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Firearms business analysis.

1995 Is A Study In How Quickly Business Can Change. The Result Is A Terrible Case Of Whiplash.

Is It Permanent?

Few people in the industry would have predicted the whiplash of 1995. Based on the 1994 sales pace, 1995 should have been a record-setting year.

In 1994, the industry accelerated at a profit-building, party-throwing, life-is-wonderful pace. All indicators showed: full speed ahead.

Anti-gun campaigns actually drove incredible buying sprees.

Yes, there was the assault weapons ban with its 10-round magazine limit, but that - went the prevailing thought - would all be repealed later.

There were sales to be made.

Manufacturers worked around the clock. Distributors sped products through the pipeline. Dealers were happier than a coon hound under a full moon during hunting season.

Life was good.

Then came 1995. Bam!

The industry slammed full speed into a stalled market and then was rear-ended by a persistent, re-energized anti-gun administration and crew.

The crash caused a whiplash that is being felt today. Sales are sluggish, at best. Companies are downsizing. The number of FFLs are plummeting. Major gun companies are on the selling block and the slide continues.

THE NUMBERS

Total firearms production in 1995 fell 16 percent from 1994. In 1995, manufacturers made 4,340,587 guns, a drop of 820,540 from 1994, a year when the production of 5,161,127 guns hit the level of the 1980s.

Only rifle production saw growth in 1995. While the increase of 116,459 rifles was a modest 9 percent, it was the lone shining star in a dreary business year. Shotgun production in 1995 dropped by 6 percent - down 77,968 guns - but the real disaster was in handguns. There were 859,031 fewer handguns produced in 1995 than in 1994, a drop of 33 percent!

The 1995 handgun production figure of 1,722,930, compared to 2,581,961 in 1994, is the strongest reflection of the declining handgun market, primarily in pistols.

In 1995, 1,195,266 pistols were made, a drop of 40 percent from the 1,995,511 pistols manufactured in 1994! While the numbers were down in every caliber category, the most remarkable fall was in 9mms. There were 352,231 fewer 9mms made in 1995 than in 1994, a 47 percent decline! Undoubtedly, the dramatic plunge was due to the high-capacity magazine ban of '94.

All the top 9mm manufacturers were hit hard. Comparing 1994 to 1995, S&W made 32,372 fewer 9s, Ruger dropped by 61,430 and Beretta was down by 43,823. These company's shortfalls, however, pale in comparison with Bryco Arms. In 1994, Bryco made 124,558 9mms. In 1995, the number plummeted to 13,539. That's 111,019 fewer Bryco 9s - an 89 percent drop!

The total 1995 revolver production of 527,664 was a drop of 10 percent from the 1994 level of 586,450. The most notable drops were in the .22 and .38 caliber categories. Comparing '94 and '95, there were 34,412 fewer .22s made (-26%), and 53,717 fewer .38s (-37%).

Two revolver calibers had increases: .44s inched up by 431 guns, but .357s posted an impressive 23 percent increase of 39,523 guns. Incredibly, Ruger posted a 59 percent increase in .357 production, from 37,278 in '94 to 58,787 in '95. Ruger's .357 stable in 1995 included the Bisley, New Model Blackhawk, GP100 and SP101.

Smith & Wesson also posted a significant increase in .357s in 1995. The company posted a 31 percent jump from 103,846 guns in '94 to 136,247 in '95. Much of the S&W .357 increase is attributable to the M640 Centennial and remarkable export figures on a number of S&W offerings.

Rifle production in 1995 numbered 1,440,699, a 9 percent increase of 116,459 over 1994. This was the best long-gun showing since 1982. The top three rifle makers all posted increases in 1995. Comparing '94 with '95, Remington increased its rifles by 38,210 (+18%), Ruger was up by 53,430 rifles (+15%), and Marlin produced 37,843 more rifles (+10%).

Shotgun production dropped 6 percent in 1995 after posting the most impressive increase of all firearms in 1994. Production dropped from 1,254,926 in '94 to 1,176,958 in '95. Still, this was the best year for shotguns since 1980. Comparing '94 and '95, Remington increased its shotgun production by 23,430 guns (+6%), Mossberg dropped by 33,631 guns (-9%) and H&R 1871 produced 50,547 fewer guns (-23%).

The top three firearms manufacturers in 1994, and the number of guns they produced, were Ruger: 760,846, Remington: 669,148 and Smith & Wesson: 500,129.

In 1995, Ruger made 345,928 handguns, 407,785 Rifles and 7,133 shotguns. Overall, Ruger's '95 production was down 5 percent from 1994.

Remington produced 242,706 rifles and 426,442 shotguns in 1995. This was an increase of 10 percent, making Remington the only top three manufacturer to post overall production growth in '95.

Smith & Wesson's 500,129 handguns produced in 1995 was a decrease of 5 percent over 1994 when the company made 524,768 handguns.

The top three handgun manufacturers for 1995 were Smith & Wesson: 500,129 (-5% from '94), Ruger: 345,928 (-21%) and Beretta: 158,858 (-21%).

The top three rifle producers in 1995 were Ruger: 407,785 (+15%), Marlin: 395,215 (+10%) and Remington: 242,706 (+18).

The top three shotgun companies in 1995 were Remington: 426,442 (+6%), Mossberg: 339,881 (-9%) and H&R 1971: 165,813 (-23%).

The top three overall U.S. exporters for 1995 were Smith & Wesson: 180,588 (+58%): all handguns; Remington: 52,079 (-5%): 32,315 rifles (+20%), 19,764 shotguns (-29%); and Ruger: 37,677 (+13%): 15,035 handguns (+3%), 22,503 rifles (+20%) and 139 shotguns (+9%).

The top importers into the U.S. in 1995 were Brazil: 261,154 (-39%), Austria: 209,223 (-1%) and 188,248 (+10%). The top importers in 1996 were Austria: 251,077 (+20% from '95), Brazil: 240,301 (18%) and Italy: 161,911 (-3%).

What of the future?

While there are numerous issues the industry must face to survive and succeed, the two major challenges are Image and Growing New Markets.

The Anti-Gun Ministry has successfully demonized guns and, thus, gun owners: "Guns are bad. Guns kill kids. Guns kill everything. Guns hurt trees. Guns are destroying the ozone. Guns are bad. People who own guns are bad. People should not own guns."

To counter such brainwashing, everyone in the industry must step forward to challenge the anti-gun message. No one has the luxury of having others do the job. No excuses. What is needed is involvement.

Countering the anti-gun image is vital to Growing New Markets. The future of the industry is not based on developing new, wazoo products to sell to customers who already have over-spent their gun budget through the year 2007. Instead, the future is in attracting young participants.

Except in a few cases, the industry has relied on the traditional way of growing the customer base: through parents. Today, that doesn't work. Fewer parents are involved in the shooting sports. Plus, parents can't even get their kids interested in cleaning their room.

What's needed is younger shooters becoming the spokespersons for products, younger shooters being featured in magazines, younger shooters sending the message: "shooting is cool." That's the message. It's the Tiger Woods message and young people are standing in line to take up golf.

Olympic gold medalist Kim Rhode is carrying the message. We need more like her. There are hundreds of young shooters out there that can carry the message. The industry ignores them. Instead, older - yes deserving - shooters are the spokespersons, the image. Arnold Palmer doesn't attract young people to golf. Young golfers do. Young shooters can do the same for shooting.

The shooting industry traditionally is slow to change. Such change is needed now more than ever. Without it, the industry will shrink to a shadow of its glory days.

No, 1995 was not a good business year. Neither was 1996, and 1997 is a struggle. There are lessons, however, that can be learned. Those who don't learn from the past, tend to repeat it.
FIREARMS PRODUCTION

1976-1995 TOTAL U.S. FIREARMS PRODUCTION BY TYPE

Year Handguns Rifles Shotguns Total

1976 1,832,785 2,112,022 1,336,858 5,281,665
1977 1,879,645 1,932,773 1,225,043 5,037,461
1978 1,877,077 1,787,591 1,195,876 4,860,544
1979 2,124,280 1,876,470 1,319,510 5,320,260
1980 2,369,643 1,936,078 1,339,410 5,645,131
1981 2,537,229 1,680,945 1,155,567 5,373,741
1982 2,628,623 1,622,890 878,568 5,130,081
1983 1,966,836 1,109,830 959,663 4,036,329
1984 1,580,551 957,518 772,993 3,311,062
1985 1,550,071 1,140,669 769,505 3,460,245
1986 1,427,627 970,541 641,482 3,039,650
1987 1,658,832 1,006,100 857,949 3,522,881
1988 1,745,722 1,144,707 928,070 3,818,499
1989 2,031,425 1,407,317 935,541 4,374,283
1990 1,838,895 1,156,213 848,948 3,844,056
1991 1,838,266 883,482 828,426 3,550,174
1992 1,525,218 676,808 805,761 3,007,787
1993 2,655,478 1,171,872 1,148,939 4,976,289
1994 2,581,961 1,324,240 1,254,926 5,161,127
1995 1,722,930 1,440,699 1,176,958 4,340,587

Total 39,273,094 27,338,764 20,379,993 86,991,851




[TABULAR DATA OMITTED]

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[TABULAR DATA OMITTED]

[TABULAR DATA OMITTED]
1995 LONG GUN PRODUCTION BY U.S. MANUFACTURER

Manufacturer Rifles Shotguns Total Production

Remington Arms 242,706 426,442 669,148
Marlin Firearms 396,215 19,575 415,790
Sturm, Ruger 407,785 7,133 414,918
Mossberg 339,881 339,881
USRAC 153,026 153,006 306,032
H&R 1871 31,130 165,813 196,943
Savage Arms 108,919 3,313 112,232
Maverick Arms 53,291 53,291
Colt's Mfg. Co. 49,385 49,385
Weatherby 12,587 12,587
Springfield Inc. 9,068 9,068
Oregon Arms 7,920 7,920
Sporting Arms 5,624 5,624
Survival Arms 2,861 2,861
Auto-Ordnance 2,834 2,834
Daniel, W.E. 396 2,239 2,635
PWA Inc. 1,978 1,978
Olympic Arms 1,541 1,541
Bushmaster 1,325 1,325
Armalite 1,215 1,215
Bryco Arms 1,040 1,040
Arcadia 1,020 1,020
Powder River Rifle 882 882
Cooper Firearms 852 852
Kimber 805 805
Knights Mfg. 788 788
Calico Light 668 668
Thompson Center 661 661
C. Sharps Arms 465 465
Dakota Arms 451 451
Armscorp USA 289 289
G. McMillan & Co. 225 225
U.S. Competition 198 198
Ljutic Industries 154 154
Clark Custom 147 147
Bastain, Engelbert 128 128
Defense Procurement Mfg. 119 119
Horstkamp, Klaus 110 110
Green Specialty 108 108

Total 1,440,699 1,176,958 2,617,657

Total includes manufacturers that produced fewer than 100 guns.
FIREARMS EXPORTS

1995 PISTOLS

Manufacturer Exports

Smith & Wesson 66,689
Colt's Mfg. Co. 10,351
Sturm, Ruger 6,399
Beretta USA 6,216
Springfield 1,695
Gilliam, Wm; L & N 1,296
Thompson/Center 1,294
Taurus 917
STI Intl. 614
Arcadia Machine 487
LAR Mfg. 479
Strayer Voigt Inc 348
Les Baer 327
Olympic Arms 257
High Standard 187
H.J.S. Arms 134
Auto-Ordnance 118
Electronic Medical 71
Heckler & Koch 20
Caspian Arms 11
Desert Industries 10

(*)Total Exports 97,969

* Includes those who exported less than 10 guns.
FIREARMS EXPORTS

1995 SHOTGUNS

Manufacturers Exports

O. F. Mossberg & Sons 24,653
Remington Arms 19,764
U.S. Repeating Arms 18,454
H&R 1871 18,174
Maverick Arms 17,964
Marlin Firearms 557
American Arms 434
Beretta USA 414
Savage Arms 407
Heckler & Koch 204
Sturm, Ruger 139
Weatherby 106
Saeilo 15
Tar-Hunt Custom 14

(*)Total Exports 101,301

* Includes those who exported less than 10 guns.
FIREARMS EXPORTS

1995 REVOLVERS

Manufacturer Exports

Smith & Wesson 113,899
Sturm, Ruger 8,636
Colt's Mfg. Co. 5,388
North American Arms 3,198
H&R 1871 337
Federal Engineering 100
Taurus 65
Freedom Arms 7
American Arms 3
Pierce, Donald 1

Total Exports 131,634
FIREARMS EXPORTS

1995 RIFLES

Manufacturer Exports

Remington Arms 32,315
Marlin Firearms 22,951
Sturm, Ruger 22,503
U.S. Repeating Arms 6,485
H&R 1871 2,290
Savage Arms 1,781
Colt's Mfg. Co. 757
Weatherby 672
Olympic Arms 184
Thompson/Center 140
Barrett Firearms 100
Bushmaster Firearms 84
Oregon Arms 81
Auto-Ordnance 52
Powder River Rifle Co. 49
Kelby's Rifle 45
Dakota Arms 38
Arcadia 32
Springfield 32
G. McMillan & Co. 29
Saeilo 28
A Square 27
Armalite 21
Kimber of America 20
LAR Mfg. 16
Defense Procurement 15
FMK 13
Survival Arms 12
Paredes, Samuel 11

Total Exports 90,834

Includes those who exported less than 10 guns.




[TABULAR DATA OMITTED]
FIREARMS IMPORTS

1992 - 1996 HANDGUNS BY COUNTRY

Country 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996

Argentina 15,805 28,258 38,881 15,416 14,654
Australia 2 110
Austria 164,034 184,283 209,820 202,259 213,837
Belgium 24,642 40,038 31,899 27,074 17,345
Bosnia 35
Brazil 316,160 319,281 372,003 213,859 182,775
Bulgaria 1,000 1,208 6,048
Burma 1,440
Canada 2,507 9,737 30,124 23,588 14,077
China 22,001 69,986 42,600 25,380
Czech Rep. 21,177 9,857 21,973 7,781 23,311
Egypt 8,000 8,000 5,022 3,499 60
France 2,354 2,426 53 98 31
Germany 114,032 155,374 165,302 181,711 113,632
Hong Kong 655
Hungary 72,253 51,998 49,368 6,355 22,019
Israel 11,665 16,113 24,387 12,956 538
Italy 177,723 120,625 65,291 74,650 57,149
Japan 90 1
Mauritania 700
Poland 20 100 600
Portugal 665 2,315
South Africa 100
Russia 16 43,160 163,585 4,171
Singapore 4 4
S. Korea 4,500 6,244 15,398 5,010 2,462
Spain 44,555 112,473 95,014 53,849 22,476
Sweden 500 31 33 988
Switzerland 484 3,885 3,876 1,710 2,610
Tunisia 4,302
Ukraine 5,000
U.K. 1,165 286 2,096 1,945 2,676
Yugoslavia 60

Total 1,003,655 1,183,845 1,343,180 865,826 702,257

(From U.S. Department of Commerce)
FIREARMS IMPORTS

1995 & 1996 RIMFIRE RIFLES BY COUNTRY

Exporter $25-$50 Rimfire Total
 1995 1996 1995 1996 1995 1996

Belgium 94 38 94 38
Brazil 26,950 36,645 26,950 36,645
Canada 33,867 17,783 33,867 17,783
Czech Republic 2,026 210 2,026 210
Germany 341 1,098 341 1,098
Italy 500 123 500 123
Japan 12,470 7,040 12,470 7,040
Philippines 120 1,190 1,310
Sweden 4 4
United Kingdom 399 572 399 572

Total Units 120 0 77,837 63,513 77,957 63,513




[TABULAR DATA OMITTED]

[TABULAR DATA OMITTED]
COPYRIGHT 1997 Publishers' Development Corporation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Thurman, Russ
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Jul 1, 1997
Words:2603
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