In the always-fierce competition to sell guns to American shooters, Remington has been in tough spots before. And so, on the heels of aborted model introductions and quality-control questions, the company is doing what it has done best for two centuries—building guns. Naturally these include the legacy models many know and love, headlined by M870 shotguns, M700 bolt rifles and Marlin 336 lever-actions. But Remington Outdoor Corp. (ROC) is also innovating new designs with new manufacturing methods and new tooling. The company is determined to rekindle the shooting public’s allegiance to all-time favorites and fresh ideas alike.
Remington barrels are now produced by state-of-the-art, cold-hammer-forge CNC machinery. The result is a more uniform, finished production than could be expected from conventional tooling.
Today I embarked on a north-south junket to the twin hubs of Remington Country, a two-day shooting-press tour of manufacturing plants in Ilion, N.Y., and Huntsville, Ala. I came knowing Remington would put its best foot forward, but in a sense this is about re-opening doors after some difficult changes to the corporate structure and culture. As a Remington fan, I’m happy for the resilience, for a show of corporate determination, and I want it to work.
Kyle Luke, Remington's plant manager at its historic Ilion, N.Y., facility, shows off a presentation-grade Marlin lever-action receiver.
At Ilion we found a facility that is so huge, so historic, perhaps so dated, that it was counterintuitive to envision the vitality that we would find within. Today, 1,300 employees work in this survivor of America’s Industrial Revolution. Inside we saw plenty of honest wear-and-tear, but notably, we also encountered lots of cutting-edge, high-tech computer-numeric machinery. To be sure some older tooling is still at work, and it appeared the managers and workers have deduced the best and most practical ways possible to merge old and new manufacturing practices and equipment. We saw precision-machined parts being subject to stringent quality control methods, along with top-flight materials that aren’t always found in current trendy models. We saw sure-handed assemblers fretting over fit and finish. We’ll know soon what shooters have to say about current-edition Ilion-made 870s, 700s and Marlins, too. These models continue to move in the marketplace and, while I don’t have sales numbers to share, I saw several trucks being loaded with guns right off the assembly lines.
In addition to high-tech methods, skilled craftsmen at Remington's Ilion plant supply the personal touch where it really matters.
Mostly what I sensed was a hard-working culture of skilled labor, the kind that built our country and ensured that precious firearm freedoms could and would be within reach of Americans from all walks of life. We can’t afford to lose that.
Tomorrow our group will fly south to Huntsville to see something I expect to be quite different, a newly outfitted factory that’s just getting up to speed building guns whose designs are much newer and applications are in step with what a new generation of shooters. I’ll let you know what I find.