biggest American gun companies

How the Biggest American Gunmakers Made It


Advertisement

When you look at it, you'll find that many of the most famous firearms companies are foreign brands and make their guns overseas. But we know plenty of great American gun companies, many of which have been around for generations. While most gunmakers now have factories in the United States, some gun owners are likely looking for genuine American firearms. Here are prominent firearms industry members with roots in America. Each continues proving some of the best guns in the world come from the U.S.

10. Henry Repeating Arms

biggest American gun companies

Dcl412, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Henry is celebrating over 25 years of making excellent lever-action firearms. Many revere the company for maintaining a sense of tradition among all the new-fangled innovation and tech-driven firearm designs of today. Our editorial team has acquired and shot a lot of Henry rifles over the years, and it never gets old. They are the one proper cowboy gun, sure to bring some nostalgia back to your hunting trips or shooting range visits.

9. Winchester

biggest American gun companies

Hmaag, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

We can't forget about the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. As I mentioned with Smith & Wesson, this company grew out of Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson's first company. Oliver Winchester was a clothing manufacturer until he and a few other shareholders bought the company in 1855.

The original lever-action Winchester repeaters were a variant of the volcanic rifle designed by Walter Hunt in the late 1840s. Some Winchester rifles saw action in the Civil War, but they didn't explode in popularity until after that. Eventually, two later iterations (the Model 1866 and the Model 1894) became two of the most iconic rifles of the American west.

Advertisement

Winchester also contributed heavily during both World Wars. They developed the M1 carbine and produced many of the now legendary M1 Garands for the war effort. Winchester still specializes in lever-action rifles. They just released the 125th anniversary model of the Model 94 last year. They are also known for bolt action rifles and an extensive line of hunting shotguns.

8. Smith & Wesson

biggest American gun companies

Detroit Publishing Company, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This company's long, 163-year history started in Springfield, Massachusetts, with Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson in 1856. The founding came after their original company was sold and later became Winchester Repeating Arms. One of their first revolvers, Model 1, saw action on both sides during the Civil War.

This company became known for its handguns, particularly its revolvers. The Model 27 was popular with law enforcement and civilians. The Model 29 became an icon overnight after appearing in the "Dirty Harry" movies.

Smith & Wesson still makes revolvers popular with concealed carriers and hunters. But the company is arguably more well-known now for its semi-automatic handguns and sporting rifles.
Thousands of concealed carriers trust their M&P line of semi-automatic handguns as an affordable means for personal defense. Their semi-auto sporting rifles are popular with people interested in home defense and competitive shooters.

Advertisement

The company has done some shuffling in the last few years. They moved their primary warehouse and distribution center from Massachusetts to Missouri. In 2019, their parent company officially changed S&W's name to American Outdoor Brands Corp. They had the foresight to keep the Smith & Wesson name on all firearms. Probably a good idea when your gun is a household name.

7. Springfield Armory

biggest American gun companies

John Phelan, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Springfield Armory is one of the younger companies on this list and was named for the original Springfield Armory in Massachusetts. The armory that made guns for the Revolutionary War. That little old thing.

The original armory closed in the 1960s, so it was innovative thinking by the founder of LH Manufacturing, Bob Reese, to rename the company after the place that helped make the Second Amendment possible. Of course, the current armory doesn't manufacture muskets. Instead, their focus is primarily on handguns, with their XD-M line of semi-automatic pistols becoming extremely popular for their concealability and reliability. The company also manufactures classic 1911-style handguns and a variety of semi-auto sporting rifles.

Springfield Armory is also known for producing the M1A, the civilian model of the M-14 rifle, a gun that still sees use in conflicts worldwide today. Springfield has recently started some variants of this rifle with an entire M1A line.

Advertisement

6. Savage Arms

biggest American gun companies

Savage Arms is another gun manufacturer responsible for countless generations putting venison on the table each season. Savage was founded in 1894 by Arthur Savage in New York after years of tinkering with lever-action rifle designs. Eventually, the company developed the Savage Model 99, a classic hunting rifle the company had produced for nearly 100 years.

Savage Arms stayed busy during World War II like many gun industry members. They produced Thompson submachine guns for the U.S. Military and Lee-Enfield bolt action rifles for the British.

This company is known to a lesser degree for shooting sports for their performance and sporting rifles. They've also designed some shotguns over the years and released a new semi-auto in January 2020. But bolt action hunting rifles and shotguns remain their primary focus. The Savage Model 110 is arguably the most popular of that bunch. This design has given hunters an affordable option for a hunting rifle for over a century.

Advertisement

We visited the Savage Arms factory in Westfield, Massachusetts, not too long ago and saw rifles made from start to finish. Check out our video to see how hands-on Savage is in manufacturing.

5. Colt

biggest American gun companies

Getty/KAREN BLEIER

Samuel Colt's 165-year-old company was the American gun standard for many years but filed for bankruptcy in 2015 and has undergone quite a bit of restructuring since then.

The company rose to fame by selling iconic revolvers like the Colt Navy, Colt Walker, Colt Single Action Army, and of course, the M1911A1 during John Browning's brief stint with the company. They were later responsible for two iconic military weapons, the M16 and the M4 rifle. Colt eventually lost their U.S. Military contracts, and the company still struggles to gain new footing.

But you can't deny Colt's place in firearms history or that they make great guns. Colt's M4 and AR-15 rifles are popular sporting rifles ripe for customization. Their Cobra revolver has proven incredibly popular as well.

Advertisement

4. Browning

biggest American gun companies

YouTube: Browning

We can't talk about American firearms manufacturers without mentioning Browning Arms Company. Technically the company is owned by Belgium firearms maker FN Herstal. Still, this company firmly has its roots in the good old U.S.A.

John Moses Browning is a legend of firearms history. He designed iconic guns like the M1911 handgun, the Browning Hi-Power pistol, and the Browning Auto-5 shotgun. Browning's company also designed guns that helped end World War II with firearms like the M1918 BAR and M1919 machine guns that helped turn the tide against the Nazis.

Today, Browning is best known for their high-end hunting rifles and shotguns. Many current designs are only slight modern tweaks on John Browning's original designs. The company has also expanded its operations into manufacturing clothing, boots, flashlights, camping gear, and even trail cameras. So it's safe to say Browning's versatility and innovation didn't end with the passing of its founder in 1926.

3. Mossberg

biggest American gun companies

Mossberg

This company celebrated its 100th anniversary last year. O.F. Mossberg is a true American success story. Born in Sweden in 1866, he moved to the U.S. when he was 20. But it wasn't until the end of World War that Mossberg found success with "The Brownie," a .22 pistol. Then the company took off.

Advertisement

The growth was bolstered during World War II when they successfully scored British and U.S. Military contracts for guns and parts. After the war, with many U.S. businesses booming, the company introduced the iconic Mossberg 500 pump-action shotgun in 1960. It cemented its place in history as one of the premiere shotgun manufacturers in America.

Today Mossberg builds a variety of rifles and even a handgun, but shotguns remain their bread and butter. Mossberg shotguns have proven popular with hunters, law enforcement, and military members. We expect this company's next 100 years to be as successful as the first.

2. Sturm, Ruger & Co.

Here's a manufacturer founded in Connecticut in 1949 by William Ruger and Alexander Sturm. Today this gun company is better known as simply Ruger. It's a shame Sturm doesn't get his name credited enough for this company, which has plenty of irons in the fire.

The Ruger 10/22, of course, is one of the most popular rimfire guns on the planet, with countless companies offering aftermarket parts for this popular gun. Their MK series of .22 pistols are also the most popular rimfire handguns.

Advertisement

Ruger also has a nice chunk of the concealed carry market with their popular and affordable LCR revolver and LCP subcompact semi-automatic handguns. Of course, we can't talk about this company without also talking about its bolt-action hunting rifles, which are becoming increasingly popular with hunters. Currently, this company supports U.S. jobs with facilities in Arizona, North Carolina, Missouri, and New Hampshire, giving work to over 2,000 employees.

1. Remington

We might as well start this list off with America's Oldest Gunmaker. Founded in 1816 by Eliphalet Remington, the company was born, like most companies, by Eliphalet's belief that he could build a better product. His first design, a flintlock rifle, was a hit and kicked off his new business with a bang (pun intended).

Remington builds a little of everything for the U.S. market, including handguns. Still, they are best known for their rifles and shotguns. Arguably, two guns, the Remington 700 rifle and the 870 shotgun may have killed more deer than any other pair of firearms in existence today. I used the latter to shoot a nice 7-point this season in Michigan. Soldiers in countless conflicts have trusted the 700 as the sniper rifle of choice.

This company also owns popular American outdoor brands like Bushmaster and Marlin, the manufacturer of popular rimfire guns like the Model 60, and some sweet lever-action hunting guns.

Advertisement

This article was originally published on January 5, 2020.

READ MORE: THE SAVAGE ARMS FACTORY: A LOOK AT THE "MADE IN AMERICA" GUN MANUFACTURING PROCESS

Related Videos

 
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]