NIOA Group acquires Barrett Firearms

NIOA Group, Australia’s largest privately-owned supplier of small arms, has purchased fellow family-owned company Barrett Firearms.

NIOA Group state that the deal further underlines its commitment to international expansion.

Barrett will continue to be known by its existing name and all jobs will be retained, with ambitions to increase manufacturing.

Barrett’s Sam Shallenberger has been promoted to the position of CEO while Bryan James has been appointed the new President of Barrett.

The businesses come together out of a shared commitment to quality, loyalty, values, innovation and mission.

A new chapter

Group CEO, Robert Nioa, in an E-mail to Barrett staff, commented:

“Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in the Barrett story. We are privileged to welcome Barrett Firearms as part of the NIOA Group.

“We are a fellow family-owned company from Australia. We have come together out of a shared commitment to quality, loyalty, values, innovation and mission.

Barrett Firearms will continue to be known by its existing name and will continue to be based at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, USA. All management and staff will be retained and production will continue as normal.

“On that note I am delighted to announce that effective immediately Sam Shallenberger has been promoted to the position of Chief Executive Officer of Barrett while long-serving Chief Operating Officer Bryan James is the new President. Please join me in congratulating Sam and Bryan.

We understand the trust that the Barrett family has placed in NIOA to take this great company into the future while always respecting the past.

“Barrett has been a story of hard work, perseverance and purpose culminating in the delivery of critical capability for the men and women of the US military and its allies as well as exceptional products to law enforcement agencies and civilian markets. Together we share the same mission.

We will combine our expertise and family business values to ensure Barrett carries on building the finest products in the world.”

Family values

“Barrett’s move into the NIOA family follows a 14-year partnership between our companies,” continues Robert Nioa.

“We have enjoyed the collaboration with Barrett and we have noticed the similarities between our operations. Like Barrett, the NIOA story has been built on two generations of family in Queensland, Australia.

“We have grown from a single retail store into Australia’s largest privately-owned company supplying weapons, munitions and technical support to Defense, law enforcement and sporting markets.

“We have done that by never losing sight of the values that underpinned that single store in regional Queensland 50 years ago. We value our people, our customers and our commitment to excellence. This has enabled NIOA to grow meaningfully without losing that feeling of a family-owned company.

We have seen the same approach from Ronnie, Chris and the Barrett family over more than 40 years. Barrett has established a reputation as the leader in its field through a commitment to craftsmanship and innovation.

“The NIOA Group will ensure Barrett continues to build on that legacy. Over time, it is our hope to expand manufacturing activities in Murfreesboro. 

“Barrett will continue to operate under its brand as a separate division within the NIOA Group alongside NIOA Australia, NIOA New Zealand, the Australian Missile Corporation and the Group’s investment in joint venture company Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions.”

A new dawn 

New Barrett President, Bryan James, told Gun Trade World that he is delighted with the partnership of two great family-owned companies and is excited about the future.

“It’s a great feeling. I’ve been in the industry for 32 years I’m truly excited about what this deal will mean to Barrett. I see this strategic partnership as a fantastic opportunity for the Barrett brand moving forwards. There will be no change on the US side, only the chance to increase capacity and work on new, exciting projects.

“I know the NIOA family well and we have been business friends for years - they have represented Barrett in Australia since 2008 - they were a trusted partner and are now part of the family.”

Who is Rob Nioa?

Rob Nioa is the owner and Chief Executive Officer of the NIOA Group. 

The NIOA Group of companies includes NIOA Australia, NIOA New Zealand, the Australian Missile Corporation, Barrett (USA) and joint venture company, Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions. 

NIOA is the largest Australian-owned supplier of firearms, weapons and munitions to the Australian and New Zealand defence forces, law enforcement community and licensed firearms dealer network. 

The group’s Barrett operation is the primary supplier of long-range weapons systems to the US military and exports to 75 US Department of State approved countries around the world. 

Headquartered in Brisbane, Australia, the NIOA Group has offices and operations in Canberra, Melbourne and Benalla, in regional Victoria, Lithgow, in regional New South Wales, as well as New Zealand and the United States. 

Rob began his working life in the family’s fuel stations in regional Queensland where, in 1973, they also started a small gun shop which was the forerunner of the modern company. 

His early career included time in the satellite communications industry contracting to Westinghouse Electronics Systems group of Baltimore and Australian telecommunications company Telstra. 

In 1994 he became a Director of NIOA Trading, which by then had expanded into Brisbane as a sporting firearms wholesaler, before eventually stepping up to run the business in 2002. 

As Group CEO, Rob is responsible for the company’s strategic direction, with a focus on creating and developing opportunities while building the company’s capabilities, expertise and culture. 

Under Rob’s leadership, the company has experienced extraordinary growth to become Australia’s global munitions company. 

Significant milestones over the past decade include: 

• In 2014, having outgrown its former home of 

• 15 years, NIOA moves to a new state-of-the-art
8000sqm (86,000 sq. ft) specialist facility at Brisbane Airport. By 2021 as the Brisbane workforce doubled, 

Awarded the Major Munitions Contract (MMC) and crowned Telstra Queensland Business Awards Medium Business of the Year in 2017 the building was expanded to include an additional five-storey tower 

• In 2015, NIOA is awarded the Defence prime contract for supply of the MK47 Lightweight Automatic Grenade Launcher to the ADF 

• In 2017, NIOA is selected to supply a suite of advanced 155mm projectiles to the Australian Defence Force under the LAND 17-1C.2 Future Artillery Ammunition program 

· NIOA is named Australian defence industry Defence Connect Land Business of the Year and Prime Contractor of the Year in 2020 and 2021 

· In 2020, NIOA is appointed to lead Stage 1 of Tranche 1 of the ADF’s LAND 159 Lethality Systems Project, as well as taking up a 10-year co-tenancy at the Australian Government-owned munitions factory in Benalla, Victoria 

· In 2021, NIOA launches the Australian Missile Corporation in response to the Australian Government’s plan to establish a sovereign guided missile enterprise 

• In 2022, NIOA is formally selected to deliver the next-generation soldier systems in Tranche 1 of the LAND 159 Lethality Systems Program while also expanding its presence in New Zealand with the acquisition of Sportways Distributors 

• The Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions (RNM) plant in Maryborough, Queensland is commissioned in 2022, producing key munitions for allied nations 

• In 2023, NIOA extends its global reach, announcing the purchase of world-leading rifle design and manufacturing company, Barrett Firearms (USA)

Rob is Chairman of Barrett and is also a Director and Deputy Chairman of joint venture company Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions (RNM). 

Rob is a strong advocate for industry leadership of community safety. He is actively involved in the Australian firearms community and spends considerable time furthering the industry’s interests at a state and national level. 

He is a member of the Queensland Ministerial Weapons Advisory Panel, providing advice to the Queensland Government on a wide range of firearms issues. He is the president of the National Firearm Dealers Association, and vice president of the Queensland Firearm Dealers Association. He is a director of the Shooting Industry Foundation of Australia and has been a regular contributor to national working groups on firearm related issues in Australia for more than 20 years. 

Rob is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is currently completing the Harvard Business School Owner/President Management Program. He and wife Eliza are passionate about rural communities and also own the NIOA Pastoral Co. located in Queensland’s Southern Downs region. Rob is a keen shooter and hunter.