The Gun Trade’s Grey Area

Posted November 17, 2015


A phrase often bandied around the gun trade is that of ‘grey importing’ but what does it actually mean and how does it impact the trade and consumers?

The Grey market is the trade of a commodity through distribution channels which, while legal, are unofficial by the original manufacturer. What happens is companies buy product and import it legally but from a company that is not the appointed authorised distributor. These companies then sell the product at a price high enough to make a profit but under the normal market price.

Due to the nature of the grey markets, it is very difficult to track the number of grey import sales and the goods are only picked up as being from the grey market when later returned for repair and such like.

The parties most concerned with the grey market are usually the authorised importers and the retailers of the product that are buying through the correct channels, as this often results in damage to their profits and in some cases reputation.

Ok, so we know that companies are loosing out on sales and profit but why should that matter to the consumer? Well, although at the time you may be saving yourself money by buying from these companies, the long term implications can impact hugely on your wallet.

Lets say you go out tomorrow and purchase a Merkel Rifle that has not been imported to the UK by Viking Arms Ltd. You get it cheaper than it has been advertised so your onto a winner. The rifle then needs a new firing pin. What happens now?

You take it back to the shop (who bought it from the grey market) and demand a repair free of charge. They would then usually return the rifle to Viking HQ in Yorkshire, knowing that we are the authorised importer, which would then result in a repair or exchange for a new rifle under the product warranty. But not in this case.

Here at Viking, we have records of every rifle brought into the country through us. When we get a rifle sent back for repair it gets ‘booked in’ to our system. This would then flag up the fact that the rifle had not come through us by checking the serial number. At this stage we would not repair the rifle free of charge as the rifle would not have a valid warranty, leaving you with a bill probably more than your original saving.

But how do you know whether the product is from the grey market? This is where it gets a little trickier.

The obvious factor would be price. If the product seems remarkably cheaper than what you have been offered somewhere else or seen advertised be careful. There is no obvious way of spotting these grey imports and a lot of it comes down to the honesty of the particular retailer. The best advice we can give you is if you are unsure about any product or want to double check, provide us with the serial number and we can confirm its authenticity.

Although buying through the correct channels may cost slightly more, you can buy with the confidence that should you ever need a repair, you will have the support of the authorised distributor.