Saturday, May 29, 2010

Jennings J22: guns and economics

I'm going to go ahead and say that the Jennings J22 is one of the best firearm designs of the 20th century. Sure, that's open to debate with venerable models such as those produced by John Moses Browning, John C. Garand, and Mikhail Kalashnikov, but I will say that the 22LR pistol developed by George Jennings in the 1970s is high on my list of the best firearm designs of the 20th century.

The Jennings J22 is commonly dismissed by gun snobs as a "junk gun" or "saturday night special". These are perjorative terms used largely by the anti-gun community, pidgeonholeing an entire category of guns based on their production materials, size, caliber, or state of origin. Although the small Jennings design is perhaps the most recognizable "ring of fire" gun, it is not the only design worthy of mention. Other small and affordable guns from this southern california ring of factories include Sedco, Raven, Phoenix, and Davis firearms.

Why is the Jennings J22 (and its newest incarnation, the Jimenez Arms JA22) so great in my eyes? because its simple, inexpensive, and it works. A member of the gun forum had over 11,000 rounds of high velocity ammunition through his Jimenez JA22 before experiencing a slide failure. Another member from Northern Virginia claims to have almost as many rounds through his Jennings, but did not document the round count quite as well as the user with the Jimenez.

These little pot metal guns (made of zamak aluminum alloy) are small, compact, easy to work on, and inexpensive to own. I carry one daily as my backup gun, actually sometimes as my primary carry! Sure 22LR is a poor choice for personal defense, but i'm pretty sure six rounds of 40 grains each will be enough to disable an assailant. The bad guy usually doesn't question what they're being shot with.

I have a friend who recently finalized all the paperwork to become an FFL. He told me that he won't be selling saturday night special-type of guns because he has a moral objection to them, stating that they'd be more likeley to wind up at a crime scene. Honestly, I don't see this type of firearm as a menace to the society, but rather an affordable firearm for the occasional shooter or those just wanting something to keep in their night stand.

Now for a little business lesson:

If i had an FFL, I would sell products by Jimenez and Cobra. Both of those are companies that can trace their lineage back to California's Ring of Fire. They are no longer produced there (Nevada and Utah, respectively) but their designs are holdovers from California's gun making heyday. I'd want to give the public the opprotunity to get into shooting at an affordable price with a decent quality product. I'm willing to bet that many new shooters that buy a gun hardly ever shoot it, if at all. A $150 Jimenez can sit in a sock drawer just as easily as a $550 GLOCK pistol and never get shot. Inexpensive firearms such as those by Jimenez and Cobra don't cost the consumer a lot of money, but there is a decent markup (percentagewise) per unit. The Jimenez JA22 (remember, modern day Jennings J22) costs FFL holders under $100 per unit when purchased in bulk from their sole distributor, Shining Star Investments. With a MSRP of $150, that's literally a 50% profit margin with very little of the store's funds tied up in merchandise compared to the amount of profit made when the product is sold. Yes, that's right folks, FFLs can make $50 per gun on these little pocket pistols. Margins are so slim on GLOCK pistols that i doubt FFL holders make $100 on each glock, which would equate to a 20% profit margin under their best circumstances, not even considering their intial outlay of $450 or more per unit.

lets see how an FFL holder could spend $450 on inventory:

  • buy 4 Jimenez JA22s @ $100 each (not even spending the whole $450 alotted for new inventory) and sell them for $150 each, making a total profit of $200.
  • buy one glock for $450 and sell it for $550, making a total profit of $100.

its easy to see that twice as much money can be made by selling the less expensive gun. This means more transactions and paperwork for the FFL, but double the profits when compared to a more expensive firearm.

What is the purpose of business folks? to make money. There is a lot of money to be made in the gun business, and selling inexpensive pocket pistols are a great way to pay the bills.


  1. Awesome quote: "The bad guy usually doesn't question what they're being shot with."

    Start a gun store! :)

  2. Great pics and article. A little Jennings is my primary for the time being, and I like it. Haters gonna hate.

  3. I have a very low serial number Jennings j22 that I bought new and have never had any problems will fire any 22 round I can find and never jam

  4. I have a very low serial number Jennings j22 that I bought new and have never had any problems will fire any 22 round I can find and never jam