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The Keefe Report: Colt Now Shipping AR-15s

The Keefe Report: Colt Now Shipping AR-15s

Last fall, I reported that Colt Mfg. was no longer supplying its LE6920 carbines to the commercial market. There were a lot of reasons for this, mostly that Colt couldn’t compete with lower-priced makers, and the company was pretty busy with government contracts, both foreign and domestic.

NRA’s Evan Brune wrote an excellent explanation of the business reasons Colt bowed out of the consumer market that ended with a question: When, if ever, will Colt resume commercial production of its rifles? Colt’s Senior Vice President for Commercial Business Paul Spitale replied, “It’s not forever. It’s to say that, at this moment, we’re listening to consumers and putting our resources where they’re most valued.” Since then, we’ve seen the reintroduction of the Colt Python and a lot of attention paid to its M1911s.

Well, in talking with Paul this week he told me “When conditions changed, and we were able to re-enter the market, we did.” This month, more than 2,000 Colt LE6920s were shipped to commercial customers, The foreign and government business has stabilized, and Colt was able to get guns into commercial distribution this month. It likely will be able to do so again next month.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll note that consumer demand for firearms has been at record levels this year. Gun sales were reportedly up 80 percent in May. Earlier this year, a couple shops ended up reaching out to regular customers offering to buy guns and ammunition at above retail prices, just so that they could have something in the store for those masked, lined up and social distancing outside the door. The industry has ramped up production, but demand is still exceeding supply when it comes to firearms that can be used for personal protection—meaning mostly handguns, AR-15s and shotguns.

Checking with a few reliable sources at gun shops across the country, AR-15s, when they can get them, get put out by the clerks in the morning, and they are typically gone by the end of the day. Good old supply and demand has, at times, dramatically affected prices.

In one case, a carbine that went for $699 last fall, fetched double that—and its new owner was happy to get it at all. Add in the fact that Remington Outdoor had chosen to focus on its “core brands,” Marlin and Remington, leaving Bushmaster and DPMS dormant for the moment, and the price required by Colt for its carbines is far more competitive.

Colt’s government and foreign business is stable and steady, but now that its guns can compete on price and quality on the commercial side, there are LE6920s out there. That said, like most everything else, they are going pretty fast.

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