The History of Kilimanjaro Rifles

Kilimanjaro Rifles traces its roots back to the Montana master gunsmith/stock-maker of more than 50 years experience, Merlin "Mel" Smart. It is Mel that originally developed and patented Kilimanjaro's proprietary Stealth Lamination technology which provides greater strength and stability while preserving the full beauty, figure and feel of our exhibition grade walnut stocks. Back then, it was called the ACRA-Bond Laminate. For several years, Serengeti founder Rod Rogers had been a customer and friend of Mel Smart. Rod had a long career in high technology equipment with Digital Equipment Corporation, but had realized his dream of relocating to Montana and pursuing his interest in rifle design and development. Mel's health unfortunately began to decline, and Rod was asked to keep the business running. Mel passed away on Sunday, April 13th, 2003.

Rod formed Serengeti Rifles, Inc. to carry on Mel’s tradition in January of 2004, and partnered with Larry Tahler, an exceptional marksman and the former leader of U.S. Army sniper teams in Viet Nam. Together, Rod and Larry embarked on the development and building of the company destined to become one of the premier custom rifle makers.

Kilimanjaro Rifles was started as a separate company, but eventually acquired the assets and completed the orders of Serengeti Rifles when the economy left it unable to continue. Kilimanjaro founder Erik D. Eike was a long-time customer of Serengeti Rifles. In 2007, recognizing the problems that Serengeti and other custom builders faced, Erik began a research and development project for a new flagship line of full custom rifles. Erik undertook the production of approximately twenty experimental prototype rifles to evaluate different actions, production techniques, finish procedures and more rigorous quality assurance standards. During this time, the proprietary "Kilimanjaro Standards" production, testing and quality assurance manual was created, and the Kilimanjaro Rifle was born.

In August 2009, Erik formally announced the launch of the new company, Kilimanjaro Rifles. Under his leadership, Kilimanjaro later purchased the Serengeti name, model lines, patents and certain other assets so that Kilimanjaro could continue the fine tradition of Serengeti and Jaguar Rifles in addition to the new flag-ship Kilimanjaro Rifle. Kilimanjaro also introduced its Kilimanjaro Lever-Action Rifle and a line of new creations of historical custom rifles.

Kilimanjaro partnered with Dr. Kevin ("Doctari") Robertson, author of The Perfect Shot, in 2010 to design and produce the optimum professional hunter’s stopping rifle: The Doctari. Chambered in 505 Gibbs, 450 Rigby, 458 Lott, 416 Rigby and 416 Remington, the Doctari Rifle was introduced at the 2011 shows and quickly became one of Kilimanjaro’s prime offerings.

In 2011, Kilimanjaro was also honored to receive Sporting Classics Magazine’s Award Of Excellence, and its rifles were featured on the cover of Sports Afield Magazine. As Kilimanjaro’s reputation for excellence grew, its rifles are now in use and in high demand all over the world, with sales not just to the United States and Canada, but Africa, Europe, South America, Central America, Australia and New Zealand.

Demand continued to grow, and Kilimanjaro expanded until Erik elected to reorganize and limit the size of the company to maintain focus on the highest quality standards. Kilimanjaro thus temporarily stopped taking new orders in 2013 until its back-log was reduced to a more comfortable level. New orders were opened again in 2014, and the company discontinued several of its prior offerings in order to better focus on its flagship Kilimanjaro, Doctari and Artemis rifle models.