x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Rifle manufacturer hopes to trigger sales with bling-encrusted firearm

An Austrian gunmaker founded over a century ago that armed emperors in Europe is now seeking to build its clientele among Middle Eastern royalty.

The Austrian gunmaker Fanzoj's centrepiece rifle at Adihex, encrusted with diamonds and adorned with white and rose gold. Ravindranath K / The National
The Austrian gunmaker Fanzoj's centrepiece rifle at Adihex, encrusted with diamonds and adorned with white and rose gold. Ravindranath K / The National

An Austrian gunmaker founded more than a century ago that armed emperors in Europe is now offering diamond-studded guns to tempt new super-rich clients from the Middle East.

Fanzoj, a family company founded in 1906, was in the UAE last week to display its guns at the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (Adihex) – and make house calls to wealthy potential buyers.

Of the seven firearms Fanzoj is displaying, its centrepiece is a diamond-encrusted rifle engraved with an Arabian stallion, worth hundreds of thousands of euros. (Fanzoj declined to give a specific price.)

Fanzoj has attended Adihex for the past four years, but this is the first time it has brought a gun crafted specifically to appeal to the tastes of Middle Eastern customers, according to Patrick Fanzoj, who runs the family firm with his sister, Daniela.

The piece, a bolt-action weapon, has a walnut stock and smooth steel parts.

It is adorned with white and rose gold, and features a white horse charging across an enamelled blue background. The diamonds are embedded into the bolt of the rifle.

“The Middle East is becoming bigger and more important for us,” Mr Fanzoj said. “We are getting more orders from here as our name becomes better known.”

A delegation from the Middle East recently visited the Fanzoj manufacturing facility in Austria. Adihex is the only trade show in the Middle East that the company attends.

Ms Fanzoj designed the piece, which took almost two years to make, without a specific customer in mind. The company takes on only 20 commissions each year and a custom-made firearm can take as long as three years to design and craft.

“They are made to measure, like a suit,” Mr Fanzoj said.

Along with royalty, the company counts presidents – former and current – and top chief executives among its customers. Many of them give the guns as gifts or keep them as part of a collection, although they are “100 per cent functioning” as weapons, Mr Fanzoj explained.

Also on display was an African safari-themed hunting rifle depicting elephants, lions and zebras.

Apart from the seven models on display, Mr Fanzoj had a number of finished guns available for immediate sale – but he declined to say how many.

Basic models start at €40,000 (Dh193,650), but custom-designed rifles cost more than 10 times that amount.

 

lgutcher@thenational.ae