A personal touch for your guns
By ROBERT A. DEFRANK
Times Leader Staff Writer
Firearms are growing in popularity in the local region and across the nation, and there is no reason that they can’t be used as another way to express a person’s sense of style.
While not everyone can afford the gold inlay that master engraver Larry Parker of Belmont might apply, local craftspeople and gun shop owners said there are many ways to customize weapons and their accessories to suit various needs and preferences.
Dustin Smith, owner of Hilltop Shooting Supplies in Martins Ferry, said firearms and a means of carrying them are big sellers in the local area.
“That’s one of the biggest things going on right now is everybody getting their concealed carry license to protect themselves in this crazy world,” Smith said. “As far as everyday carry, they have holsters that go inside of your waistband. You can get a shoulder holster you can hide under your arm. Different holsters you can carry in different parts of your waistband — you can carry in a 12 o’clock, which is kind of in your groin; the 3 o’clock to your side and the 6 o’clock to your back. They have ankle-holsters — anything.”
He added that the materials and styles for holsters range from Kydex to leather to different types of plaster and polymers.
“Literally hundreds of manufacturers make them,” he said, adding that customers can shape the materials to fit themselves. “You can get home-grown kits where you can do it yourself. You heat it and you use pressure to mold it yourself, and there’s other finishing techniques people use … allow it to draw easily.”
Smith also referred to the options for personal touches in decoration.
“People get really crazy with the finishing. The color — people get them custom-painted or they get the pattern laid onto it,” he said. “We’re seeing American flags on them or skulls or whatever colors.”
He also pointed out holsters are available that can be carried in a wide variety of practical situations.
“It allows people to dress in business casual and tuck a shirt in and allows you to still carry your firearm concealed,” he said. “It can still be valuable in a business environment.”
Smith also spoke about alterations available on the weapons themselves.
“You can change grips on a gun. You can get different colors or different materials. Some guns offer a wood grip. Some guns offer a polymer grip. It’s a little more sticky, allows you to hold onto the gun more.
Smith added that more extensive alterations and upgrades can be done with larger weapons.
“You really get into customization with, say, a custom-built AR-15 or a custom-built long range rifle. The list is endless,” he said, noting customers can learn more at www.hilltopss.com. “You can change the grips. You can change the forearms. You can change the sights. You can change the muzzle break on it. You can change the stock. You can change the barrels.”
Meanwhile, Z’s Jewelry in Martins Ferry is offering lines of concealed carry purses for stylish women who want to be armed.
“They all have a Western look to them. They all have several pockets,” Z’s Manager Stacey Long said. “I really haven’t found a handgun yet that has not fit. … I’ve never had anybody come in yet and say their gun didn’t fit.”
Long also said many purses have dual pockets and are usable for left or right handed individuals.
“They sell so well that that’s all we’re going to carry now. We were carrying regular purses, but it seems like everybody really likes the carry and conceal ones. We’ll always have those in stock,” she said, adding that in terms of style, there are close to 50 different types of purses available at the store.