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Shooting Industry July 2010 - Page 109
Industry watch The Mouse Gun That Roared Continued from page 110 E-mail the Editor email@example.com A t every SHOT Show, numerous companies claim their newest, most innovative, revolutionary, historical, trendsetting product, is the “buzz” of the show. However, most of these new products fall significantly short of buzz, settling mostly into the soft-hum range, as in, “Hum, that’s interesting.” Not so with the Ruger LCP. Introduced at the 2008 SHOT Show, the Ruger .380 Light Compact Pistol rose above the buzz level, reaching roar status. Distributors, dealers and competitors rushed to the Ruger booth. “It is absolutely the hit of the show. We listened to the market and the market said you really ought to get into self-protection. All of our dealers and distributors have been saying Ruger needs to be in that market. So, here it is. The LCP is the real buzz here,” said Steve Sanetti, then-Ruger president. No overstatement. By the end of the second day of the show, rumors surged through the convention hall that Ruger was backordered tens of thousands of LCPs. More dealers, distributors and competitors converged on the Ruger booth. In an April 2008 Shooting Industry online survey, dealers voted the LCP as the Best 2008 New Product. In July 2008, the Shooting Industry Academy of Excellence honored Ruger with the Handgun of the Year Award for the LCP. Beyond being a palm-sized pistol with the Ruger name on it, the LCP had real innovative features and, just as important, an MSRP of $330. This placed Ruger on solid footing in a segment of the market the company had ignored, and at a price- point that made the gun affordable. The challenge for Ruger following the SHOT Show was making enough of the LCPs and making them quick enough to meet the demand. “The only drawback is an extremely limited product supply. Hopefully, this The Ruger LCP was selected by the Shooting Industry Academy of Excellence as the 2008 Handgun of the Year. will change soon,” wrote Ted L. Gragg, CEO of Myrtle Beach Indoor Shooting Range, in voting the LCP the top 2008 New Product in SI’s online survey. Ruger had a long, well-deserved reputation for announcing products that would not be available for six months, often much, much longer. How did the company do with the LCP? While Ruger isn’t likely to reveal how many LCPs were ordered during 2008, we know how many they made. According to the ATF’s 2008 Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Export Report, the latest report available, Ruger manufactured 83,161 firearms, as noted in the ATF’s “To .380” category (see page 35). Since Ruger had not previously made a .380, we can assume this number is LCPs, unless the company manufactured another .380 they didn’t announce. Unlikely. In one swift move, Ruger bypassed all other U.S. manufacturers in the “To .380” category. If Ruger had produced no other pistols in 2008, they still would have been ranked as the sixth-largest U.S. pistol manufacturer and the 15th largest U.S. firearms manufacturer. The LCP production numbers also propelled Ruger to the top U.S. manufacturer spot in 2008, a position it hadn’t achieved since 2000. Beyond Ruger, the LCP’s roar was heard throughout the industry. Not surprisingly, 2008 clones emerged before the end of the year, and other manufacturers ramped up their .380 production, while others introduced models in the caliber. The result? There was a 101.4-percent increase in 2008 U.S. firearm production over 2007 in the “To .380” category, the largest increase of any caliber in the industry for the year. Yes, Ruger created a buzz. The introduction of the LCP also sent the message that things are different at Ruger. Under the leadership of CEO Mike Fifer, the company has vigorously changed how it approaches the market, and the way it develops and manufactures products. The result? Ruger continues to post increased sales — and earnings for its shareholders. In accepting the 2008 Shooting Industry Academy of Excellence Handgun of the Year award for the LCP, Fifer said, “This is quite a departure for Ruger. We hope to surprise you with a few more goodies in the future.” Along with the “goodies,” expect more top U.S. manufacturing rankings for Ruger. ArmaLite Ships SPR Mod 1 rmaLite announced in mid-June that its new SPR Mod 1 LE Carbine was in stock and available for immediate shipment. The .223 SPR Mod 1 has a forged, one-piece upper receiver/rail system with exclusive detachable side and bottom rails. This makes it easy to switch the 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock rails to ones with other sights, lights, lasers, grips or swivels. For more information, call (309) 944-6949, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.armalite.com. 9 SI DIGITAL A VIDEO www.shootingindustry.com JULY 2010 109