Is gun cleaning a good business?


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XDMHMMWV
March 22, 2010, 06:17 PM
Long time lurker, 2nd time poster.
I want to get a business started and I have been trying to find a niche market.

I can do computer repair, network setup/configuration, Linux training, System security, leather holster construction, Cummins diesel repair/modifications, but, there are already too many people in the market who can do the same things.


So, I thought about gun cleaning. For startup costs I am looking at $2,000 to get started.
200 for FFL. Good for 3 years
60 per month for insurance. Good for 1 year
600 for ultrasonic tank (hand gun size) with chemicals and supplies
200 for business license
300 for advertising on local websites and at gun stores.
640 for security



I thought to charge $10 per handgun, and 20 for a long gun. This would be to clean, and oil with Remoil.
If a person wants a detailed lubrication (gun butter on the rails and barrel, polish on the furniture, the charge would be $8 dollars more. If a person has clean guns, and just wants them lubricated, the charge would be $10 for a detailed lubricating.
I could include free pickup and drop off for 5 or more guns, and within a 10 mile radius of my home. Otherwise there would be a transportation fee. Unless they wanted to drop them off in person.
The local gun shop charges $35 dollars per gun.:what:

I live in Boise, ID, and there are 280,000 people within an hours drive. 52% are gun owners, and figuring 2% of those would the service, that is 2,912 customers. Now, if each of those people used only the $10 service, and they either had two guns per year to clean, or had their guns cleaned twice a year, that is $58,240 per year.

What do you guys n' gals think:confused:? Bad business plan? Is getting 2% of the gun owning population to use this service, too high to hope for in the current economic environment? Would people not use the service because they would not want other people to know what guns they have? Would most of you shy away from a business like this because of a " You toucha my gun, I smasha you face" mentality i.e. a gun is too personal a thing? Or is it just too much fun to clean your own guns:D

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Dravur
March 22, 2010, 06:37 PM
I wouldn't rely on it as a major source of income. Most gun guys clean their own guns and the people who aren't really ""gun guys" tend to never clean their guns.

You also have to take into account advertising... materials and your time. If you can actually make more as a greeter at Wal-mart than you can doing this... there's your answer. These are all reoccurring costs as you will probably have to advertise long time to get a good client base.

There is probably a reason that your local Gun Shop charge $35 for a cleaning. More than likely, they couldn't make it worthwhile at a cheaper price as they have to take someone off the floor to do it.

If you can add some gunsmithing services in, it might help.

But, this may be something you can do to make some side money. Whatever you do, don't quit the day job unless this starts making trunkloads of cash.

Daveboone
March 22, 2010, 06:43 PM
Perhaps a service such as what you are thinking would have a "sometimes" market...
like at shooting range, or competition. Myself, I Prefer to do my own cleaning. Handling and caring for the gun is part of the enjoyment and familiarizing with the guns. Gunshops do this service, usually for owners who are unfamiliar with firearms. You also may run into problems with not having a reputation or proven expertise for dissasembling firearms.
I am sure different sections of the country have localized populations where such service may go over better though.

jimmyraythomason
March 22, 2010, 06:56 PM
Most gun guys clean their own guns and the people who aren't really ""gun guys" tend to never clean their guns.

I agree with this. Those that don't clean their guns will only bring them in when they quit working.

searcher451
March 22, 2010, 07:14 PM
If you want to establish a true niche operation, get yourself a good sonic cleaner and provide specialized service. Most guys are happy to clean their own firearms -- many of us even enjoy it as much as shooting. But for a real good, deep-down, clean-to-the-core service, the kind that you can't get with a bottle of Hoppe's and a nore snake, you might be able to attract some attention. One of the local concealed-carry trainers provides this service locally, and he stays fairly busy, I'm told.

Just a thought -- good luck to you.

XDMHMMWV
March 22, 2010, 07:26 PM
Dravur "....don't quit the day job" That is the problem, I don't currently have a day job.
Searcher451, thank you , I was planning on using an ultrasonic tank. Doing it by hand would take too long for that kind of pay. LOL If I may ask which side of Oregon are you located on?

I may just have to find another niche market. Just which one is the question:confused:

jimmyraythomason
March 22, 2010, 07:34 PM
I had intended to start bluing for the public but decided against it. I have a seperate building for the business but not a seperate address and I didn't want to open my home to government inspection.

Gunfighter123
March 22, 2010, 08:10 PM
I think you may do well at it. For a $2000 startup cost -- I would think that MANY shooters would take advantage of a $10 per gun ultrasonic cleaning ---- MANY revolver owners have NEVER taken the side plate off etc. etc.

I was part owner in a gun shop in the mid-80s ----- way back then I charged $10 per firearm to clean --- mostly not takeing the actions out of the stock etc. ---- the local farmers drove me CRAZY with cleaning their hunting/tractor guns ---- I also made very good money doing simple repairs/ replaceing parts and I'd charge extra money to "test fire" and sight in their firearms ---- that was the BEST part of the whole job --- being PAID TO SHOOT !!!!!!!!

zorro45
March 22, 2010, 08:34 PM
I like your idea, but I'm not a big fan of ultrasonic cleaning. My guns have specific lubricants at specific points for a reason. Maybe I am fanatical, but I think my 45 works better when the rails are greased just so slightly with one compound, and the other parts with something else. I'd like to hear what an expert would think. Also, doesn't this strip the lubrication out of the assemblies that you do not take apart for routine cleaning (field strip) for example, the trigger assembly?
Also, for liability reasons I would feel a lot better if you were a certified
S+W, Glock, Sig etc. "armorer" so that I would be reasonable sure that the next time I went to the range, my gun would go bang and I would not look silly, or whatever-----. You might be setting yourself up for a liability issue. For example, at S+W, they will only clean S+W guns for you. Does that make sense?
Best of luck to you.

22-rimfire
March 22, 2010, 08:50 PM
I assume you are working out of your home. Check zoning although I don't expect an issue there. You'll have to buy at least one safe to store the guns in at night or until the customer picks up the firearm.

What kind of business insurance is only $60/month? Your liabilities are actually quite high considereing someone could break into your "house" and take a lot of customer guns.

The dollars are a little low for anything other than something most would consider a part time job. Admittedly, $52K is nothing to sneeze at. How many do you think you could do in one day? If you can net more than $200 a day, it may be doable but remember you will be paying rather high federal taxes on this self employment income.

Andy_C
March 22, 2010, 10:01 PM
Would there be a chance to be working with local gunshops instead of competing with them or just advertising at them? Would the shop that charges $35 be willing to pay you $10 or $15 for guns you pick up from them and clean? Or if the paperwork is too much can you take cleaning gear around and have a day at each of several local shops where you provide a service that they do but would rather not, or that they don't even offer now? Or if they already have the stuff but you are able to do it well without them pulling a guy off the floor so they have you come in and freelance for them? It may be worth checking with some of the shops and see what may come of it.

Nicodemus38
March 22, 2010, 10:02 PM
actually no intelligent, or unintelligent person, will send you a 3-4000 dollar handgun or rifle so they can pay you 10-20 dollars to "ultrasonically" clean it. its one of those things that sounds like the old style :

ill bury a 120 gallon tank of oil in this here stream, put a tiny hole in it so it drips and make sure that a local kid out fishing sees the oil slick. then ill come through claiming to be an oil prospector, and charge them 5 grand to do a test of the oil slick, and run away that night the check gets cashed.

hey, ill steal a car from the local valet parking lot so i can do a drive by on this cocaine dealing competitor of mine, thus allowing myself to improve my business as well as be unidentified.

ill sucker in some idiot to let me "clean" his weapon and while he thinks im cleaning it, ill kill a few people and return it to him. or ill simply claim i got robbed and sell it on the street for a few hundred.

leadcounsel
March 22, 2010, 10:40 PM
I agree with the above posters. Gun guys clean their own and I don't know anyone that would pay someone else to clean their guns.

And you also would need some insurance against claims you wrongly reassembled the gun or damaged it.

acdodd
March 22, 2010, 11:01 PM
Cleaning my guns is part of shooting them.
I wouldn't pay someone to do it for me.
That said you might be able to make some money by having a mobile service and going to gun shows and shooting matches.
I'm thinking about a knife sharpening service.
I work in a hospital so there are a lot of potential customers with dull kitchen knives.
Good luck in whatever you decide.

gym
March 22, 2010, 11:08 PM
I don't think it's a good idea. Most gun people want to maintain possesion of their own firearm. Giving an expensive pistol to someone you really don't know isn't an appealing idea, at least to me.

XDMHMMWV
March 22, 2010, 11:08 PM
These guys seem to be doing well. I contacted them and they said they are looking at franchising. http://extremeguncare.com/ContactUs.html

leadcounsel The issue of insurance was covered in the first post. Insurance is through the NRA

Nicodemus38 Your comments made no sense, are you implying I am attempting to commit a crime?:scrutiny:

Andy_C good point, but, I don't think they are getting much, if any, business as it is at $35:what:

22-rimfire insurance is from the NRA

zorro45 That is why I was going to offer a higher priced service that went more in depth in lubricating, then just using Remoil.

Gunfighter123 thanks

It seems there are more nays, then yays. Thank you everyone for your time and thoughts. I'll look elsewhere for income ideas.

acdodd A lot of dull kitchen knives? I hope you are talking about the surgical kind, and not the kind that mad wives use.

jimmyraythomason
March 22, 2010, 11:19 PM
Nicodemus38 Your comments made no sense, are you implying I am attempting to commit a crime? I tried to question this too but only got the "Server busy" message. I could only scratch my head trying to figure out what the heck he was talking about.

Zack
March 22, 2010, 11:28 PM
I think it would be great if this was at a gun range. You know, shoot some guns drop them off at the cleaners and keep shooting your other guns. Once you are done shooting pick up your gun! so thats less you have to clean when you get home.

mljdeckard
March 22, 2010, 11:29 PM
One of my best friends is a gunsmith, he says that most of his work is cleaning to prevent damage to guns, repairing guns damaged due to poor maintenence, and cleaning guns that the owner thought were broken but were really just dirty.

Why not just take some time and get certified as a gunsmith?

XDMHMMWV
March 23, 2010, 12:08 AM
And the pendulum swings the other way. LOL:D
I looked into becoming certified as a smith, but I would have to move out of state to the college, would be looking at a $20,000 bill, 2 years of my life, and from what I have read, there is no money in it. :( I would have to go into custom gun making and spend several years making a name for myself.
Besides, I am over halfway through a bachelors in Business Admin degree at the local college. I am wasting enough time and money with that:banghead:

Besides, what's the point of becoming a smith when your friend just said that most of the work he does is cleaning, and small repairs. LOL I think your friend wasted his time learning to become a smith.Granted it is a great trade to have under one's belt.

acdodd
March 23, 2010, 12:08 AM
A lot of dull kitchen knives? I hope you are talking about the surgical kind, and not the kind that mad wives use

The kind wives use. Mad or otherwise.:)
Surgical cutting instruments are single use and there is no way I would even attempt sharpening one.
Knives, scissors and tools.

mljdeckard
March 23, 2010, 12:11 AM
I'm not sure what my friend paid, but he did his certification with correspondence courses.

But you're right about the money. He quit and became a chopper pilot. I am still considering doing it one day, not to make a business of it, I am just tired of paying someone else to adjust my triggers and install my night sights.

Equestrian
March 23, 2010, 12:32 AM
i love to clean my guns heck i just enjoy taking things apart and putting them back together again when that starts getting dull i break out the timer

BCCL
March 23, 2010, 12:40 AM
I've actually picked up a few bucks in the past by cleaning guns for local folks. There are some out there that will pay $20-$25 bucks even, but not sure if it's enough to have a business, or more of a paying hobby. :)

XDMHMMWV
March 23, 2010, 12:44 AM
Equestrian, you are just plain weird..... Like me! Except for the timing thing, I enjoy disassembly and reassembly of my tools, and vehicles too. It got me in trouble when I was a kit though.

mljdeckard, I don't even know if getting my BA degree is even worth it. But having that stupid piece of paper (a degree) can be a help in getting a job..... I guess.

mljdeckard
March 23, 2010, 01:04 AM
I'm a pretty good lawyer, I just have to get that formality of law school out of the way. Sometime after the war maybe.

XDMHMMWV
March 23, 2010, 01:38 AM
After the war? That is going to be a long time.
I'm just sick of taking classes that do nothing but repeat the classes I have already taken. I had one that repeated 8 other classes last semester. I know it makes it easy for future classes, but since I'm paying, I want to learn something darn it!

Kenneth Lew
March 23, 2010, 01:41 AM
Do you have experience with cleaning a variety of handguns? Some guns you just cannot rely on the Numerich diagram.

Do you have someone that you can rely on for help is you are unsure of a particular firearm before proceeding?

Are you willing to taking in really neglected/flooded/rusted/et al firearms that needs all out elbow grease?

What will you do when you break someone's priceless heirloom and try to repairs/replace its hard to find parts?

trickyasafox
March 23, 2010, 02:17 AM
for 10 bucks, i'd give you a shot.

Gunfighter123
March 23, 2010, 03:26 AM
Gotta be at the right place at the right time !!!

Example = I first was a Range Officier and then a Board Member for a very large public shooting range. I made very good side money giveing instruction in the different types of competition I was in -- IPSC , IDPA , Steel Challenge , 3 Gun Action , SASS/Cowboy Action etc. -------- was I a "big name sponsered " shooter ?? NO. Did I have a Masters Degree or was I "certified " from Blackwater/Glock/Thunder Ranch ??? NO.
What I was is a very good competitor who placed in or near the top at many local matches we held. POINT IS -- not really many people will want you to be "certified" to clean their firearms !!!

What YOU MUST BE is the three F's ---- Fair , Friendlly , and Fun . I have seen it in person and read 100s of posts where the "public" are treated like Jerks , Idiots , and belittled for their choice of firearms by gun shop owners or other "armchair commandos".

I am sure you know that you are not only selling a service to clean someones firearm --- YOU ARE ALSO SELLING YOURSELF !!!!

DO NOT let the "bah-humbugs" mess with your mind !!! I bet you have heard = Location , Location , Location -- a hundred times. That is why I posted about me at the range giveing competion instruction for cash. There are Two Kinds of Opportunities in life --- those you "luck" into and THOSE YOU WORK/PLAN FOR !!!

You have a solid idea and it could be a great part time income that may lead to a full time income !!! Example = me doing " action coaching " lessions then led to me meeting shooters who also wanted/needed work done to their firearms --- so I "farmed it out" to two gunsmiths for a 10% fee for the work I brought them !!! I DID NOT need a FFL , College Degree , or to be "Cerified" to do this.

Think about a portable firearm cleaning service ---- maybe go to where the shooters are and not wait for them to come to you. Find indoor ranges , Bullseye Leauges , IPSC/IDPA matches etc. -- hang around , shoot the match ,find gun/sporting shows, pass out business cards, etc. Try to
think "outside the box" , use the power of the Internet , etc. etc.

RoostRider
March 23, 2010, 03:43 AM
I would pay $10 to have my guns ultrasonically cleaned, lubed and reassembled, by a professional company, with glee.... and I won't even pay a smith to work on my guns!!... I did once.... only disappointed... I do better work myself.... I don't think I can clean my gun better than an ultrasonic machine though.... see, that's the thing...

I would immediately inspect them afterward to be sure they were cleaned as promised, and reassembled properly.... and I wouldn't trust it with my life (or game) until I had fired it again..... but I take that precaution even if I clean it myself....

If you were a respectable company, or doing business through a respectable company (such as a local gun shop), I wouldn't even second guess your motive....

I don't know what all you guys think your guns are worth, but I put a WHOLE LOT more valuable things than guns in others hands knowing that I could, but don't want to, do the work..... my pickup comes to mind right off....

Yeah, sure, cleaning guns is fun (not)..... maybe I'm just not a 'real gun owner/shooter/hunter/reloader.... hhhmmpffff....

waterhouse
March 23, 2010, 09:42 AM
I'm not sure how big your market will be on cleaning, but if you are getting an FFL anyway you can do incoming transfers to make money and try and advertise your cleaning business. You'll probably make more money doing transfers, but it is easier than cleaning guns and money is money, right?

I get asked about once a year to clean a customer's gun. Granted, I don't advertise a cleaning service, but most folks do it themselves.

CajunBass
March 23, 2010, 10:09 AM
I don't see why it wouldn't work. I know a lot of people who pay good money to have fishing reels cleaned and relined. No reason to think they wouldn't pay to have a gun cleaned.

Most reel repair people I know have an arragement with a local tackle shop. Anyone comes in looking to have a reel cleaned, they get refered to "Joes reel cleaning". You might be able to work the same type arragement with a gun shop.

jimmyraythomason
March 23, 2010, 10:25 AM
Do you have someone that you can rely on for help is you are unsure of a particular firearm before proceeding?
Google and Youtube are your friends.

1911Tuner
March 23, 2010, 10:30 AM
You'll need a Federal Firearms License in order to receive and hold the guns overnight...even if they're brought in by the owners. You'll have log in each gun, and log them back out when the owner returns to pick it up unless he returns on the same day during business hours. If you close at 6 O'Clock, and he comes rushing in at 5 after...you have to log it in and out in order to comply with the letter of the law.

You'll need liability insurance.

Good luck!

aka108
March 23, 2010, 10:31 AM
Friend of mine is a gunsmith. Over half the guns he takes in because they "don't work" simply need a good cleaning. He has a minimum charge of 35.00. He stays busy.

jimmyraythomason
March 23, 2010, 10:32 AM
You'll need a Federal Firearms License in order to receive and hold the guns overnight... He will need the FFL to do any work on a firearm(ie: receiver) even if it doesn't stay overnight(it won't have to be logged in the bound book if it doesn't stay).

Taurus 617 CCW
March 23, 2010, 10:51 AM
One thing I didn't see on your list of expenses is tools. In order for me to do "general gunsmithing" I have an inventory of general tools that runs about $2000. No you don't need $2000 worth of tools to take guns apart but you will run into old beaters that will require specialized tools. I did the school thing, 2 years out of state, $20K tuition bill. There is money in it if you go to work full time for a company but it is a hard road to travel if you try to do a home based business right away. $10 per firearm to clean will take quite a while to pay off your initial investment. Not to mention your expendables such as cleaner, patches, etc. If you are doing it as a hobby, it would probably be fine. Your most difficult task will be getting the word out. A word of caution, ultrasonic cleaners can strip anodizing off aluminum ie. Remington receivers, AR-15 quad rails, etc. Good luck and have fun at it.

lions
March 23, 2010, 10:53 AM
Do you have someone that you can rely on for help is you are unsure of a particular firearm before proceeding?

He is on The High Road, what more could he need?

ForumSurfer
March 23, 2010, 11:01 AM
I put a WHOLE LOT more valuable things than guns in others hands knowing that I could, but don't want to, do the work..... my pickup comes to mind right off...

See, some YMMV!

The above statement would be why I would say that it is worth a shot, assuming that this would absolutely not be your sole source of income. It seems like it could wither prosper, flop or break even. I wouldnít consider it unless I had a primary income elsewhere and that this cleaning thing is something that you know you would love doing daily. I personally love what I do for a living (networking geek) and would never think of starting my own business in something that I felt was anything less than ridiculously fun to me.

I say it is sink or swim because most gun owners that I know are also tinkerers. I know a few who could care less about tinkering with their weapons. These guys typically have $3000+ trap/game over & unders or they are the ďI donít want it anyway but factoryĒ guys. I know many people who are XD/Glock/Sig/whatever guys who scoff at any deviations from factory and could care less about the inner workings, so long as the gun works. I also know a few Colt guys who feel any deviation from factory is sacrilege and you are ruining a future collector's item. The rest of the owners that I know enjoy tinkering or at least inspecting and cleaning their guns themselves.

Me, Iím a tinkerer and I hate taking anything to someone else. If a vehicle goes in for repair it is because I lack the tools (and they are too expensive to rent), I donít have the time or I feel totally out of my league (like assembling a reciprocating assembly). Other than that I love tearing a vehicle, weapon or whatever completely apart on my Saturdays. I may cuss while and bloody up a few knuckles while Iím pulling the supercharger (and the brake booster and most everything in front of the front cover) off of my mustang just to change a silly belt or helping a friend assemble an ar with the cheapo parts he ordered, but I love it.

Either way, good luck with your quest to find something!

jimmyraythomason
March 23, 2010, 11:04 AM
He is on The High Road, what more could he need?
Nope, wouldn't work as no two people here can agree on the proper tact to take.

Murphys Law
March 23, 2010, 11:06 AM
Besides the FFL, you have to figure in the shipping costs. To and From. Will the average gunowner want to package his pride and joy and then deal with UPS? I know I hate sending my guns back to the factory and thats for a necessary repair. I've used Ultrasonic cleaning and in order for it work properly, the guns must be field stripped. You just can't dunk them in a tank. The barrel will still have to be brushed out if its heavily carboned, lead or copper fouled. If the gun has wood or stag stocks they will need to be taken off as well. Ultrasonic cleaners will sometimes remove some painted surfaces like the white dots on a front sight. Truthfully, a toothbrush , some patches and some solvent followed by a can of brake parts cleaner will do everything an ultrasonic will do. I do wish you the best on finding a job though. Times are tough for many people right now.

jimmyraythomason
March 23, 2010, 11:12 AM
a can of brake parts cleaner will do everything an ultrasonic will do. I've never used ultrasonic cleaning but unless it cleans at the molecular level,I think my boiling soapy water does just as well.

Murphys Law
March 23, 2010, 11:27 AM
I've never used ultrasonic cleaning but unless it cleans at the molecular level,I think my boiling soapy water does just as well.
Yeah, theres that too. :)

MAKster
March 23, 2010, 11:28 AM
The only way something like this could work would be if your shop was located at a shooting range. People might be willing to hang around an extra 15 minutes while you cleaned their gun. That's the only way you will ever be able to generate enough customers to make any money. The idea of leaving your gun and picking it up a few days later makes no sense. The kind of people who don't know enough about their gun to be able to clean it themselves probably only own one gun so they aren't going to go without it for a few days.

KarenTOC
March 23, 2010, 11:29 AM
I wouldn't regularly pay $10 to have someone clean my guns, but I'd pay more to have someone teach me how to clean them properly.

jimmyraythomason
March 23, 2010, 11:34 AM
folks might look at YOUR plan as a way to con you out of your guns. You mean if he were traveling to shooting ranges,et.al.? Doing cleaning from the back of a van? I CAN see THAT.I don't feel like I'm doing it right. If it is clean and works properly when you're done,you did it right!

ForumSurfer
March 23, 2010, 11:42 AM
I would have to go into custom gun making and spend several years making a name for myself.

No offense intended, so please don't take this the wrong way. It sounds like you are looking for instant gratification. In today's economy, I don't blame you. It is hard getting by as it is, much less on an apprentice's salary as an adult with dependents. My kids need shoes and food constantly (let alone doctor bills), so I have to work and make decent money. I can't afford to apprentice. I enjoy tinkering, but I pay the bills with my day job.

Still there are a few people who revolutionized the gun industry through persistence without apprenticing and formal gunsmith training. There are a few that come to mind:

Eliphalet Remington
Mikhail Kalashnikov
Gaston Glock
Dr. Richard Jordan Gatling...a good ol' boy from Hertford County, NC.:cool:

FAS1
March 23, 2010, 11:53 AM
"Think about a portable firearm cleaning service ---- maybe go to where the shooters are and not wait for them to come to you. Find indoor ranges , Bullseye Leauges , IPSC/IDPA matches etc. -- hang around , shoot the match ,find gun/sporting shows, pass out business cards, etc. Try to
think "outside the box" , use the power of the Internet , etc. etc."


^^^^^ This is how I would build that kind of business as it can be done on the weekends and evenings to get you started. It can easily be expanded to your home as it grows and you see the opportunity. Might also be some CHL instructors that can refer business to you at their location for a finders fee. What do you have to lose? You will certainly be able to make up your investment in less than a year, part time. GO FOR IT!

Al Thompson
March 23, 2010, 12:19 PM
Local shop here does that and makes some decent money. I'd get the biggest ultra-sonic tank I could though. Seems like there's always something bigger to put in there.

Quick note - get a good cleaning solvent designed for guns. It makes a difference.

jdh
March 23, 2010, 12:27 PM
To do ultrasonic cleaning as a business you really need two tanks. One for the cleaner, one for the lube/protectant. The cleaner is water based and you rinse with tap water. You cannot get all the water from the nooks and crannies with an air gun. You have to put the gun in the second tank with a water displacing dry film solution after cleaning it.

15 minutes,HA. 15 minutes in the cleaning tank alone, 10 more in the oil tank, Time for the protectant solution to dry a couple hours. All that not counting dis-assembly, bore scrubbing, re-assembly, book keeping, so on and so forth.

Yes, gun guys take care of their own guns. Gun guys are in the minority. Some of you should spend time in the back room of the gun shop to see first hand what comes in for service.

Carb cleaner cannot do everything an ultrasonic cleaner can do.

Trying to do a rifle/shotgun action in a pistol tank is a Large PITA.

22-rimfire
March 23, 2010, 01:11 PM
If you are serious, I would develop a relationship with the local range(s), gun clubs, and definitely have a table or two at local to regional gun shows. It will take time to get the word out. It is not as easy as building a website and buying advertising in the yellow pages and you instantly make serious money. Yellow pages advertising is expensive. But you get included in the SuperYellowPages as part of the cost. A website is not enough.

I would look very closely at the insurance issue in terms of what the policy actually covers. Yes, you will need a Million liability coverage minimum, but you need to be absolutely sure just what the coverage entails. What if a gun blows up after you clean it and the shooter is hurt? It may not be your fault, but a judge may not see it that way. One lawsuit and you're out of business and possibly bankrupt. There are many scenarios that relate to personal liability. Remember you are a business and there are certain minimal expectations.

Good luck with your plans.

Oregun89
March 23, 2010, 01:26 PM
It's a poor idea.

Shrevy
March 23, 2010, 01:56 PM
I live in Boise, ID, and there are 280,000 people within an hours drive. 52% are gun owners, and figuring 2% of those would the service, that is 2,912 customers. Now, if each of those people used only the $10 service, and they either had two guns per year to clean, or had their guns cleaned twice a year, that is $58,240 per year.

Building a business plan is hard work. It is only as good as the numbers that are put into it. For a side business, you don't need to have a 20 page plan outlining your entire business but your market numbers should at least be reasonable. Your biggest flaw in addressing your market is the statement above. Your market is not the 140K+ people that own guns in Boise. A small retail business will attract most of its customers from a 3-5 mile radius. Your "addressable market" is vastly smaller than the number above suggests. Where will you be located? What are the demos like there? Population density? Gun ownership within 5 miles (higher or lower than Boise as a whole)? Your 2% penetration number may be reasonable, but you will end up addressing a fraction of the 140K people you assume above. Partnering with a local store/range would be a good idea, but most of their customers will also come from the same 3-5 miles. Having done the small business route, I can tell you that expenses will be higher than you assume. They always are...

Gunfighter123
March 23, 2010, 02:20 PM
Oregun89
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Join Date: January 14, 2010
Location: Oregon
Posts: 24 It's a poor idea.
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Yeah --- good reply --- care to add a little something to it !!!!

CoRoMo
March 23, 2010, 02:23 PM
I know a gunsmith who offers a detail strip, clean & lube for $20/gun. I was surprised that he's requested to do this more often than any other single service. There's a lot of gun owners out there who don't want to apply themselves to disassembling their gun just to clean and lube it, so they pay him $20.

GRIZ22
March 23, 2010, 02:36 PM
I don't think it's a very good idea for the following reasons:

1. Most shooters are happy cleaning their own guns.

2. If you do it for $10 with the overhead you're talking you're not even making minimum wage. Charging $25-35 most people will just do it themselves.

3. There is too much fascination with detail stripping. The only reason to take any gun titally apart is if it's broken. Guns work well for years without detail stripping if they are maintained on a regular basis. I have some guns over 35 years that have never been detail stripped for cleaning including a 1911 that was only taken completely apart for a worn sear a few years ago.

4. While you live in a gun friendly area (which means more people have guns) you're looking at a small total population for your specailized service.

5. Becoming a gunsmith would create more business possibilities but as has been said takes time to learn, lots of equipment and tools needed, and most gunsmiths don't make big money. A business cleaning guns would make even less.

jimmyraythomason
March 24, 2010, 12:06 PM
get a good cleaning solvent designed for guns. It makes a difference.
Again,I have never used ultrasonic cleaning so I DON'T KNOW but this just sounds silly to me.

XDMHMMWV
March 24, 2010, 04:53 PM
Accidental double post.

XDMHMMWV
March 24, 2010, 04:54 PM
Well I just found out there is a local shop that charges $50 per long gun, they have a one month backlog, and they do not offer a delivery service.
And yes, the ultrasonic cleaners work very wellhttp://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=211481

KingMedicine
March 24, 2010, 08:01 PM
I live in Boise also, and actually i might be up for having a few of my rifles cleaned well once and a while, but i its actually hard to get a good FFL around here. So if your a FFL and give great service, it might be a good plan.

KingMedicine
March 24, 2010, 08:04 PM
And you have to remember, Boise is only 220,000 people. But the the Metro area is over 580,000 people... and alot of them are gun owners. You would justhave to find your Nitch and go to alot of gun shows.

Al Thompson
March 24, 2010, 09:56 PM
Jimmyray, I've read where folks were using detergent and water for cleaning. A few years back, folks were recommending Simple Green. Shortly thereafter, it was found that Simple Green eats aluminum, and the Army was sending out strong safety messages about this (mainly for rotary wing aircraft). So, folks using ultrasonic cleaners with Simple Green as the detergent were screwing things up. Never got it confirmed, but my local shop screwed a SIG up for a customer - stripped the frame to bare aluminum - and I think they used Simple Green. Moral of this story - use something designed for guns. :)

jimmyraythomason
March 24, 2010, 10:13 PM
use something designed for guns. Or..just don't use Simple Green. BTW,I have used Simple Green and Mean Green for a couple of decades to clean aluminum A/C and refrigeration condensors and evaporators,works super!

tackstrp
March 24, 2010, 10:15 PM
if i give a working fire arm to be cleaned and does not work when i get it back, would expect you to pay for repairs. . Then again would rather clean my own. If it gets broken, i know to blame myself.

Equestrian
March 25, 2010, 08:55 PM
XDMHMMWV Yes i'm not alone!! I drive an old truck have a 1950/60s? lathe (its areal old south bend) among other machines. i have a love for almost anything mechanical. i can relate my parents are still mad over some of things i wanted to see the inner workings of. Guns are fun because they have history. Its always interesting to see what used to be "high tech"

XDMHMMWV
March 26, 2010, 01:29 AM
Well tackstrp, since the ultrasonic cleaning only requires a field strip, if the gun is not working after the cleaning, there is a good chance that it was not working beforehand. But, you bring up a really good point. I will use the pen test to make sure the firing pin works, and get snap caps for each caliber to do a function test.
As long there are people who think a function check is rapidly moving the action back and forth on a new gun, there will be people who will go to get their guns cleaned by someone else.

Gunfighter123
March 26, 2010, 01:48 AM
Well tackstrp, since the ultrasonic cleaning only requires a field strip, if the gun is not working after the cleaning, there is a good chance that it was not working beforehand.

In ANYTHING in life , there are always going to be a very small group of dishonest people who will try to "get over" on someone.

Start a "file system" for each gun and do a small video of you putting it in the tank etc. with a clock showing etc. --- then copy to a DVD etc.

Example = " hey , you broke my gun !!! It worked fine before you cleaned it , now you owe me XXX dollars or I will sue " Your reply --- " There is NO WAY that I could have done so and I video tape ALL THE WORK I DO -- see ya in court !!! "


EDIT --- a gunsmith buddy of mine also has the customer sign a "release" when they pick up their firearm stateing it is cosmeticlly in the same condition as when he got it.

A VERY VERY VERY small minority of dishonest people really would go to court !!! If a honest person really does think you "broke" their firearm -- well , show them the video and take it from there.

XDMHMMWV
March 28, 2010, 04:40 AM
Thanks Gunfighter123, that was very helpful. I'll put that in my business plan.

Bubbles
March 28, 2010, 09:37 AM
From a gunsmith's perspective on the plan: you'll find yourself crazy busy for the 4-6 weeks just before the opening of deer season, and slow the rest of the year.

bullseye308
March 28, 2010, 01:32 PM
My uncle takes his pistols to a smith once a year to be cleaned even if he hasn't fired them. At 40.00 each for 7 guns, I think there are more like him out there. You have to look for the new gun owners that have recently gotten into this whole "gun thing" and have no clue about how to clean their gun. There are more of them than there is of us.

Target your service by areas. Around gun stores & ranges target shooters that don't have time to do it themselves, make up a flyer that shows that you can do it for them in a few hours while they shop or something. Target most other areas with flyers that inform folks that their guns need to be cleaned in order to keep them in reliable working condition. There are lots of new gun owners that don't realise their guns need to be cleaned. They will gladly pay 10.00 to have this done.

Make some good paperwork to include both parties names, type of work to be done, fees, gun info(brand, caliber, serial#), disclaimer to include:1-cust is happy with gun as picked up & 2-should any problems arise due to malfunction you are not liable. Stuff like that. Cover your bases and most of all cover your butt.

I'd say go for it.

XDMHMMWV
July 8, 2010, 12:15 AM
Thanks everyone for your input. I have decided not to go through with the business.
I contacted the ATF and they consider gun cleaning as gun smithing, and requires an FFL, which has to be tied to a structure. So, I can't drive to someone's house and clean their guns for them.
I then thought about cleaning them in my garage, and using that as the store front.
But, the house I bought at the end of April is within 1,000 feet of a school. So, that pretty much was the last nail in the coffin for that idea.
Thanks again.

desmo21
July 8, 2010, 10:27 AM
I think as newer shooters enter the sport there will be a need for the service. There are more women (yes I said it!) and inexperienced men entering the sport. Some have the $$ to spend on top dollars firearms and would pay to have them detailed like their fine autos. SERVICE IS KEY!!

PH/CIB
July 8, 2010, 01:10 PM
For $10 a firearm for a complete ultrasonic cleaning, I am moving to Idaho, and you can clean all of my firearms until I kick the bucket, and one final cleaning before my Wife sells off my collection!

Most places charge $25-$35 or more, you might seriously get a lot of the other people's business if your service is good and their main business is something else.

You might also consider paying guys a small amount to pick up their brass and bring it in to you, then cleaning the brass and selling it on the internet or locally, and possibly clean brass for local reloaders, although most of them will do it themselves.

XDMHMMWV
July 8, 2010, 05:00 PM
Thanks for the vote of confidence, but the proximity to the school makes this too much of a liability, in my mind.
The ATF should get back to me with the final say on the 19th of July. I still think it is going to be too much of a risk though.

crossrhodes
July 8, 2010, 05:47 PM
If your going to offer cleaning you need to beable to offer repairs too. It's not the money maker that some may thing.

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