Montana Rifle Company Returning In 2023?

posted on November 2, 2022
Montana Rifle Company

Montana Rifle Company, established in 1999 by gunsmith Keith Sipe in Kalispell, Mont., specialized in modern controlled-round-feed bolt-action receivers and complete rifles. It didn’t take long for the firm to establish an enviable reputation for guns that looked every bit as good as they performed.

Orders were steady, actually increasing, when the company closed its doors in early 2020, according to a report in Kalispell’s Daily Inter Lake newspaper. A company spokesman told the reporter that, “…while sales were at a record level and [there were] many new offerings, production levels never reached demand levels. This was primarily due to older equipment and [a] lack of funds to purchase new machinery.” In January of that year, Ron Petty, who was CEO of the firm before the decision to close, told the newspaper that 2019 was a banner year for the company.

When American Rifleman contacted Petty this month, he had good news. The company is “coming back in 2023,” he responded in an e-mail.

Sipe’s Model 1999 receiver, with its Mauser-style controlled-round-feed system of operation, laid the firm’s foundation solidly on performance, timeless function and looks to match. It ultimately became available in three versions—classic, high country and tactical—in different finishes and even wearing synthetic stocks.

Jeff Sipe, his son and former Kimber employee, took over the firm’s reins in 2007. He maintained that dedication to quality while methodically heightening the company’s efforts to help non-profit organizations dedicated to preserving the Second Amendment and hunting. In 2016, for example, Montana Rifle created a limited run of 1,150 American Legends Rifles that raised funds at Friends of NRA banquets nationwide. The generosity heightened the firm’s reputation and popularity.

In 2019, Montana Investment Group acquired the company. The next year, the doors shuttered.

The decision’s timing may be coincidence, but the first states in the U.S. to enact COVID-19 restrictions did so on March 15, 2020. Painful raw material shortages and shipping backlogs followed. The Daily Inter Lake article has a March 29, 2020, dateline—two weeks later.

Montana Rifle Company had only 22 employees at the time of its closure, a modest number that likely made it a low priority among suppliers already feeling the pinch. Add increased raw material prices, processed by outdated equipment, and it was the kind of economic storm many larger companies failed to survive.

Thankfully, things have changed. American Rifleman will let you know when a planned re-launch date is announced.


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