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Conn. plant closing to silence Winchester rifle
Thu Jan 19, 2006 7:40 PM ET


By Damian Troise
NEW HAVEN, Connecticut (Reuters) - The Connecticut factory that produced the Winchester rifle, celebrated in cowboy movies as the gun frontiersmen used to settle the American West, is shutting down after 140 years in New Haven.
Belgian-based Herstal Group told its 186 workers this week it plans to shutter the U.S. Repeating Arms plant, formerly known as Winchester Rifle Company, on March 31 due to slow sales.
That would end production of the Model 70 bolt-action rifle and the Model 94 lever-action rifle, known as "The Gun that Won the West" because of its use by frontiersmen in the late 19th century.
Newer models carrying the Winchester name still will be produced in Belgium, Japan and Portugal, the company said.
"If this plant does close, it will be the end of an era," said facility director Paul DeMennato, speaking from the New Haven factory, which employed more than 15,000 people during the 1940s and produced millions of guns over the decades.
The Winchester rifle became a symbol of the American West as wielded by movie star John Wayne and was later used on a popular U.S. TV series called, "The Rifleman."
Earlier, President Theodore Roosevelt helped popularize the gun by using it on a much-publicized African safari.
The company met with a prospective buyer late Wednesday, DeMennato said on Thursday, adding it was too early to tell if a sale was a serious possibility.
"Something like this isn't like buying a house," he said.
In the past year the plant dropped production by 50 percent, DeMennato said, noting that a strong international market producing less expensive rifles prompted the company to make the decision to shutter the plant.
The former owner of the factory, Missouri-based Olin Corp., still owns the rights to the Winchester brand name and licenses it to Herstal. That license expires in 2007.
Workers expressed a mix of frustration and anger after hearing the news on Tuesday.
"We've given up a lot, everything to keep this place going," said Mary O'Toole, an assembly worker with 18 years at the company. "You have generation upon generation working here and to see it go under now just doesn't seem right."
 

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CT is driving business after business out of the STATE or Overseas because the State is too dam expensive to operate in.

Between the recent 22% increase in electric rates, high property taxes on business's and the cost of heating oil and the wage pressure you have to make a ton of money to get by.

I have watched one factory after another close and move or just go out of business.

I guess I'll have to buy a Model 70 before they go out of business, so I own a piece of history.

T:( NY
 

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Can't imagine buying or owning a Japanese Winchester-:t I do have one Winchester 22 lever action. Ct must be like Pa with it's high taxes, ultil. rates etc.
 

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You're right about CT driving out businesses.

we filed our second quarter payroll return 5 days late (we had one summer time employee, otherwise no payroll). We got a penalty of $75 dollars. The amount overdue: $2.63.

Just an example of how our great state is helping the little guy get by.
 

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That is a damn shame that a State would enact legislation that is anti-manufacturing or anti-business. I can only hope that Winchester/Olin decides to relocate to another State and continue to make American firearms.
 

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It has been dicussed on my gun forum, quite a bit.

Sad when a name like Winchester goes over seas.
 

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BTT since this is happening in the next couple of days.

If you were to buy a model 94 before they are gone, which one would be the one to get??? I really don't need a 30-30 for hunting purposes, but I'd buy one just to have it since they'll be gone soon....if they are even available anymore. The octagon barrel model always looks sharp too.

Other than that, a 9422 special edition tradional tribute has my eye also.
 

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look what happened to buck knives.....same thing....
 

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Is CT not learning a lesson from California forcing businesses out? Good grief, it really is true, "Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it."
I guess we'll have to buy Marlin lever guns.
JP
 

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It really is too bad, but this isn't the first time Winchesters have been produced overseas of course. The immediate post '64 Model 70s nearly ruined Winchester way back then due to horrible quality...
 

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Some Winchesters such as the 101 over and under shotgun were made overseas exclusively. I have a model 94 that I bought in the late 60's. It is a great gun. In the early 70's I bought a 9422. That is an EXCELLENT little plinker.

Browning Auto Fives were first made in Belgium and then in Japan.

I would prefer an American made firearm, but in the Auto 5's case, as far as I know, it was always built overseas.

As far as states driving out companies. They never seem to learn. The knee jerk liberal Democratic response goes like this:

"Well company XYZ just went out of business. That means we will have a tax revenue short fall of X million dollars. To compensate we will have to raise taxes on all the other business by XX%."
:badidea:

Then they wonder why there is an exodus of companies relocating into the south or overseas. :rolleyes:

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!:mad:
Dumb Ba$tards.

Britt
 

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To many tree hugging liberials driving any thing out of this state that could make it what it once was in terms of industry,:rant:
 

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Is CT not learning a lesson from California forcing businesses out? Good grief, it really is true, "Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it."
I guess we'll have to buy Marlin lever guns.
JP
And your in shock about this. Its happening all over California with business leaving. Look at Borax Company is leaving and going to Utah. At least their staying in the USA. I bought a Browning BAR 300WSM about 2-yrs ago and the side of the gun has Browning Arms Company Morgan Utah & Montreal PQ. Made in Belgium-Assembled in Portugal.
 
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