Brothers, Money and Two Smoking Barrels: is it profitable to produce rifles in Russia?

Corporation Lobaev belonging to brothers Vladislav and Nikolay Lobaev develops and produces high-accuracy long-range world-class rifles. Is it possible to do profitable business on that?
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The athlete is coming to a special table establishes point-blank rifle with telescopic sights multiplicity of large, arranged in a chair, watching the weather vanes and ribbons swaying in the wind. Then slowly taking aim and make a few shots on target. The main task - to collect all the holes in the lowest possible group or "heap", and it is best to "put a bullet in the bullet." It Benchrest, sport shooting high achievements, the former once the lot of American armourers, so check the accuracy of its combat rifles.

"I have more than 12 world's best sniper rifles, and more of the very many I shot, and four of them - rifles Lobaeva", - told RBC Ryabinsky Andrew, head of the board of directors of YWAM, seriously addictive sniper fire. Vladislav Lobaev - his instructor, at the end of 2015, they put together one of the world records. From sverhdalnoboynoy rifle Lobaeva SVLK-14C "Twilight" Ryabinsky five times in a row hit the target 50 × 50 cm at a distance of 2165 m (he was Lobaev spotter). "I can responsibly saybe that Lobaeva rifles in caliber .408 Cheyenne Tactical is now no equal in the world, they are .338 caliber, if not surpass, that compete with the best world models ", - says Ryabinsky.

A graduate of the Faculty of Philosophy of Moscow State University Vladislav Lobaev Benchrest engaged in 2000, fascinated by the sport during a trip to the United States in the mid-90s as a member of the private detective "Alex" bureau. "A serious hobby shooting sports has led to an understanding of the obvious - with the available weapons in the major international tournaments to win hard", - told RBC Lobaev. Indeed, accurate rifles were available for election, which in practice meant one thing: if your rifle is not prepared by well-known American gunsmith, you are automatically eliminated from the list of contenders for the prize, he explains.

Lobaev decided to start developing their own rifles, which went for an internship in the United States, where he studied under the famous gunsmiths Thomas Speedy Gonzales and Clay Spencer. Returning to Russia in 2003, he founded the company "Tsar Cannon", which was engaged in the design and manufacturtion of precision rifles.

"It was a real startup: to start a business, I had to sell personal four-room apartment on the Arbat. The solution, of course, it was difficult, especially for my family and friends "- laughs Lobaev. In the first stage, he said, the money for the business helped by friends and colleagues Benchrest, including Lobaev calls the founder of the company "Trading house" Airport Fuel Supply "Yevgeny Ostrovsky (died in 2015). "It is not just our team paid trip to foreign competition, and my training at Speedy Gonzales was paid for his money," - says Lobaev.

In 2005, the "Tsar Cannon" has become the first private company in modern Russian history, has received a license for the production of weapons, - Orsis and "Scat" started to work later. "We were the first who stood on the path to zero. By that time, we already know some useful publicity has already worked for the company ", - explains Lobaev. The first rifle he did back in the United States, for the Russian team, which spoke with them in the 2005 championship, following onteaching license company began work in Russia. At first rented premises at the Podolsk electromechanical factory, and in 2007 we launched a small production in Tarusa Kaluga region.

In an interview with Forbes magazine in 2010 Lobaev said that the previous year "Tsar Cannon" has sold 80 rifles, earning about 20 million rubles. revenues, and in 2010, it had planned to release up to 200 rifles. But in the same year the Ministry of Industry refused to renew the "Tsar Cannon" license granted in 2005 for five years. The company could not produce more weapons and even sell the finished product.


"Rumors about the" bank with spiders "in the domestic arms industry manufacturers at exactly devoid of soil. Founders - is another matter, but they have and questions to each other different properties "- now says Lobaev. But in 2010, in the media and specialized forums on the Internet then it was a lot of talk about the fact that the problem of "Tsar Cannon" organized competitors: they include almost all the manufacturers in the Russian sniper rifles.

Lobaev nobody wants to call, notingish, that he considers the incident in 2010, a manifestation of "unfair competition." "We then decided - the fight and put his head here, you should reduce the degree of tension", - he says. In 2010, almost all of the then team of the company, 15, moved to the United Arab Emirates. It contracted with the Arab Tawazun Holding launched a new venture - Tawazun Advanced Defense Systems (TADS), which continued to be engaged in the development and manufacture of small systems.

In the UAE, the Russians have developed and prepared to release about 20 models of rifles, two of them were eventually put into production by Caracal, swallowed TADS in 2013. "After the launch of the entire cycle we will have no effect on production in the UAE," - says Lobaev. Also in 2013 he ended the contract c TADS, and staff "Tsar Cannon" decided to return to Russia. "There were various possibilities, but after working in the Emirates, to be honest, no one had no desire even to go somewhere" - responds Lobaev. Especially since the new license Ministry of Industry has issued very quickly, in December of 2013, and this time - a perpetual, he adds.

After returning to Russia Vladislav Lobaev with his brother Nicholas decided to found a corporation Lobaev (now it is still in the making). It will include integrated systems design bureau (KBIS), united team "Tsar Cannon" and Lobaev Arms (production of long-range sniper rifles) and Lobaev Hammer Barrels (barreled guns and blanks). "We each have to do everything myself - trunks, bed, cartridges - Lobaev explains - to joint action in the armory of the Russian makroteme still ever it comes, but for now at its micro level, we decided to highlight our direction in individual enterprises and individual entities. "

During 2014 the corporation has developed and implemented in the production of seven new models of rifles. "Nobody else did not do all over the world, domestic production is also not under force," - boasts Lobaev speed. According to him, the corporation is now moving away from the production practice "piece" of rifles and will display all new models to the market standard. "For the first time in its history, we will work on the warehouse overstock. BWe shall make a variety of coatings and rifles, the buyer could choose "the same, but with pearl buttons," - Vladislav smiling.

According to him, in 2016 Lobaev Corporation expects to receive 150-200 million rubles. revenue. Last year, revenue amounted to "several tens of millions of rubles," said Vladislav: a lot of effort and money spent on the development of new models, and now sales will grow in the last two years. By traditional production of the company in 2015 added a tactical robot Minirex RS1A3, released a new division of the corporation - Lobaev Robotics. Weight robot crawler - 23 kg, he will adopt gauges 7,62 × 39,9 × 39 mm and a sniper 338LW and 40LW. This is only the first line of combat robots Corporation, says Lobaev: the company announced the development of assault robots, robots-snipers and Kontrsnayper.

"We are working on the network integration of robots into a single unit on the battlefield, is now recruit staff people who will write software, and is working on outsourcing" - says Lobaev. We have already Lobaev Robotics firsta third-party investor, whose name was not disclosed, other divisions have Lobaeva partners brothers yet.

Barriers and Opportunities

Capacity of the Russian market of high-precision rifles Lobaev estimates by 2-3 thousand. To 8-10 thousand. Units per year. According to him, the market is growing slowly, although new people come. "One of the main constraints - legal constraints to own rifles. It would be reasonable to reduce the threshold from five to two years, for example, and for the military and served in the army in general to cancel it ", - said Lobaev.

Sanctions against Russia in fact removed from the weapons of foreign competitors in the market of the country, but not in a hurry to rejoice Lobaev: according to him, the lack of long-term cheap loans does not allow Russian companies to take advantage of the unique weapon of the situation and seize the vacant market. "A good, high-quality, low-cost mass rifle - so we are able to, but in practice will require an investment of between $ 30 million of this is we do not do, because there is no money." - Says Lobaev.

Those sanctions against PRUSSIA not now allow corporations to sell rifles to countries that have acceded to these sanctions. "So, it is necessary to place the production in their territory. For us, this kind of business expansion, the proposals in this vein we have ", - says Lobaev, saying that several proposals for the deployment of production in other countries it already has.

In Russia, the demand for high-precision rifle is small and unlikely to rise sharply, so Lobaev needs a global market, says Andrew Ryabinsky. At the same time, in his opinion, "lobaevskie" rifle needs of the army and special units, which, if they buy now, then in very small quantities (Lobaev told RBC that now 80% of sales come from civilian weapons). "All sniper rifles, which are in our army - it all day yesterday, and Lobaev rifle - absolutely advanced history," - says Ryabinsky.

As for proposals for cooperation on the part of Russian weapons giants, then, as the founder of the corporation Lobaev, «these proposals were, but I would rate them as unformedlennye and vague, on preliminary talks, we have not progressed to alliances and did not make it. " In Russia, one is forced to do everything himself, he adds, although ultimately coordination in the arms industry is needed. "The task is certainly difficult, particularly at this background, when one is out there its separate building, and cooperation instead tries to strangle a neighbor or trample", - says Lobaev.

According to him, the army can not be the locomotive of weapons of progress: "Specifically, our army is now preparing for the Afghan and Chechen wars." Next "more or less" global conflict will inevitably accelerate the arms robotics and automation will increase the weapon, the minimum cycling person in the "mathematics" of shooting, said Lobaev. Lobaev Robotics is gaining new employees right now.