Stock Quality Cleaning Supplies to Increase Revenue

Good advice, along with the right gun cleaning tools and supplies, will make you a trusted resource for your customers.

Stock Quality Cleaning Supplies to Increase Revenue

To move product from aisle to customers' hands, your staff should be versed in how often a cleaning is recommended for specific firearms as well as the proper steps.

Many people, especially those new to the shooting sports, don’t fully understand the importance of thorough firearm cleaning or how to do the job properly. Help them out and you’ll build stronger relationships while boosting your bottom line.

New shooters need guidance, and everyone is always happy to pick up a new tip or trick for more effective gun care.

The Right Stuff

Greg Steiner is the hunting lead at the Cabela’s store in Billings, Montana. Before taking the position he owned his own sporting goods store in Lakewood, Colorado, where he sold approximately 1,000 firearms per year. New or used, he knows that the majority of customers appreciate protecting their investment.

To get your staff up to speed on cleaning procedures for all types of guns, Steiner recommends having them review the manufacturer’s instructions that arrive with new firearms. Follow this up with a review for customers after a purchase to ensure they understand the procedure and the value of proper cleaning and maintenance. Then make sure they have the right cleaning supplies for their gun.

Keeping all the necessary cleaning rods, brushes, solvents and accessories in stock allows you to help your customers while adding to your sales. Some customers may opt for a universal cleaning kit, but it’s wise to offer a variety of options for customized kits. Stock the most popular options and make sure you have a good selection of cleaning supplies for rifles, shotguns, handguns and muzzleloaders. Offering quality gunsmith tools for firearm disassembly is another good idea.

“I always recommend to customers to use gunsmith tools and not common screwdrivers on guns,” Steiner says.

Of course the safe handling of firearms is a prerequisite as your staff demonstrates any cleaning procedure to customers. It’s a good idea to recommend customers secure their firearm in a vice or gun cradle while cleaning, and those are good items to keep in stock. So are bore guides to prevent the cleaning rod from damaging rifle barrels.

“I try to emphasize the necessity of a thorough cleaning and walk them through the steps,” explains Steiner.

Providing Guidance

Offering tips along the way, beyond what’s typically included in instruction manuals, can give your customers confidence and help build a relationship that will bring them back into your store when they’re ready to make their next purchase.

“A first good step is to remove wood parts from the firearm to leave the metal free for cleaning. Next, use a copper or bronze brush to scrub the bore first and don’t use solvent. This loosens the grime to be removed later, so think of it like using a broom.”

From there Steiner continues by explaining how a dry patch can remove that loosened grime for the next major action: solvent. Apply solvent to the bore and set it aside to allow it to react to the barrel grime. As this is working Steiner advises customers to disassemble the bolt, receiver, gas and other recoil configurations. Take those components and place them in a metal tray to soak in a solvent like Hoppe’s No. 9 or Shooter’s Choice. From there, he explains that patience is a virtue.

“Don’t rush this part,” he stresses to his customers. “Always follow manufacturer’s recommendations for dwell times, but for example, you can leave Hoppe’s overnight. Afterwards, scrub bores and actions with a nylon brush. Follow that up with a rinse using a non-chlorinated brake cleaner, mineral spirits or even Birchwood Casey’s Gun Scrubber.”

Steiner’s final advice is to wipe and patch all surfaces until they are shiny clean. After this conduct a final inspection, lubricate actions and reassemble the firearm. Safely check the function of the firearm, including the safety and action before finishing.

It’s also a good idea to suggest customers clean in a well ventilated area that is free from flame since some solvents may be flammable.

Tried and New

Bart Bartholomew served as a Marine primary marksmanship instructor. Later he worked with the Baltimore Police Department SWAT in a sniper position and even after his retirement he served another stint with the Department of Defense as a weapons specialist.

Throughout his career, Bartholomew has been a student of thorough firearm cleaning. While attending a long-range shooting school at The Bergara Academy I was astonished at the speed in which Bartholomew instructed students to clean firearms for the next day. The system he uses is manufactured by Niebling GunCare, a company with 40 years of firearm care history.

“What we discovered after testing the system is that accuracy at long range didn’t change,” Bartholomew says. “We’ve been using the Niebling system since. It’s simpler, quicker and yet our students still achieve consistent results in their precision shooting.” 

This mindset of a quicker cleaning system is relatively new to many old-school firearm enthusiasts. Niebling is leading the way with an organic wool felt system that ensures a clean barrel without any abrasiveness to affect accuracy. Their lineup includes their headliner, the BoreBlitz, specialized cleaning kits and components to accept their ultra-fast wool felt system.

As president of Niebling GunCare, Henry Niebling understands the demands of hunters with busy lifestyles. That’s the focus of the system that carries his family name.

“The most commonly-avoided practice with shooting is cleaning firearms. Most people don’t enjoy the task. Having a cleaning product that makes this process easy, quick and effective is most important and valuable to people,” Niebling points out. “We believe our system is the best and easiest way to clean firearms between 5.56mm and 40mm with just one multiple cleaning rod.”

Customers appreciate an easier road to a clean firearm, and effective cleaning products that are simple to use should be an easy sell.

“Dealers want to be able to stock cleaning products that are effective and affordable, and this makes it better for dealers to sell,” Niebling says. “In fact, it was a demand from the market that led to our best-selling BoreBlitz gun cleaning system. Other products on the market were worn out after four or five times.

"The BoreBlitz is made up of a two bore-calibrated ball-bearing system that is usable up to a few hundred times and is washable as well. This makes it much easier for the military, law enforcement and hunters because they have to buy it one time and they are ready to go.”

Meeting Demand

Steiner also sees customers hunting for the most efficient cleaning system to get the job done.

“Most customers just want to get the job done quickly and move on to other things,” he says. “Before and after each hunting season we usually see an increased interest in gun cleaning products. Big-game rifle care usually starts at the beginning of August when proactive hunters start preparing for the hunting season and it extends until the last rifle season starts, going through November. Shotgun maintenance begins with dove season in September and carries through to the end of year with waterfowl hunting.”

Not only does Steiner see cleaning equipment demands changing with the seasons, the gear hunters use changes too. Shotgun hunters transition between different setups for dove, pheasant, fall turkey and especially the waterfowl crowd.

You see a similar approach as rifle hunters switch between big game calibers and predator calibers, so having a wide assortment of cleaning supplies to handle everything from a youth .410 to an AR is wise to increase the activity in your gun-cleaning aisle.

Nobody enjoys the drudgery of chores, but you can help your customers with firearm maintenance. Stock a good selection of simple, effective products that offer the easiest means to clean their firearms, and make sure they know how to use them before they walk out the door.

Gun cleaning needs change as seasons change. With shotgun hunting the sales may continue into autumn and winter.
Gun cleaning needs change as seasons change. With shotgun hunting the sales may continue into autumn and winter.


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