When it comes to new firearm production, there so many little things that go into production and design, I could spend a year listing them. Some people think you just put a gun together and stick it out on the market. That is just simply not true.
What does it take to make a gun from scratch? Most people don’t think about the process involved in designing and building a firearm. The process is long and tedious. It requires tons of time, money and materials. Where does it start?
The Idea: someone in an office thinks of a design, and starts with a basic drawing on paper. This creates the idea for the look of the firearm. It could be based off of a specific need, or a desire for a specific function or caliber. It then goes to the design engineers. These people are basically geeks with a CAD (computer aided design) program. They are probably the smartest people in the room. They take the drawing and work up a computer-aided 3-dimensional drawing of the gun. Then they figure out the how the external look of the gun will work with the mechanics.
The Real Work: It is really up to the engineers to figure out how the gun is going to work. They take the original design and work out the mechanics of the gun by designing the parts, having parts made according to that design, testing them, and going back the drawing board and re-working the design until everything operates correctly. Current technology allows most of the testing to be done on the computer before it goes to a production item, allowing the engineers to look at the function and view how each part is going to function before they make the first one. This goes on until the entire gun is built. Then comes the testing.
Prototypes: Once the engineering department has things worked out so they think it will work correctly, they go into a prototype. Usually, they make several prototype guns to test, which gives them the ability to monitor the build and testing with a group of guns. If something fails in one gun and doesn’t in others, they can look at the differences. Usually if a part of the gun fails, they have to evaluate why it failed and create the replacement part with alterations. Then test and test some more
Testing: I can’t speak for all manufacturers, however once the testing begins, they test the guns to the point of failure. Usually an absurd amount of ammunition goes through them. Each gun must pass testing failure-free through a certain round count before it makes it to production. That means that someone has to shoot until they can’t shoot anymore, and then they need to shoot some more.
Initial Production: Once the prototypes have been tested to the point of failure and everyone is satisfied that the firearm will function perfectly with various types of ammunition, it goes into production. This is a logistical nightmare. Each part is made and inspected in small batches. The parts are then installed and the gun is tested again, to verify that the parts are to the proper specifications in production. If even one part is out of spec, the gun may not function properly. Sometimes, a production part has to go back to the engineering desk and get re-worked through the production process to get it into spec. Once this is completed and the production guns function properly, the parts go into full production.
Once the initial production is completed, the guns are assembled and tested again, to ensure all of the parts and the assembly process is working correctly. The testing for the initial production is very strenuous and every aspect of the function of the firearm is evaluated. If this passes all the tests, Then and only then will the firearm go into full production.
Full Production: Every gun that is manufactured has a set way of being shipped out. There are several steps to production. First, parts are manufactured. Next, those parts go to polishing and finishing. The parts then go to an assembly area where they are assembled, function-tested, and the assembled firearm is taken to be test fired. I can’t speak for all manufacturers, but I am aware that most of them fire every gun before it leaves the factory just to make sure it works. Lastly, the guns are packaged and shipped.
Full production does not mean the firearm is released yet. Again, I can not speak for the all manufacturers, but I am sure that once in production, a volume of firearms are produced and put in the warehouse. This is to ensure that there is not a shortage of them once they hit the market. By releasing a large number at one time, the guns go to retailers and wholesalers with some in reserve to fill orders.
This is just a small glimpse into the process and how it works. All manufacturers do not follow this method and which ones do is a closely guarded secret. The process is also a very closely guarded secret.
So, the next time you are waiting for a gun to be released by a manufacturer, please keep in mind how the process works and be patient. Your patience will be rewarded with a product that is worth the investment and can be enjoyed for years to come.