Conversations with Milbro – Part I

Monday, January 7, 2013

 

What do these gentlemen have in common? Excellence in airguns.

It all started innocently enough. Greg Glover, my main contact at www.airgunsofarizona.com, called to brief me on the results of the Extreme Benchrest competition. It had gone extremely well, he said. Lot of airgun industry folks had been in attendance, among them Ross Marshall, Ben Taylor, and Andrew Huggett of Milbro. The trio were up to some interesting stuff in the wilds of England and maybe I would like contact them and see if they were willing to grant an interview.

I reached out to Ross Marshall and pretty quick we had a teleconference scheduled. But before we get to the gist of the conversation, you need a bit of background.

Milbro, it turns out, has been making airgun pellets for over 50 years. About four years ago, the owner of Milbro was about ready to hang up his spurs and call it day, allowing Milbro simply to fade away, when David Little, who runs Kynamco, heard about it. Kynamco make Kynoch Nitro Express Cartridges for big game rifles. These are cartridges the size of elephant suppositories, cartridges that throw ounces of lead, the kind of cartridge you want in the chamber when an angry cape buffalo comes charging out of the tall grass with murder on its mind.

Ross Marshall is the general manager of Milbro.

So Little decided that the airgun business had “lots of spritelyness in it,” acquired Milbro, and asked Ross Marshall, who was working at Kynamco, to run it as General Manager. Here begins our interview.

JE:  How was it that Ben Taylor got involved?

RM: It was a combination of factors. The first is that Milbro basically sells to wholesalers. We have about a dozen major customers who buy pellets by the palletload, so that part of the business is relatively low maintenance although we are developing and bringing to market some new pellets. The second is that Ben Taylor – the “Ben” part of Theoben air rifles – had sold up his part of the business and moved on.

He was running his own business out of place in Cambridge (about half an hour from the Milbro facility). We have an underground 100 meter range which is great for testing, and Ben would come over for testing when he was working on his smooth twist barrels, and he and David Little would get to talking. At the same time, Ben’s facility was broken into several times, so eventually we said, “Come work with us and do stuff,” so he did.

JE: What happened next?

RM: Ben had an idea to make an air rifle that incorporated everything that he had learned as an airgun designer, and that gun became the Metisse.

Ross Marshall refers to Ben Taylor (left) and Andrew Huggett as “the two geniuses.”

JE: (In Part II of these series, I’ll be talking with Ben Taylor about the Metisse.) What else?

RM: Andrew Huggett came along with Ben as a supplier to us. Ben had been selling Andrew’s moderators, and they truly are remarkable. Andrew is a CNC engineer and an airgun enthusiast. We believe that he has created the best silencer in the world. What makes it so special is the combination of the design, the quality of the build, and the efficiency of what it does. When we first tested a Huggett moderator, we put it on a Brocock rifle and literally the only thing you could hear was the action cycling.

Quite frankly, it comes in a very high price point, but the shooters just love the Huggett mods, and the engineering that goes into them is just top rate. I was at a trade show in Europe, and there was a fellow who kept quizzing about the technical aspects of the Huggett mod. I got a little frustrated with him, screwed the end off the moderator, and said, “Just take a look inside.” He did, said something like “wow,” and bought two of them!

Next time, we’ll talk to Ben Taylor about the new Metisse rifle.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

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