Selling Reloading Supplies to Tactical Shooters

There’s money to be made in reloading supplies and components — if you know what to stock.

Selling Reloading Supplies to Tactical Shooters

Reloading ammunition is as old as firearms. Shooters began tinkering with bullets, powder and other components after the first time someone successfully put a projectile in front of powder and squeezed the trigger. Today’s array of reloading equipment certainly makes reloading at home easier and affordable, and it gives retailers a chance to make more money.

Whether you call it reloading or handloading, it’s something most consumers see as a long-term investment. The latter category may be more intense, such as with long-range and match shooting. In either case, it takes a commitment of a clean, well-lit space in the home or other area, laser focus when loading, and an array of equipment. Novices may not understand that a powder trickler or case sizer isn’t just another piece of kit you’re trying to foist on them. Everything has a role. Components such as brass, primers, powder and bullets may be more challenging to obtain for your store. Perhaps you opt to not stock those and focus on other items such as presses, dies, sizers, scales and tools. Those can make your register ring with sales.

There is no shortage of information for the handloader, either. Hornady’s Handbook of Cartridge Reloading, for example, lists more than 200 calibers and 1,500 load combinations. Shooter’s Bible has been published for more than 80 years. It is packed with information, charts, ballistics tables and more about a wide range of bullets, components and loads. Having either of these in your shop as a reference could be a plus. Data is king. You cannot keep all the available dies on your shelf, but, similar to ammunition, you can have the most popular or requested and order the others. Turn orders around quickly and you may earn years of repeat business.

Seth Swerczek, marketing communications manager at Hornady, talked with Max Archer of Tactical Retailer last summer about the ongoing production challenges with the company and others in the industry. Reloading has surged in the last decade thanks to myriad social and political factors. The pandemic put another bump in the mix with shooters taking the time to upgrade equipment and create more ammunition, whether for self-defense, competition, hunting or all of those.

“With the shortage of ammunition, we have seen growth in the reloading segment,” Swerczek said. “We are getting a new set of reloaders who were not reloading before. The volume of all the base dies and presses have increased, and we have upgraded our M2 Digital Bench Scales and small G3 1500 digital scales.” He added that expectations were high for a continued return to pre-pandemic supply at some point, but that obviously depends on the supply chain, political winds and other factors.

AR rifles in 5.56 arguably are the most popular caliber, of course, but reloading for .300 BLK, .308 and other calibers are in the mix today for semi-auto and bolt-action rifles. Mention “tactical” and, for some people, 5.56 may not be the first thing that comes to mind. That group obviously should include you, because when selling to reloaders, asking questions and getting specifics is paramount.

“Making your own ammunition serves two distinct goals,” said Robin Sharpless, executive vice president with Redding Reloading. “Reloading helps to save cost and enhance the training budget, and handloading [can] create ammunition with capabilities which go far beyond that which can be purchased commercially. Handloading has become the key in today’s long-range shooting disciplines, building the perfect load for your rifle that will extend not just its range but its capability, as well.

“Better tools can build better ammunition. Micrometers give advantages in many areas, especially bullet seating. Precision powder measures add speed to the process. Redding makes dedicated measures covering four different ranges of powder drops to better maintain precision of the loads. Our slant bed concentricity gauge eases the process of assuring a concentric round. And Redding bushing style dies produce less tree-induced runout in necks through the use of individualized bushings to provide only the needed amount of neck sizing.”

Your customer may be reloading for his favorite 9mm pistol, too, or perhaps another caliber. Today’s rise in micro-compact pistols in 9mm and .380 put more pressure on the ammunition companies to keep up. The .45 and .40 aren’t falling out of favor by any means. But the 9mm, especially, is the king right now for those interested in self-defense or competition. Many will favor a 115-grain round for practice and 124-grain or larger for 9mm carry. As with anything in this sphere, opinions and needs vary.

Ask specifics about what they’re loading and want to achieve. Long-range shooters are a different breed and may seek something quite specific. Order, if possible, and quiz them on other items you possibly could stock for long-range shooters. If you hear a buzz brewing from customers, check into it. Being their go-to source could pay dividends.

Case gauges, sizing dies and other measuring tools are good sellers. The carpenter’s maxim “Measure twice, cut once” might increase to “Measure thrice, to make sure” when applied to reloading. Anyone checking any measurements should research and double-check all dimensions and sizes. Some cases may fit the action of one brand of rifle but not another. Dimensions of once-fired brass may change slightly, compared to new brass. Ask your customers about their needs and be prepared to offer suggestions on tools such as case gauges, calipers and more. These items can be easily stocked or ordered.

Bullets in the most popular calibers and grain sizes are good sellers. Getting them, of course, has been the challenge. Hornady, Nosler, Sierra, Berger, Speer, CCI, Sig Sauer, Winchester, Barnes and Federal have been churning them out as fast as possible to meet demand and existing contracts with various agencies. Brass may be less challenging to secure. In the last two years I’ve heard of more range-picking than ever, with shooters taking the time to go through whatever they find in order to get a few more for their bench work. Most, however, will invest in brass via retailers or online; good brass is worth it. If you’re keen on stocking powder and primers, weigh the demand, supply and regulation headaches. Other components are easier to work with and sell.


Other Accessories

Having the proper accessories or tools makes the process easier and efficient. You can sell these and help reloaders understand why they’re necessary. Emphasize having a clean workplace that is well lit and secure, devoid of any potential sparks or flame that could ignite powder. Being able to lock a reloading room, or at least the powder and primers, is a good idea. Having no distractions in the room also is important. A reloader should be focused on the task, not being chirped at by a TV that could cause a misstep. To each his own, of course, but wondering, “Did I do that?” is a recipe for a potentially bad outcome.

Calipers to measure cases are good items to sell. Digital and analog are available, in a variety of price ranges. Powder dispensers and scales that measure in grains are quite important, for obvious reasons. A good digital scale is invaluable and accurate and will measure in precise increments. Brass tumblers and cleaning media are good sellers. Reloaders demand clean brass for optimal performance. A selection of bronze brushes, perhaps some steel wool, and cleaning supplies also are top items to stock. MTM Case-Gard has a wide selection of budget-friendly items worth considering, including loading trays, funnel powder sets, labels, reloading scales, primer flippers and more. Frankford Arsenal has a selection of everything from hard plastic ammo boxes to polishing media and digital powder-dropper measuring units.

Reloading is neither mystical nor difficult. It merely takes time and dedication at the bench. You can be part of this process and make sales for years with the right selection of products and knowledge to help your customers come through the doors again and again.


Three Products to Stock

Frankford Arsenal Intellidropper: The Frankford Arsenal Intellidropper is an advanced, intelligent and precise electronic powder measure, featuring a proprietary powder calibration button for fast and accurate powder measurements. Auto and manual trickle capability maintain up to 250 grains of powder per throw. It holds more than 7,000 grains of powder and offers +/- 0.1 grain accuracy.

Frankford Arsenal’s Intellidropper mobile app makes reloading ammunition easier than ever and even features a cost-per-round calculator. This app works alongside the Intellidropper, storing load recipes and data and neatly categorizing and organizing recipes for quick accessibility.


RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master: The Rock Chucker Supreme Master reloading kit from RCBS combines its popular single-stage press, the Rock Chucker Supreme, with other equipment needed for reloading. Dies and shell holders aren’t included. The kit includes a .17-.60 Debur Tool, Accessory Handle with case neck brushes, M500 Mechanical Scale, Uniflow-III Powder Measure, Hand Priming Tool, Universal Case Loading Block, Hex Key set, Case Lube Kit, Powder Funnel and Speer Reloading Manual. 


Hornady Light Strip, Funnel Kit: Hornady’s new funnel kit includes a high-capacity, non-static aluminum funnel that stores in a form-fitted case. It has nine caliber-specific bushings that allow the funnel to fit a variety of case sizes including .224, .243/6mm, .257, .264/6.5mm, .277/6.8mm, .284/7mm, .308, .338 and .375.

If you need more light at the bench, Hornady’s narrow Lock-N-Load Light Strip has several bright LED lights and adhesive backing. You can put it in places where you can’t get a bigger lamp or might need to illuminate a dark area. The strip plugs into a standard 110-volt outlet or the Hornady Lock-N-Load Control panel.


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