The Upland Gun Company

Are You Guys Nuts?

Matching top levers to receivers is a delicate process.

What would you say if your spouse came home and said, “Screw COVID-19, I’m launching a new shotgun company?” You’d probably say the same thing the wives of the founders of the Upland Gun Company said — “Are you guys nuts?”

Precision machining of the hook ensures a smooth connection to the hinge pin.
Careful attention to the barrel lump makes for a tight “bite.”

Things Work Out

Maybe this is what makes Jerry Havel say, “It’s funny how life works out. If you told me 30 years ago that Dan LaFond and I would be business partners, I’d say you were crazy. Back then, I was a Remington sales rep covering the Great Lakes region. Dan’s territory was pretty much the same and he repped Smith & Wesson, Mossberg, Connecticut Valley Arms, Under Armour and others. Being a Remington rep in Federal’s backyard was difficult enough but competing with Dan was even harder. We were always battling about something which usually involved shelf space.”

Over time, Havel and LaFond found they were more alike than different. “Dan and I became friends through a mutual love of bird dogs, fine shotguns, grouse and woodcock hunting,” Havel said. “But being on the road so much took a lot of time away from my family. I turned our family hunting camp into a lodge and guide service called Pineridge Grouse Camp. I expanded my dog training and am now a Eukanuba Pro Staffer. But shotguns are as much a part of my DNA as dogs and birds and I was a bit restless. When I hunted with Dan I found he felt the same way and that’s how we came up with the idea to launch a new shotgun company.”

Many business models have shifted towards ecommerce and Havel and LaFond thought it might just work for shotguns. “These days, you can go online and build a brand-new car, so why not build a custom upland gun? And rather than start with a predesigned shotgun that might have features a customer doesn’t want, we took the opposite approach. At UGC we start with a base cost and then build in upgrades at the customer’s request. Those upgrades increase the cost, but we’ve found they land under the MSRP of other modern brands.”

UGC carries no inventory and sell consumer-direct. “Every shotgun is built on an on-demand basis specifically to a customer’s wishes,” Havel said. “We currently offer six models, three of which are O/Us and three are SxSs. We communicate with every customer either in person, during a gun fitting, or on a video conference call. It’s whatever works best for our customers.

Designing a custom shotgun couldn’t be easier. Here are some of UGC’s options.

Models and base price point: There are three O/Us and three SxSs in the $2,000, $3,000 and $4,000 range.

Rota-Fausti Manufacturing (RFM Armi) craftsmen pay close attention to fit and finish.


The SK Field grade is available in 12, 16, 20, 28 and .410 bore for $2,199. The SK Feather is built on a lightweight alloy frame and available in 12, 20 and 28 gauge for $2,499. The SK One Sport is a premier clay target shotgun and available in 12-gauge and 20-gauge for $4,499.


The Zeus is a field grade boxlock for $1,999. The Venus is a scaled-frame round body boxlock for $3,299. The Minerva has external hammers for $4,999.

When customers begin to build their custom O/Us and SxSs, they have a lot of wood options from which to choose.

More Choices

Customers then move on to select:

• Barrel Lengths: 26″, 27″, 28″, 29″, 30″ with an extra fee for lengths over 30″

• Chokes: Fixed or 5 interchangeable

• Stocks: Standard, Grade 2, Grade 2.5, Grade 3, Grade 4, Grade 5. The nicer the wood the more expensive the cost.

• Grips: Full Pistol, Half Pistol (Prince of Wales) or Straight English

• Forend: English splinter with a rounded tip or a Schnabel

• Checkering: Standard, Fine or Extra Fine

UGC can build stocks to dimensions provided by customers just as they can recommend a gun fitting with a gun fitter in certain regions. For a large enough group UGC will send a gun fitter to do private fittings along with shooting instruction. Customers can select one of three different stock finishes, options for ornamental scroll or deep-relief engraving, and second or more sets of barrels.

Once the design is complete, UGC sends the order to Rota-Fausti Manufacturing (RFM Armi). “We interviewed a number of Italian and Spanish shotgun manufacturers at the IWA trade show in Nuremberg, Germany,” Havel said. “We noticed that RFM was booked solid throughout the entire show. We loved their quality and scheduled a visit to their factory a few months later. They’re passionate about guns, so much so they consider themselves artists instead of gunmakers. That’s a characteristic of all of the world’s best craftsmen, so we’re thrilled to partner with them. At this point it takes six months to build the shotgun of your dreams. When finished, we have our gunsmiths perform a final inspection at our U.S. distribution center. Then we ship it directly to the customer’s FFL holder of choice for pick up.”

Lars Jacob of Lars Jacob Wingshooting is one of UGC’s custom gun fitters. “On a comparative basis in the $2,000–$4,000 price point, the UGC shotguns offer an incredible number of custom options,” he said. “It’s smart to start with the base price and build from there. These days, many shotgunners are environmentally conscious and prefer extractors to ejectors. So, a simple cost savings there can be used to pay for a gun fitting for a true custom experience. Can you think of another company where you can create a multiple barrel set that is affordable? Jerry and Dan’s approach has made it very easy for me to sell guns.”

UGC takes advantage of modern technology to create traditional, custom shotguns. Their scroll-back actions offer a quality fit and finish, their case-hardened triggers are a nice touch while 3″ chambers add a contemporary touch. Sales have been so strong that UGC will launch its first rifle next year. “We’re staying within the affordable nostalgia niche,” Havel said. “We’ll focus on double rifles for the American whitetail market with an MSRP under $7,000. It’s an exciting time for us. Folks don’t think we’re so crazy anymore, either.”

Purchase A PDF Download Of The GUNS Magazine April 2023 Issue Now!



Call ’em what you want — a pump, a slide-action repeater, a corn shucker — the pump-action shotgun has a slot in so many gun cabinets. Their...
Read Full Article
DIY: Adapting...

Since I first handled the Streamlight TL Racker shotgun tactical light, I’ve been convinced it is the best on the market for short-barreled shotguns.
Read Full Article
UTV Guns

Face mask on, I poked my mug over the 24" barreled Marlin .30-30 well-rested on the dirtbank. The antelope buck was mine at minus 125 yards
Read Full Article