Do you look under “O” or “M” to find the listing for America’s (and perhaps the world’s) largest manufacturer of pump-action shotguns? We are of course talking about O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc.
Founded in 1919, Mossberg is the oldest family-owned and -operated firearms manufacturer in America. Mossberg also claims a special place in the international manufacture of firearms as the largest supplier of pump-action shotguns in the world. Leading the way with more than 100 design and utility patents to its credit, and standing as the first ISO 9001 Certified long-gun manufacturer, Mossberg is considered to be one of the most innovative firearms makers in U.S. history — right there with Browning, Remington and Smith & Wesson.
Mossberg’s commitment to innovation has garnered this Connecticut company the applause of its peers. Most recently the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers recognized the 2012 FLEX Shotgun and 2014 MVP Rifle with its “Innovator of the Year” awards.
With factories located in North Haven, Connecticut, and Eagle Pass, Texas, Mossberg continues to redevelop and redesign according to its guiding principle: to offer more gun for the money. Leadership that now includes four generations of the Mossberg family has driven this enduring philosophy forward. The manufacturer is currently directed by founder Oscar Mossberg’s grandson, Alan, and Alan’s son, A. “Iver” Mossberg, Jr.
In 2015, the Mossberg family appointed John MacLellan to the position of Vice President of Sales and Marketing. An industry veteran, MacLellan has been with Mossberg for five years. He previously held the position of Director, and in July 2013, he became Vice President of Sales, where he directed Mossberg’s teams of sales representatives and its Texas-based customer service operations.
Prior to joining Mossberg, he worked in sales management roles with Smith & Wesson, led a sales team for Andersen Windows and worked for six years with the Dover Police Department as a sergeant in the Field Operations division.
Responsible now for both sales and marketing at Mossberg, MacLellan will also direct brand initiatives. His boss, Mossberg Executive Vice President Paul Chartier, says MacLellan is “a very committed and successful leader.”
And so it is only appropriate that Grand View Outdoors spent some time learning about this industry insider’s view of the firearms market in America and Mossberg’s — or O.F. Mossberg & Sons’ — near-term goals.
GVO: What is your view of the future of the shooting sports and Mossberg’s place in it?
MacLellan: I’m excited about the long-term health and direction of the shooting sports and about Mossberg’s role in providing quality products for long-term, committed enthusiasts, as well as newer participants.
In recent years, more and more people are becoming actively involved, and participation in all of the shotgun sports continues to grow. Many people who purchased a gun in recent years, men and women alike, had never owned one before, and they are looking for ways to actively participate in the shooting sports, learn more and have fun. Obviously, this is a huge opportunity for our industry and for Mossberg.
I believe that listening to our distributors and our customers and watching for — or setting — trends in the marketplace is the key to developing forward-looking plans and exciting new products and programs. In this regard, Mossberg is proud to support a variety of efforts that we feel will help us reach the next generation of shooters. We are in the process of changing how we communicate with our customers; we are developing new marketing content, for instance, to help make our sports more relatable; and we are supporting programs that target a new and younger audience.
Our primary challenge, as an industry, is to be sure that we do our part to reach out to these new customers, to extend that all-important invitation to participate and, when they respond, that we engage them effectively in our sports and make sure they feel welcome.
GVO: That commitment sounds like an echo from the 2015 NSSF Industry Summit, which focused on the retention of current shooters and strategies for the recruitment from more recent generations than the Baby Boomers.
MacLellan: At Mossberg we believe that securing the future of the shooting sports begins with listening to these younger generations and then applying what we hear to the programs we support and the products we manufacture.
GVO: Moving sideways for a moment, the “tactical revolution” has swept through the shooting sports and replaced beautiful maple wood stocks and silver, engraved sideplates with drab black and plastic. Was there a “tactical fad,” and is it over?
MacLellan: We don’t think the interest in tactical is a fad. In fact, we’ve recently seen the tactical market explode, with lots of interest and lots of new buyers. While this market may have hit a plateau, the so-called tactical revolution is definitely not over. I think it’s just taking a breath to catch up.
GVO: In that regard, then, what is Mossberg’s plan? What are you doing to help America’s independent retailers take advantage of maybe what we should call the Tactical-Generation-Two or “Tactical2?”
MacLellan: Mossberg has a tremendous assortment of firearms that are perfect for this market. Our MIL-SPEC 590A1 shotguns continue to be the go-to product for the hard-core tactical shooter, and our Maverick 88 is one of the best-selling home defense shotguns of all time.
Our MVP line of bolt-action rifles that accept AR-15 and AR-10 style magazines have been hugely successful in the tactical market. The Patrol rifle in either 5.56mm or 7.62mm NATO is the perfect go-everywhere rifle.
And in 2015, we’ve made some big additions to the line. At both trade and consumer shows, the real eye-turner in the Mossberg booth was definitely the new MVP-LC (Light Chassis). It’s a gun that packs a ton of value with all of the features of the MVP and the added benefit of a solid aluminum chassis system.
So there’s no doubt that the tactical market will continue to play an important part in Mossberg’s product mix, and the innovations that we’ve seen — many of which we have initiated — in this market will certainly impact others.
GVO: Can you give us an example of that?
MacLellan: Sure. Our new Patriot Rifle is a great example. It has a classic or timeless look and it incorporates all of the conveniences of a modern bolt-action rifle. From its fluted barrels and bolts, target-crowned barrel … to the Mossberg adjustable trigger and its drop-box magazine, these are all features a tactical gun should have. But they are all wrapped up in a beautiful walnut stock that is going to appeal to the traditional hunting market. For the hard-core “tactical” hunter, it also comes in black synthetic or Kryptek Highlander as well as our ready-for-the-range, Patriot Night Train.
GVO: Speaking of innovation, what is Mossberg doing to look past the 715P Autoloading Pistol?
MacLellan: 2015 was probably the biggest year Mossberg has had for innovative new products. We launched 127 new guns this year. When you look at our new products catalog, it really is impressive: our new Patriot line of bolt-action rifles, four new MVP rifle configurations, our new line of polymer .22 rifles including the Blaze 22 and our AK look-alike Blaze-47 rimfire rifles, and 15 new left-handed models. (We can’t forget the lefties). We headlined this innovation package as the Mossberg “Big Five” at the SHOT Show. Couple that with innovations in semi-automatic duck hunting shotguns, some line extensions in our tactical shotguns, two new turkey guns and a new Thunder Ranch Rifle … that’s plenty of progressive thinking and it has all taken Mossberg light years beyond the competition.
GVO: It has to be a big job, integrating such an enormous number of innovative products into an already successful lineup. So is your staff at Mossberg exhausted from keeping all of this in order?
MacLellan: (laughs) Well, yes and no. 2016 will have some even more eye-opening product introductions that will certainly capture the interest of the tactical market. And we have several product introductions planned to spike the interests of our more traditional hunting audience.
As we have in the past, Mossberg will continue to develop products that will help our customers better enjoy the shooting sports. Our fundamental principle is to deliver more gun, a more high-quality shooting experience, for our customer’s money. I’d say we’re definitely on track.
I’m honored to work for a company with the strength of the Mossberg brand. Let’s face it. Mossberg shotguns are a staple in everyone’s gun collections. Moving forward we’ll continue to build on the strength we have in the shotgun market, but work to remind our customers that Mossberg is far more than just a shotgun brand.
GVO: Lastly, Connecticut suffered a terrible shooting at Newtown on Dec. 12, 2014. Our hearts still ache for the families, but since then Connecticut has become a tremendously difficult place for a firearms manufacturer. Does Mossberg have any plans to move its headquarters to a more gun-friendly state?
MacLellan: Sadly, Mossberg’s home state of Connecticut, the place where firearms manufacture in America began nearly 100 years ago, has become increasingly hostile to gun owners and firearms manufacturers alike. I can understand some of this as a backlash to the anger and sadness following the Newtown shootings, and I can also tell you no one dislikes this situation more than the Mossberg family or Mossberg’s employees.
New Haven has been the home of many of our employees and the Mossberg family as well for more than 100 years. Thankfully, the Mossberg family feels a greater responsibility to their employees than do the members of the Connecticut legislature, and we plan to continue to build firearms in Connecticut.
But, there is no question that the laws that passed in 2014 have had an impact. When we had a need to grow our business, the choice about where to expand — hire new employees and pay new taxes — was clear. We grew in Texas, a state that not only worked hard to attract Mossberg’s investment and to help expand and create new jobs, but one that also stands up for the Second Amendment rights of firearms manufacturers and their customers.