier for international customers to buy your products.

Whether or not you create an international booth on your website, consider rewriting your international shipping policies to announce the ways you are using the new export regulations to make it easier for international customers to buy your products.

Experienced importers of U.S. firearm products react with glee when they learn how much easier it is to do business with American suppliers under the new export regulations.

Show existing and potential customers that it is easy to do business with you:

  • Identify the products you sell that do not require an export license.
  • Demonstrate how the Limited Value Shipment (LVS) license exception lets you fill many small orders without an export license.
  • Tell customers you can obtain export licenses that will cover their future orders, so you can ship right away.
  • Inform large customers that orders for more than $1 million of firearms no longer require Congressional Notification.
  • Let smaller customers know that a formal purchase order is no longer required. An email or online order now suffices.

Yes, doing international business has gotten easier. Don’t keep it to yourself.

Action item: Rewrite your international sales and shipping policies to let international customers know all the cool ways you are making it easier to do business with you.

Think of it this way. The world changed on March 9 when the new export regulations took effect. Other companies are already rewriting their policies. Is doing nothing really an option?

3. Take a hard look at your international distribution strategy and make changes where appropriate.

EasyExport now connects U.S. exporters to 82 Countries. Are the international distribution channels you relied on prior to March 9 the right ones today?

Have you used a network of international distributors or dealers or on U.S. exporters to get your products to end-users in other countries? Maybe you can do more by yourself under the new regulations. The $500 license exemption under the ITAR has driven lots of direct-to-consumer sales into Canada for years. Now there is a $500 exemption that applies to almost all countries. Why not sell direct-to-consumers everywhere now that you can?

Imagine the worldwide direct-to-consumer business you now are able to do in firearm parts, accessories, optics and more. If you sell magazines, for instance, you can fill most consumer purchasers’ requirements yourself for less than $500. No license would be required. The same applies to many, many other products.

You also can reach small dealers, too, more easily today than in the past. Export licensing is simpler and more flexible. Does the $10,000 minimum order requirement you imposed in the past make sense today now that it’s easy to get an export license that covers future orders?

Are your products available for purchase today in all the countries in which potential purchasers exist? If not, how can you find channels into the countries you aren’t reaching today?

We’re not suggesting you disrupt your established distribution system and start fresh. Don’t lose the value you have in your existing channels but do take a hard look at additional ways to grow your international sales by reaching consumers, smaller dealers and other purchasers you couldn’t reach in the past.

Action item: Analyze your current international distribution channels and identify new channels to add this year.

To conclude, there’s no IWA this year, but why not use 2020 to prepare your company to go to IWA 2021 with a dramatically enhanced international profile?

EasyExport can do all the export compliance processing for you. Automatically, instantly and affordably, helping you gain a competitive edge and providing the comfort that your exports are being handled in full compliance with regulations. Please contact us to learn more.



Photo credit: IWA


3 Actions Firearm Exporters Should Take Now To Turn The New Export Regulations Into Cash

By Firearm Export Sales No Comments

It’s easy to forget that, just before the COVID-19 pandemic overwhelmed our lives and industry, new export regulations that took effect on March 9 were about to transform exports of firearms, ammunition, optics and related products. As a business owner or manager, you’re dealing with employees working from home and supply chain disruptions while struggling to manage an explosion of domestic sales. Creating new firearm export business isn’t a priority.

Got it. Makes total sense. But don’t completely lose sight of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that exists right now to reposition your export strategy so you’re ready to implement it as soon as the current boom ends . . . as you know it will.

NSSF reported on March 16, one week after the new regulations took effect, that exporters had already submitted export licenses for $1 billion of exports under the new regulations. Someone was thinking ahead. Were you one of them?

Whether you were or weren’t . . .

What are you doing to capitalize on the revolution in export opportunity that exists right now?

In this post, we offer three export action items you should make time to do now.

1. Identify the Products You Will Export.

Do you know which of your products can be exported without an export license under the new regulations? If you don’t, you should, and now is a good time to put someone to work on answering this question.

Here’s why the answer matters. Surefire, a company that has its eye on the ball, announced in The Outdoor Wire on April 24 that its flash hiders and muzzle brakes no longer require an export license. Flash hiders used to be “significant military equipment” under the ITAR and now they can be exported without any license at all. Surefire understands the significance of this change to their export sales potential and moved quickly to announce it to the market.

You should do the same. Odds are you sell more things that can be exported without a license today than you did before March 9. Maybe many more things. The range of handgun and rifle accessories that can now be exported to almost every country without a license is very broad and includes, among many other items: stocks, grips, accessory rails, scope mounts, iron sights, fiber-optic sights, sling swivels, butt plates, recoil pads, magazine components, magazine wells, magazine extensions and many upgrade kits.

Of the gun parts that do require an export license, almost all of them can be exported in shipments under $500 without a license. There is a huge opportunity here, too.

export-firearm-scopes-opticsConsider scopes, as well. Telescopic, holographic, reflex, red dot, reticle sights and other sights with optical elements and most laser aiming devices can be exported to 30 countries without a license.

Despite these new avenues to increase export sales without export licenses, most of the industry remains stuck in the past and is overlooking export sales potential that exists today. You are among them if your website, like many, still explains that you can’t ship your products to international purchasers because your products are controlled by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. Most likely, they aren’t and the fact that they aren’t is the source of the new revenue potential.

Action Item: Create a list of the products you sell domestically that can be sold internationally without an export license.

When you see how long a list it is, your desire to take the next steps will grow.

2. Adapt Your International Strategy to the New Normal.

We don’t, of course, know what the “new normal” will look like in the post-pandemic world, but we know enough to start re-thinking our intermediate and long-term international sales strategies. Consider the following:

  • Online sales will be an even more important channel than before the crisis. Look at the effect the pandemic has had on Amazon. With bricks and mortar stores closed and frightened shoppers staying home, Amazon is so overwhelmed with business that it has had to prioritize delivery of “essential” products. “Non-essential” products you could receive the next day before the pandemic now take two-three weeks. Investors see the change as long-term. Amazon’s stock price was $1,676 on March 12, 2020. It closed almost 50% higher, at $2,410, on April 24.

Like it or not, the pandemic has been good for online sales and at least some of the change that is occurring can be expected to stay with us after the crisis is over.

  • The international market for U.S. firearms, components, accessories and optics is poised to explode. Take note of the $1 billion in new export licenses, mentioned above, that were filed with the Commerce Department within a week after the effective date of the new firearm export regulations. Consider also a company like TANDEMKROSS. Before the change in regulations, TANDEMKROSS shipped small orders to customers in three countries, with a $100 maximum to two of them. Today, TANDEMKROSS can accept licensable and non-licensable online orders from purchasers in 82 countries. They’re not alone.                      
  • The current domestic boom will end. We all know that. Sales are way up for now and probably will stay strong into November, but there are an awful lot of gun owners out of work. How long will the boom last? Don’t forget 2019, or 2018, or 2017, three soft years in a row.

Where the above factors intersect is a new normal that includes increased international online sales of firearms and related products. Of course, your hands are pretty full today. But know that some of your competitors are advancing their international sales potential despite the challenges they face today.

Action Item: Start a planning process for building an online international presence in the post-pandemic world. Target an implementation date.

Will you be an early-adopter or a follower?

3. Make Your Website Linguistically Friendly.

Whether you think about it or not, your website introduces your company and products not only to potential customers who speak English, but also to those who don’t. If you think internationally, you will recognize that, after Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and a few island nations in the Caribbean, the rest of the world enjoys life in a language other than English. Sure, you will find English-speakers everywhere, but don’t you also want to reach people who prefer to use a different language?

firearm export translationIt’s easier than you think. The key is to make your website one that can be translated effectively by Google Translate or other machine-translation services. With that objective in mind, there are some simple things you can start doing right now, pandemic or not, that over time can make your brand and products more accessible to potential customers who don’t speak English.

  • Reduce the use of complex forms of expression. Expressions that can be very effective with American consumers may be confusing to non-English speakers relying on Google Translate. For example, describing a meticulously machined trigger as “glass-smooth” and “hyper-consistent” is very effective in English but machine-translates poorly. Expressing the same thoughts as “as smooth as glass” and “extremely consistent” doesn’t have quite the same punch but leads to better translations. Learn to write website content that works great in English and translates well. It’s a process, but if you work on it, over time you will improve your connection with the international shopper.
  • Try not to embed text in image files. Many websites in the industry feature beautiful imagery of products in use by shooters or in other settings. Most of the time, text is baked into the images. If you translate your website into any other language using Google Translate, you will see that the text embedded in image files won’t translate. HTML text that is superimposed on image files will translate, however.
  • Consider expressing weights and measures in metric units, too. We think of weights in ounces and pounds and lengths in inches and feet, but, internationally, most don’t. You won’t lose anything by expressing weights and measures two ways and you will demonstrate to international purchasers that you care about them, too.
  • Create video content for the hearing-impaired. Many companies post video content to explain the installation, usage or repair of their products. Try creating future videos as though you were preparing content for the hearing-impaired and you will create better content for viewers who don’t speak English (and, not insignificantly, for the hearing-impaired, too). How do you do this? More and better visual demonstrations and less explanation. More “show” and less “tell.”
  • Avoid pdf content. Assume that content you post in pdf format won’t be accessible to non-English-speakers. Pdf documents can be translated but not easily and instantly by visitors to your website.

Action Item: Start implementing the suggestions above on new website content you create. And keep at it.

To conclude, don’t miss the chance to lay the groundwork for your international future while you deal with the domestic surge and COVID-related disruptions that are your life today.

You won’t be the only one who is preparing for the new normal. Avoid being one of the many who aren’t.

EasyExport can help you seize the international opportunity that awaits. Please contact us to learn more.

10 Ways the New Firearm Export Regulations Will Help You Export Your Products

10 Ways the New Firearm Export Regulations Will Help You Export Your Products

By Firearm Export Sales No Comments

New regulations for exporting semi-automatic and non-automatic firearms and almost all parts, accessories and optics take effect on 9 March 2020.

In this post, we look at 10 ways the new firearm export regulations will help you ship these items to customers outside the United States.

  1. No license required for shipments of firearm parts up to $500.
    It will now be legal to ship up to $500 of firearm parts (other than frames, receivers and complete breech mechanisms) to almost any country in the world without a license. The previous limit was $100 for exports to all countries other than Canada. There are some significant details to be aware of when you use this new “license exception,” such as an annual limit of $6,000 per customer, the need to classify the products being shipped correctly, and a requirement that AES submissions be made. For exporters who are careful, however, this is a valuable change.
  2. No license required, without a dollar limit, for some items.
    You will now be permitted to ship certain items to almost all countries without a license, regardless of value. These are: stocks, grips, scope mounts, accessory rails, iron sights, sling swivels, butt plates, recoil pads, and bayonets. These items are not EAR99, however. They are classified as ECCN 0A501.y and an AES submission is required. (Note: If you export products in this group that previously have been classified as EAR99 by a Commodity Jurisdiction determination or a CCATS, the specific items covered by the CJ or CCATS continue to be EAR99).
  3. Certain minor parts are now deemed to be EAR99.
    Under the ITAR, even the most minor firearm parts were controlled under U.S.M.L. Category I(h) and required an export license prior to export. Now, the following items are classified as EAR99 even if they have been specialized designed for use in a firearm or controlled firearm accessory: fasteners (e.g., screws, nuts, nut plates, studs, inserts, clips, rivets, pins (not firing pins), washers, spacers, insulators, grommets, bushings, springs, wire and solder. As EAR99 items, they can be shipped without a license and without an AES filing (Note: if the value of EAR99 items with the same Schedule B number exceeds $2,500, an AES filing is required for those items).
  4. The fee for most export licenses has decreased from $250 to $0.
    Under the ITAR, larger exporters’ annual registration fee with the State Department is calculated on the basis of $250 for every license submitted. There is no license fee under the new Commerce Department regulations. The only firearm exports that now require ITAR licenses are automatic and other truly military weapons, silencers, and parts and accessories for automatic and military weapons and their components. (Note: Be careful how you classify semi-automatic ARs containing parts that were specially designed for automatic weapons. Those parts may remain subject to the ITAR and require ITAR licenses. Consider seeking a CJ.)
  5. There is no annual registration fee with the Commerce Department.
    The minimum annual State Department registration fee under the ITAR is $2,250. There is no annual registration fee under the new Commerce Department regulations. Many exporters in the industry will not make or sell items that continue to be controlled by the ITAR and therefore will no longer be required to pay an annual registration fee.
  6. Getting set up to submit export licenses is much easier now.
    New exporters can set themselves up in a day to submit Commerce Department licenses. Under the ITAR, setup has taken weeks. Although the State Department process has become somewhat more streamlined than in the past, it will continue to be more cumbersome and time-consuming than setup under the BIS regulations.
  7. Commerce Department export licenses can be prepared quickly.
    Under the ITAR, exporters are required to submit purchase orders, import permits, end-user certificates and, sometimes, DSP-83s, with a DSP-5 license. None of these documents are submitted with SNAP-R (BIS) licenses.
  8. Commerce Department export licenses can cover future purchase orders.
    ITAR export licenses authorize shipment of a single purchase order, which is attached to the DSP-5 when it is submitted. Commerce Department export licenses authorize exports of specified quantities of items at specified prices, without regard to any purchase order. Therefore, they do not need to be connected to a single purchase order.
  9. Commerce Department export license can be obtained before orders are received.
    Commerce Department licenses can be obtained before you have received any purchase order at all. Consider this: Your compliance team applies for a license while sales is still negotiating with the customer. If the product is ready to go, ship as soon as the purchase order arrives!
  10. Commerce Department licenses can cover product groups.
    If you are preparing a Commerce Department license for products that haven’t been ordered yet and you don’t know which specific SKUs will be ordered, that’s okay. You don’t need to know. Commerce Department licenses can pre-authorize export of product groups. You can assign the authorizations to specific SKUs when purchase orders arrive

To learn how EasyExport can help you sell your products online to purchasers in other countries and grow your revenues by as much as 20%, please click below.

5 Things That Will Be Better For International Purchasers Of U.S. Firearm Products

5 Things That Will Be Better For International Purchasers Of U.S. Firearm Products; 5 Things That Won’t

By International Firearm Purchasers No Comments

New regulations for exporting firearms, parts, accessories and optics from the United States take effect on 9 March 2020.

In this post, we look at 5 ways the new regulations will make it easier for you to buy U.S. firearm products and 5 ways they won’t. We also mention one temporary challenge you will face as an international purchaser of American firearm products.

5 Improvements Under the New Firearm Export Regulations

  1. No license required for shipments up to USD 500.
    The value of most firearm parts that can be shipped to most countries without a license has increased from USD 100 to USD 500. This is not a change for exports to Canada, to which a USD 500 limit already applies. There is a USD 6,000 maximum limit each calendar year.
  2. No USD 250 fee per license.
    Exporters will no longer pay a fee to the U.S. Government for export licenses. Many exporters have passed that fee to their international customers.
  3. Less paperwork required for export licenses.
    Export licenses require less paperwork. The U.S. Government no longer needs to see a purchase order, import permit and end-user certificate in order to process an export license. Exporters may ask for this information but the Government no longer requires it.
  4. Export licenses can authorize future purchase orders.
    It is now possible to obtain licenses that apply to future purchase orders. If you conduct repeat business with American sellers, you can apply for licenses in advance that authorize multiple years of exports.
  5. There is no requirement in the new regulations to notify the U.S. Congress of large orders.
    Previously, the U.S. State Department was required to notify the U.S. Congress of every license that authorized the export of more than USD 1 million. That requirement added months to the time for approval of export licenses for large orders. There is no counterpart to “Congressional Notification” in the new regulations.

5 Things That Have Not Changed

  1. Exports of firearms continue to require an export license.
    Exports of firearms to any country outside the United States continue to require an export license from the United States Government. In the past, export licenses were processed by the U.S. State Department. Now they will be processed by the U.S. Commerce Department.
  2. U.S. export regulations continue to be very complex.
    Exports of firearms, parts, optics and many accessories from the United States will continue to be controlled under complex regulations and U.S. exporters continue to face significant penalties if they do not comply with the regulations.
  3. Import regulations are not affected.
    Changes in U.S. export regulations haven’t affected requirements for import permits in any country. If in the past, your country has required an import permit for you to import a firearm, part, optic or accessory, an import permit is still required today. It is best not to expect U.S. exporters to be familiar with your country’s import regulations. If you are new to purchasing U.S. firearm products, be certain to investigate whether you will need an import permit. Also, to avoid surprises, check your country’s regulations to learn what import duties and taxes will apply to your purchase from an American exporter.
  4. Shipment options for small orders remain limited.
    The major courier services – FedEx, UPS and DHL, among others – currently state that they have policies not to transport most firearms products internationally. The United States Postal Service will carry shipments of firearm products to many countries, but not all.
  5. E-commerce continues to be a challenge.
    The regulatory challenges that have prevented most international e-commerce in firearm products from occurring in the past are unchanged. It continues to be difficult and risky for online merchants in the U.S. to process small export orders.

Big Change, Be Patient, Plan Ahead

For the American firearms industry that must obey the law, the new regulations are a massive change in the way the U.S. Government controls exports of firearms, parts, optics and many accessories. Everyone involved in exporting firearm products from the United States – including the U.S. government officials at the Commerce Department who now process export licenses – is learning how to work with a new set of regulations. It will take some time for everyone to adjust, so it is best to be patient during 2020 and to plan ahead.

To learn how you can register to purchase firearm products safely and securely from trusted U.S. exporters equipped with EasyExport™, please click below.


7 Tips for Selling Firearm Products Internationally – Get Paid

By Firearm Export Sales No Comments

In this post, we look at different ways to get paid when U.S. companies sell firearms, optics, firearm parts and accessories to purchasers outside the United States:

Credit Terms (e.g., 2% 10, Net 30)

Don’t extend credit to customers outside the United States if you can avoid it. It’s not how international business is typically done, so you will rarely be at a competitive disadvantage if you refuse to take credit risk. If you consider how hard it is to collect debts in the United States, it is much more difficult to collect overseas when a buyer can’t or won’t pay you.

There are three main exceptions to this rule.

  • Exception One applies to big, well-known companies and long-standing relationships. It isn’t crazy to extend credit terms to Triple A or long-term customers you trust. But even long-term customers can slide into financial trouble or change management or ownership, so it is best to train customers from the outset not to expect credit terms and to keep the relationship on that basis.
  • Exception Two is when there’s no alternative and you really need or want the sale in question. Sometimes, customers insist you do it their way or there’s no deal. In many of those cases, walking away is the right thing to do. When you can’t, analyze each situation carefully, minimize risks to the extent you can, and cross your fingers.
  • Exception Three applies when the amount at risk is small and you can tolerate not getting paid.


Giving goods to foreign dealers on consignment – you retain title until the goods are sold to end users and the dealer doesn’t owe you anything until then – is even riskier than selling on open credit and generally is a horrible idea.

There is one exception, Mexico. In Mexico, firearms are sold only by Dirección de Comercialización de Armamento y Municiones (DCAM) in Mexico City. A number of prominent U.S. brands have placed goods at DCAM on consignment and have received payment without problems.

So, in Mexico, placing goods with DCAM on consignment may be what you need to do to be competitive. If you do, start with a small quantity. Also, it is important to reconcile your accounts monthly to be sure that all guns and payments are accounted for as they are sold.

Cash Up Front

Full payment at the time an order is placed is the norm for online transactions and small commercial transactions.

In larger commercial transactions ($5,000 to $100,000) that require the exporter to go out-of-pocket to manufacture or assemble an order, full payment at the time of order is sometimes seen.

Cash Before Shipment

In transactions between $5,000 and $100,000, it is common to see partial payment at the time an order is placed with the balance paid before the order is shipped.

In its simplest form, an exporter will receive 50% of the price when the order is booked and the balance after an export license is received but prior to shipment. There’s nothing magic about a 50-50 split, however, so anything between nothing up front and full payment in advance is within the zone of “normal.”

Recognize that while this type of payment arrangement seems secure for the seller, there are some risks. Once in a while an export license can’t be obtained, which prevents shipment of the order, and, most likely, receipt of the final payment. Other times, buyers change their minds before shipment or don’t have the funds with which to make the final payment. You should deal with these risks in your terms and conditions of sale (we’ll address commercial terms in a future post).

Partial Advance Payment Secured by Bank Guaranty

In a more complex form of “Cash before Payment,” the buyer agrees to make a partial advance payment at the time an order is placed, but only if the seller provides a “bank guaranty” as security for the advance payment. The bank guaranty enables the foreign purchaser to get its money back if the seller never completes and ships the order.

The requirement to provide a bank guaranty as a condition of receiving an advance payment is frequently seen in contracts with foreign governmental purchasers. The advance payment generally is substantially less than 50% of the purchase price.

The question to ask yourself in such a situation is whether you really want the advance payment. Here’s why:

  • U.S. banks don’t issue bank guaranties. They issue standby letters of credit. Therefore, what really happens is the seller obtains a standby letter in favor of a bank in the buyer’s country, which issues the bank guaranty to the customer. If you don’t do this a lot, it’s complicated.
  • It’s also expensive. Your bank will want collateral for the letter of credit it issues to secure the bank guaranty. The amount of collateral required may equal the amount of the customer’s advance and may take the form of cash or credit availability that you could have used in lieu of the customer’s advance payment. Your bank will charge you fees for issuing the letter of credit and may also charge interest on the amount of the letter of credit.

Ask yourself whether there will be a net benefit to accepting the customer’s advance payment if it comes with these strings. The answer could well be no.

Cash in Advance with a Holdback

Sophisticated buyers with bargaining leverage often seek to hold some funds until the goods have arrived and been inspected and/or tested. Some foreign governmental tenders provide for holdbacks as large as 30%, but 10-20% is more common.

Some things to keep in mind if you agree to a holdback:

  • Try to have the buyer agree in the purchase order to complete post-delivery inspection/testing within an agreed time (20-45 days after receipt at final destination).
  • Also, the purchase order should require the buyer to identify any deficiencies during the inspection period, not later. Require photographs of any damage or defects claimed.
  • If the purchase order requires that the buyer sign an “acceptance certificate” before you can receive the holdback, attach a form of the certificate to the purchase order.
  • For large orders, consider being present during testing, either through your own personnel or your local representative.

Documentary Letter of Credit

Many buyers outside the U.S. provide a documentary letter of credit as a substitute for cash payment for large orders, i.e., over $100,000. For U.S. sellers, documentary letters of credit are a great means of payment, as long as the sellers know what they’re doing. Letters of credit allow a buyer to withhold payment until the order has shipped while providing the seller with assurance of payment that is as good as cash.

A documentary letter of credit is a commitment a bank makes on behalf of your customer to pay you when you present it with documents described in the letter of credit. Usually, the documents include shipping documents confirming that you have shipped the goods the customer ordered. Sometimes, you may also have to provide certificates of inspection and acceptance by the customer.

If you know what you’re doing, a letter of credit is as good as cash. Letters of credit are quite tricky, however, so you need to be very careful. Things to keep in mind if you’re new to letters of credit:

  • Do some homework first. There are free resources on the internet that explain how documentary letters of credit work (e.g., look here and here).
  • Pay attention to fees associated with the letter of credit and who (seller or buyer) is responsible. They add up.
  • Be certain you will be able to give the bank the exact documents called for by the letter of credit or you will have trouble collecting. If signed certificates are required by you, the customer or a third party, attach agreed-upon forms of the certificates to the sales contract or purchase order and use those forms.
  • Consider using a third party to present the required documents to the issuing bank. A good one can also give you valuable tips as you negotiate the wording of the letter of credit. Park International is terrific and very reasonably priced.

Foreign Military Sale (FMS)

Occasionally, a foreign military purchaser is able to arrange for the U.S. Government to purchase products from a U.S. supplier on its behalf. This type of transaction occurs under the U.S. Government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. In FMS sales, your contract is with the U.S. Government so you get paid by Uncle Sam even though you ship to the foreign end user. FMS sales tend to proceed slowly but you do get paid.

What does “cash” mean?

“Cash” means:

  • Wire payment
  • Credit card payment
  • Bank draft or money order

We don’t recommend using PayPal or any other payment intermediary. In international transactions in our industry, you need to know who is paying you and you want a physical billing address.

“Cash” does not mean a backpack full of actual cash. If a foreign purchaser does offer to pay you in hard cash for a commercial order, you should consider that a mile-high red flag that something is wrong. Even in the case of small consumer sales, it is not a good idea to accept cash. If you are conducting legitimate international business, paper trails are a good thing and hard cash doesn’t leave a paper trail.

Next Tip, No. 4: Deliver the Goods.

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7 Tips for Selling Firearm Products Internationally – Develop a Proactive Business Development Strategy

By Firearm Export Sales No Comments

Our second tip for selling U.S. firearm products internationally is to develop a proactive business development strategy.

The importance of having a strategy is obvious, but how to build one for the international market is not. In this post, we’ll focus on the 3 most important considerations in building your international business development strategy.

Identify Your Distribution Channels

What are the best ways to get your products into the hands of end users in foreign countries?

For U.S. exporters of firearm products, there are 5 primary distribution channels:

  • Direct to Dealer. In the direct-to-dealer model, U.S. exporters sell to foreign dealers who resell to end users. This is very common in international commercial trade in sporting firearm products. In international transactions, direct-to-dealer transactions do not carry the credit risk that direct-to-dealer sales entail in domestic transactions because international sales are ordinarily handled on a pay-in-advance or letter-of-credit basis. In addition, from a compliance standpoint, it is easier for exporters to keep an eye on where their products end up when the recipient is only one step removed from the end user. (Note: Under ITAR Section 127.1(c), exporters bear continuing responsibility for ITAR-controlled defense articles they export). There is a significant untapped potential in this channel, especially for exporters who can profitably supply smaller accounts ($10,000 – $50,000 annual volume).
  • Sale to Domestic Exporter/Distributors. Some firearm manufacturers participate in the international market by selling to U.S. based exporters who take possession of the products and then resell to their own network of dealers in foreign countries. This is the easiest way to sell firearms internationally for companies that suspect there is an international market for their products but don’t want to divert sales and marketing resources from the domestic market. The trick here is to make sure to align yourself with a reputable company that specializes in the firearms industry (consider Civil Arms, Inc.); the wrong exporters can get you in trouble. Other than that, your sale to the U.S. exporter/distributor is a domestic sale, but you know the goods will leave the country, so maintain good communications with your distributor and know where your goods are going.
  • Sale to Foreign Wholesaler/Distributors. Selling to distributors in foreign countries who resell to dealers is challenging for a couple of reasons. First, export licenses authorize export to only a single country; sale outside the original destination country requires a re-export license or, for items subject to the ITAR, a Warehouse and Distribution Agreement (WDA). Second, it generally is more difficult to police what happens to the products you export if there are two levels of intermediaries (as opposed to only one in the direct-to-dealer model) before the product reaches the ultimate end user. If your company’s international business is large enough to support a company-owned distribution facility outside the U.S. that sells to multiple countries under a WDA, this model can work well. Otherwise, this is not a good channel for most.
  • Direct to End User. U.S. exports to governmental end users (military or law enforcement) are typically sizable direct-to-end-user sales. On the commercial side of the business, however, direct-to-consumer (ecommerce) sale of firearms is no more possible internationally than it is domestically. Ecommerce sale of optics, parts and accessories, while theoretically possible, is too complex and expensive to be practical. Brownells is an exception. Brownells is equipped to handle direct-to-consumer international sales in many foreign countries. Getting your products into the Brownells catalogue is one channel for making them available to foreign end users.
  • Sale to U.S. OEMs. Products made by Magpul, Knight’s Armament, Troy Industries, and numerous other manufacturers of on-the-gun accessories, have done very well in the international market as original equipment or customer-specified enhancements to firearms made by OEMs for the international market. For many sellers of firearm components and optics, this may be the area of greatest international opportunity, particularly if you can stoke demand in the destination countries by simultaneously channeling your products to foreign dealers for aftermarket purchase by firearm owners.

Be Visible

People who don’t know your products are available won’t buy them, obviously, but how do you make your products visible in new and unfamiliar markets?

SHOT Show Firearms Export

Photo credit: NSSF

Here are some suggestions.

  • SHOT Show. The easiest place to achieve and maintain a degree of visibility in the international market is SHOT Show. According to NSSF, SHOT attracts buyers and sellers from more than 100 countries. At least some of the people you want to connect with, no matter what you sell, are likely to be there. If you have a booth and identify your company as an exporter, NSSF will provide you with “We Export” signs for your booth to attract walk-by traffic.

Plan well in advance if you want to make the most of the opportunity SHOT Show gives you to make international connections. The United States Commercial Service, a unit of the Department of Commerce, has a significant presence at SHOT every year for the sole purpose of promoting international trade in products exhibited at the show. Contact them well in advance of SHOT if you can. Another thing you can do is rent mailing lists from NSSF for targeted pitches to attendees from outside the U.S. Walk-by traffic is 

great but you will do better if you reach out to targets ahead of time to set up meetings or demos while they’re in the United States.

  • IWA and Other International Trade Shows. Many U.S. exporters of sporting and law enforcement firearm products attend the IWA Outdoor Classic show that is held every March in Nuremberg, Germany (March 6-9 in 2020). If you’re new to IWA, NASGW is now sponsoring a large booth with spaces for individual exhibitors, which is an affordable way for smaller companies to be visible. For military and law enforcement products, there are annual aerospace, defense and security shows in every region of the world. Seriously consider attending and displaying your products at shows in the regions where your opportunities lie.
  • Manage Your Distribution Channels. It is important to stay on top of performance in each distribution channel to ensure that your intermediaries (U.S. distributors, foreign dealers, etc.) are actively and effectively promoting the sale of your products. This activity involves some special challenges that are unique to the international market. It is harder for American companies to create relationships with their foreign partners than with U.S. partners, which can lead to a reluctance to terminate these relationships, even in the face of poor performance. In addition, distance and lack of familiarity with foreign markets can make it difficult to define good performance. Our advice is to do two things. First, prioritize your distribution channels and markets so your international sales managerial resources are deployed where they will have the greatest impact. Second, design metrics appropriate for your products and markets that will allow you to measure the effectiveness of your international channels and partners.
  • Social Media and Advertising. Huge untapped potential lies here. If you have defined your target markets, end users, and distribution channels, you’re ready to hire the right professional to help guide inbound marketing and social media campaigns in your target markets. Feel free to email us for recommendations. When doing business with partners or end users in European Union countries, pay attention to the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Assemble the Right Team

The companies that are most effective at selling into the international market define their strategy first and then put people in place to implement the strategy. Many others do the opposite, however. They get off on the wrong foot by designating a person to handle “international business development” and then let that person figure out how to generate international sales revenue and define success. Active participation by the senior management team in developing international strategy leads to a better strategy with firmer senior management buy-in and greater prospects for real success.

With that preamble, here are some suggestions on the people side of your international business development program.

  • Internal Sales Team. Ideally, implementation of international sales strategies should be captained by dedicated international sales/business development personnel. The skill sets that make an individual successful selling firearm products domestically don’t necessarily lead to corresponding results in the export market. That said, it takes a sizable export business to support a full-time resource, so, in many companies, international business development is led by someone who wears multiple hats. If that describes your company, look for the individual, inside or outside the sales organization, with the right skill sets to implement the strategy you design. Many smaller and mid-size organizations with good international sales programs have CEOs who stay directly involved. (Note: We will address compliance issues in a future post, but the individual who leads international sales must be someone who either knows or will learn the relevant export, international trade and anti-corruption laws and who can be trusted to abide by all of them, all the time, even when not being watched.)
  • Domestic Sales Representatives. Professional domestic sales representatives, such as Austin Sheridan Consulting and M.G. Suber & Associates, LLC, can be, and are, very effective solutions for certain companies. They can bring customers to you and take care of pretty much everything except packing and shipping (some do that, too). Be careful, however, before engaging third-party freelance representatives without a track record, especially if they want to be paid primarily on a fixed, non-contingent, basis. Many good sales representatives are willing to work on a commission basis.
  • Foreign Sales Representatives. Lots of companies rely on third-party, commission-based sales representatives located in foreign countries to develop business in those countries. The practice is particularly widespread in sales to governmental end users. As a practical matter, working with local representatives is the only way to obtain governmental business in many countries if you don’t have your own employees permanently stationed on the ground. It is risky to do business through foreign sales representatives, however. You should assume that U.S. and other law enforcement authorities will regard legal violations (think bribes or diversion of product) by your foreign sales representatives as legal violations by you and that you will be held responsible for your representatives’ bad acts, even when you have no knowledge of them. Careful vetting and ongoing management of third-party representatives is extremely important. Also, procurement regulations in certain some countries and tenders prohibit the use of commissioned representatives so make sure your arrangements are permitted under the local laws and procurement rules. We will return to compliance issues associated with these arrangements in future blogs.
  • Foreign Sales Offices. Very few U.S. based companies in our industry can afford to station their own employees on the ground in foreign markets, but that is the best way to have boots on the ground. Local employees should be imbued with the company’s values and should be truly under the control of the home office.
  • Foreign Dealers and Distributors. Foreign dealers and distributors to whom you sell are not only components of your distribution channel but also members of your sales team. Choose and vet them carefully. You want them to sell, but legally. Know to whom they sell and assure yourself that they conduct business in accordance with applicable laws and your company’s code of conduct.

Don’t Let Language Deter You

If the only language you speak other than English is Pig Latin, don’t let that deter you from pursuing international business aggressively. You can do just fine in English most of the time, although long-distance communications are often more effective by email than over the phone (don’t use Snapchat or other apps that don’t leave a paper trail; you want a paper trail). Spending some time online familiarizing yourself with, and respecting, the local customs (other than bribery where it is a custom) of the foreign countries in which you do business helps compensate for not speaking the local language.

What’s Next?

So, we’ve helped you target international markets and create or improve your business development strategy. How do you get paid? We’ll look at customary international payment terms, letters of credit and related subjects next time.

Tip No. 3: Get Paid.

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international firearms sales

7 Tips for Selling Firearm Products Internationally – Follow The Money

By Firearm Export Sales No Comments

Tip No. 1: Follow the Money

If you want to boost your company’s revenues from export sales, we have 7 tips for selling firearms, parts, scopes and other accessories to customers outside the United States.

Our first tip is: “follow the money.” In other words, identify the markets in which your products will sell best and focus your sales and marketing resources there.

1. Consider Starting with Canada

Most everyone in the industry who ventures outside U.S. borders goes to Canada first. There are lots of good reasons for that (we’ll cover a few others in future posts) but foremost is the fact that Canada is where you are likely to find the most sales opportunities.

How likely, you ask? Here’s a good gauge:

Table 1 – U.S. Exports of Firearm Products to Canada





Sporting rifles








Sporting shotguns




(sold separately from guns)




Parts and accessories
(includes frames and receivers)








Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Table 1 says that Canada is a big market for all types of U.S. firearm products. In fact, Canada is the number one international market for U.S. exporters in the firearms industry. That’s great, but it’s also not a secret, so there is competition, which is not so great.

That said, there are plenty of U.S. companies that export to Canada and nowhere else. It’s the best place to start if you’re new to exporting.

After Canada . . . . Where Next ?

Why stop at Canada once you have dipped your toe into the export waters? To maximize your company’s international sales potential, consider looking beyond Canada to other countries where opportunities exist and where it may be a little easier to stand out from the pack.

Which countries?

The best source for free data regarding which firearm products sell best in which countries is the U.S. Census Bureau. The Census Bureau receives data from exporters when products are shipped. Compilations of annual sales information for each “Schedule B number” are publicly available and easy to find on the Census Bureau website. NSSF also publishes compilations that are available to NSSF members.

We’ll save you some trouble and give you stats right here on the top 10 foreign markets, after Canada, for U.S. firearm products, based on available Census Bureau data. Countries have been color-coded to help you spot year-to-year trends.

Even with color-coding, the raw statistics can be difficult to digest, so here are some overall observations:

  • The leading markets vary by type of product: sporting rifle, handgun, shotgun, riflescopes, parts and accessories. In other words, the best markets for one product category may not be the best for others.
  • Census Bureau statistics distinguish between military and sporting rifles but the military/sporting distinction does not carry over to handguns, riflescopes or parts and accessories. The significance of this is that governmental purchases are uneven from one year to the next, creating anomalies (see, e.g., sales of riflescopes to Pakistan in 2015 and to Jordan in 2016 in Table 5 below).
  • Wide swings in exports to a particular country from one year to the next are common.
  • There are limited export opportunities for U.S. shotguns.
  • Over the last 30 years, the export market for firearm products has been cyclical, but the most recent 15 years have been marked by steady overall growth, as illustrated in Table 7, which is derived from annual AFMER reports filed with ATF by U.S. manufacturers. If new export regulations for firearm products take effect as planned, it would be reasonable to expect the positive trend to continue.

These aren’t the only foreign markets to consider, of course, but they are the biggest ones for U.S. firearm products. If you sell into Canada today and see countries on these tables where you don’t already have a presence, they probably are the places to go next.

Top 10 Non-Canadian Markets for Firearms, Scopes, Parts and Accessories

Table 2 – Top 10 Foreign Destination Countries (after Canada) for U.S. Sporting Rifles






















New Zealand


South Africa








New Zealand


South Africa




South Africa




New Zealand


United Kingdom








United Kingdom


United Kingdom
















Source: U.S. Census Bureau


Table 3 – Top 10 Foreign Destination Countries (after Canada) for U.S. Handguns




















Saudi Arabia


United Arab Emirates




















United Arab Emirates




























Source: U.S. Census Bureau


Table 4 – Top 10 Foreign Destination Countries (after Canada) for U.S. Shotguns




United Kingdom




United Kingdom




United Kingdom




























New Zealand






























Source: U.S. Census Bureau


Table 5 – Top 10 Foreign Destination Countries (after Canada) for U.S. Telescopic Sights for Rifles






New Zealand




New Zealand


















United Kingdom




South Africa




United Kingdom


United Kingdom


South Africa


South Africa




















New Zealand








Source: U.S. Census Bureau


Table 6 – Top 10 Destination Countries (after Canada) for U.S. Origin Parts and Accessories


















United Arab Emirates










United Kingdom


Korea, South




United Arab Emirates




Korea, South




United Kingdom














United Kingdom






Saudi Arabia








Source: U.S. Census Bureau


Table 7 – Year-to-Year Trends in Exports of Firearms (units exported).

Firearm Export Sales


Next Steps?

Identifying the best markets, does not, of course, mean your firearm products export business will succeed. That’s why we will have a few more tips for you in future posts.

Tip No. 2: Develop a Proactive Strategy.