19 February, 2011. A small group of firearms community writers from the United States had been invited to the Caracal facility in the United Arab Emirates. (David Fortier, Bryce Towsley, Tim Ford, and Mike Seeklander joined this author). We gathered at our hotels in the morning, and were taken to the facility where we were greeted by Saeed Ali Al Shamsi from Caracal and given the grand tour of the manufacturing facility. Speculation abounded as to whether or not the UAE company was actually doing the manufacturing in-country or simply assembling parts. We were pleasantly surprised.
The Caracal program is sign of a sea-change in Emerati thinking regarding their future. The UAE is an oil-based economy, and having one cash product is always risky and the possibilities of undermining their own success are constantly there. With the location of the seaport and the geographic locations in regard to customers in the EU, Africa, and the Mideast, raising the gross national product a few notches and diversifying income streams is a bit more readily done, with the proper choices. The Emiratis have opted for developing a tourism base in the economy, but a strong faction also wants to build a solid, respected manufacturing base. They’re off to a good start.
At the Tawazun Industrial Park, there is an ammunition manufacturing facility; formerly the Adcon plant, now Caracal Ammunition. Emirates Precision Industries (EPI) is in the park adjacent to the Caracal facility. While Caracal is assembling the pistols and now sniper systems, the work is not reliant on importation of all subassemblies: only some springs and pins are imported at this point. The balance of the actual main assemblies are all made right on site at EPI. The injection molding is done for grip-frames, and the ranks of 5-axis CNC milling machines, lathes, and one-off production pieces were impressive. We saw vacuum hardening, cryo-treatment, gas atmosphere finish application, standard heat treatment, bluing, and a variety of other machines which were available to work on anything up to aircraft frame parts (smaller), drill heads for the oil fields, as well as the firearms projects. Both a Carl Zeiss and a DEA measurement table setup ensured up to 3 micron accuracy.
This was an impressive manufacturing facility, designed to be the bedrock to build more manufacturing programs.
Caracal itself is dedicated to bringing their new pistol to the market in as professional a manner as possible. To reach the U.S. market, they selected a Tennessee company called Sturmgewehr, and Troy Sellars is the Director of Operations at the Caracal USA company. (caracalusa.com) Caracal USA is beginning the serious marketing program immediately, and these pistols can be expected to be making a splash in the law enforcement and civilian shooting markets. Regarding Caracal in the UAE, and its parent company Tawazun, we’ll be watching for the new sniper rifles to test, and to see what other interesting products their new, modern facilities will produce.