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Reloading kits can up handloading sales.


There's a commonly held feeling that reloading is down. That nobody reloads anymore. That few consumers are getting into reloading for the first time.

"Trouble is," says Bruce Merkur, national sales manager for Redding/Saeko, "many dealers don't take the time to learn -- and the manufacturers don't take the time to teach -- the benefit features of their reloading lines.

"Generally, people who know about reloading can sell reloading."

It cannot be stressed enough that you have to know handloading yourself before you can reasonably expect to sell it to your customers. And then you must market the concept.

"The handloading customer must be created by the dealer," says Hornady's marketing director Dick Placzek. "A guy just doesn't wake up one day and decide that he is going to handload. He has gone to a couple of seminars, or his buddies handload and they talk him into it, or he is starting to shoot a bit more and he has had a lot of contact with handloading -- either through his buddies or through the local retailer."

"You've got to promote handloading," says Redding's Merkur. "Demonstrate the equipment. Show the customer how it works. Seminars are a great way to promote handloading."

Placzek agrees. "As far as creating a handloader goes, one of the best things a dealer can do is put on a handloader seminar. And do it at the store or, even better at a gun club. Go to the people at their gun club, and put on a seminar there."

Incidentally, an at-the-club seminar will do more than sell handloading. Club members will think of you -- and your shop -- as the one that cares, and are likely to use you for all their shooting needs.

Richard Lee, President of Lee Precision, has often walked to the sound of a different drummer. But not on this issue. "Store demonstrations," he stresses, "are the greatest sales aid. Most shooters are astounded at how easy reloading can be. Sales are always strong with in-store demonstrations."

Even retailers who know handloading, however, find they can achieve a higher sales level by stocking reloader kits. As Kerry Swett, customer service coordinator for RCBS points out, there are a number of benefits to the dealer. According to Swett, "kits let the dealer sell the function or benefit and then back that up with the right kit for the job. Selling kits does not require as high a level of experience. Most kits offer a uniform level of quality. Example: Our entry level Partner Press is matched with our entry level 502 scale." He concludes by noting that kits make it easier for the dealer to close a sale because they simplify the buying decision.

Ed Schmitt, assistant national sales manager at Lyman, provides some additional benefits. "Each item in the kit is individually packaged, just as it would be if the dealer purchased them separately. This is very advantageous, as the dealer can sell the components individually or as a complete set. Kits cost from 12% to 15% less than the individual purchase price of the items. The dealer can thus make an extra 10% to 12%, or he can pass the savings on to the customer."

What, exactly, is meant by a "kit?" That's easy. A kit is anything that provides all the equipment necessary for getting started. Within that framework, however, there is a lot of room.

First of all, with one exception, all kits are built around metallic cartridge reloading. The exception is the Lee Load All, a shotshell press that comes complete with all necessary bars and bushings. "It is a true kit," insists Lee Precision president Richard Lee, "in that everything needed to begin reloading is supplied."

The Load All does not include a scale. This is a question of some importance. While many shotshell reloaders do not depend on a scale, and none of them depend on scales to the extent metallic cartridge reloaders do, scales are important. The powder bushings on shotshell presses are mathematically derived. And most of them are bored undersized. Savvy handloaders use a scale to confirm that they are, indeed, throwing the load they think they are. And for presses using multicharge bars, a scale is required.

So, even though your customer can buy the Lee Load All and begin loading immediately, you would be wise to steer him in the direction of a scale too. And you can increase your sale with a shotshell manual to supplement the limited load data supplied with the press.

So far as metallics are concerned, there are numerous kits. Common to each is a press, a scale, and a powder measure of some kind. A loading manual usually is included, too. And most of them come with one set of dies as standard. Quite a few kits now come with instructional videotapes as well. Hornady, RCBS, and Lyman, for instance, supply such tapes with their starter kits.

Each manufacturer supplements this with various other loading tools at its discretion.

The Redding Boss Pro-Pak is typical of metallic kits. Included is the Boss press, model #2 scale, a powder trickler, set of dies, pad style case lube kit, deburring tool, case preparation kit, powder funnel, and load manual. Redding does not publish its own manual, so packs the Hodgdon book instead.

Compare this set up with, say, the Hornady kit. Either the Pro-Jector progressive press or the 00-7 single station press is included. Bench accessories include a deluxe powder measurer, magnetic scale, case lube, primer turning plate, loading block, two powder funnels, chamfering and deburring tool, primer pocket cleaners, case neck brushes, and a copy of the Hornady Handbook.

Note how there is a slight difference in bench accessories, but that both kits contain all that's needed to start reloading.

The inclusion of a progressive press reflects an awareness that kits are not just for beginners. They are bought, too, by reloaders looking to upgrade previously purchased gear.

And, according to Hornady's Dick Placzek, some new handloaders are starting right off with progressive presses. "If a guy does a lot of shooting -- say handgunning, or maybe a .223 -- this can be a smart move for him."

Lyman has specific kits for pistol shooters, as well as the rifleman or man who shoots both. Differences are in which press is provided (T-Mag for the Expert kit, AccuPress for the Pistol Pro Kit), and the specifics of bench accessories. The video "Introduction to Metallic Cartridge Reloading and Bullet Casting" is included with the Pistol Pro kit as well. Both Lyman kits include case trimmers as part of the package (the universal trimmer with the Expert, AccuTrimmer with the Pistol Pro). As such, they are the only kits that go this far with bench accessories.

Lyman also offers its Ammo Handler Kit for people who already own a loading press. This is basically the Expert Kit, without press or case trimmer.

RCBS has perhaps the greatest diversity of kits. Basic kit is the Partner Press Reloading Kit, which includes the Partner Press, case loading block, case lube kit, primer tray, deburring tool, powder funnel, Speer reloading manual, and 5-0-2 scale. The deluxe version of this kit includes 100 Speer bullets, a shell holder and set of dies, a certificate for 100 CCI primers, and an instructional video.

A similar kit is available with either the Rock Chucker or Reloader Special-3 press. In these kits, a priming unit is included as well.

RCBS has kits without presses too. The Rifle-Pistol Ammo-Crafter kit contains the bench accessories found in the regular kit, plus a Uniflow powder measure, and Speer reloading manual. The Reloading Accessory Kit expands the number of bench accessories, providing the handloader with a number of those tools he needs later on. Included are a powder measure stand, powder trickler, primer tray, primer pocket brush combo, fold-up hex key set, and case loading block.

What about display? Manufacturers universally suggest that the press, at least, be set up where customers can handle it. "The best way to sell reloading is to show reloading," says Hornady's Placzek. "Have the presses set up. The rest of the items can be used, but the guy new to reloading really doesn't care at this point. He hasn't reloaded before. What he wants to know is how the press works."

And finally, make sure to promote the fact that you sell reloading equipment and knowledge. "Take a look at how supermarkets merchandise," insists Redding's Merkur. "A flyer every single week, 52 weeks a year. Yet, many dealers run a single ad, and they tell themselves there's no market for reloading gear. Well, they've got to promote the kits if they want to move them. Do a little creative selling through displays and demonstrations. In short: Give the customer a reason to buy from you."

Why bother? Because a reloading customer is a long-term customer. "A handloading customer is probably the most loyal customer the dealer is likely to have. He is going to spend more money, in the long run, than anyone else."

PHOTO : Hornady's "New" Handloaders Accessory Pack I includes: scale, 2 funnels, powder measure,

PHOTO : universal loading block, primer turning plate, unique case lube, neck brushes, accessory

PHOTO : handle, primer pocket cleaners, and a deburring tool.

PHOTO : Lyman Products has upgraded their popular Expert Kit by including the T-Mag compound press

PHOTO : in the kit. The kit includes, besides the press, Universal Case Trimmer and pilot

PHOTO : Multi-Pak, powder scale, powder measure; plus case preparation gear, misc. accessories,

PHOTO : and a copy of Lyman's Reloading Guide.

PHOTO : Lee Precision's Challenger Kit includes the "O" frame style reloading press with

PHOTO : accessories.

PHOTO : RCBS's Partner Press reloading kit, clearly showing all that is included.

PHOTO : Redding's Boss Pro-Pak metallic kit includes the Boss Press, model #2 scale, a powder

PHOTO : trickler, set of dies, pad style case lube kit, deburring tool, case preparation kit,

PHOTO : powder funnel, and a Hodgdon load manual.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:handload of ammunition
Author:Elliott, Brook; Elliott, Barbara
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Jul 1, 1989
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