Carlos Martinez is looking for a few good federal firearms license (FFL) dealers. A few good FFLs, that is, who want to sell custom-made firearms from one of the four brands Martinez oversees. And, according to Martinez, those FFLs will appreciate the custom experience for many reasons, especially because it would benefit their bottom line.
“With the program we’ve put together, we think retailers can be very profitable selling our customized products,” Martinez said. “They can make good margins working with us. Now, it does depend on what sort of discounts they might offer to their customers. But I think 15 to 20 percent profit margins are possible selling our firearms.”
Martinez works for the Remington Outdoor Company (ROC) as the senior manager for the Custom and Premium Firearms division. In the past, this part of ROC was simply known as the Remington Custom Shop. While the larger program is still searching for just the right name, ROC has taken four of its firearms brands — Dakota Arms, Marlin, Nesika and Remington — and grouped them together under one custom umbrella.
For decades, the Remington Custom Shop made Ilion, New York, its home and was essentially an appendage to the larger Remington manufacturing facility there.
Martinez and his crew moved the Remington Custom Shop from Ilion to Sturgis, South Dakota, at the end of 2015. The production facilities in Sturgis had already housed Dakota Arms and Nesika, so Remington bought more space and more manufacturing capability to give each of the four brands its own production space.
The Marlin Custom Shop was launched at Sturgis in early 2016, a completely new undertaking for ROC.
According to Martinez, Dakota Arms and Nesika were already essentially custom gun makers, but under the new custom shop umbrella, both rifle makers will be offering new options for its bolt-action platforms, including additional stock and engraving possibilities.
“The old Remington Custom Shop made some fine firearms,” Martinez said. “No question about it. But what they did was offer you several options in, say, the Remington 700 rifle line or the Remington 40X [long range, bench rest] rifles, and that was it. Take it or leave it.”
According to Martinez, “if you are ordering a firearm by a five-digit SKU, that’s not a custom firearm. That’s an upgraded gun compared to the factory version, but it’s not custom.”
So, what could your customers have built for them from these new custom offerings? Here’s a small sampling of what Big Green can bring to the table.
Making It Yours
Remington customers can order the company’s flagship rifle — the Remington 700 bolt action — with a full slate of custom goodies, from an assortment of quality woods for the stocks to various barrels (lengths and contours) and a selection of custom triggers. All the 700s have their action and barrel “blue-printed,” a process that makes sure the receiver and barrel are aligned 100 percent. Engraving and checkering can be done, too, from the minimal to the extravagant.
Remington offers a number of variations of the company’s R1 1911 platform. Custom shop workers can apply a dazzling array of Cerakote finishes and colors to the R1, as well as numerous grips, sights and triggers. Also available are various ergonomic enhancements, such as additional serrations on the slide and different stippling patterns for the grips.
“We’re already getting a good number of custom R1 orders from people in military units who recently returned from deployments overseas,” Martinez said. “They like to have their unit logo and name engraved on the pistols and maybe a special color pattern done in Cerakote, but they don’t want to spend $5,000 to $6,000. We can usually do a really nice job for them for under $2,000.”
New Long Guns
Marlin Custom will take existing production rifles and enhance/customize them to buyer preferences. One of the Marlin lever actions that has gotten a good deal of attention is what Martinez has dubbed the “Modern Hunter.” This lever action starts life as a standard Marlin 1895 GSBL chambered in 45-70. With a Cerakote finish, a rail mounted atop the receiver and a para-cord wrapped lever, this rifle and variations on it have already garnered dozens of orders during trade and consumer shows since early 2016.
Probably best-known for its heavy-duty bench-shooter actions, Nesika became part of Dakota Arms a decade ago. Since then, Nesika has been turning out its three impressive actions — the Models E, G and R — and three rifles — the Sporter, the Long Range and the Tactical. Martinez said that will continue, although the custom offerings will increase within the rifle models.
Dakota Arms has an outstanding reputation among hunters for producing some of the best big-game and dangerous-game rifles around, and that will stay in place, according to Martinez. As with Nesika, more custom options than ever will be the norm here. At the same time, Dakota Arms will continue to offer its traditional models, including Dakota’s flagship Model 76 offered in nine variations, the lighter Model 97 in five models and the single-shot, falling-block action Model 10 in three variations.
Protecting The Custom Dealer
The custom process also applies to the FFL retailers who represent the new ROC custom shops, too.
“If you have a shop that specializes in tactical, and you only want to offer our tactical models, we are fine with that,” Martinez said. “You can carry only one segment of one brand, a full brand or two, or everything we offer. We let you determine what to carry based on your preferences and your customer base.”
Martinez added that any retailer carrying ROC custom brands won’t have to worry about the gun shop down the street suddenly carrying the same custom line-up, either.
“Each of our custom shop retailers will have their own market radius as well as a geographic and population area they can call theirs,” Martinez said. “Of course, in a bigger urban area, that radius is likely to be smaller given the population dynamics, but we are going to be very careful to make sure each of our retailers has his own ‘sphere of influence.’ ”
To support custom shop retailers, Martinez and ROC are developing a full slate of in-store marketing tools, including brochures, counter mats and signage. Each brand will also have its own brand-specific catalogue, showing all options, offerings, and prices. Martinez will dispatch Remington Custom Shop sales people to the stores to help train staff.
Before the end of 2016, ROC will unveil a new website featuring all four firearm brands. The website will feature a “build-your-own-gun” application so that a retailer can take a customer through the customization process and let him or her see what a firearm will look like and cost before it’s made. The site will be supported by a social media campaign.
In the meantime, print- and web-based media will feature ROC custom shop advertisements, and Martinez said he is setting up various media hunts and shooting events to generate more coverage of custom shop products.
As with any new undertaking, there’s a tremendous amount of work to be done as the four new custom shops move forward, each with its own inventory, staff and separate identity. Martinez admitted that he has to pull in the reins on all the great ideas he and his staff keep coming up with.
“You want to be able to do everything,” Martinez said with a laugh. “I know I do. Our plan is to get a certain foundation in place for each brand, get that working properly, and then, and only then, add to that knowledge and manufacturing base.”
With Marlin Custom Shop, for example, 2016 and into 2017 will constitute phase one, where the custom shop will take existing Marlin production rifles and upgrade them. Phase two will see the custom shop offering a variety of barrels and stocks not available in production models, and Martinez said he hopes to see this implemented by the middle of 2017.
“For phase three, we’ll add the ability to work on older Marlin rifles and to repair and fix up the collectible Marlins people have,” Martinez said.
Likewise, Martinez said he’d like to do a lot more tactical offerings. However, right now, those offerings are limited to a Nesika Tactical rifle and several of the Remington 700 bolt-actions, such as the SPS that have definite tactical looks and functions.
But what about customizing AR-style platforms like the Remington R25 GII or the other ROC brands like DPMS and Bushmaster?
“I do think that will happen one day,” Martinez said. “And not that far out in the future. We need to get all these initial moving parts working together first, including a solid base of dealers to represent our products. Then, as I see it, the sky is the limit.”