Selling Precision Rifles

Focus on precision rifle shooting to increase sales at your tactical business.

Selling Precision Rifles

New to multi-gun competitions, 13-year-old Alycia Burks had an interest in long-range shooting but had no idea where to begin. Fortunately, she had a loving, supportive father, Mike, also a fan of shooting sports, who carted her off to watch a multi-gun match at Triple C Shooting Range, in Cresson, Texas — where they happened to meet yours truly. I showed them around the shooting bays and led them to the competition while making small talk. I learned quickly that while Alycia loved multi-gun shooting, she was curious about longer-range opportunities.

Long-range — my ears perked up. “What is the furthest you’ve shot?”

She smiled, “300 yards.”

I smiled back, “300 yards? How about you, Mike?” His answer was the same as Alycia’s.

“Meet me here tomorrow morning and we’ll see if we can stretch that out.”

We met on Triple C’s D Range. The area boasts roughly 16 lanes with the closest targets at 300 yards and furthest set at the iconic 1,000-yard mark.

An hour into our first morning together, she had her first 1,000-yard impact, and the rest is history. At 16 years old, Alycia still shoots multi-gun matches but has now added long-range competition, including American Semi-Auto Precision (ASAP), Precision Rifle Series (PRS) and Extreme Long Range Shooting Organization (ELRSO) matches to her growing shooter resume, and she’s not alone.

Growing Trend

While 2020 was frustrating, to say the least, it has been a boon for firearm sales, including precision rifles. Sure, a staggering number of gun sales have been rooted in personal and home defense, represented by handgun and smaller-frame semi-auto rifle purchases like AR-15s and AK-47s, but precision long-range rifle sales also have spiked. The result has improved sales for those who care to stock these niche products and has piqued interest in long-range shooting.

Not only have today’s precision shooting opportunities stretched our long-distance legs, but the competitions at closer-range have also diversified. ASAP matches, requiring high-speed, low-drag surgical accuracy at varying distances, including long-range, with AR-platform systems, have taken off with competitions nationwide. With respect to semi-auto AR platforms, the PRS, National Rifle League (NRL), ELRSO and others allow these systems in competition, some adding semi-auto categories in the last handful of years.

The skyrocketing trend of precision shooting, along with the rifles, chassis and equipment that get us on target farther and more efficiently than ever before, has been obvious to any industry professional walking tradeshow aisles over the past decade. During that time, we’ve seen nearly every major rifle manufacturer add precision rifles to their lineup, and we have watched stock and chassis makers rise to the DIY occasions of growing masses of shooting enthusiasts in love with the idea of joining the 1,000-Yard Club — or is it the Mile Club? At any rate, precision shooting (and equipment) has been the fastest-growing segment of shooting sports in recent years, and the art of long-range shooting shows no signs of slowing down.

What does this mean for retailers? Well, it means more sales, potentially, given the right mix of how-and-what ingredients.

How to Sell Precision

How to sell precision rifles and equipment is answered in a single word truly representative of what makes our industry tick — authenticity. Understanding how to sell in the long-range game means knowing a little about precision shooting and what it takes to get people on target. Having a precision shooter on staff to answer questions and to guide consumers into legitimate firearm and accessory purchases can be a quite a benefit; however, staffing, especially in smaller shops or in locations where precision shooting isn’t as popular, can be challenging.

In those instances, it makes sense to maintain a few contacts who can be great backroom references; stocking the right firearms and gear can also default customers into appropriate buying decisions without the nice-to-have knowledge of a precision shooter behind the counter. With the right product offerings, and absent of a seasoned precision-shooting veteran on staff, decision making can be boiled down to basic knowledge of precision rifles, match ammunition, performance optics and bipods, and ancillaries like scope bases, rings and mounts.

Precision Rifle Sales

Truth be told, even the choice of rifle boils down to acquiring some pretty simple consumer wants — mid- to long-range shooters may be after firearms chambered in .308, 6mm Creedmoor, 6x47 Lapua, .260 Remington or 6.5 Creedmoor. For exceptionally long-range precision shooting, enthusiasts tend to look to more powerful rifles chambered in cartridges like Hornady’s 6.5 PRC and .300 PRC, 300 Win. Mag., .300 Remington Ultra Mag, .300 Norma Mag. and .338 Lapua. Finally, those caught up in long-range addiction may also venture into .50-cal. BMG, as well as Cheytac, Tejas or Barrett offerings designed to help extreme long-range fanatics hammer steel at two miles and beyond.

The actions in rifles also are most often broken up between short and long. Remington 700 is by far the most diverse action available, however, most major precision rifle manufacturers use their own actions — examples are Weatherby, Bergara, Savage and Tikka. More customized rifles most often are based on the Remington 700 action platform, either short or long action and either standard or magnum; in fact, the lion’s share of DIY precision-rifle builders choose an action on the Remington 700 footprint, and most chassis and stock builders out there offer, at a minimum, Remington 700-compatible options. If you’re short on inventory room, focus on more popular precision shooting caliber rifles like .308 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor and .300 Win. Mag. Considering the growing trend in precision ARs, popular calibers include .224 Valkyrie, .260 Rem., 308 Win. and 6.5 Creedmoor.


Eyes on Optics

Counter guys also should understand accessories, especially optics. Focal plane, MRAD, mils and MOA are optic terms thrown around often, and understanding differences ensures your staff helps shooters make informed, purpose-driven buying decisions. Riflescopes with first-focal-plane reticles allow the reticle to increase and decrease in size commensurate with magnification power changes. What does this mean? Put simply, it means reticle subtension values are accurate throughout the range of magnification.

Second-focal-plane reticles remain the same size throughout the range of magnification. This means subtension values change, and are not accurate, at various magnification powers; in fact, second-focal-plane reticle subtensions are only accurate at a single magnification power, usually at the highest power or a power denoted by a mark. As a rule of thumb for myself, second-focal-plane reticles are great for distances of 500 yards or closer, or at longer distances for slow fire at known-distance targets. Shooters engaging varying or unknown distance targets, especially beyond 500 yards, should consider first-focal-plane optics.

Making Room for Must-Haves

Selling precision shooting means accessorizing with products designed to enhance accuracy. This has little to do with bling and everything to do with practical functionality to leverage long-distance odds in the shooter’s favor. Scope bases are important. You definitely want to offer an array of scope bases, likely Picatinny, in 0 MOA and 20 MOA models — long-distance shooters should opt for 20-MOA scope bases.

Bipods also are critical. One of the most stable forward rests a shooter can employ is a bipod with enough durability that it can be loaded (bearing increased weight due to the shooter’s force upon it in a relaxed state). Loading the bipod, thus anchoring it between the rifle and the shooting surface, in a relaxed position helps facilitate remarkably precise shooting, even in less-than-desirable shooting positions.

Stocking ammunition in your shop is a no-brainer, but stocking the right ammunition for precision shooters actually takes some thought. Consider stocking premium, match-grade munitions in the popular precision shooting calibers mentioned previously.

Cleaning supplies are necessary to maintain precision rifles, and the type of cleaning supplies you offer is equally important. As a rule, precision rifle owners clean firearms with materials softer than the surfaces they are cleaning. This is essential bore maintenance. A retailer offering precision rifles and supplies should offer cleaning mats, bore guides, coated single-piece cleaning rods, synthetic scrub brushes, jags, pellet jags, pre-cut cotton pads, caliber-specific cleaning pellets and bore lights. Solvents should include cleaners, lubricants, protectants, copper remover and more aggressive solutions like penetrating oil (Kano Kroil Oil as an example), carbon remover and fine, non-embedding bore compounds.

Stocking magazines goes without saying. Stocking assortments of smaller and larger quality aluminum, steel and polymer semi-automatic magazines is a great place to start — ASC and P-Mag products as examples. Detachable box magazines for bolt-action rifles also are a must-have for retailers offering precision rifles. AICS-style magazines are the most popular and compatible with most detachable-box-magazine (DBM) systems. They can be found in metal and polymer forms. Additionally, AICS magazines without binder plates, also known as binderless magazines, are a great inventory idea in lesser quantities. Binderless magazines are ideal for short-action rounds on the longer side that might not fit in a traditional AICS-style magazine of the same size. Hornady’s 6.5 PRC is a perfect example. In a short-action, the cartridge calls for a binderless magazine.

Adding on Nice-to-Haves

For shooters firing from barricades and other obstacles, a front-mounted bag like a Wiebad Pump Pillow or Tac Pad is a perfect replacement for a bipod. The attachable bag provides incomparable shooting stability on uneven surfaces.

Shooting mats are borderline must-have/nice-to-have products. A good prone position is the most stable in precision shooting, but laying in the dirt isn’t ideal. Shooting mats make prone shooting more comfortable and keep your gear cleaner.

Chronographs and ballistic calculators like Kestrels are ideal for gathering ballistic data and environmental conditions for more precise adjustments and more accurate overall shooting. Ballistic Apps also work well, however, they simply are not as accurate as a dedicated, onsite chrono or ballistic computer.

Stock slim or in-ear, electronic hearing protection. Ear pro is a must-have; however, digital hearing protection that doesn’t collide with the stock is definitely nice to have. Offering hearing protection that doesn’t get in the way is a great way to accessorize and certainly increases your customer’s safety.

For your DIY customers, offering stocks and chassis can be a great way to increase revenue and create loyal return customers who know you’re serious about catering to the precision rifle wants and needs. Traditionally, stocks are single-piece stock, body and forend components, and some include adjustable comb-height, length-of-pull, etc. Chassis are generally body and forend/handguard components, often constructed of tactical-inspired synthetic or machined aluminum with an attached stock, often folding. Currently, the most popular stocks are compatible with Remington 700 long- and short-actions.

Three Precision Rifles to Stock

Barrett MRAD, MSRP $5,970

Selected as the Marine Corps and Army’s go-to sniper rifle beginning in 2021, the Barrett MRAD is a precision bolt-action rifle capable of converting to multiple calibers with a single tool. While the military seems stuck on 7.62x51, the MRAD is ready for barrel conversions to 6.5 Creedmoor, .300 Win. Mag., .300 PRC, .338 Norma Mag., .338 Lapua Mag. and others.


Bergara Premier HMR Pro, MSRP $1,715 - $1,815

Renowned for producing world-class barrels, the most critical component of a precision rifle, Bergara also delivers the next-level accuracy goods in rifles like the Bergara Premier HMR Pro. I happen to own one chambered in 6.5 PRC and have amassed sub-MOA groups at 1,800 yards. The rifle boasts an HMR molded stock system with robust comb-height and length-of-pull adjustability, free-floating match-grade barrel, and Triggertech trigger with Frictionless Release Technology.


WMD Guns Big Beast 6.5 Creedmoor AR, MSRP $2,199

The Big Beast, chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor, packs quite a value-packed punch in the world of precision semi-automatic rifles. I spent quality time lined up on this model and achieved a ½-MOA groups at 1,000 yards. The Big Beast comes standard with WMD’s NiB-X bolt carrier group; a mid-heavy match-grade barrel; Hipertouch 24-E Trigger; Luth-AR MBA-1 fixed, modular buttstock with adjustable comb and length-of-pull; and full NiB-X coating. Even better, WMD promises sub-MOA groups at 200 yards.


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.