When sales of MSRs and other semiautos increased, so did the need for gun-care and maintenance products. As many shooters have learned, if they don't keep a semiauto clean, it won't work properly.
Reed Payne, one of the owners of Ross Coin & Gun in Idaho Falls, Idaho, said shooters are taking better care of their guns than ever before.
"We had a boom where people were buying guns, and the younger group was just shooting them," he said. "These younger shooters learned their semiautos weren't cycling any more. I've seen a spike in our business because they now understand a gun has to be clean in order for it to work properly."
When a customer purchases a gun, Payne said, a store staff member provides him or her a lesson on that particular firearm.
"We take the gun apart and provide a free one-time cleaning," he said. This costs few dollars in staff time and cleaning products, Payne said, but it's well worth it.
"A one-time cleaning has been very beneficial for us, because now the customer can do it and understands it, and he buys all the stuff we use right here in the store," he said. "It costs me a couple dollars to do it, but I sell $30 worth of cleaning products as a result. That's one of the ways I've increased my gun-care sales."
Although he stocks as many new products as he can, Payne relies on some of the more established, tried-and-true brands at the core of his gun-care and maintenance inventory.
"Birchwood Casey is our strongest line because they've been consistent for so long," he said. "They produce good, solid products that always work well, and have been a mainstay for us."
Another brand Payne has carried for a long time is Tetra.
"Tetra has one of the best cleaner lubricant oils," he said. "It cleans and lubes at the same time."
Many times, Payne said, the gun-care products customers ask for are those they've seen on TV or YouTube.
"FrogLube was one," he said. "Ballistol was another, which we added and it always sells well. When there's a lot of new stuff out, though, it's hard for the retailer to stay on top of it."
One trend Payne has seen in the past couple years is a move away from "fast" cleaning products.
"I'm selling more cleaning rods now, as shooters are going back to the traditional ways of cleaning a gun," he said. "They're getting one piece, more expensive cleaning rods and starting to clean their barrels better."
Payne sees a little segmentation in the market, depending on whether the...