Aussie company NIOA Group buys US sniper rifle maker Barrett
By COLIN CLARK
PHOTO: A sniper conducts post-drop live-fire test trials of the MK-22 Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR) at Range 61, Fort Bragg. Credit: James Finney, Fort Bragg contractor.
SYDNEY — A privately owned Australian defence company has bought Barrett Firearms, the premier American maker of sniper rifles, widening the NIOA Group’s access to the American market.
Barrett designed and built versions of the MRAD sniper rifle. Both Special Operations Command and the US Army have committed to the rifle, with SOCOM awarding the company a $50 million contract in 2019 to supply what is now known as the Advanced Sniper Rifle, and the Army awarding them a $50 million, five-year contract two years ago.
The MRAD can fire the NATO standard 7.62mm, the .300 Norma Magnum and the .338 Norma Magnum rounds with a change of barrels. Barrett supplies weapons to more than 75 US Department of State-approved countries around the world and makes civilian weapons.
The NIOA Group is a unique agglomeration of interests, ranging from its original firearms business to a munitions factory joint venture with Rhenimetall to participation in the Australian Missile Corporation. Both NIOA Group and Barrett Firearms are owned by families. It is a major tenant at the Australian government-owned, contractor-operated munitions facility at Benalla in Victoria where NIOA makes 120mm munitions for the Abrams tank, as well as 30mm and 35mm cannon ammunition.
“NIOA’s association with Barrett dates to 2008. We have been inspired by the story of Barrett and admire what Ronnie, Chris and the family have built over more than four decades,” CEO Robert Nioa said in a statement Tuesday. “Together we share the same mission — combining our expertise and family business values will ensure Barrett carries on building the finest products in the world.”
Barrett will continue to operate brand as a separate division within the NIOA Group. While they didn’t provide any details, NOIA Group’s statement said “it is expected” that the Barrett plan in Murfreesboro, Tenn. will be expanded. Other terms of the purchase were not disclosed, but NIOA did announce some continuity for Barrett’s senior officials.
The father and son team that built Barrett will serve as “executive advisers.” The current Barrett president, Sam Shallenberger, will serve as CEO while long-serving Barrett Chief Operating Officer Bryan James becomes president.
NOIA may have had some high-powered help in putting the deal together. The NIOA Group Advisory Board includes Ellen Lord, former US Undersecretary of Defence for acquisition and sustainment, and a former commander of the Picatinny Arsenal, retired Army Brig. Gen. Alfred Abramson. Picatinny is, of course, the Army’s centre for most infantry weapons.