There are two individuals inside the artist,
the poet and the craftsman.
One is born a poet. One becomes a craftsman. – Emile Zola
THE STAGE IS SET
Time… With a force more powerful than that of the greatest tidal wave, time sweeps away all that is shall and trendy. Today’s fashion is tomorrow’s folly. But upon those rare occasions when the human mind and spirit engage in perfect harmony, time itself is rendered powerless.
This is the story of just such a force of human nature. This is the story of FAMARS.
IN THE BEGINNING
Within the rolling foothills of the Italian Alps, nestled in the 3,200 year-old province of Brescia, lies the small town of Gardone Val Trompia. There, in what the shooting world reverently refers to as Gunmakers’ Valley, is the home of FAMARS – Fabbrica Armi d’Abbiatico e Salvinelli – the region’s most prominent maker of bespoke shotguns and rifles since its founding in 1967.
From the intellects and imaginations of gunmakers Mario Abbiatico and Remo Salvinelli initially came handcrafted small bore guns. They were quickly followed by the Castore, a unique self-cocking sidelock hammer gun with a single trigger and automatic ejectors; the Quattrocane, a brilliant four-barrel design with a single trigger that fires all barrels; the Jorema, the sleek, boss style sidelock O/U (over/under) that has evolved into today’s flagship gun, the Leonardo; the Venere, the SxS (side-by-side) with patented locks and ejectors that today is known as the Venus.
During the 1980’s FAMARS introduced the Tribute SxS with detachable lock; the round-body Zeus; the single trigger, small-bore, 4-barrel Rombo; and the African Express, a big-bore, boxlock double.
Seldom has the distinction between artisan and artist been more obscured or less significant than it is in the FAMARS/FAMARS USA story. Some of the world’s most gifted engravers create mini-masterpieces on technically advanced FAMARS guns. Their designs bring to life the vision and desires of contemporary clients even as they emerge from classic, timeless traditions.
And in 1982, Sr. Abbiatico published his third book – L’incisione delle Armi Sportive – which today remains the seminal book on fine gun engraving.
The concept of functional art emerged at FAMARS as a core reality.
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When Sr. Abbiatico died of cancer in 1984, change came to FAMARS with the force of a tidal wave. That wave, however, was slow-moving. A new generation of leadership endeavored to build upon the company’s grand traditions with ideas and practices informed by their youthful perspectives. Yet the world they viewed also was moving in directions that grievously impacted economies and brought radical shifts in certain values.
FAMARS’ niche market slipped away, internal focus became diffused, and soon the powerhouse that had taken the shooting world by storm was in sharp decline.
Then, through a door long thought barred, came Paul Mihailides. An enormously successful American entrepreneur celebrated as much for his integrity as for his business acumen, Paul had collected FAMARS guns for two decades. News of FAMARS’ difficulties hit him hard, and after studying the situation with characteristic intensity of focus, he made the decision to intervene.
Paul felt a connection to FAMARS that transcended the loyalty that commonly exists between client and favored company. As he recalls, “I’ve been blessed with the means to assist this business – a family business, not unlike my own – in charting a course through troubled waters. The decision to help”
Wasting little time, Paul traveled to the FAMARS Gardone Val Trompia factory and renewed his acquaintance with the then-owners. Simultaneously, he befriended the workforce and, thanks to his machine tool acumen (Paul is a state-certified tool maker), earned their trust.
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Among the bonds forged by Paul with FAMARS staff, none was stronger than that with Paolo Peli, the company’s head gunmaker for 25 years. They shared the deepest commitments to the craft and art embodied by FAMARS guns. And in unison they reached the conclusion that the company in its present form simply could not be saved.
Paul picks up the story. “I was deeply moved by my new friend Paolo. He told me of his long-standing dream to own his own gun brand, and he spoke with incredible passion about how he refused to see his life’s work disappear with FAMARS. Almost without speaking, we knew what we had to accomplish together”Working as one, Paul and Paolo purchased the FAMARS name and trademark and proceeded to make a shared dream come true.
And so PMP ARMI was created.
FAMARS USA – OLD WORLD TRADITION, NEW WORLD TECHNOLOGY
Their new brand is FAMARS USA. Paul and Paolo honor the Old World traditions and standards of excellence for which the prior company was globally revered – and simultaneously to energize the brand with New World technology. The brand’s legacy of unsurpassed craftsmanship and artistic expression was preserved. So too were the flawless gun designs that have yet to be mastered by a would-be competitor.
A new manufacturing facility, boasting the highest standards of quality control and more personalized bespoke services, was built in America. The Brescia facility and staff were retained and expanded. Paul and Paolo also created and implemented an ambitious, multi-year strategic plan to reimagine and relaunch a venerable institution into a luxury lifestyle brand for the international sportsman.
FAMARS USA today produces a line of bespoke knives unlike any other. Sporting fashions for men and women combine high style with rugged functionality. In their design and production, shooting and other accessories – including jewelry – embody the same uncompromising commitment to quality that for decades has qualified FAMARS guns as the standards against which all others are measured.
THE PAST AS PRELUDE, THE FUTURE AS PROMISE
As Paul reminds us, “With FAMARS USA, the possibilities are endless. All I can say with certainty is that our company will be recognized globally as the innovator of modern gun manufacturing. The designs of our guns will carry on the tradition established by Mario Abbiatico and Remo Salvinelli – and refined by Paolo Peli – of bridging the Old and New Worlds to create a totality of experience far greater than the sum of its parts.
“The past,” Paul understands, “is prelude. The future is a giant promise we intend to keep.”