Skip to main content

Why Are Gun Companies Moving?

Since the 1816 founding of Remington Arms in Ilion, New York, the northeastern United States has been the domestic firearm industry's home for traditional manufacturers such as Colt and Smith & Wesson. Currently, however, an unprecedented number of gun companies are expanding or considering a move to entirely different states.

Why? The most obvious answer is that these companies find it difficult to do business in regions favoring an anti-gun sentiment. Connecticut and New York, both home to large, historic firearms manufacturers, enacted some of the nation's strictest gun-control regulations last year. The governors of these states continue to foreshadow additional restrictions.

During an interview with CNN's Candy Crowley, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy had a telling response to criticism of a new state law that bans semiautomatic rifles and 10-round magazines and requires preexisting magazines to be registered.

"What this is about is the ability of the gun industry to sell as many guns to as many people as possible — even if they're deranged, mentally ill, [have] a criminal background, they don't care," said Malloy. "They want to sell guns."


In a radio interview, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was similarly disdainful when asked if his state's SAFE Act, which was passed just before midnight on January 15, 2013, is a burden to law-abiding gun owners and manufacturers.


"Who are they?" Cuomo asked rhetorically of his opposition. "Are they these extreme conservatives €¦ pro-assault-weapon? Is that who they are? Because if that's who they are and they're the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that's not who New Yorkers are."

Perhaps it's no coincidence then that New York-based companies such as Remington Arms, Kahr Arms and American Tactical Imports are all expanding into or moving to more gun-friendly states, as are Connecticut-based companies including Mossberg, Ruger, Colt, Stag Arms and PTR Industries.

"The comments by Governors Cuomo and Malloy did not go unnoticed, nor has the legislation they passed," said Larry Keane, senior vice president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). "CEOs have expressed to me that they're tired of doing business in states with governments that don't respect their products and that are openly hostile to Second Amendment liberties. New York politicians, for example, have essentially said, 'It's OK to make guns and magazines here, but you can't sell them to our citizens.' Consider the hypocrisy of that. If the products are so dangerous, then why are politicians OK with exporting them and collecting the tax dollars? It bothers the gunmakers deeply."

Still, companies don't just move to spite anti-gun state governments. For them, it has to make financial sense. Interestingly, some of America's most pro-gun states are also currently some of the best in which to do business in terms of taxes, regulatory compliance, labor and energy costs, and more.


"The states shedding gun companies are making it undesirable for people to do business in general," said Keane. "Generally speaking, they're overtaxed and overregulated. Take Connecticut. It's rated one of the worst states in which to do business or retire. So, if you're a businessman, are you going to invest there or somewhere like Alabama [where Remington is expanding] or Tennessee [where Beretta is expanding] where it's not only a better place to do business, but they respect the products you manufacture and are happy to have your tax dollars?"

Many states, particularly those in the South and Midwest, have actively recruited gun companies and competed among one another to secure their business. Texas Governor Rick Perry has been arguably the most vocal in this regard, even tweeting Magpul Industries to "come on down to Texas."

"You're seeing a shift of these manufacturers out of states that don't want them there," Governor Perry said in a CNN interview. "And I think that is an appropriate move and an appropriate conversation."


Following Governor Perry's invitation, Magpul is indeed shifting its headquarters to Texas in response to a high-capacity magazine ban by its home state of Colorado. Texas is also the new home of expansion factories owned by Mossberg and Colt. Many other states join Texas in offering tax breaks and other financial incentives to lure gun companies.

"I've had CEOs in New England tell me that the offers from states' economic development teams are so extraordinary that they could essentially move their factories for free," said Keane. "In some cases they've received these offers almost daily over extended periods of time."

So, is it any wonder then that states with anti-gun attitudes are losing gun industry jobs and tax dollars?

While difficult to quantify the exact extent of the economic blow, a 2013 NSSF report estimated that Connecticut would lose 1,768 jobs, $13.5 million in business tax revenue and $450 million in economic activity if Colt, Mossberg and Stag exit. All three have announced factory expansions outside Connecticut. Even states with healthy economies will notice a loss of that magnitude.

"The message to the firearm industry from many northeastern states has been loud and clear for some time," said Keane. "I think the message in response is becoming clear as well."

Check out this list of firearm manufacturers that have recently moved to different states, and tell us your opinions about gun company relocations in the comments below.

Beretta USA

Location: Accokeek, Maryland

Expansion Location: Gallatin, Tennessee

Why: Beretta warned Maryland that it would invest elsewhere if a ban on semiautomatic rifles passed. Maryland lawmakers apparently thought they could call Beretta's bluff, and in turn the company announced a $45 million Tennessee facility that will create 300 jobs. Several states were considered.

'We started our search by looking only at states that have a consistent history of support for and likelihood of future support for Second Amendment rights, ' Beretta General Counsel Jeff Reh said in a statement.

In 1990, Beretta also moved a factory from Maryland to Virginia, citing gun laws as a factor.

Kahr Arms

Former Location: Blauvelt, New York

New Location: Pike County, Pennsylvania

Why: Kahr has cited New York's restrictive gun laws and Pennsylvania's lower tax rates as motivations for leaving.

'We're looking for a more friendly environment for our business, ' Frank Harris, Kahr's vice president for sales and marketing, told the Associated Press. 'Maybe we could have stayed here and built a plant, but the way the [SAFE Act] was passed left us feeling there were a lot of uncertainties going forward. '

Les Baer Custom

Former Location: Hillsdale, Illinois

New Location: LeClaire, Iowa

Why: While a 2007 bill to ban high-capacity magazines, .50-caliber rifles and semiautomatic rifles was pending in the Illinois legislature, Les Baer announced that the company would move to Iowa. Gun control was among the deciding factors.

'A lot of it is because of the legislation, ' Les Baer told 'Quad Cities Online. ' 'We keep fighting it like everybody else. We didn't give up. '

Lewis Machine & Tool

Former Location: Milan, Illinois

New Location: Davenport, Iowa

Why: In 2007, LMT suspended plans to expand its Illinois facility as the state mulled further gun controls. The company now looks to grow its business entirely elsewhere. LMT notes that Texas was among the states considered, having offered an aggressive financial package.

Magpul Industries

Former Location: Erie, Colorado

New Headquarters: North-central Texas

New Manufacturing Facility: Cheyenne, Wyoming

Why: Magpul said it would leave Colorado if the state banned 15-round magazines and meant it.

'Moving operations to locations that support our culture of individual liberties and personal responsibility is important, ' Magpul CEO Richard Fitzpatrick said in a statement. 'Moving to a true multistate operation will also allow Magpul to utilize the strengths of both Texas and Wyoming as we continue to expand. '

O.F. Mossberg & Sons

Location: North Haven, Connecticut

Expansion Location: Eagle Pass, Texas

Why: No official reason has been given, but Mossberg has chosen to boost manufacturing capacity at its Texas facility rather than invest in Connecticut.

PTR Industries

Former Location: Bristol, Connecticut

New Location: Aynor, South Carolina

Why: PTR is among the sporting-rifle makers led to feel unwelcome in Connecticut by Governor Malloy and an anti-gun legislature.

'In Connecticut, we always felt like a dirty little secret, ' PTR CEO Josh Fiorini told Fox News. 'Down there [in South Carolina], it's very much the opposite. '

Sturm, Ruger & Co.

Location: Southport, Connecticut

Expansion Location: Mayodan, North Carolina

Why: With factories in Prescott, Arizona; Newport, New Hampshire; and, most recently, one purchased in Mayodan, North Carolina, Ruger does not manufacture any guns in Connecticut. Ruger Vice President Kevin Reid says the North Carolina factory met a variety of criteria. It's modern, close to an airport, provides access to skilled workers and is located in a gun-friendly state.

Stag Arms

Location: New Britain, Connecticut

Expansion Location: Not yet determined, but Texas and South Carolina are reportedly being considered.

Why: 'With the way the laws went in Connecticut, we decided to do expansion out of the state, ' Stag Arms president and CEO Mark Malkowski told Fox Business.

Colt Competition

Former Location: West Hartford, Connecticut

New Location: Breckenride, Texas

Why: Colt Manufacturing Company is moving its Colt Competition factory, which manufactures AR-15 and other semiautomatic sporting rifles. Colt says the decision was made after Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy pushed through legislation that attacks the very products manufactured by Colt Competition.

Remington Arms

Location: Ilion, New York

Expansion Location: Huntsville, Alabama

Why: Remington will add 2,000 jobs to the Alabama economy with its new manufacturing facility. The company has not stated publicly why it chose to invest outside New York, but there's speculation that Governor Cuomo's agenda is part of the puzzle.

'[The SAFE Act] has been a terrible thing from the beginning, ' Fran Madore, president of the United Mine Workers union, which represents Remington employees in Ilion, told 'The Post-Standard. ' 'You'd think New York would be doing everything to keep us. Instead, it passes a law that cripples us. '

Current Magazine Cover

Enjoy articles like this?

Subscribe to the magazine.

Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Umarex Air Ruger 10/22 Rifle Review

Umarex Air Ruger 10/22 Rifle Review

In this segment of "Guns & Ammo TV," Gun Tech Editor Richard Nance and Pro-Shooter Jim Tarr head to the range to wring out the Umarex Air Ruger 10/22.

Benelli Lupo ATR

Benelli Lupo ATR

Quality. Art. Design. History. Precision. Innovation. Family. Passion. Love. These words come to my mind when describing anything Italian, and the same is true for a product bearing the name “Benelli.”

All About .300 Blackout

All About .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout is here to stay, and we take some time to look at new technology surrounding this cartridge. Next, we pit subsonic rivals against each other before stretching the legs of this CQB round out to 600 yards from a short 9-inch barrel.

Trijicon

Trijicon's New Specialized Reflex Optics (SRO)

The Trijicon SRO is specifically designed for pistol use. The wide field of view and clean, crisp dot makes it easy for users to find and track the dot in both target and competitive shooting applications.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The story of a confederate sniper’s revenge and an exclusive look at his rifle.The Story of Civil War Sniper Jack Hinson and His Rifle Historical

The Story of Civil War Sniper Jack Hinson and His Rifle

Kyle Lamb - January 12, 2018

The story of a confederate sniper’s revenge and an exclusive look at his rifle.

In this segment of Air Gun Reviews: Ruger 10/22 Air Rifle Rifles

Air Gun Reviews: Ruger 10/22 Air Rifle

Guns & Ammo Staff - September 02, 2020

In this segment of "Guns & Ammo TV," Gun Tech Editor Richard Nance and Pro-Shooter Jim Tarr...

The Taurus TX22 rimfire shoots like no other.Taurus TX22 Rimfire Review Reviews

Taurus TX22 Rimfire Review

Eric Poole - May 23, 2019

The Taurus TX22 rimfire shoots like no other.

A guide on how to pair .223 and 5.56 NATO rifle barrel twist rates with bullet weights. Conventional wisdom says slower twist rates wouldn't properly-stabilize a heavy bullet. On the other hand, faster rates could over-stabilize lighter bullets. This is correct in theory, however, modern ballisticians have all but debunked the over-stabilization theory. All things being equal, it is better to have too much twist than not enough.Pairing Barrel Twist Rates with Bullets for .223 and 5.56 NATO How-To

Pairing Barrel Twist Rates with Bullets for .223 and 5.56 NATO

Keith Wood - November 17, 2018

A guide on how to pair .223 and 5.56 NATO rifle barrel twist rates with bullet weights....

See More Trending Articles

More Industry

New York Attorney General sues the National Rifle Association.More Trouble for NRA Industry

More Trouble for NRA

Guns & Ammo Staff - August 06, 2020

New York Attorney General sues the National Rifle Association.

Perspective from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.Guns are Selling, But Gun Safety is Priceless

Guns are Selling, But Gun Safety is Priceless

Joe Bartozzi

Perspective from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

The USA High School Clay Target League announced the clay target disciplines of ‘Sporting Clays' and ‘5-Stand' have been added to their high school clay target shooting programs, in which over 30,000 student athletes participate. USA High School Clay Target League Sporting Clays and 5-Stand Programs Industry

USA High School Clay Target League Sporting Clays and 5-Stand Programs

Guns & Ammo Staff - August 01, 2020

The USA High School Clay Target League announced the clay target disciplines of ‘Sporting...

Perspective from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.NSSF: Modern Sporting Rifles and Today's Voter

NSSF: Modern Sporting Rifles and Today's Voter

Larry Keane - July 20, 2020

Perspective from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

See More Industry

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Guns & Ammo App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now