UMAREX is the world’s largest manufacturer of over-the-counter firearm replicas and the largest importer of air guns in Europe. Founded in 1972, the mid-sized company is now run by the second generation of the two founding families. It has approximately 1,000 employees worldwide. The key to the company’s success has been the acquisition of licenses to build replicas of well-known weapons, which then can be sold without restrictions. Umarex currently holds licenses for the brands Beretta, Browning, Colt, Heckler & Koch, Ruger Smith & Wesson and IWI.
The words of Franz Kafka describe what makes Umarex special: the courage to move ahead. “Looking forward”, the motto for the company’s 40th anniversary, takes up this theme. New paths present themselves only to those who have their eyes on the future.
Ever since its establishment in 1972, Umarex has been pushing towards new horizons. Its founders, Wulf-Heinz Pflaumer and Franz Wonisch, had a strong entrepreneurial spirit and set themselves ambitious goals. Together with more than 850 dedicated employees and partners in Germany and abroad, they achieved their objectives.
Umarex began its expansion in the 1970s by exporting to Egypt, France, Italy, Austria and Switzerland. In 1985, the company strengthened its international presence with the founding of Umarex Austria. Based in Walchsee and headed by Bernd Reppmann, Umarex Austria remains a highly regarded member of the Umarex Group.
In 1993, Umarex and Carl Walther came together. It was a natural union, because Umarex had its roots in Zella-Mehlis, a town famous for its gunsmithing tradition, and Zella-Mehlis was also where the Carl Walther company, founded in 1886, had manufactured calculating machines and weapons. Here Walter Riem, an engineer at Walther, had built the Perfecta blank firing pistol, which was later sold by Mayer & Riem as the Perfecta Model G1.
The key to continued UMAREX growth
In 1995, the managers at Umarex realized that a change was coming. Restrictions governing the purchase of blank firing guns would soon be tightened. Moreover, the market for imported airguns was saturated. It was time to introduce a new line of products. In Arnsberg Umarex expanded the production by high-quality CO₂ guns. The strategy was to penetrate new markets, especially abroad. The company’s courage was rewarded. The airguns, which were excellently designed and manufactured, enjoyed enormous growth rates. Exports boomed.
The CP88 scores a hit
The CP88 became a symbol of Umarex quality. This CO₂ pistol gave Umarex an impressive technological lead. The groundbreaking idea, on which all later CO₂ designs were based, was the innovative, patented “Fast Action“ system. The gun was loaded by opening the barrel with the dummy slide catch. CO₂ capsules were inserted by opening the grip plate. The German gun magazine “Visier“ gave its Winner of the Year award to the CP88 in 1996.
When the CP88 was presented at the 1995 Shot Show in Las Vegas, Umarex scored a breakthrough. The major American firearms manufacturers, later joined by the oldest weapons manufacturer in the world, Beretta, granted licenses for replicas of their famous models.
This completed the portfolio. Umarex was finally crowned king of replicas.