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View Full Version : Please Help Me With Some Market Research RE: Custom Bolt Knobs


Kerplow
09-16-2012, 2:18 PM
I've been toying with the Idea of starting a firearms related company and I've decided I want to start in the custom bolt knob market. I'm not expecting to make a million dollars doing this, but I think I can offer a quality product at a competitive price and if I can establish myself it will open the door to further product lines and more business.

What I'm asking is that you look at these bolt knobs and tell me what you think. Please, be honest, if you like them, cool, if you don't, let me know why. If you like them but think there could be improvements let me know what you would change.

Keep in mind that these are in an unfinished state. They are made in my garage on a mini lathe and are not perfect. All radii are done by hand/file and the designs in general are born from me tinkering with angles and what I think might look good. If i go into business selling these they will be made with CNC machines and will be consistent, with a professional quality finish.

These knobs are all threaded for a 5/16-24 stud, which needs to be either turned down from your original bolt knob, or your original knob cut off, and a stud pressed in and welded in place. The latter is preferred. Eventually I would like to offer this service myself, but initially, anyone who wanted their bolt modified for a custom knob could contact a qualified gunsmith and have them perform the modification. ar15barrels does a great job for only $40.

I've posted a poll that allows multiple choices, however, there is only one submission. That said, if you like more than one style just check all the boxes you like and then click submit.


Thanks for all your help!



A

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v162/TURD_VESSEL/100_9756.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v162/TURD_VESSEL/100_9789.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v162/TURD_VESSEL/100_9790.jpg



B

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v162/TURD_VESSEL/100_9766.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v162/TURD_VESSEL/100_9785.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v162/TURD_VESSEL/100_9786.jpg

Kerplow
09-16-2012, 2:22 PM
C

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v162/TURD_VESSEL/100_9771.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v162/TURD_VESSEL/100_9782.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v162/TURD_VESSEL/100_9784.jpg

D

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v162/TURD_VESSEL/100_9773.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v162/TURD_VESSEL/100_9779.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v162/TURD_VESSEL/100_9780.jpg

Kerplow
09-16-2012, 2:23 PM
E

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v162/TURD_VESSEL/100_9774.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v162/TURD_VESSEL/100_9776.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v162/TURD_VESSEL/100_9777.jpg


Ok, that's it! blast away!

toby
09-16-2012, 2:38 PM
knobs are cool but the Remington does nothing for me, in all seriousness tho the knobs are cool but so many are already offered with installation makes me think you will have to offer the same thing. By not having a known name or track record I wonder how many will use your services other than if you were to offer below competitive rates......... not all Smiths want to install someone elses parts if they offer the same type already.

Kerplow
09-16-2012, 2:53 PM
knobs are cool but the Remington does nothing for me, in all seriousness tho the knobs are cool but so many are already offered with installation makes me think you will have to offer the same thing. By not having a known name or track record I wonder how many will use your services other than if you were to offer below competitive rates......... not all Smiths want to install someone elses parts if they offer the same type already.

I realize this is a limited market, and I don't plan on betting the farm on this venture. I want to start with a few knobs that many people will find appealing and offer them at a price that is also appealing. If you look at many of the knobs available on the market you'll find that they're mostly just variations of the same thing. I'm hoping that people will shop around and perhaps one of my knobs might catch their eye as the one they prefer. I'd like to be able to offer them for around $5ish less than the competition, but at the end of the day for a $5 difference people are likely just going to buy what they think looks/works the best. As far as 'smiths go, I know that some of them simply keep knobs from various companies in stock and let their customer decide which one to they want from their stock. I know there are also 'smiths out there who will happily just install a stud for you and let you buy a knob from wherever you choose. I'd like to offer knobs to retailers at a wholesale price, but that means working their profit out of my profit. I don't have a problem doing that, but there needs to be a demand first.

Another thing I'd like to do is offer a $1 donation from each sale to either CGF or NRA. I see people doing lots of things for the 2A movement and I often times feel that I should be doing more. I think this would be a win/win situation for everyone involved, and might even sway a buyer or two in my direction.

Thank you for your input, it is greatly appreciated! :)

xpbprox
09-16-2012, 2:57 PM
I like B,C, or E

Couldn't just pick one

toby
09-16-2012, 3:01 PM
PM sent, I'll try one.

Kerplow
09-16-2012, 3:01 PM
I like B,C, or E

Couldn't just pick one

That's fine, I set up the poll to allow multiple choices. Just click all the boxes you like and then submit!
]
Thanks!

Bhobbs
09-16-2012, 3:01 PM
I like C but maybe bead blasted or something.

Kerplow
09-16-2012, 3:10 PM
I like C but maybe bead blasted or something.

Thanks for the input! As said in the OP, these are all unfinished, so a raw bead blasted finish could definitely be something I would do. You'll notice the first 2 have a different luster, that's because they are stainless steel and the rest are aluminum. I'm thinking that raw finished knobs will be stainless, as it's much more resilient to scratches, aluminum knobs would likely be anodized for a more resistant finish. That said, there is no reason why any of them couldn't be made in stainless or aluminum. One thing to keep in mind is stainless is HEAVY when compared to aluminum, so if you're looking to keep weight down, aluminum is the way to go. I suppose there is no reason why the aluminum knobs couldn't also be offered in a raw finish, but the buyer should know they will be easily marred.

Thanks again!.

Neve
09-16-2012, 6:45 PM
I''d have to get behind a rifle to know for sure but so far i'm liking them all especially C. The only thing it's missing is checkering but good work man :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Kerplow
09-16-2012, 6:48 PM
I''d have to get behind a rifle to know for sure but so far i'm liking them all especially C. The only thing it's missing is checkering but good work man :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Thanks! I don't yet have a knurling tool set up but it's definitely in the plans!

AVID HUNTER
09-16-2012, 6:49 PM
I like A, it's bigger and longer than the rest. I guess I'm used to touching bigger and longer knobs on a daily basis.

CobraRed
09-16-2012, 6:53 PM
Thanks! I don't yet have a knurling tool set up but it's definitely in the plans!

The knurler can be a *****, a tapered surface makes it much harder as well. Make sure to use lots of moly.
I've made some lathe stuff too, it's fun. But I got to use a big new one with lots of cutters, cant imagine on a mini.

http://img7.uploadhouse.com/fileuploads/16604/16604858aaec8a8702ba47963db756fce810444e.jpg

Kerplow
09-16-2012, 6:55 PM
I like A, it's bigger and longer than the rest. I guess I'm used to touching bigger and longer knobs on a daily basis.

lol, I'm a bit intimidated by it, personally, but YMMV!

One thing I've learned is that there is a limit to desired length in terms of functionality. One of my first experiments named "The Kickstand" seemed like a good idea at first, but after playing with it for a bit I found the length was excessive and actually caused binding when doing rapid cycling. The leverage was great for opening/cocking, but the potential for binding was a deal breaker, IMO.

Thanks for your input!

Here are a couple pics of "The Kickstand:"

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v162/TURD_VESSEL/100_9598.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v162/TURD_VESSEL/100_9558.jpg

Kerplow
09-16-2012, 6:58 PM
The knurler can be a *****, a tapered surface makes it much harder as well. Make sure to use lots of moly.
I've made some lathe stuff too, it's fun. But I got to use a big new one with lots of cutters, cant imagine on a mini.

http://img7.uploadhouse.com/fileuploads/16604/16604858aaec8a8702ba47963db756fce810444e.jpg

Thanks for the tip! I wouldn't even know where to begin doing a tapered knurl on the mini lathe. The gripping surface of most of the knobs is parallel to the bore, so knurling shouldn't be too difficult. I'll definitely have to practice, though. If/when i go into production it wont be on the mini mill, I'm only using it for making prototypes.

Thanks for the input!

CobraRed
09-16-2012, 7:05 PM
Thanks for the tip! I wouldn't even know where to begin doing a tapered knurl on the mini lathe. The flat surface of all the knobs is parallel to the bore, so knurling shouldn't be too difficult. I'll definitely have to practice, though. If/when i go into production it wont be on the mini mill, I'm only using it for making prototypes.

Thanks for the input!
NP, i can't imagine doing those radiuses on stainless with a file man. Is it at least 303?

Kerplow
09-16-2012, 7:10 PM
NP, i can't imagine doing those radiuses on stainless with a file man. Is it at least 303?

I realized later that the way I wrote that would cause some confusion. I cut a rough radius with the carriage and cross slide and then smooth it out with a file. This would definitely not pass in a production environment.

TBH, I'm not sure what the stainless is, it came from a piece of 1" round bar that someone gave me years ago. It seems to machine reasonably well so I'm thinking it might be 303.

CobraRed
09-16-2012, 7:14 PM
Haha, that makes more sense. Well if you're ever in SD I can give you pieces of what ever you want to try out short of titanium.

Kerplow
09-16-2012, 7:19 PM
Haha, that makes more sense. Well if you're ever in SD I can give you pieces of what ever you want to try out short of titanium.

Much appreciated. At this point I can't see any reason to stray from aluminum/stainless. Although, a titanium bolt knob would be pretty bawse. :D

CobraRed
09-16-2012, 7:22 PM
Much appreciated. At this point I can't see any reason to stray from aluminum/stainless. Although, a titanium bolt knob would be pretty bawse. :D

Right, i agree. Im just saying if you wanted to try out 5021 vs 6061 t6 vs 7075 or 303 vs 304, 316, 410, 17-4 stainless. Or brass/bronze.

lethalb18c1
09-16-2012, 7:27 PM
i'm digging B and C. More towards B!

Kerplow
09-16-2012, 7:29 PM
Right, i agree. Im just saying if you wanted to try out 5021 vs 6061 t6 vs 7075 or 303 vs 304, 316, 410, 17-4 stainless. Or brass/bronze.

well, the aluminum I've got is 6061, I'm not sure about all the different properties of various types of aluminum, but as far as price point 6061 is what my local supplier carries and hence the most economical choice.

As far as stainless goes, I know 303 is the "easy to machine" stuff, which is a definite plus. Even if it costs more than some other types of stainless it might still be more economical in the long run due to tooling costs.

Kerplow
09-16-2012, 7:31 PM
i'm digging B and C. More towards B!

Thanks! I figured B would be the favorite. It's actually the first one I ever made, long before I ever thought I'd be thinking about selling them.

Thanks for your input!

cabinetguy
09-16-2012, 7:35 PM
I like B and E, but I would want them knurled

Kerplow
09-16-2012, 7:41 PM
I like B and E, but I would want them knurled

Good to know and thanks for your input! I'm actually quite surprised how popular E is becoming. Personally, I would have preferred a nice radius on the end instead of the hard angles but I came to that conclusion after I made it.

maitime
09-16-2012, 9:31 PM
i like C but think you should consider making that long cone piece that attaches to the bolt a bit stubbier.

Kerplow
09-16-2012, 10:19 PM
i like C but think you should consider making that long cone piece that attaches to the bolt a bit stubbier.

That's not a bad idea, but if you go too short it defeats the purpose of the "tactical" bolt knob. It needs to be longer to help clear the scope and for ease of use. If you can lengthen the bolt handle it would make shorter bolt knobs more feasible.

Thanks for your input!

FMJBT
09-17-2012, 9:43 AM
I like A, D and E. No knurling for me though, I like my fingers and thumb to be able to rotate around the knob. Feel free to grab that one as a sig line too :D

Cadre
09-17-2012, 9:48 AM
i like B

gun toting monkeyboy
09-17-2012, 10:14 AM
I liked D. But maybe adding a few grooves for texture would be good.

=Mb

bloodhawke83
09-17-2012, 10:45 AM
I like them all, hard not to dislike it.

Dark Mod
09-17-2012, 10:50 AM
Like them all except for D

BomarFab
09-17-2012, 11:04 AM
I like B and D best. C I feel the end coming to a bit of a point will be easier to ding up.

I would probably buy one if I didn't make my own.

radioburning
09-17-2012, 11:07 AM
D and B, in that order.

noob_tube
09-17-2012, 11:37 AM
Really nice work on all!!! B and C are my favorites :)

wjc
09-17-2012, 3:00 PM
I prefer B & E.

B looks a little more "finished" than the other examples and I think I would like the chamfering on the end as it may make bolt use smoother.

As a simple bolt knob I like the transition from narrow to wide and the end chamfering is preferred.

Either way, nice work!

Kerplow
09-17-2012, 3:27 PM
Thanks all for the input!

I like B and D best. C I feel the end coming to a bit of a point will be easier to ding up.



I would probably buy one if I didn't make my own.

The sharp edge on C may well be easy to ding on an aluminum knob, I don't think it would be a big issue with a stainless knob, though. I thought the pointed edge was part of what made it look neat. It will be interesting to see how much durability anodizing will add or if I need to make those in stainless only.

I prefer B & E.

B looks a little more "finished" than the other examples and I think I would like the chamfering on the end as it may make bolt use smoother.

As a simple bolt knob I like the transition from narrow to wide and the end chamfering is preferred.

Either way, nice work!

A and B are the most finished ones, as C-E are all unfinished aluminum and should have some sort of protective/aesthetic coating.

Just to be clear, when you say you prefer chamfering, are you saying you prefer hard angles on the end vs. a radius?

Thanks again for the input, everyone!

toby
09-17-2012, 7:51 PM
I like the C model as I am not into Tactical or Tacticool not that these only fill that bill but for my tastes the B and C models have custom rifle written all over them, they could be used on just about any Bolt gun and just add that little bit of flair and custom touch that so many are looking for like me. Thanks for posting and I hope they become available soon.

Kerplow
09-17-2012, 7:56 PM
I like the C model as I am not into Tactical or Tacticool not that these only fill that bill but for my tastes the B and C models have custom rifle written all over them, they could be used on just about any Bolt gun and just add that little bit of flair and custom touch that so many are looking for like me. Thanks for posting and I hope they become available soon.

Thanks again for all your input. I'd also like to do some plain spherical nobs for people who like the more old school, no nonsense type of knob.

CobraRed
09-17-2012, 8:06 PM
I think B is the business. May make one. I wouldn't eff it up myself with knurling, it's not like something that big your hand is going to slide off.

khw9mm
09-17-2012, 10:00 PM
I think, aesthetically, B is cool. Seems like it'd be easier to cycle the bolt when compared to A but I wouldn't know without trying...

RECCE556
09-17-2012, 10:55 PM
I like plain jane...grooves are pointless here.
http://www.gad.net/Shooting/LevelHead/PSS/BadgerBolt/BoltCloseup_800.jpg

Kerplow
09-17-2012, 10:59 PM
I like plain jane...grooves are pointless here.
http://www.gad.net/Shooting/LevelHead/PSS/BadgerBolt/BoltCloseup_800.jpg

I like the egg/oval shape as well, but it's not something I'm set up to do on my mini lathe. I do plan on such a shape in the future, though.

Thanks for your input!

The Gleam
09-17-2012, 11:03 PM
I just picked up an SSG-69 PII last week and it has a knob similar to your "D" - the first thing I thought is that I would prefer something more egg or ball-shaped, no angles, not cylindrical or drum shaped, and no edges.

Something more or egg ball-shaped hangs up on stuff less when you are carrying it, and no matter form which direction you go to catch it, it's a grab; angled/cylindrical bolt handles always have felt odd to me. I like my hand to roll onto and roll off of the bolt handle easily with out having to adjust the position of my palm/hand/thumb.

Kerplow
09-17-2012, 11:13 PM
I just picked up an SSG-69 PII last week and it has a knob similar to your "D" - the first thing I thought is that I would prefer something more egg or ball-shaped, no angles, not cylindrical or drum shaped, and no edges.

Something more or egg ball-shaped hangs up on stuff less when you are carrying it, and no matter form which direction you go to catch it, it's a grab; angled/cylindrical bolt handles always have felt odd to me. I like my hand to roll onto and roll off of the bolt handle easily with out having to adjust the position of my palm/hand/thumb.

I definitely would like to get something curved in the design library, so stay tuned.

Thanks for your input!

jsipe007
09-18-2012, 10:07 AM
Nice work! :)

If I may add my .02...

Only other thing to consider is that raw aluminum will oxidize in a sense (not visible) and anything that touches it will get an oily black substance on it. Not a deal breaker, but definitely one reason gun parts are usually anodized.

Kerplow
09-18-2012, 11:11 AM
Nice work! :)

If I may add my .02...

Only other thing to consider is that raw aluminum will oxidize in a sense (not visible) and anything that touches it will get an oily black substance on it. Not a deal breaker, but definitely one reason gun parts are usually anodized.


your $.02 are greatly appreciated, sir!

Oxidation is definitely an issue with aluminium and it is my intention to have them anodized, I just haven't gotten that far yet. There is a minimum price at the anodizer and I'd prefer to get a whole bunch of them done rather than add $25 each to the cost of my prototype knobs.

Thanks again for the input!

jsipe007
09-18-2012, 12:45 PM
No worries! I just wasnt sure if you were planning to anodize or not since you were talking about leaving it as raw aluminum. My bad :)

Keep up the great work! Its too bad my rifle bolt isnt threaded... LOL

wjc
09-18-2012, 3:34 PM
Thanks all for the input!



The sharp edge on C may well be easy to ding on an aluminum knob, I don't think it would be a big issue with a stainless knob, though. I thought the pointed edge was part of what made it look neat. It will be interesting to see how much durability anodizing will add or if I need to make those in stainless only.



A and B are the most finished ones, as C-E are all unfinished aluminum and should have some sort of protective/aesthetic coating.

Just to be clear, when you say you prefer chamfering, are you saying you prefer hard angles on the end vs. a radius?

Thanks again for the input, everyone!

What I call "Chamfering" is the rounded or radius of the edge.

Fjold
09-18-2012, 3:41 PM
Probably E but they all look to large in diameter for me.

Whiterabbit
09-18-2012, 8:54 PM
B>A>C, and I cant like D though I suspect it will sell better than A B or C.

I think your best market potential is with E, and it's one I would personally buy also.

Kerplow
09-18-2012, 9:17 PM
Probably E but they all look to large in diameter for me.

Thanks for your input!

Does E even look too fat to you? The widest part is .760" (derp, I thought it was .750")

For me, it seems like anything much slimmer than .750" would be getting too thing.

Kerplow
09-18-2012, 9:17 PM
B>A>C, and I cant like D though I suspect it will sell better than A B or C.

I think your best market potential is with E, and it's one I would personally buy also.

Thanks for the input!

wjc
09-19-2012, 3:04 PM
Hey Kerplow, this just popped into my head.

Would bead-blasting/sand-blasting the knobs instead of a smooth finish aid in giving the operator a more positive grip on the bold handle during operation?

Kerplow
09-19-2012, 3:14 PM
Hey Kerplow, this just popped into my head.

Would bead-blasting/sand-blasting the knobs instead of a smooth finish aid in giving the operator a more positive grip on the bold handle during operation?


I would think it would to some extent. my only issue with a bead blasted finish is that it tends to trap dirt/grease very easily. I know there are people who would like a bead blasted finish, though, and a blasting cabinet is in the works. Honestly, though, in the thousands of times I've rapidly cycled these knobs at home I have never had an issue with grip. I should try it with really sweaty hands, too, that would probably be the most definitive test.

Thanks again for your input!

Whiterabbit
09-19-2012, 4:00 PM
sand blsting would not leave an attractive finish, thats for sure!

CobraRed
09-19-2012, 4:25 PM
+1 on the bead blasting not being a good idea. It gets dirty instantly.

SCZ
09-19-2012, 6:16 PM
Out of curiosity...

For "D" could you do tightly packed concentric rings across 3/4 of the face?
Also could you give it a curved profile (from the photos yours looks more linear) that starts off gradual and gets steeper the farther outward it goes?
Finally could you give it a massive detent/bowl in the end?

Kerplow
09-19-2012, 6:38 PM
Out of curiosity...

For "D" could you do tightly packed concentric rings across 3/4 of the face?
Also could you give it a curved profile (from the photos yours looks more linear) that starts off gradual and gets steeper the farther outward it goes?
Finally could you give it a massive detent/bowl in the end?

All of those things are possible, but I lack a proper radius tool, at the moment. Though, I think giving it a curved profile would pretty much make it a completely different knob.In the future, I do intend to do some knobs that use radii rather than straight angles.

RECCE556
09-20-2012, 1:41 PM
What about B but:
1) without the grooves
2) a slightly steeper angle on rifle side (which would increase the "cylinder" area)
3) solid end

postal
09-20-2012, 2:03 PM
They all look pretty cool.... but it looks like E is very long...

A long knob in alu is not something I would ever consider (any alu knob really)... Know too many people that broke bolt knobs off during speed drills in competitions.

That would really suck to drop out of a comp because the bolt knob busted off....

I really dont think that a larger knob needs any kind of grip or texture. Most people that shoot in comps start learning really quick to rack the bolt by using a "hand salute" method....

Trigger hand pops a salute with the palm coming towards your right eye- this gives you the "up, and rear drive of the bolt-" Then turn your hand palm down, and "slap the bolt forward and down- Both of these directions, occur in one motion each way.... **NOT** up, back, forward, down.... 2 motions each way. You tend to catch the bolt knob in your palm- racking the bolt back, it catches your palm right near the center depression, and rolls up your hand toward the base of your pinky.. the forward part starts near the web of your thumb/index, and the knob rolls up the base of the index finger.

No "grip" is required or desired.

Kerplow
09-20-2012, 2:41 PM
What about B but:
1) without the grooves
2) a slightly steeper angle on rifle side (which would increase the "cylinder" area)
3) solid end

There's no reason why not. The only issue with a steeper angle is it brings the main bulk of the knob closer to the rifle stock and closer to the scope. As long as your hand clears these obstacles I don't see why not.

Thanks for your input!

They all look pretty cool.... but it looks like E is very long...

A long knob in alu is not something I would ever consider (any alu knob really)... Know too many people that broke bolt knobs off during speed drills in competitions.

That would really suck to drop out of a comp because the bolt knob busted off....

I really dont think that a larger knob needs any kind of grip or texture. Most people that shoot in comps start learning really quick to rack the bolt by using a "hand salute" method....

Trigger hand pops a salute with the palm coming towards your right eye- this gives you the "up, and rear drive of the bolt-" Then turn your hand palm down, and "slap the bolt forward and down- Both of these directions, occur in one motion each way.... **NOT** up, back, forward, down.... 2 motions each way. You tend to catch the bolt knob in your palm- racking the bolt back, it catches your palm right near the center depression, and rolls up your hand toward the base of your pinky.. the forward part starts near the web of your thumb/index, and the knob rolls up the base of the index finger.

No "grip" is required or desired.

Are suggesting that the knob itself would break, or the bolt handle? I'm of the opinion that the bolt handle itself is much more likely to break than any knob, be it stainless or aluminium.

Like this:

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y55/M45/badger2.jpg


Now, if you're saying that the likelyhood of breaking your handle is increased due to the added leverage of a longer knob, I would tend to agree.

Thanks for your input!

chuckshoots
09-20-2012, 6:10 PM
anodized A.

RECCE556
09-21-2012, 12:58 PM
What about B but:
1) without the grooves
2) a slightly steeper angle on rifle side (which would increase the "cylinder" area)
3) solid end
There's no reason why not. The only issue with a steeper angle is it brings the main bulk of the knob closer to the rifle stock and closer to the scope. As long as your hand clears these obstacles I don't see why not.
What if you reduced the diameter of the body?

Kerplow
09-21-2012, 7:11 PM
What if you reduced the diameter of the body?

I'm working on that, standby for pics. :)

chuckshoots
09-21-2012, 8:02 PM
Probably E but they all look to large in diameter for me.


.....thats what she said....

nimoZ
09-21-2012, 10:22 PM
This is what works for me:

http://www.shootingillustrated.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/W7385SI-9820.jpg

http://www.biggamehunt.net/graphics/photos_talltales/model-70-super-grade5.jpg

Hey - they look similar?