The Perfect Rifle

Herschel Smith · 06 Nov 2014 · 8 Comments

Rifles and their advocates are in the news and blogs these days.  It doesn't take a handgun to perform home defense.  A man using a rifle recently detained three burglars until police arrived.  It could have been any type of rifle. Rifle Shooter Magazine recently did a piece on the best bolt action rifles of all time.  Brad Fitzpatrick covers a number of the ones you would expect to see, including the Remington 700, Winchester model 70, Weatherby and so on.  But he includes one…… [read more]

Why Remington Is Leaving New York

BY Herschel Smith
5 days, 18 hours ago

New York Daily News:

Remington Arms has confirmed what many already long suspected — New York’s tough gun control laws played a role in the upstate gun manufacturer’s decision to expand outside the state.

Remington, which has operated in New York State since 1816, shifted 100 jobs down south in August. Another 126 people were laid off last week as a result of a decline in gun sales.

The company says one reason behind its decision to open a new plant in Alabama rather than expand in New York was “state policies affecting use of our products,” Remington Outdoor Company CEO George Kollitides wrote to some upstate officials Oct. 20.

The statement was taken by some as a direct shot at a tough gun control measure enacted by New York in early 2013 in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings.

Indeed, one part of the gun control measure, also known as the SAFE Act, banned AR-15 rifles in New York — the very gun Remington made at its plant in upstate Ilion.

Those assault guns will now be made in Alabama.

Kollitides also said workforce quality, business environment, tax and economic incentives, and existing infrastructure impacted the decision to open a plant in Alabama.

So was it more economical wages due to leaving the exorbitant expense of a union state?  Was it a friendlier environment in the South?  Or was it customer feedback to Remington in the form of refusing to purchase firearms from a state where the government is oppressing its citizens?

And the correct answer is yes, all of the above.  And other gun manufacturers in the North – take notice.

Troubles For Northern Gun Manufacturers

BY Herschel Smith
1 week, 2 days ago

First, Colt:

Colt Defense LLC is seeking capital to stave off an “expected default” next month as gunmakers suffer from lower defense spending and as consumers purchase fewer firearms.

The 178-year-old weapons maker said it’s “probable” it won’t comply with a loan agreement by Dec. 31 and is seeking an amendment to avoid default, according to a filing yesterday. Colt, which didn’t file its annual report on time because of accounting and liquidity issues, also said it’s uncertain it can make a $10.9 million bond interest payment Nov. 17.

Colt, whose credit rating was cut by Standard & Poor’s today to CCC-, has been struggling to service its $308 million of debt after losing U.S. contracts due to defense budget pressures and amid dissipating concern that the government will limit the ownership of firearms.

Next, Remington:

Another round of layoffs has hit Remington Arms’ Ilion facility, local officials said.

A total of 126 workers learned they were being let go Tuesday, according to information Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, R-New Hartford, said she received from the local plant manager.

Company officials could not be reached for comment.

Tenney said she’d heard the layoffs may be as a result of the dwindling down of the Remington Model 700 rifle recall, which affected rifles with “X-Mark Pro” triggers manufactured between May 1, 2006, and April 9, 2014.

Not just any Remington plant mind you, but their crown jewel – Ilion.  This is a shame and you can visit the second article for highly opinionated missives about why this has happened.  But there are some simple things that other manufacturers can learn from these failures.

First, Colt jettisoned support for double action revolvers when they sold their soul and focused on the military contract for the M16/M4.  Now, if you want high quality revolvers you buy Smith & Wesson (and leave it alone) or Ruger and have a good gunsmith do a trigger job.  The good revolver builders have all died or retired from Colt.

They didn’t try to regain the civilian market, and stayed ensconced in a Northern state where union wages drove up the cost of literally everything.  As for Remington, their corporate intransigence caused them to refuse to admit the problems with the 700 triggers.  People died, sales went down, and then Remington finally had to settle out of court.

Remington has stayed ensconced in the North where unions drove wages up, and while opening plants elsewhere (like Alabama) will help, this may be too little too late.  An influx of cash from military sales will help, but in the end 443 rifles – even expensive rifles – will only go so far.

Mossberg, Kimber, Rock River Arms, Smith & Wesson and other manufacturers had better be watching these developments with Colt and Remington.

Illinois Governor Quinn Calls For Assault Weapon Ban

BY Herschel Smith
4 months, 1 week ago

Illinois Governor Quinn is still pushing an “assault weapon” ban.

Gov. Pat Quinn is making another push on gun legislation, including an assault weapons ban.

The governor made an appearance Sunday on behalf of the Illinois Public Safety Act, which was introduced in the spring legislative session but not acted upon.

Part of the measure is a ban on assault weapons. “Part of fighting against the violence is to put a ban on assault weapons. Assault weapons have been used over and over again to kill people. We’ve gotta put an end to that,” Quinn said.

The bill also would ban high-capacity magazines, but anybody who legally owns these weapons could keep them, or transfer them to a family member.

With that last stipulation he’s throwing a bone, and gun owners won’t go for it.  So, a note to Springfield Armory and Rock River Arms, both of which manufacturers have made firearms I own (and like very much).

How long with you stay in Illinois where there is hostile terrain?  Haven’t you learned anything from Mossberg, Ruger, PTR and many others?  Don’t you understand that you are harming your brand by operating in an environment hostile to firearms?  Will you be the next firearms manufacturer to do the right thing?

Gun Manufacturers Doing The Right Things

BY Herschel Smith
4 months, 1 week ago

Via Mike Vanderboegh, news on Mossberg:

America’s largest shotgun manufacturer, O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc., decided not to expand in Connecticut. Sure it was founded there 1919 and still has its corporate headquarters in North Haven. But in 2013 Connecticut rushed through legislation to ban some of Mossberg’s popular products. As a result, Mossberg CEO, Iver Mossberg, says, “Investing in Texas was an easy decision. It’s a state that is not only committed to economic growth but also honors and respects the Second Amendment and the firearm freedoms it guarantees for our customers.”

Mossberg has instead expanded its Maverick Arms, Inc. facility in Eagle Pass, Texas, with 116,000 new square-feet of factory space. Mossberg is not a small gun manufacturer. According to records kept by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Mossberg made 475,364 guns in America in 2011. Of those guns, a total of 423,570 were shotguns made for sportsmen, for shotgun sports enthusiasts, for law-enforcement and for people who want a shotgun to protect their homes and families.

More than 90 percent of Mossberg’s guns are now made in Texas. Some of its Connecticut jobs are going there, too. Tom Taylor, O.F. Mossberg & Sons’ senior vice president, sales & marketing, tells me, “We’re moving all wood gun stock production to our Texas facility. More of our product lines—like our modern sporting rifles—might move to Texas in the future.

Good.  Now I won’t hesitate to buy those Mossberg shotguns I’ve had my eye on.

In other news, Daniel Defense once made their financing available only to LEOs, something about which I complained.  They’ve changed their position.

Unlike with previous attempts at financing that offered Law Enforcement payment plans on LE Packages, now all qualifying customers will have the ability to finance Daniel Defense complete rifles, upper receiver groups and other products.

“We ran into a few issues with the past program and decided it best to end the option until we could provide a solution agreeable to all our valued customers,” says Hunter.

Now Daniel Defense just needs to back off of their high prices some and maybe they could compete with Rock River Arms for volume.

Smith & Wesson, are you watching other gun manufacturers do the right thing?  Are you listening?  Are you still selling guns to LEOs in California that ordinary citizens cannot have?  Remember that we discussed this issue, and you never got back to me?

Stag Arms Continues To Operate In Connecticut

BY Herschel Smith
5 months ago

WTNH.com:

14 months ago there were about 200.

“After the law was passed, unfortunately, it did nothing to make the state safer and in fact it hurt jobs in the state of Connecticut so unfortunately now we’re down to about 150 employees,” Malkowski said.

For Malkowski that was very hard because he says it was the first time he had to layoff employees in the eleven years he has run ‘Stag Arms.’

As for the years ahead … and if his company does see any growth again what will he do?

“Any future expansion we do for business we will look to other states,” he said, adding, “just because of how difficult it is to operate in the state of Connecticut but for right now we’re going to be operating here.”

He says that he has lost some regular customers, as several smaller gun shops have closed around the state and some out of state customers are unhappy that he continues to operate here.

He says, “they would rather see us in a different place.”

Maybe they will hang on until they are out of business entirely.  They could choose to move to a free state and repair their image, but apparently that’s too difficult for them.  I do understand the trauma of relocation and move of a business, including all of the employees.  But the alternative seems to be death of the company.

These are hard choices, and Stag Arms didn’t choose to be in this position.  Nonetheless, they are here and must act wisely.  Seldom do we get to choose our circumstances.  We only choose how to respond.  That’s what defines our character.

Colt: The Gunmaker Who Can’t Shoot Straight

BY Herschel Smith
5 months, 3 weeks ago

Bloomberg Businessweek:

In the 1970s, Colt and other American gunmakers, following the bad example of Detroit’s Big Three automakers, grew smug and lazy. Like Japanese and German car companies, more nimble foreign gunmakers grabbed market share. By the 1980s, Smith & Wesson had lost the U.S. police to Austria’s Glock, while Colt saw Italy’s Beretta snatch its main U.S. Army sidearm contract. In 1985, Colt plant employees who belonged to the United Auto Workers launched a protracted strike for higher pay. Replacement employees weren’t up to the task, and “quality suffered badly,” says Feldman, then an organizer for the National Rifle Association. In 1988 the Pentagon gave Colt’s M16 contract to FN Herstal of Belgium. Four years later, Colt filed for bankruptcy court protection from its creditors. “With the end of the Cold War,” says Hopkins, the firearms marketer, “it seemed like the company might never recover.”

[ ... ]

Complicating matters, Colt then blundered into the vortex of American gun-control politics. In a December 1997 editorial in American Firearms Industry magazine, Zilkha’s handpicked CEO, Ron Stewart, made a pair of proposals that set off alarms in Second Amendment circles. He urged “the creation of a research and development program to further firearm technology toward more advanced methods that promote safety (such as personalized firearms).” And he recommended that Congress require gun owners to obtain a federal permit. “All hell broke loose,” says Feldman …

Zilkha relieved Stewart of his CEO duties in late 1998; by the following year the Colt smart gun was dead …

The withered commercial handgun business—by now reduced almost exclusively to producing copies of classic handguns—was left behind under the name Colt’s Manufacturing. The two companies shared the West Hartford factory. To the consternation of workers, a metal fence was erected to denote the corporate split …

Among other failings, the severed halves of Colt somehow missed the post-2008 “Obama surge” as much as other U.S. gun manufacturers. Whipped up by NRA warnings that the Democratic president intended to toughen gun control, consumers cleared gun store shelves of ammunition and weapons. Better-prepared manufacturers such as Glock saw sales rise sharply. Under the terms of the Colt split, however, Colt Defense could reach the booming civilian market only by first selling its rifles to Colt’s Manufacturing, a debilitated company with sclerotic lines of distribution. Colt’s Manufacturing, for its part, offered only a limited selection of the handguns so much in demand. …

S&P projects that company revenue will fall by 5 percent to 15 percent in 2014. It cites “declining commercial rifle sales as demand returns to more normalized levels following a surge in recent years” and a sharp reduction in Pentagon demand for new M4 rifles following the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “The government’s plan to shrink the size of the Army also poses a threat to long-term demand for the rifle,” S&P notes. On May 14, Colt reported that revenue for its first quarter of 2014 slumped 22 percent, to $50 million. The company suffered a loss of $7.8 million for the period. During an investor conference call, CEO Dennis Veilleux said, “I’m not pleased with these results.”

Ignoring the source (Bloomberg), this is actually good reporting and analysis and a good rundown of the troubles that have plagued Colt.

Colt got fat from military contracts, lost control over good QA, and lost interest in the civilian firearms market.  This happens often to manufacturers for the military, since making milspec parts means that there is very little innovation and contracts aren’t as flexible to customer feedback as in the civilian market.  Soldiers and Marines have to use what they’ve been issued.  I get to choose my guns, and hence I have a Rock River Arms AR-15 instead of a Colt.  I have always said that a gun isn’t truly tested until it hits the civilian market.

There is one aspect of Colt’s demise that isn’t mentioned here, and that is the role of labor unions.  All gun manufacturers in Northern states (which are not “right to work” states) have suffered from the same erosion of quality and cost problems or they will in the future.

The lessons for all gun manufacturers should be clear.  First, labor unions kill companies.  The future of industry is in right-to-work states.  Second, any flirtation with gun control is death to a gun manufacturer.  Gun owners punish cooperation with gun controllers.  Third, fat-ass government contracts tends to corrupt a company.  The most healthy market for guns is the civilian market.  It also happens to be the least fickle and most reliable.

Finally, overseas production (in Japan, for instance) is a loser proposition.  I turned down the chance to buy a Browning bolt action rifle because of that very thing (made in Japan stamped on the barrel), and thought that Winchester rifles were now made exclusively in Columbia, S.C.  I later found out that parts are now made in Columbia, while assembly is done in Portugal.  Instead I purchased a Tikka T3 Hunter 0.270.  In other words, I went with a foreign manufacturer who actually knows how to make guns.  The Remington and Ruger bolts were so loose they flopped like dog ears.  The Tikka was tight and is a tack driver.

Bottom line: move South to right-to-work states, make guns for the civilian market, make them well, and avoid the corruption that goes along with being in bed with the government.  It’s too late for Colt.  They will go belly up before long.  It isn’t too late for others – you know who you are.

 

Gun Valley Moves South

BY Herschel Smith
7 months, 1 week ago

From Alabama.com comes an article worth reading on gun valley moving South.  This figures is taken from that article.

Guns_Go_South

So where is Smith & Wesson, and Rock River Arms, and Kimber?  Still in the land of labor unions rather than right-to-work states?

Why Are Colt And Stag Arms Still In Connecticut?

BY Herschel Smith
9 months, 3 weeks ago

Ctpost.com:

When Stag Arms of New Britain wanted to produce a scaled-down version of a popular AR-15 rifle that was banned last April by Connecticut — part of a broader crackdown that was upheld Thursday by a U.S. District Court judge in Hartford — it ran the specifications by law enforcement.

“Right off the bat, they were helpful,” said Mark Malkowski, the company’s president and owner. “They did look at prototypes. They did this about three times. After that, they said it really wasn’t their responsibility to determine what was legal or not.”

The reluctance of the State Police to put its seal of approval on the Stag 22, a semi-automatic rifle that accepts lower-caliber bullets and fewer rounds of ammunition than its predecessor, is emblematic of an ongoing tension between the firearms industry and law enforcement over weapons development.

State police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance said his agency would hate to sign off on a gun, only to have one of its components render it illegal on a technicality.

“Are we going to be responsible for that?” said Vance, who became a household name for his many news conferences following the Dec. 14, 2012, massacre. “It’s their responsibility to make sure it conforms to the letter of the law.”

[ ... ]

A majority of gun manufacturers are said by industry observers to be far along in the process of converting their traditional AR-15 rifles into .22-caliber models for sale in Connecticut, including Colt’s Manufacturing, the granddaddy of the state’s firearms industry. Multiple requests for comment were left with Colt, which was founded in 1836 in Hartford and employs about 600 people in the state.

In most modification cases, what is known as a center-fire mechanism is swapped out for a rim-fire mechanism. This inhibits the rifle’s ability to accept higher-caliber bullets like those used at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

[ ... ]

Shooting purists are not as keen about .22-caliber rifles and the rimfire mechanism …

First of all, what an absurd, stolid article, e.g., low-caliber bullets, high caliber bullets, and so on.  Second, I’ll bet “shooting purists are not keen about .22-caliber rifles” in the AR-15 platform (if by that they mean .22LR).

There is a time and place for a .22LR long gun, for teaching youngsters to shoot, plinking, killing small game, etc.  I learned to shoot as a youngster with a .22LR long gun.  Those were good days.

But with Stag Arms trying to construct a long gun with these specifications in the AR platform, and with the future about this weapon known to everyone who understands these things (it won’t sell and it’s a waste of time and money to develop it), the question necessarily arises “Why is Stag Arms still in Connecticut?”  And “Why is Colt still in Connecticut?”  And as for that matter, “Why are Connecticut shooters still citizens of Connecticut?”

Come South, men.  Come South.

Beretta To Open Plant In Tennessee

BY Herschel Smith
9 months, 4 weeks ago

Fox17 Nashville:

NASHVILLE, Tenn.– Gallatin Industrial Park will be the new site for Beretta USA’s firearms manufacturing and R&D facility.

The move is expected to bring 300 new jobs in Sumner County according to Governor Bill Haslam. The facility itself will see an investment of $45 million dollars.

Executive vice-president Franco Gussalli Beretta says Governor Haslam and his economic team played a large role in “demonstrating the benefits of doing business in the state.”

Construction is expected to be completed this year.

Beretta had announced their plans to move from Maryland after the recent gun control measures passed, and we were waiting for it to happen.  I have several thoughts, but I’m tempted to say that Beretta is the loser because they didn’t choose South Carolina.

Honestly though, Maryland is the real loser in all of this, as is Connecticut, Colorado, and any other state that pursues these idiotic gun control measures.  And let’s be clear about one thing before the objection even gets raised like it was for Smith & Wesson when they announced that they were pulling out of the California market.  These companies are doing what they must to survive.  We gun owners are faithful rewarders of our friends and allies, and relentless and unforgiving punishers of compromisers.

Smith & Wesson, Remington, Kimber, Colt, Rock River Arms, Springfield Armory, are you listening?

Gun Manufacturers: Why Are You Still In New York?

BY Herschel Smith
10 months, 1 week ago

Communist Cuomo in his own words.

The amusing thing is that he tried to walk this back by quoting his own words which are exactly as recorded above.  I’ve said it many times before, and I’ll say it again.  I plan my gun purchases around not buying products made in New York if possible.

So Remington, Kimber, and any other gun manufacturers still in New York – I have one question.  Why?  Why haven’t you relocated to another state where I can once again consider doing business with your company?


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