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Winchester Closes Plant, Discontinues Three Guns

When the press release hit our desk, there was a collective jaw dropping by us editors. U.S. Repeating Arms Company, which owns Winchester, announced that it would be closing their New Haven, Conn., facility on March 31. Along with this shocker is news that Winchester models 70, 94 and 1300 will cease production.

Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

Winchester Firearms will continue to see and grow its current line of Select over & under shotguns, the new Super X3 autoloading shotgun, the new Super X autoloading rifle and Limited Edition rifles.  The company also plans to introduce new models in the future.  There will be no change in Customer Service.

Comments

Jeff Drenning

It's sad to see any gun go, but I'm really gonna miss the Model 70's. Like you said though, this doesn;t seem to be an industry that can depend on outdoorsman to remain in business. I guess there aren't enough new hunters/shooters every year to sustain a business like this. I hope this is the extent of it, and no other companies have to shut down factories or halt the manufacturing of certain models. Looks like the anti's are grinning tonight, but we're long from being done.

Will

More bad news is coming today from the gun industry. I'll get a post up soon. Found some numbers regarding the New Haven plant, and they were bleak.

The factory employed close to 1,800 people in the late 80s. That number is now 200 and soon ZERO.

300,000 rifles could be produced, but by the end of last year only 80,000 were being made.

Jerry Allen

My last winchester 1300s I sold for $75.00 in almost new condition shot maybe 30 times. Was defective out of the boxwas sent to factory and sent back saying it was test fired sure hope they hit the target because I could not 5 inch groups at 100 yards? bench fired? I think I screwed the guy I sold it to.

Outdoor Life

Though collectors seem to think the value on these Winchesters will suddenly go through the roof, I believe it will be awhile before they become highly desirable.

Jackson Landers

Two things come to mind that choke off new growth for the gun industry. The first is the overwhelmingly conservative bent of gun culture including most magazines, ranges and the NRA. This goes beyond just the gun control issue and extends into things like gay rights and the Iraq war that have nothing to do with guns but still seem to be part of what's for dinner. Right off the bat, gun culture deliberately excludes 50% of Americans who might be down with the guns but are opposed to everything else on the Republican agenda.

The second thing holding the firearms industry back is the difficulty of trying out hunting. There's no such thing as a learners permit in most states for adult would-be hunters who don't have their own land to hunt on. Here in Virginia, we're very hunter-friendly but in order to get a hunting license you have to take a state-approved class. I *still* don't have my license because the next class within 100 miles doesn't happen until next April. I am lucky to be license-exempt when I hunt on my family's property. So how does an interested person of ordinary means try hunting out to see if he likes it? He can't. You've got to jump in with both feet. So the only hunters that we have for the most part is children of hunters who grew up with it. Naturally, you're going to see some attrition as not all of those kids keep up with it. Eventually, we'll be a dying breed unless they come up with a way to make this past time more accessable to new sportsmen.

Furthermore: why have I never seen an ad for Winchester (or any other gunmaker) in National Geographic? How about 'Mother Earth News?' 'Organic Gardening?' 'Sports Illustrated?' I see gun ads all the time in American Rifleman and Field and Stream. How much good does Winchester think it's going to do them to spend all of their advertising budget on publications read exclusively by people who already have guns? Guns are tools that all sorts of people can use. Let's see some marketing outside of the usual echo chamber.

John

I think that publications like National Geographic and Mother Earth News fear that they would lose the majority of their readership if they ever ran a firearms ad.

It goes back to your point about the dichotomy of society. Like you said, these days it seems you can only be Republican, pro-gun, pro-war, anti-gay rights etc. with no crossover. I would wager to say that most people who read the magazines you mention are liberal, anti-war, pro-gay rights, etc.

Lyndon Combs

I think it is sad that this plant has closed,but of the last three 94's I have bought. Two had to be sent back and fixed, and the last boxes of 30-30 Winchester 170 grain power points I purchased 6 shell cases split. I am a die hard 94 fan, but people are not going to buy your products with problems like this.

Bill Lester

The New Haven plant does not manufacture ammunition. It's not even the same company. U.S. Repeating Arms Co. and Winchester Ammunition have been separate entities for several decades. So, Mr. Combs, get your facts straight before you start spreading the tar and feathers, okay?

As for advertising, that's part of the problem. USRAC's marketing over the past two decades has been poor at best. But to say they should've bought ad space in Sports Illustrated isn't fair. Even IF they wanted to do so, they probably couldn't afford to compete with the rates generated by mega-corporations that sell athletic shoes, sports drinks, and higher-end autos and SUV's. As for the likes of Mother Earth News, I doubt USRAC would want to be associated with that rag any more than it would with a gun maker.

Dale Matthews

I didn't know Winchester didn't make there own ammo. either. I have tried to buy US products whenever the option is available. When an average of 2 shells per box are duds, should I go buy one of there guns and try one of them also? Come on, if once they had a good product and were a booming industry and along came new company managment "know it alls" and wouldn't listen to anyone else except the college text books, it was my vision of what happend and why I stopped buying Winchester products. Browning has moved over seas and has pumped up the companys image with there "Buck Mark" logos. Why couldn't Winchester advertise and keep the plants open here? And NO I don't own or buy Browning guns or ammo, I buy Remington because they are still here in the USA.

Ted Sager

It is too bad about any plant closing in this country. I recently bought a Model 70 Winchester. A little disappointed in the quality. It nothing even close to the old 70's, for sure.

The money people have to put out for things today, if the quality is not there, they just won't buy it. Example, Ford Motor Company losing 1.5 billion last year. I used to be a Ford man, no more. I know many friends with newer Fords and they've had lost of expensive trouble with them. People will not buy crappy goods. Trucks are made for hiway travel any more. You won't see many new trucks parked at an elk camp.

I've noticed many boxes of Winchester shells still left on the shelves at the stores. If the shells are bad, that will reflect on Winchester in general. If Winchester comes out with new guns, they better be good.

Ted Sager

Dale Schmidt

I think it is a sad day to see a company like winchester close. I have a closet full of there shotguns and rifles like the 94,s. model 12, super-x, model 70,s. I also shoot there shells and have never had a misfire. I will bet John Wayne is turning over in his grave right now thinking Winchester is closing. Sad day in America

Joe Leighty

This is truly a sad day for the industry. I would hope that Winchester can improve their quality and find a new home in the US that is more friendly to the firearms industry than the North East. If the product is of reputable quality and the cost not out of line then the business will survive. Perhaps this is a lesson to be learned. I know I am thoroughly disappointed in the shotshell line from Winchester ( I know this isn't the same company.) They had a great product and with the new HS series they screwed it up royaly. I will never buy Winchester shotshells again. Maybe the leadership at Winchester USRA and Olin needs to go back to school.

Renny Seymour

Does anyone know what is wrong at Sturm Ruger? Their stock has gone to the dogs.

Michael Curry

I used to work at Dick's Sporting Goods, the largest sports retailer in the United States. We didn't carry Winchester because, from what I heard (after much inquiry), they were difficult to deal with. Dick's had contracts with Remington, and were able to work deals with them. Remington's ammo was considerably cheaper than Winchester's. We ran rebates for Remington guns, ammo and clothing. We also sold quite a few Remingtons. The 870 is a solid, dependable gun at a truly affordable price. I am sorry to see Winchester go, but that is the law of economics...
Winchester's demise is probably due to a few individuals at the executive level who made bad choices. I really don't think it has anything to do with lack of hunters. Just take a drive down any highway in Ohio at 5:00 in the morning on opening day of deer season...

Randy L. Cole

Wow!! This is a shock, to see a land mark in the Firearm Industry closing it's door's.
The Model 94, the Model 70 are the finest firearm's ever produced, the history alone of these two models, should be enough to keep the plant open. Im a PROUD owner of a few Winchester Model 70's and 94's, and I will cherish these legacy's forever, and my children will also. Thank's WINCHESTER!!

Gary Berne

This a sad, sad day! My first gun was a model 42, got my first deer with a 94/30-30, last gun bought was model 70 7mm/wsm. Think, I will hold on to all of those that have and leave them for my Grandsons. Hopefully someone like H.C. will not get elected and then take away thier rights under the 2nd and they will be able to have as much pleasure as I have had with them.

maximo

Great rifles and shotguns sincepre64,and mod70,1200,1300 shotguns,ecxelent,it,s a shame

Bruce LaCroix

I am sad to see Winchester go. I own 3 Model 70's the last being a stainless 325wsm. Have heard people say remington is best but I am very happy with My 70's. I also have just purchased my first lever guns ever. Five to be exact just to have in my collection. The traditional 9422,& legacy 9422,also an older 94 lever as well as 94 legacy round barrel and 94 legacy octagon. Hope my grandchildren enjoy them as much as me. I will sorely miss winchester.

Robert Cruz

I felt numb heard the sad news.
Winchester is a name with a very long history and it should not be allowed to fail. The mere mention of the name Winchester brings up images of the old west ,old hunting memories,etc.

Its my understanding that the company was partially subsidized at the local, state and federal level in one way or another . Its also no secret that its been strugglin' for some time but I wish some how this tragedy could have been averted.

I own 2 94's, 2 1300's and a couple of old 22's and was in the process of ordering a M70 in .338 when the dealer informed me .

Once again , sad event in our country's history when an iconic company like Winchester will outsource its manufacturing.
Sorry , but I would have a hard time buying an Asian Model 94 if they to ever do so.

My $.02

Robert Cruz
Hialeah, FL

R.D. Boyles

I agree with Renny Seymore. Upper management is to blame for Winchester's demise. And who is management? FN from Belgium. This company is over-all very successful, but have no idea why Americans view the Model 70 and 94 as icons. Nor do they care! This is why foreign companies should not own American gun companies like Winchester.

Andy

Where went the rifleman's rifle? Between this and Colt giving the shaft to the non-law enforcement sector, where are Americans supposed to get the quality guns we could purchase a mere 20 years ago? It would not surprise me now if S&W said they werent making revolvers anymore. Of course quality of workmanship had dropped even if technology was better. The new Winchesters probably had better metal and engineering than the old 70s, but there was darn near no fit and finish on the new ones. They were as personnal and beautiful as tupperware. I guess I will just continue to hit the shows for old Winchesters. Where have the good old days gone?

DAVE CLEASBY

I have owned a few Winchesters over the years and have found them to be very reliable. I started collecting the model 94's and since the plant closing am seeing the prices going up and up. Any comment on the how the east and west coast collectors are looking at this.
Are the prices going to go sky high?

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