Options Abound In Cleaning Kits,
CLP Products, Patches And Brushes
By Carolee Anita Boyles
It’s no secret every customer who purchases a gun also needs gun-cleaning supplies. Long-time shooters probably have most of what they need, but they’ll run out of patches and cleaning chemicals eventually; new shooters need everything. All of these products represent add-on sales retailers shouldn’t miss.
Chris Barolet is the general manager at Big Daddy Guns in Gainesville, Fla. He has noticed a prevailing trend where many shooters are trying to simplify the process of caring for and maintaining their firearms.
“For example, many of them are using a CLP-branded product, which is a product used for cleaning, lubrication and protecting,” he said. “In the past, most people cleaned their gun with a gun cleaner and then lubricated it, and then put some sort of preserving chemical on it. CLP products have been available for a number of years, but shooters have become more conscious of them recently, where they can use one chemical to clean a gun, wipe it down and put it away.”
Barolet said his customers are also asking for “natural” gun care products.
“It’s not a huge market,” he maintained. “Most people don’t see a difference between synthetic chemicals and ‘natural’ products.”
The main product Barolet carries in this category is RAND CLP. According to RAND, their CLP product is non-toxic and biodegradable, and is formulated on a noncombustible vegetable oil base. “A lot of people find this appealing,” Barolet noted. “It’s kind of a ‘vegan’ option for gun care.”
Another CLP brand Big Daddy Guns carries is Ballistol.
“Ballistol has been around for a long time,” Barolet said. “Another one is Hoppe’s. They make some really good lubricants and gun cleaners. We stock all of their universal gun-cleaning kits; they provide all the proper brushes and pads and cleaning rods. They’re good quality and do a good job of holding up.”
Barolet asserted his best advertising is through word of mouth.
“We do a few ads on the radio,” he said. “But it comes down to friends who know if they have a question they can come here. If I have something new, I’ll tell them about it and encourage them to come over and check it out.”
A “vegan” option for gun care, RAND CLP is formulated on a
noncombustible vegetable oil base. This product line is a strong
seller at Big Daddy Guns, where General Manager Chris Barolet says
it’s an “appealing” option for a variety of customers.
Hoppe’s developed Gun Medic’s bio-based formula as a range
“first-aid kit.” Available options include Gun Medic Cleaner+Lube,
Cleaner and Lube.
Know Your “Go-To” Products
Angela Deere, the owner of Distant Thunder Gunworks in Broussard, La., said her store’s go-to product for gun care is SEAL 1.
“We clean every gun in SEAL 1 before we let it go out the door. As a result, most of our sales have gone toward this product,” she added.
One of the things Deere likes about SEAL 1 is it’s biodegradable. “There’s no odor to it,” she observed. “Not only is it a cleaner, it’s also a lubricant; it’s a CLP-type product.”
In Louisiana — where hunters often are in swamps and other wet areas — Deere said SEAL 1 is very effective at keeping guns clean. “Hunters come back and say nothing sticks to it,” she relayed.
Deere also revealed she carries several brands of cleaning kits, but her customers still tend to purchase the SEAL 1 kits.
“BoreSnakes also are a big hit down here,” she added.
At Distant Thunder Gunworks, one thing that consistently drives sales of gun-cleaning equipment is the emphasis instructors place on clean guns in the store’s concealed carry courses. “In our classes, we show students how to break down a gun and clean it,” Deere said.
Originally developed for military applications, Otis Technology’s I-Mod
Cleaning System is now available for hunters and shooters.
Benefit Of Custom Kits
At Ammo Dump in Williamston, Mich., owner Mike Gurecki said his customers don’t buy cleaning kits.
“Most kits only give you a few cleaning patches,” he noted. “You can take the same money you’d pay for the cleaning kit and buy the products you need, and you might spend a little more money but you’ll have everything. You can spend the same money and buy a pack of 500 or 1,000 patches that will last you a couple of years.”
Gurecki mentioned his customers want more than just the easiest thing, which is the pre-packaged kit.
“They know if they buy a kit, they’ll be back in to buy stuff they need after they clean the gun once,” he said. “To get a good kit, you put it together yourself.”
Gurecki sees one interesting discrepancy in what women buy.
“Women do buy cleaning supplies, but not in proportion to the number of women who buy guns,” he observed. “Most of the women who come in and buy a gun, their husbands already got one. So they already have cleaning stuff. At least half the time a woman will say ‘I’ll see what he has, and what else I need,’ or her husband pipes up and says he already has it. Frequently we just sell her a bore brush for the caliber of pistol she’s getting because he has everything else.”
Gurecki specified one big product in his store is a double-ended brush like one developed for the M-16 rifle during the Vietnam conflict.
“It’s still one of the best pieces of cleaning equipment you can get,” he stated. “The solvents eat up the bristles on a regular toothbrush. I still have the double-ended brush I was issued in 1968 when I got to Vietnam; I still use it.” A number of manufacturers now make double-ended brushes, including Birchwood Casey, Hoppe’s, Otis and Pro Shot.
One solvent Gurecki recommends highly to his customers is G96.
“There are a lot of solvents in spray cans that do a reasonably good job of cleaning,” he said. “But G96 contains Teflon. When you use it, it leaves the Teflon on there and it’s super slick. Unlike grease and oil, it doesn’t draw any dirt or carbon to it because it’s dry to start with.”
On today’s firearms, Gurecki doesn’t recommend using gun oil.
“There’s no application for oil, and very little application for grease — which is why we don’t use oil anymore on virtually all pistols or handguns,” he said.
Gurecki always recommends his customers buy a coated cleaning rod.
“The fastest way to ruin a gun like a Ruger 10/22 — where you have to clean from the muzzle end — is to use a steel rod, which will wear the rifling completely out of it in one cleaning session,” he noted. “KleenBore is the only company who puts a coated rod in some of its kits.”
As an added service, Gurecki puts together custom cleaning kits for his customers by request.
“KleenBore makes a really good coated, one-piece rod. It doesn’t have sections, so you’re not going to wear out the rifling on the barrel. They also make a specific rod for .17. They make the M-16 brush, and G96 is the solvent and lubricant I use,” he said. “If it’s for a handgun, I put in a copper solvent. If I include a copper solvent, I also include both a stainless and a bronze brass cleaning brush; if you use a regular brass cleaning brush with copper solvent, all the bristles will fall out of it. I also include a bulk pack of patches, and pipe cleaners.” If a customer needs gun grease in his kit, Gurecki includes LUBRIPLATE grease from Brownells.
“If you’re going to use grease, it’s the grease to use,” he added.
Editor’s Note: What programs do you use to boost gun-care sales? Do your consumers favor single products over cleaning kits? Let us know! Send an email to email@example.com.