Winchester rifle plant prepares to close ( Update)

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Quigley_Sharps, Jan 17, 2006.


  1. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    End of an era as Winchester rifle plant prepares to close
    By Matt Apuzzo, Associated Press Writer | January 17, 2006

    NEW HAVEN, Conn. --U.S. Repeating Arms Co. Inc. said Tuesday it will close its Winchester firearm factory, threatening the future of a rifle that was once called "The Gun that Won the West."


    The announcement touched off a lobbying effort by city officials and union""" leaders who hoped to find a buyer for the plant before it closes March 31. If no buyer comes forward, it could spell the end for nearly all commercially produced Winchesters, said Everett Corey, a representative of the International Association of Machinists District 26.

    "Winchester would be pretty much defunct," he said. "They're not going to produce them, other than a couple custom-type models."

    The company has been plagued by slumping firearm sales. More than 19,000 people worked there during World War II, but the plant employs fewer than 200 now. All will lose their jobs when the plant closes.

    The Winchester model 1873 lever action rifle was popular among American frontiersmen at the end of the 19th century for its reliability. John Wayne made the Winchester rifle a signature of his movies and Chuck Connors posed menacingly with his Winchester on the poster for the television series "The Rifleman."

    "Marlin made lever-action rifles but nobody ever had a Marlin in films or TV series. They were always Winchesters," said Ned Schwing, a firearms historian.

    Perhaps the company's greatest unofficial spokesman was President Teddy Roosevelt, who used the 1895 model on his famous 1909 African safari, which historians credited with boosting the sale of Winchester sporting rifles.

    Since the plant opened in 1866, tens of millions of Winchester rifles have been produced, the bulk of which came between the late 1800s and the end of World War II, said firearms historian R.L. Wilson, who has written books about Winchester. More than six million copies of the Winchester Model 94, the company's most popular rifle, have been produced.

    "Several generations have worked at this place, a lot of fathers and brothers, sons, uncles and daughters," said Paul DeMennato, facility director at U.S. Repeating Arms.

    U.S. Repeating Arms, which is owned by the Herstal Group, a Belgium company, has said for years that it was on the brink of closing the plant.

    DeMennato said the company is negotiating the plant's sale. Missouri-based Olin Corp. owns the Winchester brand name. In the late 1970s, after a massive strike by its machinists, Olin sold the plant to U.S. Repeating Arms along with the right to use the Winchester name until next year.

    Olin had no immediate word on its plans for the Winchester name. DeMennato said he hopes the name will be sold along with the plant. Nobody at Herstal's headquarters in Belgium could be reached Tuesday afternoon.
    http://www.boston.com/news/local/co...ms_announces_plans_to_close_winchester_plant/
    :shock:
     
  2. RightHand

    RightHand Pioneer in a New World Moderator Founding Member

    Another CT firearms mfg bites the dust but it would be pretty cool to own the last rifle produced by Winchester
     
  3. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Get your 94 NOW.
     
  4. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I wonder what it would take to buy it. S&W sold for a paltry $32 million.
     
  5. ghostrider

    ghostrider Resident Poltergeist Founding Member

    I can lead them from the abyss. First thing, we'll make M1 Garands and M1 Carbines and Semi-auto M14s, taking up the serial numbers where they left off. M14s for the sand box. Stretch the M70 action to take the 50 BMG. .338 Lapua bolt action sniper rifle. The first Winchester 1911.
     
  6. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    Also hand tool the Pre 64's again and make the Mod 94 with a hammer saftey only
     
  7. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    DId production get bad towards the end?

    Or a victim of outsourcing?
     
  8. ghostrider

    ghostrider Resident Poltergeist Founding Member

    Quality, and accuracy is better than the pre-64s.
    Only upper management can create the dilemma they're in, one of becoming a smaller and smaller niche market. I read somewhere recently 5 million new guns are bought in the US every year, so it's hard to imagine going broke in that market, unless you ignore what the market is buying. Fewer people hunt every year, so the majority of that 5 million guns is for self-defense. When S&W was tooling up to build their 1911, USRA was building an 1885. When Bushmaster was months behind on orders, USRA was building the SuperXRifle. The "Build it and somebody will buy it" does not work.
     
  9. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The traditional Winchester rifles carried by pioneers, movie stars and Wild West lawmen will be discontinued in March, a Belgian manufacturer said Wednesday, confirming the end of an American icon that became known as "The Gun that Won the West."

    Once the U.S. Repeating Arms plant closes March 31, the only new rifles carrying the famous Winchester name will be the modern, high-end models produced in Belgium, Japan and Portugal. The older models, including the famous Winchester Model 94, will be scrapped.

    "The name will continue, but not with those traditional products," said Robert Sauvage, a spokesman for the Herstal Group, the Belgian company that owns U.S. Repeating Arms and the right to the Winchester name.

    Herstal announced Tuesday that the U.S. Repeating Arms factory in New Haven would soon close, capping 140 years of Winchester manufacturing in the city.

    "Economically speaking, we cannot continue. We have lost a lot of money," Sauvage said.

    More than 19,000 Winchester employees worked in New Haven during World War II, but after years of a softening firearms market, the plant now employs fewer than 200. All will lose their jobs when the plant closes.

    Officials and union" leaders said they hoped someone would buy the plant and continue building the traditional rifles, but the Winchester name wouldn't necessarily come with the factory. Such an arrangement would need to be worked out separately.

    Missouri-based Olin Corp. owns the Winchester brand name. In the late 1970s, after a massive strike by its machinists, Olin sold the plant to U.S. Repeating Arms along with the right to use the Winchester name until next year.

    Sauvage said the Herstal Group wants to extend that right past 2007 but Olin has not decided whether to allow it. Spokeswoman Ann Pipkin said Olin is disappointed with Herstal's decision to close the plant and may sell the Winchester naming rights to someone else.

    "The legendary Winchester name, we want it to be on a great-quality firearm," she said.

    The Winchester model 1873 lever action rifle, popular among American frontiersmen at the end of the 19th century for its reliability, inspired the 1950 James Stewart film "Winchester '73."

    John Wayne made the Winchester a signature of his movies and Chuck Connors posed menacingly with his Winchester on advertisements for the television series "The Rifleman."

    President Teddy Roosevelt was also a Winchester devotee, using the 1895 model on his famous 1909 African safari, which historians credited with boosting the sale of Winchester sporting rifles.

    While collectors were drawn to Winchester's many commemorative or special-edition rifles, sportsmen often still hunt with rifles that are generations old, a longevity that historian R.L. Wilson said became both the hallmark of the Winchester brand and part of its demise.

    "It's not unusual in my work, I'll talk to someone, they'll say, 'I've got my rifle that belonged to my grandfather. I'm still using it,'" Wilson said. "These things get recycled as long as you keep a gun clean and you look after it."

    Sauvage said Herstal is proud to have manufactured Winchester rifles for so long. He said he thinks customers will continue buying the new line of weapons, which can be produced quickly and for less money, because Belgium, like America, has a reputation for quality manufacturing.

    Others say it won't be the same.

    "It would be like Chevrolet going out of business or Chevrolet being made in Japan or China," firearms historian Ned Schwing said. "Winchester is an American legend, whether you're a gun person or not."
     
  10. ghostrider

    ghostrider Resident Poltergeist Founding Member

    The ones they will keep building are the Browning/Winchesters that are made for both companies. I thought GIAT owned both of them.
     
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