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Homegrown: Australia has will and skills for a domestic service rifle, says manufacturer

Australia has the will, imagination, and skills to produce defence equipment such as a domestic service rifle, according to local firearms designer Ron Owen.

Australia has the will, imagination, and skills to produce defence equipment such as a domestic service rifle, according to local firearms designer Ron Owen.

Owen, a licensed firearms dealer in Gympie, designed the Genesis One straight-pull rifle, reportedly the first Queensland-designed and made rifle in the last 25 years.

The .223, 6.5mm or .308 chambered rifle was developed and produced by Enfield Arms in Queensland in 2023 for the recreational hunting and target shooting market.


Owen said there’s no reason why Australia shouldn’t support producing its own service rifles and other defence equipment domestically, as a matter of pre-war necessity.

“We’ve got the ability (to make firearms and defence equipment) and we’ve always had the ability,” he said.

“We’ve got the will, the imagination, and skills to make anything. What we turned out in World War II shows what is possible.

“But of course, it’s hard to achieve anything because of all the government and police restricts that we have.

“Australia could have its own firearms within six months if it wanted. We could turn ourselves into Switzerland, armed to the teeth and no one would want to take us on, but it’s up to them (political parties).

“You can almost put money on firearm supply being interrupted during the event of a war. As soon as someone pushes the button in the straits of Java (Sunda Strait, Indonesia); we’ll get nothing.”

Australian inventors have previously had some success creating domestic military equipment, such as the widely-acclaimed 9mm Owen submachine gun designed by Wollongong resident Evelyn Owen in 1938.

After the design was summarily dismissed by the Australian Army in July that year, it was later reassessed with the support of Lysaght Port Kembla and underwent successful production of more than 45,000 copies for use by soldiers fighting in Korea, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

Despite the lack of immediate support from government, Owen said the Department of Defence and Australian Army have previously made enquiries about the creation of a domestic anti-material rifle.

“They (Defence) were interested in an anti-material rifle around five years ago. We had visits from experts in the defence academy and Army, everyone wanted to go ahead,” he said.

“At that time, we needed specialty steel from Western Australia to handle the pressure of the intended rifle.

“We had a contract signed and were waiting for the Minister of Defence’s final check-out approval, when they rang in February 2023 to cancel it.

“I asked if they’d sell me a couple of metres (of pressure resistant steel) to keep going with the project. They said no.

“After five years and five visits from the Army – hopeless.”

Several companies such as Oceania Precision, Wedgetail Industries, Eureka Gun Company, Southern Cross Small Arms, and Warwick Firearms Australia are currently seeking an increased share in the firearms market in Australia, an industry traditionally saturated by established American and other international brands.

Determined to move forward with domestic development, Owen has announced a competitive challenge for manufacturers to find the nation’s best domestically produced straight pull rifle.

Under the Straight Pull Challenge 2024, domestic production rifles (under .50 Browning) are tested in a four-round shooting competition against targets at 50, 100, 200, and 300 yards.

“Never in Australia’s history has there been so many Australian-made firearm choices, especially in the straight pull, pump, lever release style of firearms,” he said.

“To date, there has been little adoption or no acceptance of this style of rifle into Australian competitive shooting.

“This event will promote the products of all Australian firearm manufactures and give them a place in the future of Australian competition.”

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