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Gun Kickstarter?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Mike OTDP, Nov 25, 2022.

  1. Mike OTDP

    Mike OTDP Member

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    Kickstarter has become a way to raise capital for projects - games, books, what-have-you. If enough people pledge funds, the project goes forward and the people putting in money get a copy. If there isn't enough interest, the project goes away and nobody loses money.

    I'm wondering if this approach could not be used to raise money for firearm production. For example, S&W Model 16s in .32 S&W Long fetch insane prices...I suspect there would be a few thousand people willing to buy a new-production gun. Maybe a Walther PPK in .32 ACP (which is a lot more pleasant to shoot). A revived Webley break-open revolver...manufactured from the factory in .45 Auto Rim. (I'd mention a Baker rifle, but Pedersoli has one in late development)

    Good idea? Bad idea? I'm stone-cold sober, so it's not the Scotch talking...
     
  2. westernrover

    westernrover Member

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    You would have to convince the manufacturer that owns the rights to the design to go along. Some distributors have been able to convince some manufacturers to produce special runs of production guns with certain features or chamberings because they agree to buy sufficient quantity. These are the Talo or Lipsey's specials. Even so, the manufacturer is not likely to deviate much from the designs and features they've designated for production because a radical departure therefrom will incur heavy development costs as well as potentially high costs for after-sales support. Reviving a Webley would not just involve the expense of the tooling, but a commitment to support them over the long term. The crowd that provides the funding is only committing to buy some guns now. The maker is likely expected to continue to support them well into the future and well after the crowd's funding dissipates. Makers make what they've determined is profitable to produce and support with an ongoing business model. Kickstarter upstarts are often fly-by-night operations and no gun maker that possesses any popular design can afford to operate on that model.

    All the gun models you've proposed are terrible designs. They've been soundly rejected by the current market. Sure there are collectors and a few people willing to spend on curios that want those obsolete guns or cartridges, but the management at gunmakers have a fiduciary duty to their investors to produce products that sell by the hundreds of thousands and millions or that have very high margins. There are, of course, a few makers that specialize in replicas, but I would say those early to mid-20th century relics are farther down on their list of potential projects because they're about as popular as 1980's cars.
     
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  3. Gun4Fun90

    Gun4Fun90 Member

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    Also most of those crowd funding platforms tend to be anti gun so they might shut it down.
     
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  4. Mike OTDP

    Mike OTDP Member

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    It would probably need to go through some other platform, to be sure. I'm thinking about the principle. Right now, a distributor can order a special run...but they have no guarantee that it will sell. Crowdfunding is guaranteed sales.
     
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  5. Will Munny

    Will Munny Member

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    I actually would love to see this idea come to fruition. The crowdfunding sites are run by anti-American, anti-2A entities, so that would be a barrier. One way around this would be for congress to enact some financial servicing regulation that prohibits discrimination against 2A projects (similar to the idea of forcing PayPal to treat 2A transactions like anything else). Or the solution might be an entirely new platform dedicated to 2A projects.
    I've always wanted to see a 25 ACP+P design, I'd back that.
     
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  6. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    The notion is good, but, the premises are complicated.

    First hurdle: All of the crowdfunding sites out there will specifically shut down "gun projects" which makes the strategy a non-starter.

    Second hurdle: Some of those interesting old arms that are out of production, have really good reasons to be that way. Time, age, culture, all that combine. So, it's not entirely an issue of money. Although, it is in a way.

    Which gets us to point the third: Demand is a real thing. What will it cost to make 500 of [thing] and can you sell 350-400 of [thing] to actually break even? Which leads to the question of whether or not it's "worth" setting up the tooling for only 500 of [thing]. Setting up tooling can be predicated on production quanta in the thousands, not the hundred, typically.

    If you are under that quantity for efficient machine tooling, then, you are into boutique, or more accurately, bespoke, machining. And, that's never cheap.

    It's incredibly easy to conflate perceived interest with actual demand.

    And, that's a minefield.

    Let's look at some examples.

    US Armament Corp cranked out a decent copy of the Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless. It was a good product, if much maligned for being very spendy. It was not an original, and it was maligned for that, too. And, any quality issues with it were also maligned--and not always in ratio to the quality issues of the original. Similar issues have plagued those reproducing M1-Carbines. And M-14 rifles. And even High Power pistols and the like.
     
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  7. Frulk

    Frulk Member

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    It’s my understanding that distributor ‘specials’ kinda work like this. The distributor assumes all of the risk by contracting for a firearm built to their specs. Price and total production numbers are agreed upon in advance with the gun manufacturer and then the production run is completed and delivered to the distributor.

    It’s up to the distributor at that point to move the merchandise. Think JR .500 as an example.

    So, let’s say THR took a poll of 10 models we would like to come back or see in production. After the poll closes the Ruger 96 in .357 MAG Is #1 followed very closely by 77 Mannlicher in .327FM.

    A runoff vote pushes the .327 FM ahead. We then find out how many members in earnest would commit with a down payment. Someone then contacts TALO or Davidsons and discusses the possibility of them taking up the Limited edition THR Ruger 77/.327FM. TALO/Davidsons etc.either assumes all the risk beforehand or an option is given to put down 10% etc… I’m not sure how all that would work. I do know there is always an intermediary as manufacturers usually don’t sell guns directly to the public ( last time I checked). Somewhere in there THR would need a cut as a contribution to operating expenses. Say 2-3%.

    Our membership tastes are so varied we could probably never get 250 of us to agree on one gun/caliber.
     
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  8. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I was thinking about our own THR-funding for Something Interesting but

     
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  9. Outlaw75

    Outlaw75 Member

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    It takes someone with an FFL 01 who is willing to pay the manufacturer for X number of guns, that's all. The problem that you'd most likely run into in this case is that OP is wanting to make guns that have been out of production for awhile and the tooling set up costs would be astronomical.
     
  10. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I dunno, K32 and PPK .32 would be easy for those companies.
    Webley - forget about it. I wonder if Anderson Wheeler ever actually delivered any of their "Mk VII" 7x.357s even at £6.500 per each.
     
  11. Will Munny

    Will Munny Member

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    Yeah I'm not sure about the "tooling" argument.
    My 25 ACP+P would be using the same cases with higher powder load, and the corresponding firearm would have to be built to take it. That would be some adjustments I'm sure, stiffer recoil springs and thicker chamber wall, but it should not be "astronomical." Keep in mind during WWII companies like Smith-Corona or Singer went to making firearms in fairly short order. And that was with the technology of the 1930s.
     
  12. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I am. You could special order 500 guns with trivial cosmetic changes like some of the distributors do, but asking somebody to equip for something long discontinued would not be affordable.
     
  13. Will Munny

    Will Munny Member

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    500 is a pretty low bar. The only hardware crowdfunding project I ever backed was producing closer to 5000 units. So yes, as tooling complexity rises so must the funding target, but there is nothing about the concept that makes it unable to deal with this.
     
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  14. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    5000 of what? Hard to get a nice gun under $1000, so $5 million bucks up front.
     
  15. Will Munny

    Will Munny Member

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    In my case it was a smartphone. Retail was closer to $500. I don't think they got all of that in the initial campaign, but by the time it actually went into production they had that many backers.
    And there are plenty of nice guns for less than $1000, I think others would agree with that statement.
     
  16. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Member

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    That was with the skilled labor costs of the 1930's. I remember reading a book about the building of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater in PA in the 30's and the stonemasons who built the support piers were paid 15 cents an hour. Presumably machinists were similarly underpaid.

    It was a lot cheaper to just throw skilled workers at a project back then.
     
  17. TTv2

    TTv2 Member

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    Having spoken to Starline to suggest they do a run of .32 and .38 Rimfire brass and 2 years ago contacting Pietta to suggest they make the smaller Navy and Police replica models for the Remington New Model percussion revolvers, the constant thing I continue to hear in response is "we're too busy."

    Of course when they're not busy (likely due to a recession) they'll say they don't think there's enough demand (because there's a recession) to justify the investment. I think the OP you would hear similar responses if you reached out to speak to the manufacturers.

    S&W has shown a determined resistance to making anything new production in the .32 caliber and not one revolver manufacturer in the US is looking to go back to making top breaks. I am of the opinion that there have been good reasons for people to look into the .32 revolver, it's a caliber that has been maligned because too many with a large voice in gun media have said for decades it's too smol, but what once was true in 1990 no longer is today.

    .45 Auto Rim was only ever created to be used in converted .45 Colt revolvers which were only made to meet a need for sidearms that used the same ammo as the 1911 for troops in WW1 because there wasn't enough production capacity for 1911's at the time to make them. If the .45 Auto Rim were so spectacular companies would have continued to make revolvers to shoot it and the .45 ACP (with full and half moon clips) and they have not done so.

    Unfortunately, again, the industry has shown no real interest in producing revolvers specifically for shorter rimmed cases; the entire focus of the revolver manufacturers when it comes to rimmed calibers is bigger, longer, more powerful. Really, what the industry is more interested in with revolvers is two things: cheap single action .22's and 9mm DA snubs.
     
  18. Swampman

    Swampman Old Fart

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    So the market for your proposed pistol is composed of handloaders that have a really strong desire to hot rod the .25 ACP?

    Because there's no way on earth that any ammunition company is ever going to load a round that would turn the millions of existing .25 ACP's into tiny grenades with lawyers attached to them.
    Don't forget that it was also with the guaranteed contracts, loans, tax breaks and full government assistance of WWII.
     
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  19. 230RN

    230RN I keep pushing that pendulum back.

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    I basically agree with TTv2.

    Objections (though valid) aside, the mention of a top-break revolver in .45 AR intrigued me. I had a Smith top-break in .38 S&W and discovered how user-friendly the top break was as opposed to side-dropping cylinder models.

    And when I had an M1917 revolver, I loaded a lot of Auto Rims for it. You could really stuff a lot of powder behind the 230 grain bullet in the balloon-head variety of AR cases.

    I'd go for the top-break in .45ACP if it came with a supply of either or both AR cases or half-moon clips. But most revolver shooters seem to prefer the classic designs.

    I drooled aplenty when I heard the Russians were building top-breaks in .357 for the American market but couldn't import them because of the State Department. Would have been nice to see how many shooters ended up liking top-breaks once they tried one.

    ETA: Interest rekindled, I discovered that Uberti makes one:

    https://www.uberti-usa.com/sites/de...-3-new-model-russian-revolver.png?itok=QsFuVq

    Terry, 230RN

    REF:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.45_Auto_Rim
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2022
  20. Mosin77

    Mosin77 Member

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    Manufacturers will never go for it. TALO can sell everything they make and they still don’t get much that’s really exciting. A .32 Smith, or a K-frame without the lock, should be very easy.

    On the other hand a complete engineering project to suit modern production methods, like making a new top break, is going to be prohibitively expensive. And that’s a pretty big understatement, really. Even in wartime, the lead time on producing a new gun was usually a couple of years, to work out all the production and development.
     
  21. Madcap_Magician

    Madcap_Magician Member

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    Small changes doable, big things, not. Getting a new top-break revolver for a modern-production cartridge when no one is making something like it now? Tooling costs prohibitive and long-term demand not worth the capital investment. Getting a special configuration of an existing model is a lot more doable, that's basically a crowdsourced distributor exclusive. Only hard problem with that is it'd have to be a nonrefundable sort of thing because you couldn't guarantee everyone funding was an eligible gun owner at the time they fund and at the time they deliver.
     
  22. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    When Brownell's sourced out their "retro" AR-10s, 500 is all they contracted out. The BRN-180 was run out in similar numbers. They wound up being hard-pressed to get the last 15-20% sold.
     
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  23. Mark39

    Mark39 Member

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    Kickstarter and preorder systems come in several variations but they work well for mitigating risk to manufacturers and help backers to get that special item they’ve been wanting. Small changes are doable. Thinking like a .32 acp PPK where the engineering has already been done.
     
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