American Made Guns, firearms trade restrictions

“American made” is something we see frequently as it relates to guns. Many manufacturers pride themselves on building their firearms from start to finish in the U.S., using American parts. However, that’s obviously not the case across the board. Some manufacturers import from all over the world, including China, for certain parts and builds. The concept of American made guns could certainly take on a different meaning when the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic finally runs its course.

American Made Guns Post-COVID

With the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders and subsequent increase in demand for firearms and ammunition, American gun and ammo companies find themselves busier than ever trying to meet demand. We’ve covered it throughout this pandemic as record numbers continue to pour in. However, a recent report about the U.S. military ammunition supply chain made got us thinking. It’s not very hard to imagine the U.S. government placing trade restrictions with certain countries as things begin to settle. There’s one country that immediately comes to mind … *cough, China, cough, cough* (probably not a good idea to use attention-getting coughs at this time).

Let’s say the government places further trade restrictions on China as a result of that country’s role in the spread of the virus. Would it affect the American gun owner?

Could law-abiding U.S. citizens face a long-term gun and ammo shortage because of such sanctions? And should we be even more concerned about the COVID-19 situation as it relates to guns, shooting and armed self-defense?

As it turns out, such an action against China wouldn’t have much of a negative effect on any of the firearm and ammunition companies we contacted for this story. And all are pushing forward to meet their customers’ demand, even in this trying time.

SIG-nificant Ammo Bump

Tom Taylor, SIG Sauer’s CMO and Executive Vice President of Commercial Sales, said demand for most ammo went up. Meanwhile, specific calibers saw more demand than others.

“We are selling all of the 9mm V-Crown (JHP) and FMJ and .223 ammo we can make,” Taylor said. “Some other rounds are moving well, such as .380, but 9mm and .223 are in highest demand, as you would expect.”

Because of the increased demand for certain calibers, Taylor said SIG Sauer has shifted some of its production to keep up.

“We understand the need by military, law enforcement and the civilian market for defensive ammunition in the most popular calibers such as 9mm and .223,” he said. “We are focused on manufacturing of those products as fast as possible. “… Demand continues to outpace supply, but we are shipping to our retailers as fast as possible for re-stocking and sale. And while we’ve eliminated shift overlap to reduce congestion at entrances, we have increased the number of shifts. We’re essentially running 24/7, including weekends.”

Taylor added that SIG makes its ammo at the company’s Jacksonville, Ark., plant. Also, SIG either builds all of its components directly or sources from other American companies. Consequently, any kind of punitive action against China shouldn’t have any effect on the company’s ability to provide ammo for customers.

Black Hills

Black Hills Ammunition is a smaller ammo company out of South Dakota. We featured Black Hills in our “Sweat, Lead, and Steel” video series. It’s well-known for high-quality ammunition in a wide range of calibers. The 65-employee company supplies all match ammunition for the U.S. Military’s Service Rifle Teams. It also provides specialty ammunition for specific military operations.

Kristi Hoffman, co-owner of Black Hills, said the company’s biggest piece of business remains providing ammunition to the U.S. military.

“While the commercial market for us is a lot smaller, we saw demand pick up probably three weeks ago, and it was very, very steady for two weeks straight,” Hoffman said. “Last week it seemed to tail off a little bit and it’s about the same this week. It’s busier than normal, but not crazy like it was those first two weeks.”

Hoffman said Black Hills Ammo is seeing very specific ammunition types in high demand.

“We saw the demand immediately for 9mm full-metal jacket and for .223 full-metals or soft-points,” she said. “They’re looking for the cheapest stuff out there, the ball stuff and that kind of stuff.

“We were later seeing it because, as most people know, we’re not the cheapest game in town on ammo. I think once they exhausted the more economical lines, they started coming to people like us to fill in the gaps.”

Like SIG Sauer, because of producing its ammo in the United States with American-made components, sanctions against China likely would have little effect on Black Hills’ business.

“We make all of our ammo right here in Rapid City, S.D.,” Hoffman said. “We’re not having any trouble getting components right now because we’re usually out at least 12 months in our purchase orders at any given time. So far, we’re doing quite well, because we’ve done this for enough years and we’ve always been proactive on keeping our suppliers apprised for at least 12 months on what we’re going to need.

“We have a lot of components here, but that being said, we need to get our monthly deliveries, too.”

Continuing to RISE

Firearms manufacturers are in much the same boat as ammo manufacturers. Those that use all U.S.-made parts are in a much better position to continue meeting the increasing demand, both now and in the long run.

RISE Armament specializes in top-quality AR-style rifles, triggers and other parts. Camille Torres, RISE’s marketing manager, said the growth in demand for products from parts to guns isn’t slowing down any.

“Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a sustained increase in demand across all our products,” Torres said. “We’re currently on backorder on a lot of our products. But we’re working hard to produce as much as possible while maintaining our strict quality standards.”

Interestingly, the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders and increase in demand have given RISE a unique opportunity to meet consumers’ needs.

“We concentrate on continuously improving, which allows us to continue to become more efficient and produce more,” Torres said. “Additionally, there are a number of local partners that are low on work, so we’ve been able to mobilize them to produce a significant amount more. Not only does this allow us to make more for customers, but it also helps keep people employed.”

RISE manufacturers all parts in the U.S., making the company more self-sufficient than some that get parts from overseas sources.

“The majority of our raw materials are U.S.-sourced as well,” Torres said. “The only reason we wouldn’t source something from the U.S. is if there weren’t vendors located domestically. However, absolutely no raw materials for our products are sourced from China.”

We’ll continue to follow this story on American made guns as the COVID-19 situation continues to unfold. Stay tuned for future updates.

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