The ArmaLite-branded AR-10 and AR-15 disappeared from the marketplace by 1962 as the company sold its rights and patents concerning the designs to Colt’s Manufacturing Company and the limited manufacturing license with the Dutch Artillerie Inrichtingen (A.I.). firm expired. After that, Colt was the only all-up maker of completed ARs until the late 1970s when other companies started to come on line.
When I say “other companies” I am talking about now-classic black rifle makers Bushmaster, DPMS, and Olympic Arms, all of which faded out in 2020.
Well, for two out of three of those, the demise was short-lived and they are now back for 2021, under new ownership.
More in my column at Guns.com.
Founded in 1978 in Windham, Maine, from the remnants of the even older Gwinn Arms company (see the Arm Pistol), Bushmaster was one of the first makers of AR-style firearms outside of Colt. Its line included the lightweight Carbon-15, the massive .50-cal BA50, the seriously weird M17S Bullpup rifle, the XM-10, the XM-15 rifles, and others. Importantly, the firm was one of the first to market flattop optics-ready ARs and AR pistols, beating many of its competitors to the punch.
The BA-50, one of Bushmaster’s more interesting products
Then the Cerebrus Group/Freedom Group came along and upset the whole apple cart. They closed the Maine factory, moved operations to North Carolina and later Alabama under Remington’s umbrella, and just generally traded the company’s rep in for poorly QC’d guns without further innovation. Then, in 2019, Remington snuffed the brand out to try to exit the black rifle verse under legal pressure.
Well, Bushmaster is back, now owned by Franklin Armory, so stay tuned.
I had the opportunity to look behind the curtain at Big Green’s plant in Alabama and see how everything from .22s to black rifles are born.
In 2014, Remington announced after an eight-month courtship it would invest $110 million into a 500,000-square-foot facility formerly used by Chrysler just outside of Huntsville with an aim to consolidate production.
Though Remington owns nearly a score of subsidiaries, just eight were selected to move to the plant in Alabama. Those included suppressor maker Advanced Armament Corp. from Lawrence, Georgia; Montana Rifleman from Kalispell, Montana; Tapco from Kennesaw, Georgia; LAR Manufacturing from West Jordan, Utah; Para-Ordnance from Pineville, North Carolina; DPMS from St. Cloud, Minnesota; the Bushmaster and Remington 1911 production lines in Ilion, New York; and a research and development facility in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.
In 2016, the Remington elected to close their Mayfield, Kentucky, plant and move the operations conducted there to Huntsville as well.
Currently, the Remington family of companies operates from 12 locations across nine states employing over 3,500 people and distributes its products throughout the U.S. and in over 55 foreign countries. Besides its original plant located in Ilion, NY, Huntsville — which employs almost 500 — is among the largest of their facilities.
And they let me go for a look inside.
More in my column at Guns.com.
In 1989 California lawmakers puked up one of the first assault weapons bans in U.S. history and in subsequent years added tweaked it and added such blanket restrictions as prohibitions on .50BMG (because there are so many crimes done with these…). While the California Department of Justice has tried really hard to ban anything that is AR-15ish or AK-47like, all enterprising gun owners have had to do is use devices such as ‘bullet buttons’ and low-capacity magazines to be able to own one today.
Still, between 1989 and 2001, the state allowed the registration by civilians of grandfathered guns. Well through Guns.com I did a public records request to CA DOJ and obtained their list of registered guns, all 145,253 of them. A detailed analysis found some really interesting things.
Here’s a snapshot of the top 25 manufacturers for example:
- 28,259 Colt Mfg, almost all Sporters and AR-15 type rifles
- 16,665 Chinese Norinco/Polytech/Clayco rifles, primarily AK and SKS pattern guns in 7.62mm
- 14,797 Bushmasters, almost exclusively XM-15 series rifles
- 9,158 Heckler & Koch firearms, with Model HK 91, 93 and 94 rifles accounting for the majority
- 4,529 Springfield Armory rifles, primarily M1/M1A 7.62mm guns
- 4,528 IMI guns including 179 Galil rifles and 4301 UZIs of multiple types in 9mm and .45
- 4,199 Armalites including 291 AR-10s and 1046 AR-180s
- 3,124 Eagle AR-pattern firearms
- 2,924 Intratec branded guns, all variants of the TEC-9/AB-10 and TEC-22 pistol
- 2,732 Ruger firearms, mostly Mini-14 and Mini-30 rifles
- 2,199 FN/Browning/FNH with mainly FAL and FNC type rifles listed
- 2,189 SWD guns mostly Cobray and M10/11/12 MAC-style pistols
- 1,876 Arsenal made AK-pattern rifles in 7.62mm
- 1,461 DPMs, all AR-15 variants
- 1,457 Austrian Steyrs, almost all AUG-series 5.56mm rifles
- 1,303 Korean Daewoo firearms in several variants, almost all 5.56mm rifles but also 16 DR300s in 7.62 and 5 DP51 pistols
- 1,170 Franchi shotguns in the uber-scary SPAS 12 and LAW12 varieties
- 1,132 CAI/Century guns, primarily 7.62mm rifles
- 1,082 Hungarian FEG guns, mostly SA85 AK-style rifles
- 914 Auto Ordnance, typically all Thompson 1927 style carbines
- 770 Imbel L1A1 type rifles in 7.62mm
- 693 DSA rifles, all SA58 models
- 526 Enterprise Arms 7.62mm rifles
- 496 Berettas including some 122 AR-70s and 60 rare BM-59s
- 445 SIGs, including 122 P-series pistols and 139 SG550 5.56mm rifles
- 392 Benellis, split roughly between their M1 and M3 tactical shotguns
The rest of the 3,000~ word report over at Guns.com along with a photo gallery of some of the more interesting guns here.