A Turkish Firearms Tour -- 400K Square Feet of Guns: Day 3
June 20, 2012
By Day 3 my companions and I had discovered two things about Turkish cuisine:
- Everything was really good, and...
- Just about every meal involved lamb in one form or another.
It got so ridiculous that we started joking about it, and the NRA's Brian Sheetz topped my "lambenade" with his "lamburger helper".
RELATED: Day 1, Day 2, Day 4
All of us saw boars on our hunt in the Turkish hills half an hour outside of Alanya on the Turkish Riviera, but only Dave Bahde with Harris Publications actually tagged one. As no one was really sure what the customs regulations might be on bringing back fresh tusks ("Are you bringing back any meat or produce?" Um, well'¦.kinda?) he decided to have his shipped to him later.
After two hour ride back to the Antalya airport, during which we got to enjoy non-stop Turkish Techno music (Turkno?), then a short plane ride back to Istanbul, we took a two hour drive east to the town of Duzce ("doos-jay") where the Sarsilmaz factory is located. Two hours is close enough to the Istanbul airport to be convenient, while avoiding the city's insane traffic.
Duzce is a medium-sized town of 134,000 people, and Sarsilmaz' new facility is located in a rather new industrial park nearby. It is huge, and once I did the conversion from square meters to feet learned that it is nearly 400,000 square feet. Everything (including many of the CNC machines) are brand new, and they have all sorts of room to expand.
Sarsilmaz is running three shifts, seven days a week. They produce 105,000 pistols a year, as well as 85,000 shotguns, 28,000 infantry rifles, and 15,000 submachineguns. Unfortunately we didn't get to watch them building the infantry rifles or subguns, and I can't tell you what we learned about their plans in this area, but remember you heard the hints here first.
In the plant we saw 4-, 5-, and 7-axis CNC machines (I'd never even heard of a 7-axis machine before, and none of the other writers had ever seen one), robotic tool changers, and another machine identical to one used at the Ferrari factory they didn't even want us taking pictures of. I asked if that meant we would be able to get some Ferraris to test for our articles, but the Turks are very polite and pretended they couldn't hear me. These modern machines enable Sarsilmaz to produce firearms to the tightest tolerances possible.
If you're wondering how, with such modern equipment, Sarsilmaz can sell such reasonably-priced firearms, it's because the cost of living is so low in Duzce. The average worker makes 12,000 Euros a year (less than $8,000). If this doesn't sound like much, just know that we stayed in a number of five-star hotels in Turkey, and none of them was nicer than the Gosterisli Otel in Duzce which cost $40/night, including breakfast. The workers are bused in from town as well, so they don't have to buy gas at $10/gallon.
The management at Sarsilmaz has realized that happy workers make better guns. The factory is filled with natural light and potted decorative trees. Their cafeteria was as nice as the one at Smith & Wesson, and the food was better (add Turkish spicy ketchup to the list of foods I need to try to track down over here).
Part of the four-course lunch we got at the factory cafeteria was a pile of French fries, and I asked the plant manager Nuri Kiziltan what they called them—French Fries, Turkish Fries, American Fries? "Just fries," he told me.
Stay tuned for Day 4, when we hit the range and shoot until the cows came home.