Gun Lover's Dream Fulfilled


February 5, 2003, 05:33 PM
Bangkok Post

February 5, 2003

LENGTH: 617 words




When Jiraphantu Kongphantu, a former deputy district chief and collector of a SIG Sauer firearms, said he wanted to make the prestigious German pistols in Thailand, his friends thought he was dreaming.

That was in 1976. Two years ago he finally proved them wrong when his new firm, J.K. Defence Industrial Co, was licensed by the Defence Ministry to build a gun factory in Phrae province. The company was then authorised by J.P. Sauer & Sohn GmbH to assemble all models of SIG Sauer guns for the Thai military, police and other law-enforcement officers.

The plant has a 250-year pedigree. J.P. Sauer founded the company in Suhl, Thuringia, Germany in 1751.

The Cold War after World War II prompted the company to relocate from the eastern city to what was then West Germany.

In 1974, Sauer & Sohn, based in Eckernforde, was bought by SIG Schweizerische Industriegesellschaft of Neuhausen, Switzerland.

J.K. Defence is the first Southeast Asian company authorised to assemble the firearms, which are used by the military and police in many countries including the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Sweden, Japan and Australia.

In Thailand, between 20,000 and 30,000 SIG Sauer guns are in use, according to Mr Jiraphantu, who became acquainted with the brand for the first time in 1980 when he and 14 law-enforcement officers with the Local Administration Department ordered SIG Sauer guns from the manufacturer.

He said the price was much lower than for other brands, adding he was impressed by the gun's high safety features and performance.

Three years later, he ordered 1,359 SIG Sauer guns from the manufacturer for allocation to departmental officials.

For some years, I talked with close friends, who are also gun lovers, about making such firearms here so that our officers can afford the world's leading brand,'' he said.

They said that I was nuts since making guns, especially a famous brand, is not as easy as making general consumer products,'' Mr Jiraphantu said. But I never gave up as it would be good for the and the economy.''

Mr Jiraphantu said his company would expand the factory step by step, starting by investing a few million dollars'' in production.

These firearms have evolved over 250 years. So investing a huge lump-sum at the outset, entirely from local materials, would not be smart,'' he said.

Production is scheduled to start with the smallest model, the SIG Sauer P232 pistol, later this year.

In addition to firearms, the company planned to make uncomplicated components including springs, slides and locking inserts in the future, said Andreas Bachmann, vice-president, marketing, of J.K. Defence Industrial, and a former worldwide general manager of SIG Sauer.

Mr Bachmann has known Mr Jiraphantu since 1983, playing a crucial role in helping launch the gun factory.

Mr Jiraphantu said that production would focus on the domestic market initially, supplying guns to order for the military and law-enforcement agencies. To counter potential abuses, every component of each gun would have a serial number.

Locally-assembled SIG Sauer pistols would be 20,000 to 30,000 baht cheaper than imported alternatives, which are available at about 65,000 baht each, he said.

In the future, the company expects to make shotguns as well as pistols, complementing production from SIG Sauer's plants in the United States, Canada and Japan.

Mr Jiraphantu said that although the company would have to work hard to achieve long-term growth, profit was not his main goal.

I just intend to help the country obtain the world's leading guns at an affordable price. Moreover, I have got closer to achieving my dream.''

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February 5, 2003, 06:07 PM
Good for him! :neener: :neener:

February 5, 2003, 08:00 PM
I dream of being elected Gov... er, King of **********!

Yeah, that's the ticket. And every family would be issued a AR15, yeah. And ammo would be tax deductible, yeah that's it. And...

Kahr carrier
February 5, 2003, 08:15 PM

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