21 Jan 2006

US Repeating Arms to Close New Haven Plant

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The Elm City will soon be losing another of its links to history. US Repeating Arms Company announced last Tuesday, 1/17, that it will be closing the Winchester firearms factory in New Haven on March 31st. More than 19,000 men once worked in the Winchester plant. Their numbers had dwindled recently to under 200, and only 80,000 guns were produced last year in a facility that still had a capacity of 300,000. Sales of hunting rifles have declined precipitously, along with America’s hunting traditions. What was once a Nation of Riflemen is today a nation of metrosexuals and Dilberts.

Mournful eulogies for the great Winchester firearms brand were published in the Washington Post and the (UK) Independent, but some hard-core gun enthusiasts think the end really came in 1964, when a new group of top-tier executives, imported from Robert McNamara’s Ford Motor Company, introduced dramatic changes designed to reduce production costs. The illustrious Model 12 shotgun was eliminated (just too much hand work went into those), and the detail and quality of finish, and even the mechanics, of the original Model 70 bolt action rifle were dramatically downgraded.

Certainly, a major rupture in Winchester tradition occurred, when (in the aftermath of the strike of 1979-1980) the Board of Directors of Olin Corporation chose to sell the Winchester Sporting Arms division to a group of company executives, having long since relocated Winchester ammunition production far away from over-taxed and highly unionized New Haven. In 1990, control was acquired by the Belgian Fabrique Nationale, owners of Browning, today called Herstal Group.

The emotional WaPo article by Stephen Hunter says that, when whatever reduced production continues is moved overseas, they are going to stop building the Model 1894 lever action and the renowned Model 70 altogether. If so, March 31st will be a sad day indeed.

Theodore Roosevelt, Dakota rancher, poses with Winchester and bowie knife.

9 Feedbacks on "US Repeating Arms to Close New Haven Plant"

Mark/Barbara Hilfman

We are very disturbed to find that US Repeating Arms which makes Winchester has been sold and the Winchester 94 will cease to be made. This is the GUN THAT WON THE WEST, it is the all American Gun. I can’t believe that you done this terrible thing. Go back to pre 64 when guns were made the good way that everyone loved. Keep this part of American History going in America. What are we coming to for this to happen. Metrosexuals, etc should go back to the old west and experience life as it should be and not what it has become. God forgive you for you poor judgement and decisions. Try to rectify your mistakes by getting this part of America back. Shame on the desk setters for the crime they have committed against the UNITED STATES of AMERICA. Watch an episode of Gunsmoke, Bonanza or any other show from the past and see what we are made of.

J. McGehee

This is a disappointing, whimpering end to an American icon. The closing, however, will simply be the final death shudder of a giant that has been ill and failing for a long time.

The ongoing sales, from true gun makers to corporate pencil pushers and finally to foreign owners have driven the quality of the model 94 into the ground. Pursuit of the new “global economy” ideal of “make it cheap and sell it cheap” has destroyed yet another of the things America once had to be proud of.

Farewell to Winchester. There are still a few firearms manufacturers in the United States. Seek out their products. Quality is worth its price. Buy American.

D.O. Buck

I was shocked and saddened to learn of the decision to close the Winchester factory and to cease production on the Model 94 and the Model 70 – two firearms so closely tied to the American tradition of hunting. I would have thought if any of Winchester’s models survived – albeit in overseas production – that these two would be among them. I am certainly glad I have examples of the pre-64 versions of each of these fine firearms. The decline of hunting and shooting sports that lead to this announcement is a sad comment on modern society.


Sad, indeed, I agree.

I can’t help but think somebody’s going to manufacture those models under license.


Winchester, the first name in lever actions…it’s sad. Legacy Sports imports a model 92 (PUMA) that is 99% winchester specs and is a fine reproduction of a long been discontinued Winchester lever gun. I can’t help to think that the Model 94 wont be picked up by another manufacturer. The secret is to incorporate the QUALITY and original specifications of the original and the rest will take care of it’s self. The model 70’s…nice, but out of the price range of the average working man. Their model 13’s, best pump action at a reasonable price. Personally, I’ll miss the Winchester Arms Company and I will NEVER buy their import specialty high dollar firearms because there are too many other good alternitave options.

Obdem Faber

tengo un rifle mosin nagant pero no encuentro en ningun sitio web las especificaciones de el, necesito que por favor me ayuden con el modelo de este y las especificaciones tecnicas del mismo. Este rifle pertenecio al Ejercito de Colombia en la època de 1930.




Elvin Stingley

Winchester was one of the finest manufactures of guns ever. To think that this wonderful tradition will not continue is not only a sad one, but a frieghtening harbringer of things to come. Winchester was, for many important years of this country’s history, America itself. It was what we once were: rugged, innovative, a symbol for freedom. The world is NOT a better place for the demise of this firearms company.

James K MacAvoy

I worked for U.S. Repeating Arms for only a short period, Jan 1985 – April 1986. This was due to financial & management problems, pink slips being handed to those without seniority, and ultimately (at least during my tenure there) OSHA shutting down the facility. I worked the two atmospheric furnaces and various tempering equipment in the “Heat-Treat” department. Long hours and lots of hot work. But I never noticed while I was there. I was in sheer awe of the history of the company, its architecture & talking to old-timers who had been working there since being discharged from WWII. I would arrive to work early so I could ride my dept. manager’s golf cart around the plant and on its many floors. I would often find old ledgers and blueprints in some dusty corner, posters on walls and back of office doors, but I only kept one item as a keepsake. A 1942 Winchester calendar with a collage of our military fighting using various Winchester arms. My time there was short, but I can tell people that I was proudly employed by a working American museum.


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