Industry News: May 2004
by Robert M. Hausman

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives recently notified FNH USA that its Fabrique Nationale Five-Seven 5.7x28mm IOM (Individual Officers Model) semiautomatic pistol has been classified as a sporting pistol, allowing it to be imported into the US for commercial resale.

The pistol’s 8-inch overall length, 22-ounce weight, click adjustable target sight, target grips, and target trigger along with its safety features of a locked breech mechanism, loaded chamber indicator, magazine safety and firing pin block or lock, gave it a total score of at least 75 points allowing ATF’s Firearms Technology Branch to classify it as suitable for general sale.

FNH’s law enforcement sales manager, Rick Demilt says that despite the ruling, the firm will continue to sell these pistols only to law enforcement personnel as there is armor-piercing 5.7x28mm ammunition available.

FNH also received a determination from ATF that one of the three 5.7x28mm rounds, the SS192 training round, is not classified as armor-piercing under federal law. This round has a hollow point with the front one-third portion being hollow. The rear portion contains an aluminum core. Since it is not a fully jacketed projectile, it is not defined as armor piercing.

Major International Trade Shows

During the past several months, members of the small arms industry have been busy attending trade events. In February, firearms and outdoor firms headed west for the SHOT Show held Feb. 12 - 15 at the Convention Center in Las Vegas. The following month the focus was on Europe as marketers headed to Nuremberg, Germany for the annual presentation of IWA, March 12 - 15. Topping off the show season, EXA, held 17 - 20 April in Brescia, Italy is the final “must attend” event for global marketing firms.

The 2004 S.H.O.T. Show was expected to attract over 1,400 manufacturers and distributors, occupying more than 500,000-net-square-feet of exhibit space to showcase a broad range of products. The show attracts trade visitors from all fifty US states and more than sixty-five countries. The 2002 Las Vegas event attracted 18,549 attendees, making it one of the best such events to date. The 2003 show, held in Orlando, Florida, had a lower attendance.

In March, global marketers headed to Germany for IWA & Outdoor Classics where an expected 1,000 exhibitors, 73% of whom are international firms, were visited by over 27,000 trade-related attendees from one hundred countries. The management at IWA does one of the best jobs of vetting attendees to ensure only qualified trade visitors are in attendance. In fact, it is a criminal offense in Germany to attend a trade show under false pretenses.

EXA Rich in History

Held in the province of Brescia, where 90% of Italian small arms production takes place, EXA was created in 1980 to offer Brescian manufacturers a showcase worthy of their fame and quality production. The event has gradually assumed international significance and importance over the ensuing years. Thanks to the presence of exhibitors from all over the world, this show can now be rightly considered one of the major world events in its sector of industry. The 2003 edition was presented for the second year at the modern Brescia Exhibition Centre.

EXA’s predecessor was the “Brescian Arms Exhibition” organized by the Brescia Chamber of Commerce in the “Quadriportico” in Piazza Vittoria in September 1979. There were 43 exhibitors, all from Brescia taking part. This initial event led to the first edition of EXA held at E.I.B. the following year which attracted 79 exhibitors, 59 of which were from the Brescia district, 19 from other parts of Italy and one from abroad. The public was allowed to attend during the first two days and there were a total of 6,700 visitors, 10% of which were professionals in the trade.

The next year, in 1981, the exhibitor count climbed to 105 and the visitors to 8,500. In 1984, the show grew considerably as the number of visitors doubled to 17,000 while the 62 Brescian companies present were surpassed in number by those from other regions- some 67, seven of which were from abroad. Among the novelties of that year was the first national convention on arms discipline with notable presenters. The 1992 edition was the first to play host to over 30,000 visitors with more than 220 exhibitors. In 2000, the show’s nineteenth edition, it was moved to April, from February.

With the old E.I.B. “ciambellone” (round structure) determined to be too small, EXA was moved to the new exhibition center in 2002 and attracted a record 32,000 visitors (4,000 from the trade) and 585 exhibitors.

Study: Southeast Asian Gun Control Varies

Legal controls on civilian ownership of small arms varies widely in the ten countries comprising Southeast Asia (Brunei, Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam), according to a recently released study Legal Controls on Small Arms and Light Weapons in Southeast Asia, produced by the Small Arms Survey in Geneva, Switzerland.

Licensing laws often contain ambiguities subject to the interpretation and discretion of the licensing agencies. For example, in Myanmar, applicants must be “loyal citizens to the State”. In a similar vein, Malaysian law states that licenses will be granted only where this is no “danger to the public safety or the public interest.” Philippine law determines who may possess a given type and caliber of firearm on the basis of occupation, social standing, and income level.

Indonesia permits private ownership of non-Indonesian military standard arms -specifically anything below .32 caliber- whereas Myanmar’s criteria is .38 caliber or less. Malaysia specifies that only single-shot arms can be licensed. Laos grants licenses for any type of non-military or military standard arm. Thai law prohibits discharge of firearms licensed as antiques. Philippine firearms licenses are valid until the death or legal disability of the licensee.

Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand require additional permits (beyond mere possession) to carry arms. Cambodia only issues pistol licenses to senior civil servants. Singapore only grants licenses for pistols of up to .32 caliber. In Vietnam, only shotguns are allowed for personal use.

Only Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand require a serial number or other unique identifier mark on licensed arms.

Just over half of Southeast Asian countries limit the amount of ammunition a gun owner may have at any one time. Residents of Thailand and the Philippines must have a separate permit to purchase ammunition. Malaysia allows possession of only 100 rounds of ammunition per license. Indonesia allows 50 rounds per pistol and 100 rounds per licensed rifle.

More Gun Control in South Africa

The government of this nation, with one of the world’s highest violent crime rates, has imposed new restrictions on the owners of its 4.5 million registered firearms.

While formerly allowing ten guns, gun owners are now limited to four guns, with just one being designated for use in self-defense. For each they will have to prove a need for ownership and submit to re-registry every two to five years. They must also complete a firearms training course and demonstrate proficiency with each gun owned. Further, police are allowed to enter firearm licensee’s homes to ensure their arms are being stored in a gun safe. Gun owners are now also required to report the loss or theft of a gun and risk facing the filing of a negligence charge against them when doing so.

FBI Evaluating .308 Rifle Systems

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is evaluating .308 bolt-action rifles for possible adoption by the agency. This process began last August 4th.

After recent completion of Phase I evaluation, FNH USA, Inc. was notified its rifle entry was determined to be one of the three highest technically rated proposals and that FNH’s rifle systems will continue on to Phase II of the evaluation process.

FNH’s Rick DeMilt commented, “Most of the other entrants are ‘bambi-boomers’ painted black with a heavy barrel. Our entrant, the FNH SPR rifle, is designated for real world operators.”

The FBI also identified Accuracy International and H-S Precision as the other two firms submitting technically acceptable proposals and their rifles also continued on to Phase II of the evaluation process.

Maryland Approves 9 More Handguns

The Maryland Handgun Roster Board, the state-law mandated body that has the power to approve or deny handgun models before they can go on sale in the state, recently approved nine additional models.

The handguns, which became legal for sale last October 15th, are:
  • Smith & Wesson Model 500 in 500 Magnum.
  • Smith & Wesson Model SW99 in .45 ACP.
  • Rossi Models R851, R972 and R971 in .38 Special/ .357 Magnum.
  • EMF Hartford Premier I & II in .45 LC, .32-20, .38/40, .44-40, and .357 Magnum.
  • Taurus CIA Model 851 in .38 Special.
  • Taurus CIA Model 651 in .357 Magnum.

aryland Letter Writing Campaign

The Maryland Licensed Firearms Dealers Association has instituted a consumer letter writing campaign to certain firearms manufacturers in an attempt to make more handguns available for sale in the state. The group says the following manufacturers’ products are not compliant with the state’s “integrated mechanical safety device law” and asks consumers to contact the manufacturers to ask when their products will comply with the new Maryland law and have locking devices on their guns:

Beretta, USA, Smith & Wesson (semiautomatics only, revolvers comply), SIG Arms, Magnum Research (Desert Eagle), Para Ordnance, Glock, Inc., Kimber, and Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.

Industry Research Reports Available

Invaluable industry-specific research documents are available from The New Firearms Business, an American trade publication covering the small arms industry. These include:
  • Cumulative End-of-Year U.S. Firearms & Ammunition Imports These reports detail the total amount of various firearm types and small arms ammunition imported to the US annually. Country of origin and ports-of-arrival are listed. Years available include: 1993 through 2002. Price: $25 per report. Order all 10 reports (at $250) and get included two extra reports for the years 2001 and 2002 with added firearm and ammo categories.
  • ATF Firearms manufacturing & Export Reports (for years) 1975 through 2001. Detailing total production by caliber for individual manufacturers and exportation by type for individual manufacturers. Note: Years 1975 - 1988 are contained in one report. Due to length, there is a $27 fee per year with the exception of the 1975-1988 report which is $27 total. Order any five reports for only $120. Order all 14 reports for just $325.
  • ATF’s Commerce in Firearms in the U.S. Offered as a two volume set (years 2000 and 2001/2002 editions) containing nearly 110 pages of industry-specific statistical information. This reference contains export and import figures from 1899-1999, net domestic small arms & handgun sales 1947-1998, firearms manufacturers’ shipments 1899-1998 & more. Both reports just $50.
  • Handgun Carry Regs of the 50 States A listing of which US states provide “shall-issue” concealed carry licenses, which states issue “discretionary” permits and those not issuing such permits at all. A useful reference for handgun and related accessory marketers. Just $20.
  • California Handgun Marketing Guidelines Over 125-pages of reference material for any firm contemplating marketing firearms in the State of California. Includes: Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale, Roster of Certified Firearm Safety Devices, Gun Models (including long guns) Approved by Type of Safety Device (gun lock models available). Only $60.
  • WFSA Workshop on Export, Import, & Brokering of Small Arms and Firearms A reprint of the report issued in the aftermath of the Workshop held in June 2002 in Naples, Italy sponsored by the Manufacturers Advisory Group of the World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities. While the meeting’s primary purpose was to garner industry support in preventing illicit firearms trafficking, it contains a good deal of statistical information on the world firearms market, customs, tracing and trade practices, brokering and U.S. law, industry practice recommendations, firearms marking and tracing, and export/import policies. Price: $30.
  • ATF & The Imports Community 2003 a reprint of the 188-page set of documents distributed at this important annual industry regulation briefing held in Washington, D.C. in July 2003. If you missed this meeting, this is your chance to obtain the written materials containing statistical & other vital business information. Price: $50.

To order any of these documents, send a check to The New Firearms Business, P.O. Box 98, St. Johnsbury, VT 05819 U.S.A. Credit card orders can be phoned in to 1-802-751-8064.

Robert M. Hausman is the publisher of the firearms industry’s two most widely read professional trade publications, the bi-weekly The New Firearms Business which covers the domestic US market and the monthly, The International Firearms Trade which covers the world market. For subscription information to either publication, send an email to FirearmsB@aol.com.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V7N8 (May 2004)
and was posted online on August 23, 2013


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