As dealers look across the market for unique products that can grab customers’ attention, Seekins Precision is one of those unique brands. Seekins Precision is mostly known as the AR-15 billet-part people. However, the company was the first to market many years ago with a high-style billet lower.
With the release of the Havak bolt-action precision rifle, Seekins is now jumping squarely back into the hunting and precision rifle markets. Shooting Sports Retailer, a sister publication to Tactical Retailer, had a chance to talk with Glen Seekins about the journey of Seekins and the unique products they bring to market.
SSR: What was the catalyst that started Seekins Precision?
Seekins: I really started Seekins by accident. I have always had a passion for inventing things with CNC, especially when it solves some type of problem. Many of my inventions were just one-off parts that solved some type of issue for me or a friend, but on one particular whitetail hunt I had an issue with my scope rings failing. It was a similar situation that many hunters and shooters face with the rings coming loose and ultimately ruining the hunt. Usually, the screws strip out or come loose because they could not be sufficiently tightened.
Though the other failed rings were super heavy steel, my perception was that scope rings do not need to weight 2 pounds and be made from steel just to hold a scope. After all, the screws were the weakest link, not the ring material. I came home and designed a new version with beefy grade 8 T-25 screws and a cool, light 7075-T6 aluminum ring. After that, my friends wanted some. I thought, if I wanted some and my friends did, maybe there was something there with this latest invention. I initially paired with Sniper’s Hide and became a U.S. Optics dealer; if you bought a U.S. Optics scope from Seekins you got a set of scope rings from us for free. The promotion was a phenomenal success and still is today. Our scope rings outsell every other product we make.
SSR: And that grew into other products?
Seekins: The precision rifle-scope rings sort of snowballed into other products. Within that precision rifle market, which we initially started with, we began getting a lot of requests from customers for products that filled gaps in the market. I worked up designs and started making a few precision-rifle products such as bipod and accessory rails, a sling mount compatible rail, magazine bottom metal for the Remington 700 platform and even precision-rifle magazines.
By late 2006, we developed a crazy looking AR-15 lower with swoopy curves unlike anything on the market. By the 2007 SHOT show AR-15 demand hit hard for us and that crazy-cool unique billet lower went nuts at SHOT show. People were flocking to the booth. In a sea of mil-spec AR-15 lowers, there we were with this insane-looking lower receiver. Dealer feedback was a love it or hate it mentality, but that product really launched a whole industry of super-custom AR-15s. We added a stylized upper as well and that whole product line has been wildly popular. The SP223 is now in its GEN2 update and continues to get refined and is still a super-hot seller for dealers.
We took that same concept and designed a set of Seekins Precision factory-build AR-15 rifles which have sold really well and led to the development of our SP10 .308 semi-automatic precision rifle platform.
SSR: What is Seekins most known for?
Seekins: I think recently for the general tactical and shooting market we are most known for the multitude of colorful AR-15 parts and accessories we brought to market just a few years ago. For the last five years the growth of the AR-15 and Modern Sporting Rifle accessories market has seen an aggressive growth curve. We were really lucky to be able to use our high-volume-production machining to tap into that market and offer some really amazing values for those customers. For example, our magazine releases, and selectors are up to half the cost of competing products. Dealers have noted that our price leading products delivers an easy self-selling set of small footprint products which keeps the customers coming back into the store for that next little upgrade. Lately we have been known for our bolt-action Havak precision-rifle line.
SSR: Can you expand on the Havak?
Seekins: The Havak bolt-action precision rifle was really a journey back to our roots which started in Precision Rifle. Now we are leveraging our high-precision capabilities with the Havak to deliver a feature-loaded factory-precision bolt-action rifle. The Havak can deliver sub-½-inch 100-yard groups with factory-match ammo and it does it all for a $2,200 MSRP. We are using Rock Creek barrels, which are known for excellent accuracy. The customer gets a custom Remington 700 compatible precision rifle without all the fuss and expense of customizing. We saw an opportunity to use our production capabilities to deliver a rifle with the precision of a $4,000 rifle for about the same price as a higher-tier brand-name factory-production rifle.
SSR: For dealers what have been your most popular products?
Seekins: Our scope rings are still number one with 30mm medium and low heights, are probably the most popular option for hunting and precision rifles. The 34mm would be the next most popular, targeting the large scope tube precision-rifle customers. The AR gas-gun platform, we sell a lot of one piece 30mm MXM scope mounts.
For the dealer starting out we have a dealer packet with a set of recommended top 10 and top 20 products. Dealers still see the majority of Seekins Precision sales around our scope rings, but AR parts and accessories and the Havak rifle are not far behind. We will sell more Havak rifles than our MSRs. Breaking back into the precision and hunting rifle market has been a blessing and hopefully helped our dealers dissipate some of the political risk of the AR-15 market. Our most popular is our Havak 6.5 Creedmoor. The price of the Havak has made it an extremely attractive offer.
With AR-15 parts, safety selectors, gas blocks, handguards, bolt catches, mag releases, uppers and lowers are all popular for the builder-based customers. The look and design of our receivers offer the dealers with cerakote services some excellent upsell opportunities for custom AR-15s. Our Enhanced Builders Kits have been very popular and include all our popular billet parts in one simple kit.
SSR: How does a Dealer start selling Seekins Precision?
Seekins: It is a simple and straightforward process as long as you have an FFL. They can go through us directly with no minimums, but we recommend and prefer they use our distributor network for several reasons. Since our shipping is dependent on our production cycle and we do not offer terms for dealer accounts, we strongly encourage the use of our distributors. We have a lot of dealers who insist on working directly with us and we are here and flexible regardless of where a dealer wants to purchase.
We are a small company, but try to support and develop demand for the brand through advertising in a lot of digital channels, TV advertisement and work with editors to insert our products in as many articles as possible. We also sponsor some 3-gun and precision-rifles events as well as a few sponsored brand ambassadors.
SSR: What does the future look like?
Seekins: Politically, as soon as there is discussion around firearm regulation the industry goes a little haywire, which it too bad because we were on the cusp of a market correction for the AR market. The unpredictable political sales surges make it tough to deal with spiky demand for stable manufacturers and also allows a lot of floundering players in the market to hang on longer and not exit. For us short term, we are trying to stabilize our production capabilities after the introduction of the Havak rifle. We would like to focus on going after military and LEO markets with the Havak rifle line and even have some in review process at the moment.
The Havak represents what we can deliver from our aerospace and medical high-production precision-machining systems. We have a lot of automation including three Makeno MMC machines, which are fed by a robot with 60 pallets. We have the capability to deliver extremely high-tier custom-grade firearms at a production cost lower than other companies with older technology. The Makeno MMCs are extremely fast and accurate machines which represent the top end of machining capabilities producing up to 10,000 parts per week. This allows us to deliver customers an extremely high-precision product at a lower cost. Some of those new products in design are 1911 and/or 2011 type pistols and a Havak-based rifle that combines the table-top build modularity of the AR-15 and applies that to the bolt rifle.