Walkabout In The Weminuche Wilderness

Herschel Smith · 05 Aug 2018 · 40 Comments

"There are no socialists in the bush" - HPS All of my physical training only barely prepared me for the difficulty of the Weminuche Wilderness (pronounced with the "e" silent).  It's National Forest land, not National Park.  The Department of Agriculture no longer prints maps of the area, so we relied on NatGeo for the map, and it's good, but not perfect. We have a lot of ground to cover, including traveling with firearms, the modification I made to one of my guns for the trip, the actors…… [read more]

The Virtues Of Being A Small Firearms Manufacturer

BY Herschel Smith
10 months ago

Reuters:

A decade ago, Kentucky’s Anderson Manufacturing was a small machine shop that didn’t make firearms.

By 2016, it was making more rifles than Smith & Wesson, according to the latest available data from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Anderson’s big seller: assault-style rifles that cost up to $2,100 and require no lubrication. Anderson says it made nearly 454,000 rifles that year, or about 57,000 more than Smith & Wesson.

Anderson is the leader among a cluster of small, private companies that are taking market share from America’s biggest gun makers. They are doing so with catchy marketing or weapons that have, for example, more knockdown power for hunting wild pigs.

Some rifles made by companies such as Patriot Ordnance Factory and Daniel Defense fire larger .308-caliber rounds instead of the .223-caliber rounds more commonly used in AR-15s. Another firm, Kel-Tec CNC Industries Inc, makes the hot-selling Sub-2000 rifle – which folds up small enough to fit into a backpack. It costs $500 and fires popular 9mm handgun ammunition.

By contrast, America’s leading gun makers have struggled over the past two years, with the three biggest seeing their rifle market share slip to 44 percent in 2016 from 57 percent in 2011, according to ATF data. Over the same period, a cluster of about 30 small companies combined for 51 percent of overall rifle production, up from 37 percent.

Top rifle maker Remington Outdoor Company emerged from bankruptcy in May. Net firearms sales at Sturm Ruger & Company Inc fell 7 percent during the nine-month period that ended Sept. 30. And American Outdoor Brands Corp, parent of Smith & Wesson, saw shipments of long guns, including rifles, fall 32 percent in fiscal 2018, compared to the previous year.

Smaller players largely have sidestepped scrutiny about their products or their financing because activists have mostly focused on pressuring big retailers and gun makers with publicly traded stock or debt held by mutual funds. Excluding the big three, there were 28 companies that made 10,000 or more rifles in 2016, up from 20 companies in 2011, according to ATF data.

“The number of manufacturers was shocking to me,” said Christopher Ailman, chief investment officer for the $219 billion California State Teachers’ Retirement system, which this fall started a new effort to press gun makers and retailers on safety.

But small gun makers have plenty of options for capital outside of public markets. Smaller rifle makers get financing from community banks, credit unions and makers of metal-cutting machines, according to a Reuters analysis of firearms financial disclosures filed with more than a dozen secretaries of state.

“We’re not going to starve any of these companies of capital because there’s always someone” willing to lend gun makers money, said John Streur, chief executive of Calvert Research and Management. The Calvert unit, part of Eaton Vance Corp, has pressed big retailers to restrict gun sales.

Windham Weaponry in Maine received an $8 million revolving credit line and a $3 million term loan last year from Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, according to local real estate records. The company and the bank did not respond to requests for comment.

Anderson Manufacturing received financing in 2013 from The Bank of Kentucky as its rifle sales began to surge, according to financing reports filed with the Kentucky secretary of state. The bank has since been acquired by North Carolina-based BB&T Corp, which did not respond to a request for comment.

Clearly, the author and interviewees are befuddled at the proliferation of calibers for AR style rifles, from pistol caliber carbines (PDW) to the .450 Bushmaster.  It’s as if the AR was only ever good for 5.56mm.  Sometimes these articles can be amusing.

Equally amusing is that apparently no one in the controller movement understood that there are too many manufacturers now to tackle by squeezing their lines of logistics.  The key here is to [1] have employee-owned companies, [b] be serviced by small banks, [c] minimize debt, [d] keep your employees happy, and [e] make an excellent product.

Or in other words, run your business based on a Biblical model.  God will bless it.

Nighthawk Is Expanding

BY Herschel Smith
1 year ago

News from Arkansas:

BERRYVILLE — High-end gun-maker Nighthawk Custom is expanding, adding 4,000 square feet to its work space to improve efficiency and productivity.

The new building, which sits near the company’s current facility, will house about 20 Nighthawk gunsmiths and about 10 support employees. Nelson Davis, chief operating officer for Nighthawk, said the new space will streamline the process of making custom firearms and is the gun-maker’s first stab at lean manufacturing, a system to minimize waste without affecting productivity.

The cost of the expansion is in the neighborhood of $750,000. The company plans to move workers into the new space in November with the area fully integrated by the end of the year. The company received a $125,000 Community Development Block Grant through the Arkansas Economic Development Commission for new equipment that will be part of the expansion.

Nighthawk employs about 55 workers and has been building 1911-style pistols and other custom firearms since 2004. The company offers several pistol models that are further customized based on customer specifications with a starting price tag of about $3,500.

Davis said the current layout isolates gunsmiths and requires them to go through a maze of hallways and offices as they build pistols, which adds for wasted time, miscommunication and general inefficiency. The new facility built with the input of Nighthawk’s employees, will have an open floor plan with the gunsmiths working in close proximity to one another and with support staff close at hand.

So apparently they’ve done a time-motion study and figured out that they can do more if they redesign the workspace.  Good.  I don’t have a Nighthawk 1911 (because they haven’t sent me one for free to review), but I do hope they are able to do this without reliance upon the large banks that can call in notes at any time, or going public with stock or other ownership.

I hope they don’t make the same mistake some of the large gun manufacturers have made.

Which Banks Are In, And Which Banks Are Out Of The Firearms Business?

BY Herschel Smith
1 year ago

From WiscoDave, this:

Bloomberg reports that the $40 million is on top of $431 million Wells Fargo has issued to gun manufacturers since the December 14, 2012, Sandy Hook attack. This means Wells Fargo is not only bucking the corporate gun control trend in 2018 but has also withstood the firearm divestiture campaign that launched following Sandy Hook.

On April 15, 2018, Breitbart News reported that Wells Fargo stemmed the tide of the push for new financial restrictions on gun makers and sellers by stressing that it is not a bank’s job to set U.S. gun policy.  Reuters quoted Wells Fargo chief financial officer John Shrewsberry saying, “The best way to make progress on these issues is through the political and legislative process. In the meantime, Wells Fargo is engaging our customers that legally manufacture firearms and other stakeholders on what we can do together to promote better gun safety in our communities.”

Wells Fargo’s refusal to place new restrictions on gun manufacturers came shortly after Citigroup and Bank of America caved to the gun control push. On March 23, 2018, Breitbart News reported that Citibank issued new requirements whereby customers who own gun stores must stop selling long guns to anyone under the age of 21 and to quit selling “high-capacity” magazines as well. And Bank of America made clear they will no longer loan money to manufacturers that make “military-style firearms.”

But even though Wells Fargo hasn’t buckled yet, things are not so nice in banking land.

APOPKA, Fla. – Representatives from Fifth Third Bank visited Spike’s Tactical, a Florida-based firearm manufacturer, last Tuesday to inform them that the bank was discreetly planning to exit the banking sector for gun-related businesses.

According to Spike’s Tactical co-owner Angela Register, the bank representative informed her and their chief financial officer that their business line of credit would not be renewed and encouraged them to find a new bank to hold their accounts, even mentioning that their commercial mortgage should be transferred or it could potentially be called early.

The war continues, and all is proceeding just as I had foreseen.  Actually, it’s all proceeding just as the controllers said it would.  I just told you what the controllers said.  At some point, they’re going to come directly after owners as well.  Their intention is to drive manufacturers out of business from being unable to make payroll and enable their lines of supply and logistics.

The large manufacturers will have a difficult time of it, especially with the controllers buying up stock.  The small manufacturers, i.e., those who aren’t subject to public stockholders and whose employees own the company, and who enable their lines of logistics without the help of the large banks, will flourish.

I suspect Spike’s Tactical will come out of this okay if they can find a small bank who will take the mortgage.

Suppressor Manufacturer Gemtech Will Close Headquarters In Idaho

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 3 months ago

TFB:

What a difference a year makes. Last June we announced that Gemtech was breaking ground on a new world headquarters. Last night we learned that in six to nine months Gemtech will no longer exist in Idaho. At a company meeting yesterday, the remaining Gemtech employees were told that the facility would close and that all business would be moved to Smith & Wesson’s headquarters in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Some manufacturers are so tone deaf it amazes me they’re still in business.  S&W has been told time and again by me and literally everyone else that they need to move operations completely and with prejudice away from their current state and come South.  Or West.  Idaho would be fine, or somewhere in the Northwest redoubt, or South would be better.

Leaving the liberal politics behind would be a requirement, of course, but instead of doing this, S&W is buying smaller companies and moving them to Massachusetts.

Procedure: [1] Find the worst possible thing you could do to alienate your customer base, and [b] do it.  If you’re dumb.

Mossberg And MKS Break Ties With Dick’s Sporting Goods

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 5 months ago

Guns.com:

Ohio-based MKS, whose products include Hi-Point Firearms and Inland M1911s, have announced they won’t sell to Dick’s and their affiliates on Second Amendment grounds.

MKS said the recent move by Dick’s to hire a government affairs group for the purpose of gun control lobbying, coupled with the big box retailer’s past choices to destroy their existing inventory of AR-15s and refuse firearm sales to those under age 21 put the two companies at odds when it came to the right to keep and bear arms.

“In recent months, Dick’s Sporting Goods and its subsidiary, Field & Stream, have shown themselves, in our opinion, to be no friend of Americans’ Second Amendment,” said Charles Brown, MKS president. “We believe that refusing to sell long guns to adults under age 21, while many young adults in our military are not similarly restricted, is wrong. We believe that villainizing modern sporting rifles in response to pressure from uninformed, anti-gun voices is wrong. We believe that hiring lobbyists to oppose American citizens’ freedoms secured by the Second Amendment is wrong.”

I doubt MKS sells that much inventory to Dick’s.  But this next one hurts.

NORTH HAVEN, CT – O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc., a leading American firearms manufacturer, announced today its decision to discontinue selling products to Dick’s Sporting Goods, and its subsidiary, Field & Stream, in response to their hiring of gun control lobbyists in April 2018.

Effective immediately, O.F. Mossberg & Sons will not accept any future orders from Dick’s Sporting Goods or Field & Stream, and is in the process of evaluating current contractual agreements.

“It has come to our attention that Dick’s Sporting Goods recently hired lobbyists on Capitol Hill to promote additional gun control.” said Iver Mossberg, Chief Executive Officer of O.F. Mossberg & Sons. “Make no mistake, Mossberg is a staunch supporter of the U.S. Constitution and our Second Amendment rights, and we fully disagree with Dick’s Sporting Goods’ recent anti-Second Amendment actions.”

I have written a note to Mossberg Media Relations as follows.

I have no doubt my readers will ask about whether this decision is determinative and controlling, or just applies to firearms ordered from Dick’s bypassing distributors.  Or another way to ask the question is this.  Will Mossberg enforce this decision with distributors too, requiring them to refrain from selling to Dick’s?

As of this writing I have not received a response.  But it appears as if these two manufacturers aren’t so worried about “a conspiracy in restraint of trade.”  What is Dick’s going to do – fight the lawyers from every gun manufacturer in America?

Good for MKS and Mossberg.  Let’s keep piling it on with other gun manufacturers.  I hope Mossberg’s lawyers can work out not supplying them with existing contracts.

SCCY Industries Moving From Florida To Tennessee

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 5 months ago

Via reader Fred Tippens, another move to the South.

Handgun maker SCCY Industries will move its factory and headquarters from Daytona Beach, Fla., to a new 68-acre campus in Maryville’s Big Springs Industrial Park.

The move will bring a minimum of 350 jobs to Blount County over five years, said Joe Roebuck, founder and CEO of SCCY.

“When we say we’re going to employ 350 people, that’s very conservative,” he said.

Roebuck and company President Wayne Holt came to the Blount Partnership office for the Wednesday afternoon announcement, along with state and local officials.

“Today Blount County has another winner,” said Bob Rolfe, Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development commissioner. Roebuck had many options for his new location, but was attracted by Tennessee’s friendliness for economic development and Maryville’s quality of life, Rolfe said.

Roebuck employs about 200 in his Florida factory, but plans to move only “a few key people,” maybe a half-dozen, to Tennessee as he gradually shuts down the Daytona Beach facility, he said.

I had never seen anything by this company.  They appear to be a rather strange bird, with smallish pistols that are internal hammer and “double action only.”

But to each his own.  They all have their purpose.  This continues a pattern.  I consider Florida a misplaced Northern state, unable to pick up their dirt and relocate it to a more politically hospitable climate.

Weapon Makers Flee Liberal Towns And Head To Gun-Friendly States

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 7 months ago

Foxnews:

The ever increasing costs of compliance has driven many gunsmiths out of New York and other states southward to more gun friendly states. Remington, in business here since the 19th century, recently relocated to Alabama. Beretta pulled out of Maryland for Tennessee. KAHR Arms moved to Pennsylvania. So far, Fargnoli is resisting.

“I have 11 grandchildren and one on the way. And I can tell you my wife’s not leaving them. So moving the business isn’t going to happen for me,” he said.

Then if you can’t move your entire clan, your business will suffer, possibly in the extreme.  Sorry, but that’s the way the market works.  Buyers reward loyalty, and they punish those who undermine their wellbeing, or even those who work with those who undermine their wellbeing.  Again I say, if you’re a firearms manufacturer, you need to think seriously about moving South like so many others.

Kimber To Open Manufacturing Facility In Troy, Alabama

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 9 months ago

A few days while touring around inside Google Analytics I saw a visit from Kimber on an article I wrote where I tried to encourage Kimber to move out of New York to greener pastures, or in other words, right-to-work states.  It would match the move South by many other firearms manufacturers and likely garner more support within the gun community.  After all, one wonders how many guns are being sold in the Northeast compared to Southeast.

Now I understand why this article captured someone’s interest.  Troy, Alabama won a new Kimber facility.

A major gun manufacturer will open a new production facility in Troy, adding 366 jobs to the local economy over the next five years.

Gov. Kay Ivey announced Tuesday that Kimber Manufacturing Inc. would locate in Troy and invest $38 million in the local economy to build a state-of-the-art engineering and manufacturing facility. Ivey said the new factory would bring high-paying design and manufacturing jobs to Troy.

The new facility is expected to open in 2019.

Kimber officials said growing demand for the company’s products led to the decision to open a new plant in Troy.

“Troy offers us expansion with a passionate workforce, extraordinarily low utility costs, a pro-business environment, experienced local training support, and long-term incentives from the state and local government alike,” Greg Grogan, Kimber’s chief operating officer, said. “This expansion in conjunction with our existing manufacturing facilities, talented and experienced employees, and best-in-class products provides for exciting times here at Kimber.”

The company has roots in Yonkers and has grown rapidly in the past two decades. The Troy facility will be Kimber’s sixth U.S. plant.

This is great news, but here’s a warning.  Leave your progressive politics up North.  We down South don’t like high taxes or intrusive, nanny state government.

Ruger To Lay Off Part Of Engineering Work Force

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 9 months ago

Via reader David, Ruger is laying off employees.

Newport — Sturm, Ruger & Co. is in the process of laying off about 50 workers, or about 2.7 percent, of the company’s workforce, a top executive for the gunmaker said on Friday.

Ruger Vice President and General Counsel Kevin Reid Sr. said the layoffs are happening companywide, and he isn’t sure how many of the roughly 1,300 workers at the Newport location would be affected.

“It was for the needs of the business and tied to employee performance,” Reid said of the layoffs. “At Ruger, we routinely adjust our workforce.”

Reid, who is based in Ruger headquarters in Southport, Conn., said the company focused most of the layoffs on “indirect labor positions” such as marketing, sales and engineering, and not on employees directly involved in production.

Ruger employs between 1,800 and 1,900 people around the country.

He declined to comment on the timeline for the layoffs.

Ruger has three manufacturing locations: in Newport; Prescott, Ariz.; and Mayodan, N.C.

It also has a precision metals branch in Earth City, Mo., according to Ruger’s website.

Reid shied away from commenting on whether a third-quarter sales decrease impacted the layoffs, but noted that the company has “been in a fluctuating market, which I don’t think is lost on anybody.”

Well this isn’t a good report.  The gun market is soft right now for obvious reasons and so the work force is a little bloated compared to the purchase frenzy prior to the election.  But if anyone thinks that the softer market will continue they’re badly mistaken.

Let’s say it another way.  If you believe that the election of a pro-gun president is anything but a brief respite, you’re dense.  We need to remember that half of the country voted for gun controllers, and the other half is comprised of a lot of people who don’t care about our rights.

Florida will become a reliable blue state because of immigration from Puerto Rico, and Texas will be in play within a decade due to immigration South of the border.  Alabama just elected a democrat Senator, and Soros and Bloomberg are still dumping money into their candidates.  Except for a few outliers such as Texas open carry, gun rights hasn’t had a victory in a very long time (and no, Heller wasn’t a victory, and Texas open carry is still permitted carry).

This is going to turn around for firearms manufacturers within the next year or two, perhaps right after the 2018 elections, perhaps not, but certainly the year before the next presidential election.  Firearms manufacturers must do what they need to survive until then, but layoffs in marketing, sales, HR and support is one thing.  Layoffs in engineering is quite another.

Layoffs in engineering means that development slows down and competition gets harder to match.  It means that plant problems don’t get addressed as expeditiously as they otherwise might, and it means that just a single unaddressed problem like the Walker Fire Control that almost ruined Remington may end up ruining the next company that doesn’t have the resources to study problems and design remediation.

I think this is all around a very bad idea, and layoffs need to happen elsewhere, or otherwise all employees should take no raise (or even pay cuts) in order to ensure the health of the company.

U.S. Optics Moves To Montana

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 1 month ago

Into the redoubt, they are.

A manufacturing company that has been building custom rifle scopes and optics for 26 years in Southern California is relocating to Kalispell.

U.S. Optics, a leader in the firearm optics industry, announced the relocation to the Flathead Valley on its website, saying there may be a brief pause in production while it brings the new facility online, but assured customers “we will far exceed our previous production capabilities.”

The company is on track to move into its new quarters south of Kalispell in September.

The Montana Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Montana West Economic Development helped facilitate the relocation.

Ken Fichtler, chief business development officer for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, said U.S. Optics reached out to his office in April about the possibility of relocating to Montana. The company also was considering Texas as a possible relocation site, Fichtler said, as it considered potential sites with “a closer cultural fit.

“We went up against the state of Texas in terms of incentives, culture and location,” he said, adding that U.S. Optics was impressed with the “center of excellence for this type of manufacturing” that exists in the Flathead Valley. “We were able to put together an incentive package that appealed to them.

A Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund grant and property tax abatement were among the incentives offered.

Another drawing card to Montana, Fichtler said, is the Montana Photonics Industry Alliance, a Bozeman-based network of Montana optics and photonics companies, entrepreneurs, laboratories and universities. Montana State University’s Optical Technology Center also was a factor in U.S. Optics’ decision, he added.

Down Range Solutions Group recently acquired U.S. Optics, and will continue doing business as U.S. Optics, according to a press advisory issued in June by mergers and acquisitions division of Helena-based Ascendant Advisory Group.

According to U.S. Optics’ website, the genesis of the company’s commercial off-the-shelf product line is “rooted in custom scopes built to satisfy the needs of military and law-enforcement personnel, competitive shooters and hunters …

The only mystery here is why they would have stayed in California so long.  Like Remington (Alabama) and so many other manufacturers, they need to be in a culture where they can thrive.

Stag Arms still operates in Connecticut, Kimber still operates in New York, Rock River Arms still operates in Illinois, Springfield Armory still operates in Illinois, and Mossberg still operates in Connecticut.

Why?  Do they want to go out of business and have to lay off all of their employees?


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