Machine-made vs. hand-made? Visiting Krieghoff for a factory tour and duck hunting

Gunsmiths work on each Krieghoff gun.

Today, hunting guns are usually manufactured on computer-aided CNC machines. This has an economic background. A machine usually delivers consistent quality. If an error creeps into the production process, it's usually more extensive than with products that are manufactured by hand. Often a complete series must be recalled to prevent damage to the end customer. We know this from the automotive industry. How often are entire deliveries recalled because somewhere in the production process the error devil has struck?

Errors also occur in manual work, but these are not as extensive as with products that are mass produced. At first glance, manual work is no longer up to date, but in the end that's not necessarily a disadvantage. Time and human factors play a big role in individual production. A machine simply works faster. Products that are manufactured by hand usually take more time. But is this really a disadvantage in our modern times?

Handcraft at Krieghoff

At Krieghoff the human factor also plays a decisive role in quality control.

There are countless examples where production is based solely on consumption and wear. The best example is the production of printers. These are now produced so cheaply that it is no longer worth repairing them or even changing cartridges, because the costs do not justify the new purchase price. A similar trend can be seen in the production of hunting guns. More and more often the production is possible without the human factor and its abilities. The age-old gunsmith's craft is disappearing more and more. But there are exceptions and in most cases these confirm the rule.

Krieghoff, for example, still relies on the gunsmith trade and seems to be doing very well with this approach, contrary to the trend. was able to attend a factory tour in October and took a look around in Ulm. The name Krieghoff doesn't need to be explained further for most people. In the hunting guns sector, Krieghoff finds more and more fans who are into real handicraf.

Even Krieghoff does not completely do without machines, as here during a dimensional check.

As I said, at Krieghoff there is a lot of passion in it and you can be sure that a gunsmith of the company always had his hand on the gun before the happy customer is allowed to use it. This can take up to 12 months, but anyone who wants a Krieghoff is happy to wait. In the USA, where shotgun sport has a completely different status than here, Krieghoff is cult. Shotguns with more than 1.2 million rounds are no rarity. During our tour of the production facilities, we learned that Krieghoff deliberately targets a different market than most other sporting gun manufacturers. This is about the symbiosis of craftsmanship, metal and lots of passion. Something that a computer-controlled machine will never deliver because it lacks the human nuances of sensitivity. So it is not surprising that a Krieghoff only comes back to Ulm for maintenance after years. Usually after the first approx. 25,000 shots, after which it disappears again for a few years at the customer's premises. The typical Krieghoff customer is looking for something special, he is looking for something lasting and for this he's happy to pay a different price than for a mass product. Of course, Krieghoff also manufactures with computer-aided machines. However, Krieghoff still attaches great importance to manual work. The old gunsmith's trade is part of the production, along with CNC machines. And Krieghoff's customers are happy to honor this. If you listen to the scene, everyone wants to get a K-80 in the action.

At the MSZU all participants could test different Krieghoff K20 and K80 shotguns.

With Krieghoff shotguns on the range and duck hunting

After the factory tour we went to the MSZU Indoor Shooting Range with some Krieghoff fans. Anyone who has ever been there knows what to expect. For all those who haven't been there yet, go there and be amazed yourself! A huge hall, built for sport shooters, hunters – and world champions. Not only will you get good advice here, you can also train and test your Krieghoff live. And that's what the participants did. A total of 16 K-20 and K-80 shotguns were available. Each one is unique and individually manufactured. Did you know that there are more than 60 different models of the K-80?

The following day we went duck hunting in Einberg, near Ingolstadt. The atmosphere was good and after the participants had chosen "their" Krieghoff in the showroom, we had the first go. On that day the ducks flew higher than usual, which made it difficult to get a clean horizontal shot. In the second, third and fourth shootings, the shooters showed what Krieghoff guns can do, so that at the end of the day a respectable score could be presented.

For all those who want to be there next year and experience a Krieghoff live on the hunt we recommend to put the date in red for 2020 in the calendar. Information and conditions can be obtained from the organizer of the event, K&K Premium Jagd.

Further information about the shotguns K-20 and K-80 can be found on the Krieghoff website.

You can find the Krieghoff K-20 Victoria test here.

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