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Montana firearm manufacturer expanding production in Helena



Helena, Montana – A Helena-based gun company is preparing a major launch for what they hope will be a game-changing product.

The new Vulcan high-caliber recoilless rifle from Olympus Arms is still in the extended development stage. It is made with a barrel that reciprocates inside the rifle’s body to greatly lessen recoil once a shot is fired. According to company executives, this enables greater precision on subsequent shots.

Olympus Arms, together with its sibling firms Mars, Inc. and Blue Sky Inventors, have announced that they are prepared to increase production at its Helena factory, according to Michael Merino, their president.

“Instead of making rifles one at a time, which we had done for most of our research and development process, now we’re making batches of 100 at a time,” he said.

According to Merino, they have already spent $5 million creating the Vulcan weapon. They will make their hard release and announce that they are prepared to take orders at the SHOT Show, a sizable trade show for the shooting, hunting, and outdoor industries in Las Vegas, later this month.

Governor Greg Gianforte was given a close-up view of Olympus Arms’ production plant and products on Friday. Merino took him to Range 406, a Helena indoor shooting range, where he could try out three Vulcan weapons.

“We’ve actually trademarked the phrase, ‘Shooting Is Believing,’ because when we show people this rifle, they don’t understand, and when they shoot it, it blows their minds,” Merino said.

Gianforte expressed his admiration.

“A lot of guns that caliber kick like a mule,” he said. “This one, you didn’t even have to take it off target.”

After that, Merino claimed that Gianforte was present at a ribbon-cutting in front of a new piece of machinery that Olympus Arms had purchased for $1 million.

“The main parts of the rifle, like the receiver, the upper receiver, the middle receiver, they can all be made on this machine,” Merino said. “It can change parts out 24 hours a day without a person opening or closing this door. So this machine will continue to run, the operator will load parts here at the access door and keep feeding the machine, and the machine will just continue to make parts all day long.”

Merino claims to employ roughly 12 people at the moment, but he hopes to gradually grow his staff.

“When we’re full at this location, I have no doubt that we could make 150 rifles or more a month – and then even expand into a full manufacturing facility, hopefully here in Helena, when we have the orders to support it,” he said.

In the upcoming years, he plans to create up to 60 positions and invest up to $50 million in expansion.

According to Gianforte, 150 producers of weapons and ammunition currently call Montana home, and officials intend to maintain this momentum.

“What we’re promoting is quality of life, a favorable business climate and a work ethic of Montanans that won’t quit,” he said. “That’s a competitive advantage a lot of businesses want.”

Veteran and National Guardsman Merino said he hopes the Vulcan weapon will be adopted by the military at some point.

“I designed it for the military,” he said. “We’re better than what the military has right now; we’re better than what the military is looking at getting at next. I designed this for soldiers, I designed this for war fighters, and I want them to be able to have it. So, sooner or later, I feel like we can convince the army to make this a battle rifle – and in the meantime, we’re just going to keep improving it. We’re going to make it better, lighter, more efficient, less recoil.”

Merino states that he wishes to continue working at this location.

“This is home for me,” he said. “This is where my family is, my kids go to school here, I’m retiring out of the military here. This is my home. I grew up in Montana, and this is where I want to stay. And I want to provide what I call ‘career-worthy jobs,’ high-paying good jobs that people don’t have to leave – they can grow here with me, they can stay with me, I keep the talent, and we all do something that we can be proud of and something that we’re happy with.”

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