F.W. Arms: New Firearm Brand With its Roots in Branding Irons

F.W. Arms Rifle
F.W. Arms Rifle

Hayward, CA – -(AmmoLand.com)- F.W. Arms is a new company on the firearms scene, but the people who run it have been in the business of making precision hardware for more than 35 years. We recently wrote you about their first firearms-related product: The Best Bench Mount spotting scope stand that attaches to any shooting bench between .75 and 7.5 inches thick, and has several other handy features for the discriminating shooter.

Now we’d like to fill you in on the people and products behind F.W. Firearms, starting with founder Frank Aerni, who hails from Lincoln, Nebraska, and now calls California his home.

F.W. Arms Best Bench Mount with Extension
F.W. Arms Best Bench Mount with Extension

Back in 1982, Frank was a young woodworker looking to start a business when he saw an ad for branding irons in a woodworking magazine. He immediately saw the potential for a company that made branding irons to emboss information and designs on wood products. Soon after, he bought a pantograph machine, started making branding irons in his basement with other family members, and advertised his products in the same woodworking magazine that gave him the idea. He called his company Nova Tool after the Spanish word for “new” because, well, it was a new company!

Nova landed its first dealer account in 1984 and to this day produces a variety of personalized branding irons for hobbyist woodworkers. A few years after its founding, Frank discovered another market: making propane branding irons for bee hives. It’s an obscure but important niche: Not only does branding beehives help reduce theft, but most states also keep a tight regulatory rein on interstate insect transport, so many of them require each hive to have a specific and permanent identifying mark on the outside. Bees are routinely shipped all over the country to pollinate crops and are a vital part of our food chain.

Frank’s company also started making branding irons for truck tires, and logo branders with changeable characters that allow multiple brands to be made with one iron. The business grew so much that Frank bought a CNC machine to go with his pantograph machine, and that in turn allowed him to increase production further.

By 1994, Nova had outgrown Lincoln, so Frank and his son William moved the company to Hayward, California, where they set up shop in a large commercial space and had easier access to a much larger market for their products. Two years later, they established an umbrella corporation called Wilbur Manufacturing, Inc.

A while after that, Frank and William set their sights on informal firearm component production. They started by making partially complete AR-15 lower receivers; they did the initial 80 percent machining, then let their customers finish the last 20 percent to meet their specifications and design. Their success in this new machining field eventually led them to formally establish the F.W. Firearms moniker (for Frank and William, of course).

The Best Bench Mount shooting bench spotting scope stand is the first of several firearm support products they will be producing, and you will see more of their quality products as soon as they’re ready for market.

Watch for more from F.W. Arms and thanks for getting to know us.

F.W. Arms, a division of Wilbur Manufacturing, Inc.
27736 Industrial Boulevard
Hayward, CA

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The car was the 1962 Chevy II Nova and that does not mean no go in Spanish. No go in Spanish is two words — “no va.” Sales for the Nova were not harmed south of the boarder–a good story but not true. Then here we go again as a bunch of guys (and sometimes trolls) with obviously no life and too much time on our hands picking at a I think neat company history.


Moving to Commiefornia should be it’s own punishment. I wouldn’t buy a firearm from anyone who would do that.


Not to nitpick but nova does not mean new in Spanish, it means “won’t go”. Nuevo is the word you’re looking for.

Dave in Fairfax

Yup, remember the car that wouldn’t sell south of the border.