In 1548, Portuguese explorers landed on Tanegashima Island in the Province of Kyushu, Japan. These merchants were the first to bring modern guns into Japan during the time of the Japanese Civil War. These clan leaders needed modern weapons for their samurai warriors to protect their land.
By the latter half of the 19th century, the Mito clan was well established in an area northeast of Tokyo. In a small gun repair factory, which belonged to the clan, Mr. Shigyo Sakaba worked as a gunsmith’s apprentice. In 1855, the feudal lord appointed Shigyo Sakaba to the position of gunsmith to supervise the development and production of guns for the clan.
This small factory was known for its craftsmanship; producing guns of the highest quality and strongest construction. Mr. Shigyo Sakaba is considered to be the founder of the SKB (SaKaBa) Arms Company. From the early 1960’s, the SKB factory began incorporating modern technology with old world craftsmanship to produce a complete line of premier grade competition and field shotguns.
In 1966, SKB began producing shotguns for Ithaca Gun Company, producing a complete line of shotguns that included semi-automatic, side by side, single barrel and over & under models. The 1970’s were highlighted by increased productivity in the factory with the inclusion of CNC machining. Over 95% of the factory’s production was exported to the United States, Canada, Western Europe, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. In 1978, Ithaca Gun Company had filed for bankruptcy protection and SKB ceased production of the Ithaca branded models. SKB continued production and re-entered the US market in 1979 being represented by the Mitsui Company in Chicago, IL. This venture lasted only a few years as the US economy was retracting and interest rates were skyrocketing to over 20%.
By the early 1980’s, the Japanese factory had produced over one million shotguns that were distributed throughout the world. As the US market retracted and the Mitsui venture failed, SKB began subcontract work for the Miroku factory producing parts, barrels and stocks for the Browning A-5 semi-automatic. Even with the additional subcontract work provided by Miroku, the factory could not maintain a profitable business. In 1983 the SKB Arms Company was sold to the Mira family in Tomobe Japan. The Mira family was long established in the heavy construction industry, and quarry operations with its major customer being Japanese rail. The SKB Arms Company was re-organized into the New SKB Arms Company headed by the Mira family.
By 1984, SKB had reached an agreement with Roy Weatherby to begin producing a line of shotguns which included semi-automatic, and over & under models. The Orion and Athena line of Over & Under shotguns were extremely popular and were distributed by Weatherby through their network of worldwide importers. The last Weatherby models, manufactured by SKB, were produced in 2004.
In 1987, G.U. Inc. became the exclusive US importer of the SKB Shotgun brand. The product line-up included; semi-automatic, side by side, and over & under models. In 2005, SKB celebrated its 150th anniversary. Factory production had again reached its capacity, shotguns were being exported through a network of importers and distributors throughout the world. Countries in this network included; Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, England, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Turkey, Lebanon, Russia, Brazil and the United States.
In 2008, the economic turmoil started by the loan failures in the U.S. housing industry, began to take on global consequences and spilled over into other industries slowing demand and production. The SKB factory found itself in a situation where importers were cancelling orders, and its aging workforce had little interest in continuing operations. Since it did not appear that there was going to be quick recovery in the global economy, the decision to close the factory was made in late 2009.
In 2010, during the closure process of the factory, G.U. Inc. purchased the remaining inventory of parts, the shotgun schematic and production drawings and the SKB brand name from the Japanese. The intent was to find a European manufacturer to replicate the Japanese designs. After several years of searching, and multiple meetings with several manufacturers, it was determined that the initial investment for tooling no longer made this a viable option.
The new line of SKB Shotguns are being produced, under a license agreement, by two factories in Turkey. The Akus and Akdas factories are considered to be two of Turkey’s best shotgun manufacturers, with a history of producing quality products for both the US and European markets. Their shotguns are well known for their craftsmanship and use of high quality materials. These companies manufactured the Kimber Marias and Valier series of 7 pin side lock actions in both over & under and side by side models. They also produced the Smith & Wesson Elite, side by side model, which won the 2008 Field & Stream award for Shotgun of the Year.
The current line of SKB shotguns include; semi-automatic, side by side, single barrel trap, and over & under models. Our focus is to produce competition shotguns that are designed with a modern day style which include enhanced performance features. SKB continues to look for ways to improve the overall construction, operation and fit of our shotguns that fill the needs of today’s shooters. Our goal is to produce a high quality shotgun, which include adjustable performance features, at a price that the average competitive shooter can afford.
SKB Shotguns are the affordable choice of quality.