Founded in 1816 by Eliphalet Remington, Remington Arms Company was one of the oldest gun makers in the United States, and it even claimed to have one of the longest run factories in the country that still made its original product. Throughout much of its history, the American manufacturer of firearms and ammunition was a success story, and in 2015 it was the largest rifle producer in North America.
The company also developed and adopted more cartridges than any other gun maker or ammo maker worldwide.
But things went south for the company after it accumulated more than $950 million in debt, after a lawsuit was brought by nine families of the victims of the Sandy Hook School shooting in 2012. The gunman had used a Bushmaster rifle in the mass shooting, and at the time Bushmaster was owned by Remington – and through the lawsuit, plaintiffs targeted the company’s marketing of the rifle as a “combat weapon.”
While Remington was able to continue to operate, the debt load caught up with the company, which was also plagued by mismanagement when it was run by Cerberus Capital Management. In addition to high-risk loans that didn’t pay off, the quality of its firearms suffered.
Even as last year saw a massive spike in gun sales, Remington wasn’t able to recover – at least not enough to fend off the creditors. Forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Remington Outdoor was broken up and sold following a multiday bankruptcy auction in July 2020.
The Great Ammo Shortage
The shuttering of its ammunition factories contributed in part to this year’s ammunition shortage. Production had been halted at the start of the pandemic, and then remained idle during the bankruptcy.
However, the Remington brand name was bought by Vista Outdoors, which now produces several types of ammunition. It took several months, but the old Remington facility in Lonoke, Arkansas is now up and running, almost at full capacity, Outdoor Life reported. It hired back hundreds of former and new employees and is now producing upwards of a million rounds every day.
During a recent media tour, Outdoor Life noted that the new managers were adamant that the facility isn’t a storage facility, and efforts are made to get the ammunition produced and out the door as quickly as possible.
According to Nick Sachse, director of product management at the Lonoke factory, who spoke with Outdoor Life, the plant is running around the clock, and is currently at nearly ninety percent production capacity. Sachse who is a 29-year veteran of the company, said the lines are humming like in the good old days.
While fast food and retail has suffered to find employees, Remington had no problem finding workers to man the lines.
“Most of the people who work for Remington do it because they are users of the product,” said Sachse. “So, when you go through hard times like we have—and I’ve been here for the worst—it’s important to say that was not a reflection of the employees. And our new owners recognize that.
“When I came to interview here 29 years ago, those machines were running just like they are today,” he added. “If you look at our new product lineup and the timing for when we’re going to bring new products out, it kind of aligns to those days. Remington ammunition has been through several heydays. We’re in another heyday. The difference is that this time we’re owned by a company that specializes in making ammunition.”
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.