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Thread: gun related business, low startup costs?

  1. #1
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    Question gun related business, low startup costs?

    I've been researching gun related business for about three years now. Started with ammunition manufacturing, then looked at building a range, and progressed to accessories. The common problem I run into is startup costs. Almost every gun related business I've found cost over 6 figures just to open the door, then takes 10-15 years to actually bring in a profit.

    I've since located to a rural location which allows industrial business on the property. I own this property and have saved some capital.

    Here's my question to you: Are there any gun related businesses which can be started for under $10k?

    I'm open to pretty much anything (from making targets to cleaning brass).
    Definitely ready to try something new, help a fella out here

  2. #2
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    What about doing FFL transfers for people? There are a few such businesses that I know of.

    It would seem like that would have the cheapest startup costs of anything, since all you're doing is offering a legal service, rather than selling a product.

  3. #3
    Custom smithwork?

  4. #4
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    Just thoughts, from here in the desert, I'm in legal (and still looking), but I'd like to get into the following, at some point ....

    NRA basic pistol/rifle instruction, CCW instruction, gunsmithing certifications (for high-profile makes, like Remington, Glock, Sig), outdoor pistol/rifle club, trap/skeet club, non-profit 'firearms-issue-related' corporation, 01 FFL-dealer?

    Fish for a few more investors (friends/associates/like-minded partners), incorporate. If you're the hands-on, on-the-ground guy, you'd be a paid executive (within reason depending on the scale of the figures) within the structure.

    Professional services is the least 'capital-intensive' kind of venture (with the exception of some necessaries), your skill-set becomes an accumulative, and valuable asset. And if you know how to live lean, and associate with other who hold the same premises ....

    I find merchandising/retail (firearms, widgets, accessories if you will) to be the toughest. Market-finding, acquiring/holding/maintaining-continuing inventory, operational overhead (sales staff who may or may not be simply feeding in a little trough, 'running storefront',) and concentrating on 'the margin' are tougher obstacles (not insurmountable, just requiring a bit more than 10K to even think about treading water, so to speak). You do have land, however, which is an excellent starting point (of itself, a substantial capital contribution to a corporate enterprise).

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    $10k isn't much relative to starting any type of business.

    I don't know how remote the area your living in really is, but if it is truly in the 'boonies" then FFL, initially for transfers, and later with inventory probably won't cut it. Also, teaching different courses would run into the same problem. Opening a range ..., even a very no-frills operation couldn't get off the ground for that kind of money.

    If your an experienced hunter/fisherman ... maybe a guide service ???

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    The insurance alone will eat up twice your budget in just the first year for ANYTHING involving the public. Heck just my workers comp. is $7000 a year for just me, and my work doesn't even involve firearms.
    Actively seeking a used, cosmetically flawed .357 lever rifle. PM me with offers.
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  7. #7
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    As a firearm manufacturer, insurance and ITAR are our two biggest annual expenses. There's a reason I haven't quit my day job yet...
    EFI, LLC - 07 FFL / C2 SOT in Inwood, WV - Custom Firearms & Gunsmithing

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    A guy I went to high-school with started a reloading-supply business. He runs it off of his kitchen counter as a part-time business. The only thing he had to build was a magazine in the back yard to store flammables and explosives (ie, powder and primers). He dies a fair business in this area and supplements his income working nights and weekends.

    The way the business works, I call his answering machine during the day, asking if he's got something. He calls me back after work, tells me to come pick it up. I drive over to his house and pick it up. Works like a charm.

    On weekends he takes most of his stock and goes to a gun-show.

  9. #9
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    I'm with Picard, start out by offering FFL transfers. Selling a piece of Reloading equipment or two could also be a decent idea later on, if you have gained a few customers with your FFL service.

    I was thinking about this a while back. Why not order things for people? You could put up a agreed upon percentage on the price of said firearm. Only problem I see with that are the deadbeats who tell you to cancel after it's already arrived at your door.
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  10. #10
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    Only problem I see with that are the deadbeats who tell you to cancel after it's already arrived at your door.
    Our customers know that we're primarily a manufacturer, not a stocking dealer, so if they want us to order a gun then we get paid in full before we place the order. There are a very few customers for whom we will place the order before we get paid, but I can count their names on one hand.
    EFI, LLC - 07 FFL / C2 SOT in Inwood, WV - Custom Firearms & Gunsmithing

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  11. #11
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    I see you've already thought of it.
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  12. #12
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    what type of shooting sports are you involved in? What is something that you think would be a good specialty product for that type of shooting event/hobbie? Go and make it.

  13. #13
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    Thanks to everyone who responded. I'll answer the questions first:
    "What about doing FFL transfers for people?" Good idea, bad location. There are more gun stores/FFLs in my area than gas stations.

    "Custom smithwork?" -I really like this idea, and it seems pheasible. What I'd need to do is find a niche (similar to how Tony Rumore capitolized on saiga conversions).

    "maybe a guide service ???" - This is actually in the works. It will take me a few years to really know the terrain where I live, but this is a definite goal for the future.

    I appreciate the information as well regarding insurance, ITAR, etc.

    One thing I've considered is manufacturing firearm accessories. Obviously I can't afford to design and create a new firearm; but maybe there's an accessory I could design and sell... (if only I could have thought of the bore snake lol)

    What do you think about a gun cleaning business? I could get an ultra-sonic cleaner and offer bulk cleaning services to the local .mil base and/or LEO and/or gun clubs? (Just thought this up, have never tried to ultra-sonic clean a firearm... reasons why not to?)

    Another idea - design targets to sell to ranges (ex: 100 yard target, outline of a man bending down to place an IED).

    I'm brainstorming here, but any help is appreciated!

  14. #14
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    Here's an idea, how about looking-into subcontracting excess work for local gunsmiths? There are "famous" gunsmiths who have multi-year waiting lists. If you get to know any of them and can prove your ability, you might be able to get sub-work fitting new barrels and bushings, installing sights, etc. so the other 'smith can concentrate on real customization duties. (note: I bring this up because I recall that Dane Burns was known to do this in order to meet demand)
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    If you said that FFL transfers are out, then I would suggest teaching classes on basic firearm handling and use. That would also have very little start-up costs and you could easily back out of it without having to worry about expensive machinery to get rid of.

  16. #16
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    Another idea is gun refinishing. I would look at parkerizing and wonder finishes such as Gun Kote. If you have any artistic ability then offering custom camo refinishing could be an excellent pursuit.
    Buck Nekkid

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  17. #17
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    Picard - good point about the classes. (low start up, easy to back out)
    Buck Nekkid - excellent idea! If one were to offer refinishes, would an FFL be needed? I'm assuming so due to all the firearms changing hands, but it'd be nice to know for sure.


    So what about the ultra-sonic cleaning idea? Any reason why firearms couldn't be sent through an ultra-sonic cleaner?

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    Gunsmith Workshop

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