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Remington Arms is a historic name in the shooting sports community. One of the oldest incorporated companies in the United States, Remington commenced operations in 1816 in Ilion, New York, under founder Eliphalet Remington. The company initially manufactured flintlock rifles and muskets. In 1912, Remington, still operating in Ilion, acquired the Union Metallic Cartridge company in Bridgeport, Connecticut, meaning one could then buy both guns and cartridges from the Remington corporation.
Over the years, the company has brought the American shooter some immortal arms, including the great Model 700 rifle and the near-universal Model 870 pump shotgun.
But now, after over two centuries of operations in the Ilion area, Remington is shutting that operation down.
RemArms, the current version of Remington Arms, will close its facility in the Mohawk Valley village of Ilion around March 4, according to the letter sent Thursday. The letter said the company “did not arrive at this decision lightly,” according to the Observer-Dispatch of Utica.
The plant currently employs about 270 workers, according to union officials.
Why the closure? Well, there may be any number of reasons, but a move to a more politically-friendly environment may be among them.
Remington, the country’s oldest gun maker, began making flintlock rifles in the region in 1816. The factory site in the village dates to 1828, with many of the current buildings constructed early in the 20th century.
More recently, the company faced temporary closures in Ilion, bankruptcy and legal pressure over the Sandy Hook school massacre. The current company no longer makes the Bushmaster AR-15 rifles used to kill 20 first-graders and six educators in the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut in 2012.
Investors doing business as the Roundhill Group purchased the Remington-branded gun-making business, including operations in Ilion and Lenoir City, Tennessee for $13 million. Owners announced plans in 2021 to move the company’s headquarters to Georgia.
This isn’t the first such move by a major gun manufacturer. Other moves prompted by the political climate, particularly in New England, where the roots of American firearms manufacturing lie (none other than Sam Colt set up shop initially in Paterson, New Jersey), include Smith & Wesson’s move from Springfield, Massachusetts, to Maryville, Tennessee; Winchester moving from Illinois to Mississippi; Kimber Manufacturing from New York to Alabama, and Stag Arms from Connecticut to Wyoming. Colt, somewhat inexplicably, still maintains headquarters in Hartford, Connecticut, where Sam Colt started manufacture of the famous Walker and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Model Dragoon revolvers.
As people vote with their feet, so do corporations, and this is a smart — and not unexpected — move for the famous Big Green. The company has already moved its corporate headquarters to Georgia, and they have already opened a manufacturing plant there as well, making the Ilion plant unnecessary as well as a political liability. The never-ending debate over gun control in this country, and the concomitant hostility of leftist politicians and agitators towards the firearms industry, isn’t likely to cease any time soon, regardless of any of the facts surrounding the controversy. Guns and ammo are in demand, prices are increasing, defensive use of firearms is on an uptick, and while most gun companies aren’t terribly large operations when compared to, say, automobile manufacturers, it doesn’t appear that demands for their products are liable to decrease any time soon.
That makes their move to friendlier political jurisdictions all the smarter. Remington has had plenty of political fallout from the Sandy Hook incident, which, while much like blaming Ford or Chevrolet because someone was killed by a drunk driver, still costs the manufacturers a lot of money — money they can’t always afford to lose.
Good luck to Remington! May they continue, in friendlier surroundings, to manufacture quality sporting firearms for the American public for another two hundred years.