An August 21 ribbon-cutting marking the opening of a new facility in Manhattan didn’t involve champagne toasts by tuxedo-clad gents and their dates, hobnobbing amid the shadows of skyscrapers. Rather, the event celebrated the grand opening of Blackhawk Products’ new factory located in a tiny hamlet of the same name in western Montana. The event, which was open to the public, featured barbeque and beer and was attended by more than a few bolo-tied cowboys along with the firearm press and other media, company executives and local and state politicians.
“Montana is a great place for us to call home,” said Blackhawk President Anthony Acitelli. “The larger, more advanced facility will allow us to take on more business, hire more people and continue to grow.” In fact, the new plant, with more than 80,000 feet of workspace, initially employed more than 100 local workers, and another 60 were set to be added within the primary manufacturing workforce in the months following its opening.
The facility’s state-of-the art injection-molding equipment was designed to handle the production of Blackhawk’s popular Serpa holster line—including new variations not yet released—and also produces the company’s line of Knoxx rigid and recoil-attenuating rifle stocks. Other equipment in the plant manufactures Outers brand bore-cleaning brushes and mops and other shooting accessories.
“The direct impact Blackhawk has had on the community of Manhattan and surrounding areas is tremendous,” said Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer who took to the stage at the event just prior to the formal ribbon cutting to address the crowd. “The original economic impact calculated for this project exceeded $120 million over a five-year period,” he said.
Acitelli also credited the Prospera Business Network, the Montana Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Gallatin County and the City of Manhattan for providing Blackhawk and its parent company, ATK, with pertinent information about the Manhattan community and surrounding areas during its decision-making phase. He noted that products made at the new facility support the U.S. Military around the world and are used by law enforcement officials and shooting enthusiasts across the country.
ATK, which owns Federal Premium Ammunition, among other shooting-industry companies, acquired Blackhawk Products Group in 2010. It was founded in 1993 by former Navy SEAL Mike Noell who began making product-improved tactical nylon gear as a result of having a military-issue pack fail while working in a mine field in Iraq.