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From Marksman to Magpie

Why the global rifle industry needs to address the luxury market in a new way

For anyone who knows me, it’s no secret that I like my shiny things. From timepieces to cars, to an entire collection of so-called executive toys, there is definitely a theme when it comes to my stuff. So, with a proclivity towards high-end luxury goods, I often wonder why the modern sporting rifle industry generally falls short—after all, as an avid gun enthusiast I can attest to the fact that my magpie-like tendencies aren’t truly met when it comes to my firearms.

Now, I know what all of you are thinking, so let me first clarify. I’m in no way saying that the firearms industry doesn’t have its high-end goods. Of course, there are a few companies out there that do incredible mass-customization for those who want semi-custom items.  However, in that realm, the question of intent and use remains. The intent is to make something that was mediocre better, and the use becomes that of semi-collectible (at least for most).

Then, of course, there’s the custom stuff: we all know it well. The project rifles that we all painstakingly build over many months, or sometimes even years, is a labor of love and obsession to build something truly unique that’s unlike any other. And like the aforementioned semi-custom items, these built-from-scratch personalized works of art bring with it pride and bragging rights amongst our peers, complete with admiration and, maybe, just a little bit of friendly jealously.

But what about the truly high-end luxury aspect? There seems to be a missing link in the firearms world that perhaps at least some of us are craving. I think of it from the perspective of a car analogy. Similar to the custom rifles that many of us build with hand-chosen parts, making something of our own, cars of that nature are no different. I have friends who have spent countless hours and dollars putting blood, sweat, and lots of tears into custom hot-rods that would make anyone green with envy. But it’s still a custom car. Is it a luxury item? Perhaps it could be argued that it is, but the work and customization lend itself to a different definition … at least for me.

It’s like the difference between a custom hot-rod and a new Aston Martin. Both are incredible in their own right; however, the Aston Martin represents a different world—one that is built on the concept of luxury, status, and pure unadulterated performance. No customization required—just perfection right from the start.

Another analogy is that of the watch industry. Now there’s an addiction that many can attest to. When looking at luxury watches, it’s the exact same scenario as the Aston Martin. For the most part, there is no need or want for customization. In the case of watches, it again becomes all about luxury, status, and performance.

So, this is where the issue for me presents itself when addressing the current state of the modern sporting rifle market. Yes, I can custom build stuff all day long, and I do. It’s an amazing hobby and something that definitely makes me happy. It can at times satiate my need for luxury goods, but again, it’s just not the same.

And sure, there are a few high-end manufacturers—ones that build some very creative and unique firearms that meet the needs of a few niche markets, but there’s certainly not enough. I truly believe there needs to be a place in the market for high-end, luxury modern sporting rifles that don’t require extra dollars spent on custom parts to enhance look or performance and that possess unique features that set them apart from the norm.

There’s clearly a need in the market—perhaps we can fill it.