Sales Off To Good Start,
But Hard Work Is Still Needed.
Long guns will do well in the marketplace in 2014, according to a number of indicators. These include the volume of sales at the NASGW Expo, SHOT Show and numerous distributer and buying group shows. This is welcome news to manufacturers and importers of long guns and related accessories — and to dealers — since the firearms market softened significantly in the final quarter of 2013.
“Yes, we saw a decline in orders during the fourth quarter of 2013,” said Joyce Rubino, Colt’s Manufacturing VP of marketing. “However, for Colt, we are seeing our reintroduction of our rifle into the commercial marketplace is driving our brand. January is proving to be a good month for us as our brand is very strong in the rifle category.”
Rubino said the consolidation last year of Colt’s Manufacturing and Colt Defense also has helped drive sales.
“The response has been extremely positive. The market has been very confused by the separation of the two companies, especially with our reintroduction into the commercial market of our rifle platform. With the consolidation, we are a stronger company going forward, with more energized resources and focus on the commercial market,” Rubino said.
For 2014, Colt has introduced additional models in its tactical rifle line, including the LE6940AE-3G and LE6920AE, both chambered in .223 with 16.1-inch barrels. In addition, Colt has added a series of bolt-action rifles to its line. The M2012 bolt-actions, originally offered as special editions in 2012, are now part of company’s regular lineup.
Kimber has received a significant number of orders for its new
Advanced Tactical SOC, one of three new tactical rifles for 2014.
No Panic Ordering
Dwight Van Brunt, Kimber Manufacturing VP of marketing and sales, says while orders aren’t what they were in 2013, there’s a positive aspect to what dealers are ordering.
“There isn’t the panic ordering like last year. There’s no fluff in this year’s orders. So while the volume of orders seems to be down — and this is what I’m also hearing from other manufacturers — the volume of real, legitimate orders is strong. So, it’s not really a negative, and Kimber is doing very, very well.”
Van Brunt said the adjustment in orders is “a touch of reality.”
“I don’t think 2013 can be expressed as a normal market by any stretch of the imagination and I think 2014 is going to reset to the proper — or new — normal, which is 2012,” Van Brunt said.
At SHOT Show 2014, Kimber introduced a new series of tactical rifles, with positive results, according to Van Brunt.
“I’m staggered by the buying interest in these rifles and the amount of actual orders. The orders from individual dealers, the quantity the rifles are bringing in is very strong. We’ve really opened a new market with these rifles. It’s quite exciting,” Van Brunt said.
For 2014, Kimber discontinued all but one model in its tactical rifle line and added three upscale tactical rifles.
“We now have what are probably the finest tactical rifles on the SHOT Show floor in the Model 8400 Advanced Tactical II and the Model 8400 Advanced Tactical SOC. These are very high-end rifles that are set up for just about any kind of operation, and tested to fire 1/2-MOA or less,” Van Brunt said. “It really takes the game up to the highest possible level. I don’t think there’s another rifle that has made this type of impression on the SHOT Show floor. That is what dealers keep telling us.”
Ashbury Precision Ordnance has introduced the new SABER
models for Savage’s 10 FCP and 110 BA rifles.
A segment of the long-gun market that doesn’t receive a lot of attention is long-range precision shooting. Ashbury Precision Ordnance, a company well-versed in long-range shooting platforms for the U.S. military, is focusing on increasing the market for this segment of shooting.
“We’re migrating our former DOD-targeted product and directing it at the long-range precision-shooting marketplace,” said Morris Peterson, company president and CEO. “We put millions of dollars into our patent work — we hold 16 patents on our programs — and we’re looking to establish distribution channels and develop dealers.”
At SHOT Show 2014, Ashbury introduced new short- and long-action rifles in its SABER line for the Savage Models 10 FCP and 110 BA.
“Our rifles are fully modular and our Savage platforms are unique. Savage has such a huge legacy footprint. What we’ve done is bring modularity to a venerable name in the shooting sports market that usually doesn’t get a lot of attention from the tactical shooter. We’re looking at shooting from the mainstream perspective,” Peterson said.
To help expand its presence in the marketplace, Ashbury is conducting dealer-development workshops.
“We teach them what the tactical-market market is, how to accessorize it, and more important, how to develop the female shooters. We have one female sponsored shooter, Melissa Gilliland. She’s doing a great job of spreading the word on long-range shooting, and taking the hard testosterone edge off the gun market — making it more approachable for women,” Peterson said.
New for 2014 from Legacy Sports International, the Pointer 1000 over-and-under
is available in 12-, 20-, 28-gauge and .410 bore. There is also a 20-gauge
Youth model. All models are fitted with high-luster Turkish walnut stocks.
New for 2014, Ruger introduces seven models of the Ruger
American Rifle with a Redfield Revolution riflescope.
Not Without Hard Work
While 2014 looks promising for the sale of long guns, it won’t be without its challenges.
“I think the first half of the year is going to be when everyone is going to have to put their heads down and work hard,” said Gene Lumsden, Legacy Sports International CEO. “Dealers are going to play inventory very close to the vest. Many of them didn’t shut the valves off fast enough on a lot of the black guns [last year], and I think dealers are going to order a little less in the hunting side until they move that inventory. Then going into the fall of 2014, they will start cranking that back up for the fall season with hunting guns.”
Legacy reports a very healthy response to its 2014 new products, including orders for the Citadel M1 in 9mm and a Howa/Zeiss Combo package. Lumsdum, however, has not ventured into black guns.
“Our business at Legacy is up tremendously and it’s not in the black-gun category,” Lumsden said. “We never were in the AR business; I just never wanted to go down that road. But our hunting rifles and traditional shotguns have done tremendously. I don’t see that changing.”
Lumsden, a 40-year veteran of the industry, sees a very positive future.
“Business is very good. We have so many new shooters, the support for the Second Amendment is up in the mid-80 percent range, and the number of women shooters has really grown during the past few years. I think the new norm is 25 to 30 percent greater than it was four years ago, if not more,” Lumsden said.
By Russ Thurman
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