CASHING IN ON GUN CARE.
Gun oil may not be the most exciting product to cross your counter but it's a money maker. Gun-care products, in general, have substantially higher margins than firearms and many other items that fill the shelves of gun shops. However, many retailers overlook the full potential of these products.
The major advantage of gun-care products is that they're consumables. If you stock a good cross-section of these products, your customers will buy them and come back for more. Jerry Williams, the military sales manager for Otis Technology Inc., emphasizes the importance of gun care.
"Not cleaning your gun is like never changing the oil in your car," he said. "The life expectancy is cut short. Reliability and performance are directly related to maintenance. If you don't maintain your car, it will come up short. The same thing will happen to firearms."
The bottom line here is every shooter uses (or should be using) gun cleaning products. For the gun dealer, while the margins vary widely, the bottom line is ongoing profits that make it worth the floor space to stock gun-care items.
Shawn Nahan, product manager at Birchwood Casey, said gun-care margins range from 15 to 50 percent. John Topping, director of marketing for Big Rock Sports, agrees.
"Forty percent is pretty average across the industry," he said, "although if competition is stiff it may go down a little."
Williams' experience is different.
"Across the industry, it probably ranges from 50 percent to 100 percent," he said. "On our products, margins are close to 100 percent. Gun-care products are some of the most profitable items a retailer can sell."
The other factors that make gun-care products so profitable are repeat and year-round sales.
"Cleaning supplies are a real staple that no gun shop should be without," Topping said. "Whether the customer is hunting, shooting skeet or doing target practice, they're a year-round sale."
The Right Mix
When selecting products to add to your shop, you can get individual products or full gun-cleaning kits. Don't overlook either one. The first gun cleaning product many shooters purchase is a cleaning kit. Once someone purchases a kit, however, he inevitably customizes it.
"You can go into any gun shop and watch the customers and they're almost always walking around with some little gun-cleaning or maintenance product," Williams said.
The mix of kits and individual products you choose should depend on your market. Study your existing store mix and clientele and fit your product selection to your current customers' needs and buying patterns.
Here are a number of companies that manufacture gun-cleaning equipment and supplies.
Otis Technology is a worldwide leader in producing pocket-sized cleaning kits. Their kits are designed to clean from the breech to the muzzle, which prevents dirt and fouling from being pushed into the gun's action. Particular kits to look for include #1000, the Elite, a full-sized kit designed to maintain all rifles, shotguns and pistols from .177 through 10 gauge; #110 for small calibers from .177 through .22; #610 for pistols; #210 for rifles; and #410 for shotguns.
Otis Technology, P.O. Box 582, Lyons Falls, NY 13368; 1-800-OTIS-GUN; www.otisgun.com.
Under the brand name Shooters Choice, Ventco offers a number of specialized chemicals for a variety of applications. Black Powder Gel removes black powder and lead fouling without soap and water, something your muzzleloading customers will appreciate.
Quick Scrub III cleaner/degreaser removes everything from powder fouling to just plain dirt without disassembling the action. MC#7 is a one-step concentrated solvent that comes in a variety of sizes, from 2 ounces to a gallon, for your own gunsmith.
Ventco Inc., 15050 Berkshire Industrial Parkway, Middlefield, OH 44062; (440) 834-8888; www.shooters-choice.com
Birchwood Casey has a wide variety of gun-care and maintenance products. Their new Stock Restorer enhances and enriches the color of synthetic stocks and the luster of wood stocks. Moly Lube dry film lubricant is designed to lubricate and penetrate, forming a smooth, slippery surface on metal.
Gun Scrubber has been around for a while, yet it continues to be one of the better known solvent/degreasers on the market. Number 77 Black Powder Solvent is another staple. Gun-stock-care products include Tuf-Sheen Polyurethane Satin Finish, Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish and water-soluble stains.
Birchwood Casey, 7900 Fuller Road, Eden Prairie, MN 55344; 1-800-328-6156; www.birchwoodcasey.com.
Outers is another company with a wide variety of gun-care products and chemicals. One of their most unique products is the Foul-Out series, an electrochemical bore cleaning system that removes lead and copper deposits from guns by stripping deposits off the inside of the barrel, down to the original metal, without harming the bore. Since it uses a reverse electroplating process, there's no abrasive action from bore scouring brushes and no possibility of scratching the lands and grooves.
Other Outers products to look for include the Deluxe Universal Cleaning Kit, Tico Tools (don't miss these) and a wide variety of gun-care chemicals.
Outers, P.O. Box 39, Onalaska, WI 54650; 1-800-635-7656; www.outersguncarecom.
Hoppe's is a long-time competitor in the gun-care field. Hoppe's new Bore Light is a battery-powered tool with a small light at the end of a thin fiber optic tube. Hoppe's also has introduced Moly, its brand of molybdenum-disulfide dry lubricant, in an aerosol can and a paste, for coating barrels and bullets. The company also has a number of gun cleaning kits available.
Hoppe's, Airport Industrial Mall, Coatesville, PA 19320; (610) 384-6000; www.hoppes.com.
You probably already purchase gun parts and other hardware from Brownells. Don't overlook them as a source of gun-care products. Brownells has combined two long-term storage products into one package: the Triple Tough Rust-Blox Storage Kit. Their semi-transparent storage bags are puncture-resistant and are also resistant to petroleum-based oils and solvents, with a 0 percent moisture transmission rating. Inside, the "blox" releases corrosion-inhibiting vapors over time. Each "blox" protects 300 cubic inches of airtight space for a year.
Brownells also has a wide variety of brushes, chemicals and other gun-care products you won't see anywhere else.
Brownells, 200 South Front St., Montezuma, IA 50171; (515) 623-5401; www.brownells.com.
Pro-Shot makes a number of gun-care products, many of them favored by benchrest and varmint shooters. The company's 1 Step Gun Cleaner & Lubricant contains an ultra fine high-tech penetrating oil that fills the microscopic pores of metal, treating the metal, not just its surface. Copper Solvent II completely cleans copper and powder fouling, while providing non-oil based rust protection.
Pro-Shot's stainless steel cleaning rods are centerless ground and then polished and burnish to a mirror finish. The company also makes a full line of cleaning patches and other accessories, including a new rifle and pistol Gun Grabber Vise.
Pro-Shot Products Inc., P.O. Box 763, Taylorsville, IL 62568; (217) 824-9133; www.proshotproducts.com.
Kleen-Bore is another company with a wide variety of products. The most innovative is All Gun -- the kit in a can. The kit contains a variety of brushes, a bore mop and cleaning rod, muzzle guard, a bunch of adapters for different guns, screwdrivers, patches and a silicone gun cloth. The whole array of tools fits into compartments in an expandable pouch. The back side of the pouch is a gun blanket and the entire thing rolls up and fits into a tube. Kleen Bore also has The Police Kit, a cleaning kit tailored for semi-auto guns.
Kleen-Bore, 16 Industrial Parkway, Easthampton, MA 01027; (413) 527-0300; www.kleen-bore.com.
Iosso Products offers a number of complete gun care products. The newest is Iosso Gun Lubricant. Used before cleaning, it loosens and removes powder fouling and moly residue, heavy dirt, grease and oil. Used after cleaning, it lubricates and inhibits corrosion.
Iosso Bore Cleaner removes all fouling, copper, lead, moly, plastic wad and the carbon bum at the neck portion of the chamber. "None of the liquid solvents can do that," according to Iosso, and "all within 10 minutes."
Other Iosso products include a Bore Cleaner, Gunbrite, a polish that leaves behind a non-oily protective coating that resists fingerprinting and moisture and Case Cleaner that quickly restores brass casings to a bright finish.
Iosso Products, 1485 Lively Blvd., Elk Grove, IL 60007; 1-888-747-4332; www.iosso.com.
Bore Stix cleaning rods, made by Bore Tech, are manufactured of spring steel with a non-peeling, non-softening coating that's hard enough to resist picking up abrasive particles. The handle is fitted with stainless steel bearings so the brush or jag accurately follows the rifling.
The Patch Hog offers an innovative way to clean your firearm. Just screw an empty plastic water or soft drink bottle to the small end of the Patch Hog, then slip the large end onto the muzzle. Used patches accumulate inside the bottle where they're easy to throw away. Bore Tech's family of chemicals provides a complete line of gun care cleaning solvents and lubricants.
Bore-Tech, Inc., 2950-N Advance Lane, Colmar, PA 18915; (215) 997-9689; www.boretech.com.
ProTec International has manufactured specialty lubricants and fuels for 20 years and recently expanded to add gun-care products. All Pro Tec's gun-care products contain Anti-Friction Metal Treatment, a proprietary metal treatment that reduces friction between two or more moving metal parts.
ProTec's gun-care product line includes Nitro-Solvent BORE-cleaner, an aggressive cleaner that will remove carbon, lead, copper and black powder residue. GUN oil is a synthetic blend that contains Anti-Friction Metal Treatment, which the company said will work in extreme temperatures. GUNgrease provides the same kind of protection in a white lithium-complex grease.
ProTec International, Inc., 1747 Bartlett Road, Memphis, TN 38134; 1-800-843-5649; www.proteclubricants.com.
KG Industries' products for firearm-care include a number of molybdenum-disulfide coatings for both bores and bullets. KG-500 Bullet Kote Pro is a starter kit for shooters who want to use a liquid moly system. KG-6 Bore Prep allows shooters to lubricate the barrel rather than the bullets and is an aid in reducing bore fouling. KG-7 Moly Armorkote Powder works in tumbler applications.
KG Industries, 537 Louis Drive, Newbury Park, CA 91320; 1-800-348-9558; www.kgproducts.net.
Flitz International Ltd. has a unique line of gun-care products that includes a metal polish, a gun wax and a tumbler additive. The company said Flitz Rifle/Gun Wax will protect against rust, fingerprints, water stains, powder residue, tree sap and more for up to six months.
Flitz Metal Polish comes in a bottle or pre-moistened towelettes, contains no ammonia or abrasives and removes tarnish, rust, water stains, fingerprints and oxidation. Tumbler/Media Additive is suitable for corn cob, walnut and other media and contains no ammonia.
Flitz International, Ltd., 821 Mohr Avenue, Waterford, WI 53185; 1-800-558-8611; www.flitz.com.
Remington Arms has a full line of gun-care products. Their most popular chemicals include Rem Oil, Rem Action Cleaner, Rem DriLube, Brite BoreSolvent/Cleaner, Remington Bore Cleaner and Remington Nitro CLP.
Remington Nitro CLP is a full mil spec cleaner and lubricant that stands up under extremes of temperature. In addition, Remington offers a line of cleaning kits and other specialty products. Individual kits are available for shotgun, pistol and rifle shooters; the company also makes a universal cleaning kit.
Remington also offers the Rem Pad Gun Cleaning Mat that pads the working surface while it absorbs up to eight times its weight in fluids. The mat is machine washable. Other products include cleaning rods, brushes, slotted tips, bore swabs and cleaning patches.
Remington Arms Company, Inc., 870 Remington Drive, Madison, NC 27025; 1800-243-9700; www.remington.com.
Knight Rifles offers a few gun-care products for more than just black powder shooters, including a barrel light, a patch puller, a variety of brushes and swabs and a black powder cleaning pack. The company has innovative cleaning patches: they come pre-moistened with several cleaning and lubricating compounds.
Knight Rifles, P.O. Box 130, 21852 Highway J46, Centerville, IA 52544; (515) 856-2626; www.knightrifles.com.
At Sentry Solutions, the emphasis is on dry film lubricants. Smooth-Kote is a proprietary mix of dry film lubricants in a fast drying, residue free, alcohol carrier that evaporates after it allows the lubricants to bond to the metal surface.
BP2000 Powder works with Smooth-Kote to reduce friction by 20 percent, compared to oil. Sentry Solutions' only non-dry film product is Hi-Slip Grease, a synthetic blend containing moly. Hi-Slip Grease reduces friction and protects metal in temperature extremes from -65 degrees to 600 degrees.
Sentry Solution, 111 Sugar Hill Road, P.O. Box 130, Contoocook, NH 03229; 1800-546-8049; www.sentrysolutions.com.