CNN on Winchester

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Marlin, Jan 19, 2006.

  1. Marlin

    Marlin *TFF Admin Staff Chief Counselor*

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    This item was on CNN today. It quotes the action being taken by Herstal, rather than taking just the local political and union stance. It is indeed very sad news.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Winchester takes a bullet

    Factory that makes 'Gun that Won the West' to close in March




    NEW HAVEN, Connecticut (AP) -- The traditional Winchester rifles carried by pioneers, movie stars and Wild West lawmen will be discontinued in March, its Belgian manufacturer said Wednesday, confirming the end of an American icon that became known as "The Gun that Won the West."

    Once the U.S. Repeating Arms plant in New Haven, Connecticut, closes on March 31, the only new rifles carrying the famous Winchester name will be the modern, high-end models produced in Belgium, Japan and Portugal. The older models, including the famous Winchester Model 94, will be scrapped.

    "The name will continue, but not with those traditional products," said Robert Sauvage, a spokesman for the Herstal Group, the Belgian company that owns U.S. Repeating Arms and the right to the Winchester name.

    Herstal announced Tuesday that the U.S. Repeating Arms factory would soon close, capping 140 years of Winchester manufacturing in New Haven.

    "Economically speaking, we cannot continue. We have lost a lot of money," Sauvage said.

    More than 19,000 Winchester employees worked in New Haven during World War II, but after years of a softening firearms market, the plant now employs fewer than 200. All will lose their jobs when the plant closes.

    Officials and union leaders said they hoped someone would buy the plant and continue building the traditional rifles, but the Winchester name wouldn't necessarily come with the factory. Such an arrangement would need to be worked out separately.

    Missouri-based Olin Corp. owns the Winchester brand name. In the late 1970s, after a massive strike by its machinists, Olin sold the plant to U.S. Repeating Arms along with the right to use the Winchester name until next year.

    Sauvage said the Herstal Group wants to extend that right past 2007 but Olin has not decided whether to allow it. Spokeswoman Ann Pipkin said Olin is disappointed with Herstal's decision to close the plant and may sell the Winchester naming rights to someone else.

    "The legendary Winchester name, we want it to be on a great-quality firearm," she said.

    The Winchester model 1873 lever action rifle, popular among American frontiersmen at the end of the 19th century for its reliability, inspired the 1950 James Stewart film "Winchester '73."

    John Wayne made the Winchester a signature of his movies and Chuck Connors posed menacingly with his Winchester on advertisements for the television series "The Rifleman."

    President Teddy Roosevelt also was a Winchester devotee, using the 1895 model on his famous 1909 African safari, which historians credited with boosting the sale of Winchester sporting rifles.

    While collectors were drawn to Winchester's many commemorative or special-edition rifles, sportsmen often still hunt with rifles that are generations old, a longevity that historian R.L. Wilson said became both the hallmark of the Winchester brand and part of its demise.

    "It's not unusual in my work, I'll talk to someone, they'll say, 'I've got my rifle that belonged to my grandfather. I'm still using it,"' Wilson said. "These things get recycled as long as you keep a gun clean and you look after it."

    Sauvage said Herstal is proud to have manufactured Winchester rifles for so long. He said he thinks customers will continue buying the new line of weapons, which can be produced quickly and for less money, because Belgium, like America, has a reputation for quality manufacturing.

    Others say it won't be the same.

    "It would be like Chevrolet going out of business or Chevrolet being made in Japan or China," firearms historian Ned Schwing said. "Winchester is an American legend, whether you're a gun person or not."

    © 2006 The Associated Press and CNN
  2. Marlin T

    Marlin T Active Member

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    What a shame.

    I used to live pretty close to hartford but never went to the factory, now I'm going to have to kick myself in the a**.

    So the union wants 'someone' to restart the factory huh? I bet they are a big part of the reason that it is folding! What a shame
  3. Tracker

    Tracker New Member

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    It is a shame. Gun Owner or not-- Winchester is an American Icon. If you had told me 20 years ago that this would happen--I would have laughed at you--no laughter now-sad, very sad.
  4. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    Don't despair people.

    Browning survived all this time never producing a single gun in their "factory". They'd design them and let someone else build them in Portugal, Belguim, or Japan. Several of the classics in the Winchester line were Brownings, made in Japan, with the Winchester name on them. All Herstal has to do is find a factory to build the few different models originally made in America, that doesn't have unions and pays fair labor wages. It could actually be here the US as the Buckmark is made here.

    It will all shake out when OLIN decides what to do with the Winchester name. Herstal appears to want to continue with the Winchester name. OLIN just has to get used to this new "World" market that puts the manufacturing where it can make money. Japanese Winchester are not new as several of the historic Winchester have been made there and believe me they are beautiful guns, far surpasing anything that ever came out of the US Winchester factory as a pure production gun.

    We've not heard the last of Winchester!

    LDBennett
  5. I sure hope the name does not die. It would be like a part of America died. What would the shooting world be without the trusty old '94 30-30???
  6. Familyguy

    Familyguy New Member

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    Ummmm, modern? I'll probably get slammed by this evidently Winchester-loving crowd, but other than for nostalgia's sake I won't miss them. Marlin is turning out perfectly good lever actions, Winchester's bolt actions leave something to be desired, and quite frankly I was never that impressed with their 'quality' to begin with. Sorry guys. Flame away.
  7. No flames, FG, because I think you are certainly right to some degree. Winchester has indeed not lived up to its reputation in recent years. That was not always true though, and I think it is those earlier weapons many of us look back to with such nostalgia. That is especially true of the pre '64 Winchesters when they were still using milled instead of stamped parts. I have a '94 I inherited from my Dad that was built in 1953. It's still as tight and accurate as it was over a half century ago. The old Model 21 SxS scatterguns were also objects of great beauty and utility, right up there with the old Purdys.
  8. Familyguy

    Familyguy New Member

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    Pistolenshutze - my mom has a pre-64 94 in 30-30 sittin in her safe, given to her by her father. I hope to own it one day. Sentimental value is definitely something I understand.

    Milled vs. stamped...really that big of a difference? Honest question, I'm not a manufacturing expert.
  9. Tracker

    Tracker New Member

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    I own 3 Marlins--great guns. Winchester going down. Not a question of what we have or prefer. Fact is , Winchester set the "goal" on the great lever actions 94's , others merely copy'd----it will be a sad day, Winchester fan or not--an American Icon will no longer exist. Thank Winchester for years of quality firearms--whether you prefer one or not--"The Gun that Won the Wild West"
  10. berto64

    berto64 Active Member

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    The value on the early makes is gonna rise fer sure!

    Two yrs ago I gave my brother a very nice Mod. 94 rifle (not Carbine) with full octagonal barrell in 30-30 made in 1908. I just emailed him and told him to not let anything happen to it.

    Still tight and accurate last time I fired it.

    Sure do miss it, too!
  11. inplanotx

    inplanotx New Member

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    Guess I'll have to run out and get the 94 I wanted in 25-35 Winchester. :eek:
  12. Marlin

    Marlin *TFF Admin Staff Chief Counselor*

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    I wouldn't have a 94. Had one and sold it quickly!!!!!

    :eek: :eek: :)
  13. It made a big difference in terms of tolerances and fit, FG. It is true that today stamped parts have improved a great deal, and most steel guns are largely made that way, but the old rolled and milled steel techniques of yesteryear produced weapons that would last several lifetimes.

    Was it a post '64, Marlin? If so, I rather suspect you did the right thing. The newer guns are loose as a goose and not worth bringing home. As for the '94 generally though, I think they have their place. For hunting with iron sights in heavy brush they can't be beaten except perhaps by the Marlins, and even that I would gauge as a draw when you get right down to it. I must admit, part of my like for them is because I used a '94 for most of the hunts I went on until I was about 16 and bought a Remington 700 and scope. Took a whole summer's work to pay for it too! :D
  14. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

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    Minn-eeee-sota, ya, sure, you bet!
  15. inplanotx

    inplanotx New Member

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