The Hobby Gunsmith

Editorial, Continued

   We also report on the progress of the Baikal shotgun in trying to turn that one into a good shooter.  We will show the progress on the Trapper pistol and the process of applying ten coats of hand-rubbed Tru-Oil finish. 

   Next month we will be shooting several guns at the range to give final reports on the several project guns.  We plan to see if it is possible to use toothpaste or other abrasive materials to smooth the action of a firearm.  We will conduct a field test of a new AWA 1873 Ultimate revolver that is the best looking gun I have ever seen.

   I would like to climb onto my soapbox for a few minutes to express my opinion about gun companies, the spreading of false rumors, and the responsible use of the Internet.  As people who own, work on, and shoot firearms, we are sensitive to those in society who view them as evil and seek to ban guns to remove them from society.  We should avoid giving any aid or comfort to the enemy of gun companies.

   I personally shoot Cowboy Action, Trap, and am preparing to join and shoot International Defensive Pistol Association competition.  Many readers of this publication use firearms in a variety of lawful ways.  Without the continued success of gun companies, we would not have the enjoyment of our sports.

   One gun company was recently the subject of a terrible rumor that was perpetrated on the Internet.  The rumor started with a post on an Internet forum board that American Western Arms had declared bankruptcy.  The rumor was started by someone claiming the information was from an industry insider who had previously provided accurate information about the business dealings of AWA.  The poster attempted to disclaim the post by pointing out that it was only an unconfirmed rumor, but encouraged people to call the company to verify their status before buying their products.

   To make matters worse, the rumor appeared to have been posted on that forum board very late Friday night or early Saturday morning.  It was picked up by a reader and posted on another board frequented by AWA customers, but that poster wisely deleted the information in that post and it quickly died. 

   The timing of the post allowed the rumor to spread the entire weekend before AWA management could deny it on Monday morning.  The rumor was running pretty rampant by the time AWA management returned to the office on Monday morning to learn about the post and to begin dealing with the fallout.

   I donít pretend to know how much damage this rumor might have generated for AWA.  I can, however, describe what happened to a company I worked at several years ago that was similarly affected by a rumor of bankruptcy.  It all started when a competitorís sales representative told a large prospective client of ours that we were about to declare bankruptcy.

   The rumor was started on the east coast and moved through the fairly closed medical care market for a couple of days before we started receiving calls.  The first call came from a client in Denver.  The second call came from a prospective client in Houston who put our contract negotiations on hold until the matter could be settled to their satisfaction.

   The third call was made to me to one of our suppliers of large computer systems as I tried to learn why an expensive computer system had not arrived.  That system was about a quarter of a million dollars and was a day late on a critically short timeline. 

   The reason for the lack of delivery was that our company had been put on credit hold by the supplier who had learned of the rumor.  That information was devastating to our company of about one hundred employees.  The biggest problem is that people have a tendency to believe rumors and it is almost impossible to deny them.

   The new customer whose system was being held learned of the rumor and became quite concerned, because they had already paid a large deposit for the computer hardware.  They became fearful that they were going to loose their deposit in a bankruptcy filing.  A second, and more credible, rumor started as we were delayed in getting the computer released from credit hold and were unable to ship the system to the client who was already concerned about hearing rumors about our pending bankruptcy. 

 

    As the delivery date came and went without the computer being shipped, the client accidentally gave credibility to the first rumor by talking about the missed delivery date.  It didnít take long before someone who also used our systems supplier learned that we had our order still on credit hold while we tried to raise the cash to get the system released.

   The company survived, but we had to get an expensive loan and had to let go of several employees.  That rumor hounded us for another year.  The rumor of our bankruptcy floated around in our market nearly became a self-fulfilling prophecy.  That company now has twelve employees.

   The situation with American Western Arms was avoidable.  The publication of the false rumor on the Internet stated they had actually declared bankruptcy the previous day.  It appears to have been posted without verification before posting on an otherwise credible Internet forum used by many of AWA's customers. 

   The Internet forums allow a companyís customers come together and share information.  This freely available information comes with the need to be responsible in posting only accurate information or stating opinions as such.  

   I also write for a business publication so I know a little about that arena.  Nothing about bankruptcy should ever be published without evidence of the filing, which can easily be confirmed over the Internet. 

   I donít know how much damage has been done by what I consider to be an  irresponsible rumor, but I can help a little by supporting the company.  To show support for AWA in this situation, I purchased one of their 1873 Ultimate for The Hobby Gunsmith.

    The article on the AWA 1873 Ultimate will be published next month.  I have not had the pleasure of shooting this gun, because I must wait ten days before taking possession.   I can say that it's the most beautiful gun I have held.  The Doug Turnbull color case hardening is colorful and seems three-dimensional.  The bluing is deep and rich and the action is the smoothest I have felt on a production gun.

Best Regards,

 Keith T. Chiles, Editor