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March 13, 2008

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Who--or What--is FNH?

08_psr_i_blackRick DeMilt is a man on a mission. As senior vice president of sales and marketing at FNH USA, he wants to raise the profile of this firearms manufacturer.

“Who is FN?” he asked, in a commanding voice at a recent FNH seminar. “Too many people have no clue what we are! The fact is, we supply seventy percent of the U. S. military’s small arms, including the M240, M249 SAW, and M16; we have a manufacturing facility on U.S. soil in Columbia, South Carolina; and Browning and Winchester are part of the FN Herstal group.”

Soon, everyone will know what FNH USA has to offer, if this industry veteran has his way. As DeMilt notes, for more than 100 years Belgium-based FN Herstal has made acclaimed high-performance firearms for a worldwide market. The U.S. arm, FNH USA, opened its doors here in 1998. “Since then, we’ve offered a wide spectrum of innovative, versatile, value-packed, high-quality firearms.”
“We know our customers love our product,” he says, “but we haven’t done enough to really get the FN name out there.” He intends to fix that with a new ad campaign designed to educate shooters to what FN does so well.

And what FN USA does well, according to DeMilt, is build quality firearms. “I don’t care about cost; I care about quality and ultimately, performance. And when you buy FN, you get both.”

He believes that too much attention to cost-containment measures is hurting many firearms manufacturers. “It’s just one of the root causes that forced USRAC [United States Repeating Arms Company, a company that produced Winchester-brand firearms under license] to finally close its doors,” he said. “When you drive seventy percent of the market to a big box discount store, then that is where your market will forever lie. You don’t do that! All that does is ensure products of lower quality and limited durability: The brand will suffer, erode and eventually fail. And it did.”

Though he acknowledges that handguns and black rifles are where the money is today, he also believes you can’t rely on law enforcement sales only. “I always felt commercializing the line was essential to advancing to the next level in market share. We needed a brand new line of FN rifles in calibers for precision shooting applications. Guess what? We now have them, and we’re seeing the results.”

As an example, DeMilt holds up the SPR rifle. “This is not a hunting rifle per se; it’s a precision shooting rifle.”

But in .308 (though two versions are offered in .300WSM), it has all the makings of a great deer rifle. The SPR line (which encompasses seven models) is built on a pre-’64 Winchester-design action that uses the time-tested Controlled Round Feed. Features include hammer-forged match barrels with chrome-lined bores, 1 MOA (or better) accuracy and a McMillan fiberglass tactical stock.

DeMilt believes the association with Belgian-based Herstal is a significant asset, because it allows the U.S. subsidiary to tap into great engineering talent. “In the States, if you go to MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology], you’re not going into the gun business,” he said. “In Europe, it’s different. Herstal is getting top talent.”

And that allows FN to innovate. “No one is investing in general arms for the long term like FN. We’re not reinventing old technology, we’re inventing new technology.”

A born salesman, DeMilt says, “In order to sell, you better know the competition and you better know your products.”
And FN has, without doubt, some cool products. I’ve shot the SPR, and it is, indeed, as accurate as DeMilt claims. I also had to opportunity to sample FN’s new Special Combat Automatic Rifle (SCAR), which has been chosen by the U.S. Special Operations Command as its next-generation modular assault-rifle system. The selective-fire SCAR-Light is available in .223 Rem (5.56x45mm NATO); the SCAR-Heavy is a .308 Win. (7.62x51mm NATO).


A strong selling point for the military is the rifle’s versatility: the operator can choose among three interchangeable barrels that can be switched in less than 5 minutes without the loss of previously established zero. The SCAR also features a free-floating barrel, multiple integral MIL-STD 1913 mounting rails and a telescoping, folding stock assembly with adjustable cheekpiece and ambidextrous controls.

For obvious reasons, sales of the SCAR are restricted to law enforcement agencies and the military. But if you want to get an idea of the precision of FN’s product line, sample the SPR. It’s a shooter.

—Slaton White


Kris - NRA Endowment Life Member

[quote]For obvious reasons, sales of the SCAR are restricted to law enforcement agencies and the military. [/quote]

For obvious reasons? What obvious reasons? If you're referring to the ban on post-86 full auto, okay, that's true. But surely you're not referring to the fact that they should be restricted to non-gov/LEO. Please tell me I'm just being overly sensitive.

steve thompson

first of all to get F N name out to the general public you need to do more than just sell it to youre employess,at seminars, YOU NEED A SPOT EACH WEEK ON THE OUTDOOR CHANNEL SHOWING RESULTS OF HOW YOURE PRODUCT performs .ALSO NEED ARE SOME WELL KNOWN NAMES OF SHOOTERS USING THEM . TRY COMING UP WITH SOME NAMES OF YOURE PRODUCTS RATHER THAN JUST NUMBERS THAT PEOPLE CAN INDENTIFY WITH/ not many people had heard of BENELLI until they saw multiple targets destroyed systematicaly ;I HAVE AN OLD 30.06 WITH fn on it i call speak ez . it doesn't need to speak much to get results. BE BOLD BE HEARD 6PHUNTER