McMillan Firearms: 50 Years of High Performance

McMillan Firearms has a strong reputation for manufacturing high-precision stocks but also has been involved in other ventures, including firearms manufacturing and payment systems. CEO Kelly McMillan offers his insights on the company and its future.

McMillan Firearms: 50 Years of High Performance

McMillan Firearms ALIAS action is one of three lines offered by the company.

In the midst of so many publicly traded companies, it's not often in the firearms industry that a company is willing to share frank comments about the experiences of a company’s history both good and bad.

Tactical Retailer recently had an opportunity to talk with Kelly McMillan, CEO of McMillan, about the history of McMillan Firearms and the Strategic Army Corps contract. McMillan has a strong reputation for manufacturing high-precision stocks but has also been involved in other ventures including firearms manufacturing and payment systems. 

TR — For those who are not legacy McMillan Firearms dealers, can you discuss a bit of the history of McMillan Firearms, the expansion, acquisition and the distinction between the companies? 

KM — McMillan Fiberglass Stocks was started in 1973 by Gale McMillan. In 1975 I started working for Gale and by 1980 we were 50/50 partners. In 1984 Gale started G. McMillan Company, Inc. where he produced extremely accurate rifles sold almost exclusively for the military. In 1987 he sold the company, worked his three-year commitment, and then retired.

A few years went by and people began to ask me and my brother Rock, who owns McMIllan Machine Inc. a business that caters to the firearms industry, “Where can we get a rifle like your dad used to make?” We discussed it and decided we would get into the rifle business. In 1992 we started McMillan Brothers Rifle Co., Inc. Rock ran the rifle company while I ran the stock company until 2007.  

Kelly McMillan, CEO of McMillan Firearms
Kelly McMillan, CEO of McMillan Firearms

Rock decided he was not willing to invest what it would take to get the rifle company to the next level, and he was frankly tired of running a business that didn’t make money. I took over the rifle company, changed the name to McMillan Firearms Manufacturing, LLC and started to rebrand the company. It took several years to build the McMillan Firearms brand to the point where it was always listed among the top specialty gun builders in the country.

Early in 2012, Strategic Armory principal Mark Johnson asked if I wanted to sell both companies and I said only if the offer was the right one. He threw out a number and we agreed to the sale. During the negotiations, Mark decided not to purchase McMillan Fiberglass Stocks, Inc. and on 11/28/2013 Strategic Armory Corp purchased McMillan Firearms while I retained McMillan Fiberglass Stocks.

TR — McMillan Firearms is now a sibling company to Surgeon and Armalite, some of the most well-regarded military and LEO-designated marksman, sniper and civilian competitive shooter brands. How does McMillan set itself apart to customers?  

KM — Rifles built by the McMillan family have been providing for some the most well-known special forces groups around the world, including the TAC-338 Chris Kyle used on his last deployment and the TAC-50, which has been used to twice set the record for the longest confirmed kill in combat. So the performance of the McMillan Firearms brand, and as such an extension of the McMillan brand, have proven themselves among the finest firearms made and stands up to comparisons of any other manufacturers. Although there are some similarities, all three brands are unique and own different subsets and shooter requirements in the market.

TR — With the entry of a larger number of precision rifle manufacturers entering the market, what differentiates McMillan from other precision stock manufacturers? 

KM — The McMillan stocks are the base for the firearms manufacturing and, with almost 50 years of experience providing sportsmen, competitive shooters, law enforcement and military personnel the very best fiberglass stock available, we feel confident our proven performance record speaks for itself. Marine Corp, Navy Seals, Delta Force, Seal Team 6/DEVGRU, FBI HRT, FBI SORS, Secret Service, Federal Police, Pentagon and many of our allies around the world all use rifles based on McMillan precision stocks. 

TR — With all the changes in the market and politically, what is your forecast for the precision rifle market? 

KM — I believe that we are going to have another four years of a Second Amendment leaning administration and I think that in itself is good for the firearms community. A high end, highly accurate, precision piece of weaponry that can meet the needs of any shooter will always be in demand. The people who appreciate what a McMillan Firearm truly is will always provide a market for them.

TR — What are you hottest sellers in the dealer channels?  

KM — Because McMillan Fiberglass Stocks has always allowed every customer to choose how he wants his stock built, we are strictly a custom stock manufacturer. As such it is almost impossible for a dealer to be right on which stock in what color for what action, what barrel and what bottom metal for the next customer who comes in. We have pass-through dealers who get a discount for ordering a stock for a customer, but no one is stocking our stocks.

TR — Will SAC be going to market with a unified dealer and advertising program or keep the brands separate from an operations, sales and marketing perspective?

KM — SAC’s plan is to keep all the brands separate from a sales and marketing perspective but will continue unifying the brands under one roof by using design elements and calculated advertising tactics. As Strategic Armory Corps continues growing, there will be a subtle but unifying element added to each of our brands showing that they are owned by the same company but holding true to their historical roots. We have already implemented this with our new catalogs and will be applying this with the new website coming later this year.

TR — Most dealers are unaware of the Strategic Armory Corps acquisition of McMillan Firearms. What should dealers know about SAC and how McMillan fits into that portfolio of products?

KM — Strategic Armory Corps acquired a compilation of unique but highly acclaimed brands with the idea of offering the consumer a variation of high-quality product lines from one source. SAC has the advantage of offering consistency in part quality for both of our bolt action brands in McMillan Firearms and Surgeon Rifles. McMillan Firearms has stood out in its ALIAS products as well as its TAC-50 rifle, which has set them apart from other bolt action brands such as Surgeon.

In addition, McMillan Firearms is in the process of reviving the renowned hunting line for which they were well-known. We have already begun product testing on two brand new hunting rifles with a plan to launch in 2021. McMillan’s history and brand recognition stands out to consumers who have been buyers from the day McMillan Firearms began. We hope the new rifle additions to the hunting line will excite consumers who’ve purchased that style of rifle from us before.

TR — What are your primary products dealers would stock today from McMillan Firearms?

KM — Primary products that would be ideal for dealers would be products within the three main lines that McMillan Firearms has to offer. We have our TAC series, the ALIAS series and the future Hunting Line series, which will include two to four existing popular hunting rifles as well as the two additional rifles in 2021.

TR — What can dealers expect from McMillan firearms over the next few years?

KM — McMillan Firearms is currently building up its inventory within the three main series it features. We plan to meet the expectation of our customers and product the highest quality bolt actions on the market. Our focus for 2020 is testing and developing two new hunting rifles and rebuilding the hunting line to its former glory with an expected 2021 release date. McMillan Firearms will continue working closely with the McMillan family to cross promote the stocks and firearm brands while holding true to the history of the product and high-quality standards expected by the McMillan consumer. 

TR — Is McMillan involved in the Precision Rifle Series competitions and what is the plan to support that growing market? 

KM — McMillan Firearms currently does not participate in the Precision Rifle Series because the Surgeon Rifle brand is already participating and representing Strategic Armory Corps as a whole. We do not foresee entering this market because we’d prefer to help provide differentiation between our two bolt action companies by allowing McMillan Firearms to focus on the ever-growing hunting market. 

TR — Can you talk a bit about your products and strategy?

KM — The two most popular lines McMillan currently offers are the TAC series and the ALIAS series. Through years of experience working with elite tactical forces stationed around the world, we have determined what works and what doesn’t under the extreme conditions of actual military and law enforcement tactical applications. 

The McMillan Tactical Rifle, the TAC series, represents a best-of-breed tactical rifle for the professional marksman. Our rifles offer the features that a working professional marksman demands. It ergonomically fits the marksman, not just for a few shots at the range, but for hours or days hunkered down in a hide, waiting for a target to emerge. And our heritage of precision accuracy built into every McMillan tactical rifle has broken long range world records at competitive events, as well as on the battlefield.

The McMillan ALIAS series is a bold new concept in rifle systems. The innovative ALIAS action serves as a platform for building your rifle, and interchangeable components allow you to configure your ALIAS exactly to your mission. Thus, one rifle can have many identities, each set up exactly for your application. Choose from two standard configurations, including the ALIAS CS5 ultra-compact subsonic urban rifle or the ALIAS STAR Standard Tactical Application Rifle.

We are planning to revive the hunting line, but that information is still in development. The ideal goal would be to have 10 to 12 rifles within the McMillan Firearms line that meet the needs of various consumers with the tactical and hunting arenas. 


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