During the recent NRA Annual Meetings, Americanrifleman.org learned that Knight Rifles is closing its doors after 24 years as a key American firearms manufacturer. That news was confirmed late last week via an announcement from Modern Muzzleloading, Inc., a related subsidiary under corporate parent, Pradco Outdoor Brands/EBSCO. The press release stated, “The decision to close the Knight operation resulted from an overall industry downturn.” Reportedly Knight sales had declined sharply in recent years and efforts to sell the brand and company assets were unsuccessful.
The release indicated that Knight owners would not be abandoned. “All warranty, non-warranty, and replacement part services will remain in place … and all customers will have access to experienced service personnel for consultation, questions and repair of Knight products (in serviceable condition).” Additionally, Modern Muzzleloading will continue to offer Knight parts and accessories, according to the announcement.
From the time of introduction in 1985, Knight’s inline muzzleloaders exerted a profound effect on the American hunting scene. Founder Tony Knight’s ingenious adaptation of a largely forgotten, 180-year-old muzzleloader design attracted deer hunters in droves thanks to modern lines and ease of operation. In short order other firms co-opted the inline concept, and the resulting new class of firearms tallied big sales. This led to a resurgence in muzzleloading as big-game hunters across the nation equipped themselves to take advantage of blackpowder-only seasons.
Like millions of other American hunters, I took advantage of the muzzleloading boom to spend many more days afield, and accordingly Knight muzzleloaders played a big part in my sporting life. Using the early MK-85 model I tracked deer in snow during late seasons, and later used a Magnum Elite to kill my first 6x6 bull elk. Subsequently I used Knights to take mule deer, pronghorns, black bears, wild hogs and many more whitetails. For me—as I expect will be the case for others—the news of Knight Rifles’ demise is like learning about the loss of an old friend.