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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The larger heavier .380's are used as a point of departure for comparison of the relative and absolute sizes of the smaller handguns. This comparison, is clearly not exhaustive, but it shows the "clustering" effect of producing guns that roughly fill the same niche. A manufacturer might see some opportunity here by "seeing an opportunity" for a slightly longer barrel - say, in the 3.25 to 3.5 inch range weighing approximately 15 ounces with a standard 6 or 7 rounds and an add on magazine of 8 rounds!

Comparison 10 .380 Handguns.jpg

ICR = Initial Cost per Round determined by dividing the Price by the Capacity
The Bersa Thunder without magazine in the gun is 16.4 ozs but when you add the weight of the magazine
the gun weighs 18.2 (information obtained from their pdf manual).

Stats for Colt Mustang from Gunblast review by Jeff Quinn. Quinn provides a very nice review of the Mustang. http://www.gunblast.com/Colt-MustangPocketLite.htm

All Rohrbaugh's, .380's and 9MM's (as of 5/27/2013) have the same dimensions and the same 6+1 capacity.
The MSRP for the Rohrbaugh 9MM was found in a web review...not on home site! This price for the 9MM was used for the .380.

The more expensive guns, based on the ICR, are highlighted in yellow, the least expensive guns
are highlighted in gray and the guns that fall between the extremes are in white backgrounds.
 

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Unfortunately I gave up on .380s Too expensive to shoot and too small for reloading. (Big arthritic hands)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·

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The larger heavier .380's are used as a point of departure for comparison of the relative and absolute sizes of the smaller handguns. This comparison, is clearly not exhaustive, but it shows the "clustering" effect of producing guns that roughly fill the same niche. A manufacturer might see some opportunity here by "seeing an opportunity" for a slightly longer barrel - say, in the 3.25 to 3.5 inch range weighing approximately 15 ounces with a standard 6 or 7 rounds and an add on magazine of 8 rounds!

View attachment 56732

ICR = Initial Cost per Round determined by dividing the Price by the Capacity
The Bersa Thunder without magazine in the gun is 16.4 ozs but when you add the weight of the magazine
the gun weighs 18.2 (information obtained from their pdf manual).

Stats for Colt Mustang from Gunblast review by Jeff Quinn. Quinn provides a very nice review of the Mustang. The Return of the Colt Mustang PocketLite 380 Semi-Auto Pocket Pistol

All Rohrbaugh's, .380's and 9MM's (as of 5/27/2013) have the same dimensions and the same 6+1 capacity.
The MSRP for the Rohrbaugh 9MM was found in a web review...not on home site! This price for the 9MM was used for the .380.

The more expensive guns, based on the ICR, are highlighted in yellow, the least expensive guns
are highlighted in gray and the guns that fall between the extremes are in white backgrounds.

What you propose sounds an awful lot like a Walther PK380 (a pretty nice pistol in my opinion), although it is somewhat heavier than you propose. And, even further, the Walther PP/PPK/PPKs and their myriad clones come awfully close to the size and capacity you specify. Admittedly, those are a bit heavier than you suggest, but the extra weight isn't extreme and serves to (further) tame the (already negligible) recoil of the 380.

But, those aside, I think the problem with your proposal is that you appear to assume that, just because there is a "hole" in the offerings, that there is also demand to go with it. I think it is more likely, given the long-established nature of this market that there is a hole in the market because research (or experience) indicates there is no demand there. (It is a common fallacy, particularly in marketing, to assume that just because something is rare, it is also desirable and, so, valuable.)

Further, the big selling point for these little 380s is that they are as small and light as possible, which makes them more concealable and less intimidating to many new shooters. (Even though, as a practical matter, smaller and lighter isn't necessarily better for new shooters...) Making them intentionally heavier and larger would defeat that purpose and, in the meantime, run the risk of exposing them to direct competition from many 9x19 pistols out there. In short, I think it would be different, but not different enough; I suspect the business case just isn't there to justify developing (another) slightly larger 380.

In any case, though, it is interesting to see how some of these pocket pistols compare side-by-side without having to go dig out the specs. :thumb:
 

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The larger heavier .380's are used as a point of departure for comparison of the relative and absolute sizes of the smaller handguns. This comparison, is clearly not exhaustive, but it shows the "clustering" effect of producing guns that roughly fill the same niche. A manufacturer might see some opportunity here by "seeing an opportunity" for a slightly longer barrel - say, in the 3.25 to 3.5 inch range weighing approximately 15 ounces with a standard 6 or 7 rounds and an add on magazine of 8 rounds!
I'm a bit puzzled by this "opportunity". The Bersa has a 3.5" barrel and, aside from imaginary QC issues, gets knocked for being too large for carry :confused:. The big selling point of the others is ease of pocket carry. Most folks don't see the advantage of a 3.5" bbl .380 when 9mms are virtually the same size as pocket .380s. I had no problem carrying my Bersa IWB, but it now resides in the wife's night stand and an Elsie Pea usually keeps me company in the wild because it is easier to conceal and I'm in favor of the path of least resistance. ;)
 

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I still have the PT638 but don't use it much as finding ammo is like looking for big foot! I used to carry it but the PT709 is lighter. They are the same length but the 638 is wider (15 rounds) compared to the 7 in the PT709 (and can find ammo easier).
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I still have the PT638 but don't use it much as finding ammo is like looking for big foot! I used to carry it but the PT709 is lighter. They are the same length but the 638 is wider (15 rounds) compared to the 7 in the PT709 (and can find ammo easier).
ICUKev, if availability of ammo were not an issue which gun would you most likely carry and why?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
What you propose sounds an awful lot like a Walther PK380 (a pretty nice pistol in my opinion), although it is somewhat heavier than you propose. And, even further, the Walther PP/PPK/PPKs and their myriad clones come awfully close to the size and capacity you specify. Admittedly, those are a bit heavier than you suggest, but the extra weight isn't extreme and serves to (further) tame the (already negligible) recoil of the 380.

But, those aside, I think the problem with your proposal is that you appear to assume that, just because there is a "hole" in the offerings, that there is also demand to go with it. I think it is more likely, given the long-established nature of this market that there is a hole in the market because research (or experience) indicates there is no demand there. (It is a common fallacy, particularly in marketing, to assume that just because something is rare, it is also desirable and, so, valuable.)

Further, the big selling point for these little 380s is that they are as small and light as possible, which makes them more concealable and less intimidating to many new shooters. (Even though, as a practical matter, smaller and lighter isn't necessarily better for new shooters...) Making them intentionally heavier and larger would defeat that purpose and, in the meantime, run the risk of exposing them to direct competition from many 9x19 pistols out there. In short, I think it would be different, but not different enough; I suspect the business case just isn't there to justify developing (another) slightly larger 380.

In any case, though, it is interesting to see how some of these pocket pistols compare side-by-side without having to go dig out the specs. :thumb:
I originally had an elaborate response to your post but when I tried to send it...my connection got lost with the message so I will be brief.

My intention was not to propose a gun be made along the lines in the post, I was only trying to show how such a matrix could be used by gun manufactures and market researchers. Any serious plan to introduce a new gun should be carried out with a reasonable marketing plan and not by the seat of one's pants. Many other factors such as texture and material composition, costs, type of sights to be used and other subjective factors would come into play.

For my own purposes and a simple improvement of choices would go a long way in making me a happy camper (others too?)...for example, since the norm in this chart seems to be 6 round magazine a simply addition of an extended magazine of 8 rounds for back-up or primary carry would be a valuable option that would easily and cheaply differentiate one's product from the competition. Same goes for a slightly longer barrel...that would appeal to those of us who put some stock in increased muzzle energy as it relates to "stopping power."

You are right about overlap between calibers but that is no longer a new issue. I think the need for product differentiation made that inevitable. There are only so many objective parameters that one can play around with the manufacturing of a gun.

As the population ages more folks, due to medical conditions like arthritis and carpel tunnel syndrome will be looking for softer shooting guns. A slight increase in weight and moving down in caliber should address this "emerging" market...not to mention increased participation of women in the shooting sports or who carry who might prefer softer shooting guns. Failing eyesight, associated with the aging process, may open up opportunities for those who market sights.

Manufacturers who don't keep up will lose market share. Remember the Commodore 64...a great little computer/company that failed to change quickly enough no longer exists.

I think we can see an example of how slow Glock has been to provide a single stack firearm that is not bulky. Certainly, they have lost customers because of that and new competitors cut into sales of their original market.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
I'm a bit puzzled by this "opportunity". The Bersa has a 3.5" barrel and, aside from imaginary QC issues, gets knocked for being too large for carry :confused:. The big selling point of the others is ease of pocket carry. Most folks don't see the advantage of a 3.5" bbl .380 when 9mms are virtually the same size as pocket .380s. I had no problem carrying my Bersa IWB, but it now resides in the wife's night stand and an Elsie Pea usually keeps me company in the wild because it is easier to conceal and I'm in favor of the path of least resistance. ;)
Whichfinger, not sure about the wrap of a 3.5 inch barrel as being too long of/for the gun. I would think the weight might be a larger issue. I used barrel length as an example to differentiate among these pistols...a 3.25 inch barrel would do that to but not as well. Argument for increased muzzle energy and maybe increased sight radius. The fact that some ammo manufacturers are selling for short barreled guns is support for the idea that precision/niche marketing is here to stay.

You are probably right about most folks not seeing the advantage of a longer barrel but that is the gun manufacturers and trainers and those of us on forums to bring about an increased knowledge of the possible advantages that such offers. I know I would pay extra money for more choices in barrel lengths.

If you could pocket carry with enough ammo in a pleasant looking reliable gun I think you would have the makings of a market for the new toy. God knows that some people here buy almost anything or more guns than they will ever need so I don't think that overlap would kill sales but that is a marketing question.
 
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I originally had an elaborate response to your post but when I tried to send it...my connection got lost with the message so I will be brief.

My intention was not to propose a gun be made along the lines in the post, I was only trying to show how such a matrix could be used by gun manufactures and market researchers. Any serious plan to introduce a new gun should be carried out with a reasonable marketing plan and not by the seat of one's pants. Many other factors such as texture and material composition, costs, type of sights to be used and other subjective factors would come into play.

For my own purposes and a simple improvement of choices would go a long way in making me a happy camper (others too?)...for example, since the norm in this chart seems to be 6 round magazine a simply addition of an extended magazine of 8 rounds for back-up or primary carry would be a valuable option that would easily and cheaply differentiate one's product from the competition. Same goes for a slightly longer barrel...that would appeal to those of us who put some stock in increased muzzle energy as it relates to "stopping power."

You are right about overlap between calibers but that is no longer a new issue. I think the need for product differentiation made that inevitable. There are only so many objective parameters that one can play around with the manufacturing of a gun.

As the population ages more folks, due to medical conditions like arthritis and carpel tunnel syndrome will be looking for softer shooting guns. A slight increase in weight and moving down in caliber should address this "emerging" market...not to mention increased participation of women in the shooting sports or who carry who might prefer softer shooting guns. Failing eyesight, associated with the aging process, may open up opportunities for those who market sights.

Manufacturers who don't keep up will lose market share. Remember the Commodore 64...a great little computer/company that failed to change quickly enough no longer exists.

I think we can see an example of how slow Glock has been to provide a single stack firearm that is not bulky. Certainly, they have lost customers because of that and new competitors cut into sales of their original market.
(I, too, hate it when computer glitches eat well-thought-out replies! :))

The issue, then, is what does one tell one's customers in order to sell the new gun, whatever it is? Certainly heavier is a double-edged sword if we're worried about aging shooters with weak hands. Meanwhile, increases in muzzle velocity are going to be rather limited with such a small increase in barrel length, particularly for the low-pressure, low-case-capacity .380, so how are the marketing guys going to sell that point? And, more importantly, how does one successfully target your intended audience (aging shooters, female shooters, or both) without insulting them and without getting labeled by all other consumers as the "girly gun" or the "geezer gun"?

Also, one would have to contend with the ammunition manufacturers as they tout improvements in powders and bullet designs that allow a .380 to pass FBI-protocol (non-barrier) tests from barrels as short as 2.75" (see the tests of Hornady Critical Defense .380 fired from a Ruger LCP). Basically, as they try to position there products to take advantage of pocket pistol popularity, they are unintentionally (but effectively) de-positioning the new pistol!

Your point about the Commodore is certainly true. However, it ignores other, more relevant marketing mistakes. In sticking with the computer theme, take the Apple III and Apple Lisa personal computers. Both were technically superior to their predecessors and some of their contemporaries and the Lisa was, technically speaking, quite advanced (with its graphical user interface) and, so, attempted to fill (or rather create) a market niche that was otherwise untouched. Yet, both were miserable failures because they were unable to effectively convince their intended audience (businesses) why they were preferable to the (cheaper) IBM PCs that were flooding the market. ;)

As for your point about using the characteristics of competing products to identify market gaps, you are spot on. In fact, any two of the points you identify (weight, barrel length, magazine capacity, sights, etc) could be (and probably have been, by someone, in some form) used to create a perceptual map or maps in order to do exactly what you suggest. The only aspect that you might be missing is that, in marketing, hard facts and specifications often matter far less than the consumers *perception* of those qualities relative to competing products. In other words, it's not enough to be different; you also have to be different in some way that is both significant and relevant to the consumer's perception of your product and its competitors.

Meanwhile, Glock's strategy actually illustrates an important point: Innovation for innovation's sake isn't always necessary to succeed in business. For the most part, Glock has succeeded by specializing in giving Law Enforcement Agencies what they (at least think) they want. By focusing on and cultivating that lucrative B2G (government) market, they successfully displaced their competitors and have avoided the need to heavily court and compete in the fickle B2C (consumer) market. For Glock, their popularity in competitive and consumer circles is largely incidental to their primary focus on LEO sales, which they continue to dominate. From their perspective, why should they invest money in R&D to develop new products when, by making small changes to their existing products, they continue to dominate their chosen market? In fact, and almost as if to illustrate my point, Glock's model 28 is almost exactly what you describe (3.42" barrel, 18.66 oz unloaded, "real" sights, and 10 round capacity). Yet, for some reason, they have chosen (at least in the US) to only sell it (and its larger sister, the model 25) to Law Enforcement. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I agree with almost everything that you have written. As an aside regarding the Apple examples, I remember thinking they were too expensive and at the time graphic interface was not appreciated by the business community and the availability of software was limited and pricey.

Glock 28 even if introduced still is handicapped by its dimensions...too wide and still chunky (and I own two Glocks - 23 & 27). A lot of us can not get a full measured grip on their sub-compacts unless we use type of extender, for example, the Pierce grip. I think being at or breaking the 1 inch width dimension is crucial to compete in this arena of mini pistols...AND getting the grip circumference down is key. Of course, there are exceptions. Glock appears resistant to change and wedded to the chunky profile. Not in a position to argue against what you say about their success in marketing to LEO/government. It would be nice to know at what price, they sell their guns to get the contracts.

On another note, the Ruger LCR at 13.5 ounces is, to me, a very pleasant feeling revolver if used with those great rubber grips. I have a 442 and here again, the number of rounds has a psychological affect...more would be better. A light weight Colt Detective Special clone made by a company with a reputation for quality might be a big seller. Many choices out there on how to spend our money...I just want a few more choices. :)
 

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Very nice work and an interesting topic.

The "clustering" effect" is created by customer demand, and the "hole" by lack of demand. There might be an opportunity "to fill the gap" if the cartridge had just been introduced but not after 115 years of marketing. Even in the last decade, there have been a number of attempts to fill the gap but they either never materialized or were dropped. Most recently Taurus had the PT138 and PT138Pro, these compacts, plus a few others have fallen by the wayside. Personally, I think they become too close in physical dimensions to those offered in higher performance cartridges and the individual buying goes with more horsepower. In fact, most are the higher performance models just chambered in 380 Auto. An example of a gap filler was the proposed 708, as a lover of all 380 Autos that announcement is what turned my head toward Taurus. After three years of waiting, it never materialized. They just don't need to bother cutting the chambers as people will buy it in 9mm Parabellum.

For a good look at what Taurus has offered or thought about offering go to their website and type "380". Most are archived and most are attempts at filling the gap. What is funny about the "380" search is that their principle player, the 738, does not appear in the list of results. That is a marketing blunder that should be corrected.

When the 708 did not appear, I bought the PT138Pro and I'm glad I did, that is the pistol that "locked" me solid into the Taurus product line. It ended up costing me a lot of money in other models.
 
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