The news has arrived as expected: IWI-US is now importing the Jericho 941 to the US. You can read their press release and my analysis after the break:
IWI-US just posted up pictures (on their Facebook page) of the Jericho 941FS (steel-frame, frame-safety, compact) in .45ACP and Jericho 941PSL (polymer-frame, frame-safety, compact) in 9mm, with promises of a press release tomorrow. You don’t need to be a genius to figure out that this is probably going to be an announcement that IWI-US is taking over the imports of the Jericho from Magnum Research. Given how badly Magnum Research has done at marketing the Jericho (“Baby Eagle” – seriously?), this is a big step in the right direction.
In my opinion, pricing is really going to be the make-or-break on the Jericho’s success. We’ve seen an influx of high-quality pistols from Turkey and Slovakia lately, and it’s becoming less and less clear that the > $600 price point is really sustainable on a gun that’s essentially an already-widely-available Tanfoglio. They’d be well-advised to think about offering models with threaded barrels and night sights at a minimum.
If you want the full run-down on the Jericho 941 models, you should look at the IWI brochure (PDF).
Now, here’s the real question: what’s Magnum Research going to do? If it were me, I’d be looking at importing BUL Cherokees, given their existing relationship with BUL (the “Desert Eagle” 1911s are supposedly BUL guns). But those lack the cachet that the Jericho has… this should be interesting.
12/16 update: the Baby Eagle line has completely vanished from Magnum Research’s front page. The Baby Eagle is still listed in the catalog, but I think MR’s relationship with IWI is coming to a close…
I regard the entry of IWI into the US civilian market as one of the biggest firearms stories of the decade – and, yeah, that’s with half the decade to go. Michael Kassnar deserves a huge amount of credit for making this happen, and the entire IWI-US organization should be lauded for what is the most flawless roll-out of a totally new product in recent memory with the Tavor (and accompanying 9mm conversion kit).
Their execution after the Tavor, however, hasn’t been as fast and clean as I’d like. The 5.45×39 conversion got cancelled for somewhat dubious reasons (no reliable US made magazines? Really.), the .300AAC conversion barrel has been MIA, and the Uzi Pro Pistol was delayed due to its propensity to stop being semi-auto. Don’t even get me started on the spare parts situation. The Tavor is great, and still selling well, but you can only rest on your laurels so long.
Thankfully, IWI-US seems to have made some moves lately, and they have some great products in the pipeline!