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Special treatment: NEA carves arms niche

Much as the Canadian Army runs on its Light Armoured Vehicles, it shoots with its Colt C7 rifle. So if you want to get noticed in such a well-established marketplace, you need a niche.

North Eastern Arms of Orillia, Ontario, has carved out a space with its twist on gun barrel and bolt carrier treatments and its suppressors.

“We didn’t reinvent the wheel by any means,” said vice-president Steve Huk during a demonstration at RAMPART in May, “but we put our spin on it.”

NEA applies a proprietary nitrocarburized treatment to the steel that offers two benefits over more traditional coatings. First, it is anti-corrosive, a fact that has made it attractive to law enforcement and security services working in maritime environments such as anti-piracy. “We’ve done extensive testing with salt baths and things like that and it will not rust or corrode,” Huk said. “And it is very easy to clean.”

Second, the treatment also increases longevity. NEA has rifles with barrel counts between 30,000 and 40,000 rounds with no deterioration in accuracy.

Huk said many manufacturers adhere to traditional military specifications because “that’s what they’re asked to do.” As a small Canadian company, NEA has had the flexibility to exceed the 50-year-old mil-specs while building an international customer base. “This product just didn’t exist. There was nothing that was non-ITAR, made in North America, and mass produced.”

The company has also found a market for its suppressors, which can be used in training or operations with a range of ammunition. “Our value proposition is that the biggest health and safety claim in law enforcement is hearing loss. For a couple of hundred bucks, you can put one of these on the end of your rifle, and you’re going to significantly reduce the sound. The more we preach that story, the more we get requests for demos.”

With the ability to reduce sound by 50 to 80 decibels, suppressors are becoming more important as countries, especially in Europe, make noise reduction mandatory. “By law in some countries, you have to own one to shoot a rifle. New Zealand has made it mandatory.”

NEA is still building its brand, primarily through trade shows, but it has seen steady year-over-year growth
as it introduces more calibres to its selection. It might not challenge for space in the “green army” anytime soon, but it is finding plenty of interest from special forces and elsewhere.

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