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Utah Business

GoatGuns, founded by Brad Lunt is making guns that don't actually fire in order to cater to an entirely new audience.

GoatGuns makes miniature gun models that are not actually weapons

Goat Guns (short for Greatest Of All Time Guns) is offering collectors a brand-new kind of item to covet: miniature die cast gun models.

Affectionately dubbed “the Manly toy,” GoatGuns aren’t preassembled—they’re packaged as build-it-yourself kits with accessories and parts that the buyer constructs themselves. The 1:3 scale models are die-cast and painted to match their life-sized versions, with attachments that are often indistinguishable from the real thing.

“In our early stages, we tested preassembled product that came in these fancy display boxes,” founder Brad Lunt says. “I thought they looked pretty cool, but it turned out to not be what the customer base wanted. The demand was so much higher for the things they could build themselves—they needed both the experience and the item, so we gave it to them.”

Goat Gun collectibles was born from a hodgepodge of Lunt’s interests growing up.

“I collected Tech Decs as a kid,” he says. “But I also played a lot of video games, mostly first-person shooters. When I saw the rise of Fortnite and how much money people were spending on skins for the game, that’s when the thought really formalized— What if we could bring this stuff to life?’”

Of course, GoatGuns don’t actually shoot bullets—that’s what distinguishes them from real and other miniature toy guns alike. Despite being gun-buffs themselves, Lunt says GoatGuns has no plans to make firing versions of their replicas.

“We get flack for that,” he says. “People have messaged us saying ‘these would be cooler if they could shoot,’ and we say yeah, miniature car models might be cooler if you could get in and drive it—that’s just not the point. We’ll never make a shooting gun. That’s not what our audience is looking for when they shop with us.”

Lunt would know. He spent years before the takeoff of GoatGuns testing out businesses that couldn’t snag the right attention.

“I tried 15 company ideas before this,” he says. “Every idea would come and go, just kind of fade into the background. But this? I couldn’t get over it. I’d set aside the miniature gun toy model idea for something else, and then it would just pop back up in my mind on a loop. I attribute those repeated pushes to do something to God—I think it’s panned out alright.”

With over 200,000 Facebook likes and over half a million TikTok followers, secular standards seem to agree. These followers don’t just like posts and share content, though—they’re spending money.

“The last three years we’ve seen our revenue double at each year-end,” he says. “During the height of the pandemic we received more orders than ever, and this year we’re still getting close to doubling that revenue number.”

Lunt spent the first year wearing every hat imaginable in a company – “customer service to development, it was all me. I was the person you called to schedule the order, the one to send designs to the manufacturer, the person shipping it. It was exhausting,” he says. 

Now, Lunt has a small team helping him fulfill orders and manage the exponential growth.

Part of the drive-in demand may be that the idea for collectible miniature guns is a new one, and, according to Lunt, GoatGuns is the only player in the market slinging the product.

“We needed molds to make the models, and I spent a lot of time searching for a manufacturer here or overseas,” he says. “I found a supplier in China that was making molds for similar miniature products, and thought I’d pitch my idea there.”

The Chinese manufacturer came on board, but then, so did new competitors. It was the ability to navigate the high barriers to entry that allowed GoatGuns to come out on top.

“Other companies joined the throng and started selling the same items as us for a little bit,” he says. “But we were able to capture the biggest part of the market and sell the most product.”

That proven track record scored GoatGuns a deal with the manufacturer, gaining exclusivity of production and, ultimately, helping them fully monopolize the miniature model toy gun market through licensing agreements.

“Licenses are as important as a patent in the collectible industry,” he says.

And a year and a half ago, GoatGuns signed a license agreement for a new mold with one of the biggest possible players: SIG MCX. 

“They’re the largest gun company you can think of,” he says. “And they asked us to make a gun for them. It was really an incredible moment. We’re still kind of in awe about it.”

That collectible is out now, the Miniature SIG MCX Rattler. Searching for it on YouTube yields result after result of people excitedly unboxing the model and how-tos for putting it together.

But even with the suppliers on his side, the demand he has today took time to appear—in fact, it had to be created. 

“The struggle to reach our customers is one of the most difficult parts of this industry,” he says. “Digital marketing is close to impossible sometimes.”

When they started gaining traction, Lunt got pushback from somewhere he wasn’t expecting—Facebook and Google.

“Our products look very real,” he says. “I understand the concerns that might come from that, but it means that our posts and accounts are often flagged. The Instagram we started on got to around 65,000 followers when it was permanently disabled.”

The online ads Lunt runs have met the same fate, along with posts on other accounts completely disappearing.

“We had a TikTok go viral recently, racking up over 12 million views,” he says. “That was doing wonders for our business, and then the next day, it was deleted. We can’t advertise on Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and obviously not on Instagram or Facebook consistently.”

Lunt says posting photos of their products with hands for scale has helped keep their content online, but that their sales often come from word of mouth.

“Our audience is primarily 25 to 55-year-old men,” he says. “People talk in the collectibles community, and we’ve caught the attention of everyone from Lego enthusiasts to military collectors.”

Based on feedback from this major part of his buyers, Lunt plans to turn Goat Guns into a company fitting of a “Beanie Babies for guns” tagline.

“People are always asking for more models,” he says. “We get requests for World War I and II designs often, and a lot of other specific kinds of guns. Moving into 2022, we plan to deliver on that by running more limited-edition batches, where once we sell out, we don’t bring them back.”

But that’s not where GoatGuns’ plans stop. Lunt hopes to expand his audience past traditional gun owners through more licensing opportunities. Right now, he has his sights set on Halo memorabilia.

“Traditionally, we’ve sold to people who want fun miniature versions of the guns they own, or people who admire a certain type of gun but don’t have the money to buy the real thing,” he says. “Now that we’re finding our footing, we want to be able to reach people who might not ever own a real gun. Bringing something like that from the digital world into reality would draw in people from new markets we haven’t been able to tap into and working with Microsoft is a dream in that direction.”

For now, Lunt says he’s having a blast where he’s at.

“I love our community,” he says. “We’re really lucky to be able to have so much fun for a career. Despite the success we’ve seen, I still don’t think we’ve fully taken off yet. I’m excited to see how far we can go.”

Jacqueline is a Master of Accounting graduate from the University of Utah. Specializing in tax, she's interested in business, government, and the intersection of the two. When she's not studying or writing, she loves to run, play Candy Crush, and read novels.