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Industry News: October 2003
By Robert M. Hausman

The recently concluded National Rifle Association Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Orlando, Florida during April, set a record in terms of exhibition space - some 200,000 square feet, the largest ever.

The exhibition began with a grand opening press conference at the booth of Taurus International Manufacturing. During the conference, it was announced that the Taurus NRA Membership Program brought 10,000 new members into the NRA during the past year.

Present at the press conference were NRA executive VP Wayne LaPierre, NRA president Kayne Robinson, NRA first VP Sandy Froman, NRA-ILA director Chris Cox and Taurus executive VP and CEO Robert Morrison. A “check” was presented for the 10,000 new NRA members gained in the last year to the NRA officials by Morrison.

Morrison also presented NRA first VP Sandy Froman with the Taurus Defender of Freedom Award. Chris Cox, director of the NRA’s lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, also presented Morrison with a commemorative plaque in recognition of an upcoming American Rifleman magazine cover. The Taurus booth was situated at the very front of the exhibition entrance and was the first all visitors saw when they entered the exhibition area.

The 2003 NRA show attracted a total of 42,875 visitors and over 350 vendors.

ADCO Adds CZ

In other NRA show news, ADCO Sales of Woburn, MA, announced it will be distributing some of the CZ products from the Czech Republic in North America. The first product to be handled is the polymer-framed TT convertible pistol available in .45 ACP, .40 Auto and 9mm. Swapping the slide, barrel and magazine allows the caliber to be changed. ADCO also imports optics (mainly electronic dot sights) from Asia, the Diamond line of shotguns from Turkey, Mauser-style rifle actions from Germany and also offers a new line of wild game meat coolers for use by hunters while in the field.

Jury Hits Gun Manufacturer with Liability

A jury in Oakland, CA, in early May, awarded $50.9 million in compensatory damages in a 1994 accidental shooting in which a 7-year-old was paralyzed when his baby sitter accidentally discharged a pistol while trying to unload it.

Victoria Ni, a staff attorney with the anti-gun, Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, who had advised the plaintiff, said that the maker of the gun involved, Bryco Arms, it’s designer, Bruce Jennings, and the company’s main distributor, B.L. Jennings, Inc., would together be held responsible for at least a third of the damages. A spokeswoman for Judge John F. Kraetzer of the Alameda County Superior Court, who heard the case, could not say how the damages would be divided.

In April the jury also found the baby sitter and the victim’s parents, who had bought the gun, partially liable for the accident. In addition, two other gun distributors and the pawnshop where the gun was sold at retail were found liable. Chuck Michel, an attorney and spokesman for the California Rifle and Pistol Association predicted the verdict would be overturned on appeal.

“Every time they get something like this, they claim it is a watershed issue,” Michel said of gun control proponents, “and then it gets overturned on appeal, and no press release is issued.” This statement was certainly borne out in the NAACP case, as the Brady Campaign, which had been touting the case before and during the trial, has become strangely silent about it since the jury rendered its decision.

Contract Awards

In other business news, a $2,200,000 contract modification is awarded by the United States Marine Corps to Firearms Training Systems, Inc. (FATS) for a 12-month continuation of Contractor Logistical Support for the USMC ISMT-E program and delivery of additional LCD projectors. FATS has provided depot level CLS support to the USMC since 1996 for their 603 FATS training systems deployed worldwide. The acquisition of additional LCD projectors will provide complete replacement for the aged projectors currently in use in previously upgraded systems and those scheduled for upgrade during the year.

An additional $3,300,00 contract has been awarded to FATS from the Air National Guard. The contract requires delivery of additional new digital systems, upgrading of existing systems and a variety of weapons simulators, courseware and service. This order is an addition to previous FATS products procured by the Air Guard over the past three years. Delivery began in March with installation and training beginning in April. This procurement increases the number of Air Guard digital systems to 235.

XS Sight Systems’ Name Change

XS Sight Systems of Fort Worth, TX, is still working through its name change, which went into effect in April 2002. The company is ensuring all its packaging, catalogs and advertisements reflect the new name of XS Sight Systems.

The firm, formerly known as Ashley Outdoors, had prior to this most recent name change, changed its name to AO Sight Systems in 1999 as this name was thought to better represent the firearm sight system product line the company produced. However, a lawsuit filed by American Optical changed the sight system firm’s thinking.

The suit alleged AO Sight Systems’ use of the abbreviation “AO” caused confusion and misrepresentation of products to customers. American Optical manufactures glasses, contact lenses, and also owns AO Safety - hearing protection and safety glasses, and Peltor - hearing protection. Rather than expending funds to fight the suit or pay a requested royalty to continue use of the “AO” name, the company decided to change its name to the new “XS Sight Systems, Inc.” name.

Bushmaster Buys Pro Ord Assets

Bushmaster Firearms, Inc. of Windham, Maine, has acquired the assets of Professional Ordinance, Inc. of Lake Havasu City, AZ. Bushmaster, a producer of AR-type rifles, is adding the complementary Professional Ordinance line featuring stainless steel barrels, molded carbon fiber upper and lower receivers (and other components) and a Modular Accessories System to their existing line. The Pro Ord 5.56mm/.223 rifle weighs less than 4 pounds and its pistol version weighs just 46 ounces. Bushmaster is planning a .22 rimfire version as well.

Bushmaster will maintain production facilities in Lake Havasu City while all administration, sales, customer service and purchasing will be done from the Windham office. The Bushmaster warranty will be extended to all owners of Professional Ordinance products. About 225 existing Pro Ord made units are available to distributors and retailers. Newly made units under the Bushmaster name will be available in August.

Former Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA) has announced he will not be a candidate for the 7th District congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Johnny Isakson. Barr, a long-time friend of the industry, had said in mid-February that he would seek the post.

German Gunmaker Expanding

Retailers who serve a quality-conscious customer base in the US are offered a unique profit opportunity by Korth Germany GmbH, the world-class manufacturer of high-precision revolvers and semi-auto pistols. A chosen few are being offered the chance to now sell the Korth line as the exclusive authorized Korth retailer in their home states as part of the gunmaker’s U.S. expansion program. Only one retail dealership per state will be offered. For details, contact: Earl J. Sheehan, Jr., FAX: 978-851-9462, e-mail: info@korthusa.com.

Firestorm Increases its Distribution

Firestorm handguns, imported by SGS Importers International, Inc., has appointed Bonitz Bros., Inc. as an additional distributor for Pennsylvania.

The are now four JSC locations (Jerry’s Sport Center), (Outdoor Sports Headquarters), (Simmons Gun Specialties), and (Bonitz Bros.) selling Firestorm handguns in the following states: Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Pistol for Airline Pilots

A supplier of .40 caliber pistols for the Federal Flight Deck Officer program is sought by the Dept. of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration. The program was established by the Arming Pilots Against Terrorism Act enacted on 25 November 2002 and requires the training, equipping and deputizing of certain air carrier pilots to be Federal Flight Deck Officers for the purpose of defending the flight decks of aircraft against acts of criminal violence and air piracy.

Pistols will be purchased under full and open competition with an approximate four-month base period contract with three one-year options. The government’s requirement is for delivery of from 100 to 2,400 pistols in the base period and in each of the three option periods.

SHOT Show Date Not Changing

Despite rumors to the contrary, the date of the 2004 S.H.O.T. Show will not be moved from February to a date earlier in the year, or even to December 2003.

Doug Painter of the NSSF says that while January dates were not available in the years 2003 or 2004, the 2005 show will be held in late January.

E-Mail ATF Form Requests

The ATF National Licensing Center will now accept requests for application forms to apply for firearms and explosives licenses by e-mail. The address is: NLClicenseapplication@atf.gov.

The request should contain the subject line “Request for Application Package.” Application forms will be sent via First Class postal mail. For more details, call the ATF National Licensing Center at: 404-417-2750.

Hodgdon Powder Recall

Hodgdon Powder Co. is recalling a small lot of LIL’ Gun smokeless powder in 1-pound containers marked as Lot #103080221. Retailers or consumers should call 913-362-9455 or 800-622-4366 for instructions on how to return the affected powder.

FNH Dealer Program Extended

The popular 2003 Dealer Stocking Program offered by FNH USA, Inc., a subsidiary of FN Herstal, S.A. Belgium, has been extended through 31 December 2003. Created to drive dealer sales of various FN products, increase visibility for the brand and add profitability to retailers’ business, positive retailer and distributor response prompted the program’s extension.

“We continue to gain momentum in the commercial and law enforcement dealer markets and extending the program will give us the opportunity to accelerate dealer stocking of the new FNH USA line-up,” comments Rick DeMilt, director of sales and marketing.

The program provides that retailers who purchase one FN SPR (Special Police Rifle) and one FN Tactical Police Shotgun, plus any other three FN firearms between Jan. 1, 2003 and Dec. 31, 2003, qualify for a free FN Standard Police Shotgun. Qualifying retailers must forward copies of their distributor invoices and their FFL to the FNH USA sales office in McLean, Virginia. Once received, an FN Standard Police Shotgun will be shipped direct.

“FNH USA has a state-of-the-art product line-up, which we are always expanding,” added DeMilt. “The selection and quality of the arms we offer prove we are uniquely positioned for market leadership in the law enforcement and personal security commercial segments.” Retailers interested in learning more about the line can visit: www.fnhusa.com

ATK Investing “Heavily” in Federal

ATK is working to make its Federal Cartridge Co. division the most powerful consumer brand in ammunition. ATK says it is investing “heavily” in Federal from branding and R&D to consumer research and promotions. The first visible change will be to Federal’s logo and product packaging, such as the new Shockwave logo. Each new product package has a game guide for choosing the right ammo for the right pursuit-along with detailed ballistics data.

ATK/Federal was presented with an Award of Excellence by the NRA during the first annual Golden Bullseye Awards at the 2003 NRA show. Federal has also redesigned its consumer web site to contain an interactive ballistics catalog, an Outfitter dealer locator, and a functional ammo catalog.

SAR’s Industry News columnist, Robert M. Hausman, is also the editor and publisher of the small arms industry’s two most respected business-to-business publications - The New Firearms Business, a bi-monthly newsletter covering the marketing, legal and regulatory aspects of the domestic firearms industry. Published 22-times per year, an annual subscription to Firearms Business is just $110. Published monthly, The International Firearms Trade is of interest to those firms doing business abroad, such as importer or exporters, or those considering doing so. A subscription to the 12-page International Firearms Trade costs just $70 for one year. To order either publication, send a check to made payable in the name of the desired publication (FT or IFT) to: P.O. Box 98, St. Johnsbury, VT 05819 USA.

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