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April 1st, 2010

New from New Zealand — Jacketless, Bio-Degradable Bullets

In recent years, environmental concerns over lead toxicity have inspired efforts to eliminate conventional lead-based ammunition. To protect endangered species from lead poisoning, California has banned hunting altogether on huge tracts of public land. In other areas which harbor protected species, hunters are forbidden to use lead-core or solid lead bullets. There is an ongoing FDA investigation into the health of venison taken with lead-core bullets. Responding to such concerns, in 2008, Barnes Bullets (now part of the Freedom Group), introduced its MPG™ (Multi-Purpose Green) lead-free bullets. These bullets are intended for hunting and for rifle training in locations where lead is restricted.

Following Barnes’ lead, BIO-Bullets, a small company in Wanganui, New Zealand has invented a jacketless bullet that is not only lead-free, but is also 100% non-toxic, and bio-degradable. The new bullets have zero lead content and are made from “all-natural”, organic compounds. Unlike conventional bullets formed in a die, the new BIO-Bullets are pressure-molded from a proprietary composite, using sintered mineral compounds in a silica matrix. The mineral compounds, interestingly enough, not only bind the bio-degradable bullet together, but they provide nutritional benefits for any game that might ingest the projectiles. If an animal eats the bullet, it won’t get sick — it will actually get healthier.

That’s right — these edible BIO-Bullets are not only non-toxic, they are actually nutritious. “When we came up with a non-toxic component mix, we realized we could actually provide a blend of flavorful nutrients in the matrix.” Said Trevor MacDiarmid, BIO-Bullets’ chief bullet designer. “It may seem far-fetched but just look at the label on a typical multi-vitamin supplement. You’ll see iron, chromium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc, among other minerals. These are all elements that can be combined into a durable bullet form that is actually healthy when ingested by an animal.” MacDiarmid, who holds a Ph.D in chemical engineering, explains that the health benefits of the BIO-Bullet came as an unexpected bonus: “Our first goal was simply to create a shootable, lead-free bullet that was non-toxic. But when our silica matrix proved more than hard enough to survive the friction, heat, and pressure of a 3500 fps trip through a rifle bore, we realized we could add additional minerals into the mix that would have a salutary effect on wildlife health.”

BIO-Bullet’s founder, Steven Williams, is a gregarious 45-year entrepreneur who earned his first millions promoting dietary supplements in his native New Zealand. Noting the growing interest in “eco-friendly” ammunition components, Williams expects a huge demand for his new BIO-Bullets. “Globally, the annual sales of hunting bullets exceed €500 million in value. And the military bullet market may be triple that number — as long as you Yanks keep fighting wars”, he joked. Williams believes his new company is in the right place at the right time: “Being based in eco-aware New Zealand gives us a strong marketing advantage in launching this new product.” Williams’ company has earned the coveted “100% Pure New Zealand” certification, signifying that Bio-Bullets are “all-natural” and organic.

A select group of New Zealand hunting guides has already been using prototype BIO-Bullets in the field. The new eco-friendly bullets have earned high praise from these tough-to-please outdoorsmen. “In terms of ballistics and knock-down power, I reckon the ‘greenies’ are as good as anything on the market”, reports veteran outfitter Bart Coutts. South Island guide and deer farmer Dennis Amon said, “I’ve used them for predator control, and, as a test I even fed them to some of our captive Red Deer. The Reds ate them up like they were candy. Ever since then we’ve been calling these BIO-bullets the ‘incredible edibles’.”

BIO-Bullets will initially be available in .224, 6mm, and .308 calibers starting at $40 (NZ) per box of 100. The varmint-grade, flat-based bullets will be finished with a day-glo green outer coating, while the longer, boat-tail match bullets will be fluorescent red. Said designer MacDiarmid: “Since our BIO-Bullets don’t use a conventional jacket, we can finish them in any color by adding non-toxic dyes to the silica matrix. It’s sort of like putting the colored shell on a jelly bean. I favored a more sedate color, but the boss wanted something bold and eye-catching. Steven’s the marketing guru, and he writes the checks, so we went with fluorescent colors. But any exterior color scheme is possible, even digital camo.”

BIO-Bullets is currently finalizing arrangements with North American distributors. The company expects its eco-friendly bullets to appear on American and Canadian store shelves in time for the traditional fall hunting season.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting, New Product 15 Comments »
April 1st, 2010

Marlin to be Re-Organized as Fishing Gear Manufacturer

Just days after surprising the firearms industry with the announcement that the Marlin Firearms factory in North Haven, Connecticut would be shut down, executives of Remington Arms today dropped another bombshell concerning the fate of Marlin, a Remington subsidiary. This morning, Remington released a statement declaring that Marlin would be “re-constituted” as a multi-product outdoor gear manufacturer, with a primary focus on fishing tackle and equipment.

In the wake of Remington’s decision to shut down the North Haven plant by mid-2011, laying off all 265 Marlin employees in the process, many questions remained as to the fate of legendary arms-maker Marlin, which has been building firearms in Connecticut continuously since 1870. When the Marlin plant closure was announced, Remington, part of the Cerberus Freedom Group of companies, would neither confirm nor deny that Marlin firearms, particularly the popular lever-action rifles, would still be produced. Sources inside Remington were quoted as saying that Marlin rifle production would be relocated to Remington’s Ilion, New York facilities.

Now it appears that Remington has other, quite radical plans for Marlin, which surely reflect the strategic goals of Remington’s parent, Cerberus Capital Management, a private holding company. Cerberus has no doubt “seen the writing on the wall”, recognizing that gun sales are in a steep decline following the buying frenzy precipitated by the Democratic election victories in 2008. To protect its investment in Marlin, Cerberus saw the need to shift Marlin into a whole new market. That’s certainly a bold strategy, but is it wise? was able to reach one high-level Remington insider with insights into the latest Marlin transition. Our source confirmed that “most of the Marlin firearms line will survive, but not every product will be staged into production right away. Only the most popular rifles will be transitioned into immediate production at Remington plants in Ilion, New York and elsewhere.” Our source explained that building Marlin rifles outside Connecticut is not easy: “Understand that most of the machines and tooling in North Haven were quite antiquated. It’s not even worth moving most of the big equipment. We have to figure out how to replace that junk before we can start building lever guns again.”

“Marlin’s real focus”, our source continued, “will be the fishing stuff — and that’s where 90% of our resources will be allocated. Our market research shows we can sell more rods and reels, at a higher profit margin, than we can old-fashioned rifles. Demographically, fishing is growing while rifle shooting has become a cultural anachronism — a hobby for old white guys. With the Marlin name and trademark, we realized we had a perfect platform to get into the fishing market. Ask most Americans what a Marlin is… nine out of ten will say it’s a fish, not a rifle. Since most consumers already connect the name Marlin with fishing, it made perfect sense to change the company’s focus. And now’s the perfect time to do it, what with the imminent North Haven plant closure.”

While devotees of Marlin rifles may lament the passing of yet another storied American gunmaker, anglers nationwide, who outnumber rifle shooters by nearly 3 to 1, have reason to celebrate. The “rebirth” of Marlin as a rod, reel, and tackle manufacturer promises to offer fishing enthusiasts a wide range of new products, proudly marketed with the “Made in USA” legend. Shown above is Marlin’s new “Fish Eagle II” Rod and Reel combo, complete with Marlin’s signature lever action. The fishing gear industry is currently dominated by foreign manufacturers. Marlin’s movement into the fishing market gives anglers a chance to “buy American” again.

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