One would normally think that more entries into the list of gun manufacturers normally equates to excellent news for our firearms market as a whole. The basic tenets of capitalism center around supply and demand. A healthy dose of competition lowers the prices while increasing the quality.
However, the news regarding the latest moves of Heckler and Koch A.G. appear to be a final act of desperation. Heckler and Koch (or H and K) is a German gun manufacturer with a long history in the craft. No one is disputing the tradition and knowledge behind their products.
The trouble with H and K is that its history of business has accumulated some shadows through their collaboration with dubious totalitarian regimes including the Nazi war machine. Situated in the town which is iconic for supplying Germany with weapons and guns ever since the 1800s, the company’s leader, Andreas Heeschen, is currently trying to beat the system of German regulations and bondholders that make the process of delivering goods to the U.S. market incredibly difficult.
Heckler and Koch’s Struggles
The company’s need to expand to our market is pretty dire. The Berlin authorities have just restricted the exports of weapons to the Middle East in an effort to stop the fuel of war in the region. H&K’s supply of weapons (along with their gun sales) was greatly reduced, cutting their profits dramatically. More recently, the German authorities have also begun to question the reliability and safety of the G36 assault rifle, one the company’s most widely sold and iconic products. The German army has consistently used the G36 since 1995 onwards.
The drop in gun sales sent the company’s finances on a downward spiral of debt to the point where it was forced to borrow at 10% in order to make interest payments at 9.5% on their previous debt. The very control over this historical company could be at stake here if they don’t maintain their financial issues soon. The corporation’s leader is well aware of this, hence his decision to expand into the U.S. H and K are intensely looking for a new market to increase sales. At the moment, their eyes are set on the American market according to a recent interview with Heeschen.
Andreas Heeschen, aged 54, bought H and K in 2002 from British Aerospace. He fought hard to maintain its status and expand his business. The internet doesn’t currently hold a single photo of Heeschen as he is renowned for his reclusive nature from the media. Considering the amount of death threats Heeschen received after buying the company, these precautions seem quite natural. When he gave this recent interview announcing the desire to expand to the U.S. market, it was the first time reporters were ever allowed into the company’s manufacturing factory.
Despite these debatable shortcomings, we can still associate this company with some positive symbols for us gun enthusiasts. Heckler and Koch is probably best known today for manufacturing the rifle that managed to kill Osama bin Laden, a man who symbolized one of the greatest threats to America in last few decades.
Considering this honorable part of their history, namely the association with classic 19th century empires and their armies, it would be a shame for a such a storied company descending from Mauser to sink into bankruptcy and disappear in favor of more modern competitors. How exactly Heeschen is going to succeed at raising his company’s profile and transitioning their products into the American gun market remains to be seen due to legislation hassles. We can imagine that Heckler and Koch will beef up their line of handguns and shotguns. If H and K indeed rises to this challenge, things may actually fall into the right place both for the company and the rest of us gun enthusiasts. That’s a win-win for both sides.