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View Full Version : Winchester/USRAC on the auction block...



x39
09-05-2006, 07:57 PM
Some nice stuff here. Another American icon bites the dust.
http://www.thomasauction.com/auctions/auction.cfm?intProjectID=67
I'm guessing the Chinese will gobble it all up at top dollar.

motorworks
09-05-2006, 08:22 PM
Perhaps the NRA could buy it and set up shop?!?!
Good old Geroge could kick in a few million along with a few oil buddies and have it back in business in no time!?
A shot gun weddin' here and there, perhaps even a gay shot gun weddin'?!

x39
09-05-2006, 09:16 PM
Perhaps the NRA could buy it and set up shop?!?!
Good old Geroge could kick in a few million along with a few oil buddies and have it back in business in no time!?
A shot gun weddin' here and there, perhaps even a gay shot gun weddin'?!
Hmmmm.... yeah, okay.....

Ries
09-05-2006, 10:15 PM
FN of Belgium has owned Winchester Repeating Arms Company, and Browning, for some years now.
Olin, an American Company, used to own it, but got rid of the gun department a long time ago- in the 80's, I think.
Olin still makes all the Winchester ammo in Illinois, and they still own the Winchester name, and licence it to the Belgians.

So this hasnt really been an American company for something like 10 years.
The Belgian head office has just decided that it cant make the guns as cheaply here as it can in Belgium. So there will still be Winchester guns, in one form or another- they will be imported from Europe.

Interestingly enough, FN also owns the plant in South Carolina that makes all the M16's for the Military.

Its another one of those hard to explain stories- FN, which is based in Belgium, with high taxes, socialised medicine, virtual lifetime employment, and all those other expensive, anti-business laws, can somehow make guns cheaper than we can here in America. And then they buy all the old american companies, or just build a factory here, and still do it cheaper.
Go figure.

I saw a big photo essay on the current Winchester plant, the one that is being auctioned off, and it was actually pretty small,a new building, with relatively new high tech equipment, and I dont think it was union, either.

TECHSHOP
09-05-2006, 10:26 PM
Let us see:

The "Assault Weapon" ban resulted in only the "government" being able to buy "prohibited items", from the lowest bidders. This resulted in all the companies that could produce this type of thing to go bankrupt...
The US Government is purchasing ammo from off shore...
The US Government is trying to "buy back" weapons that were sold off as "surplus" to other countries...

The NRA was founded by combat veterans because of the "short sightedness" of the US Government in the war they fought and survived...

Funny, how a man's views are formed...

HTRN
09-06-2006, 06:09 AM
Its another one of those hard to explain stories- FN, which is based in Belgium, with high taxes, socialised medicine, virtual lifetime employment, and all those other expensive, anti-business laws, can somehow make guns cheaper than we can here in America. And then they buy all the old american companies, or just build a factory here, and still do it cheaper.
Go figure.

Ah, but there is a difference. Belgium doesn't have to deal with Unions, Belgium isn't in notorious antigun Connneticut, Belgium doesn't have to deal with an ancient factory building(over 150 years old), that is far to big for it's needs, and most important of all, Belgium has a long history of gunmakers as significant source of GDP. Winchester was a relatively small, lone employer in one town in the state. I have feeling most of the post Newhaven guns aren't going to be made in Belgium anyway - Miroku in Japan, already makes most of the Browning labeled guns, and all of Winchester's "specials" and quite a few of their shotguns.

The Chinese aren't going to be buying up this plant. The major machinery dealers, and the medium sized companies are. They'res going to be alot of latemodel CNC machines, notably a bunch of Haas VMC's, as well as quite a few CMM's. It's going to be a 2 day auction, and I'm probably going to it, if nothing else than to take photo's of an end of an era. What's probably going to happen is all the general purpose stuff is gonna go for ridiculous money, but the special purpose stuff is either gonna go for a song, or it goes to the scrapper. If I had the money and the space, I'd look to buy up the rifling equipment. As it is, I plan to buy Chamber reamers, and promotional stuff(not what goes to the public, but rather the stuff Winchester gives to distributors to entice them), as this stuff is likely to go for a song.


HTRN

HWooldridge
09-06-2006, 10:57 AM
I have read that one of the things killing gun and ammo makers here is liability insurance. When I was in the plastic molding business, our insurance agent came over for his yearly visit and about fell over dead when he saw we were making a plastic buttstock for a shotgun. Wanted to triple our premium on the spot but we were able to talk him out of it by maintaining we were pretty far down in the food chain. However, he did say that there were a few very high risk businesses that commanded enormous premiums from insurance companies and gun makers were one of them. Of course, this was due to lawsuits so who do we blame for that???

I was inside Winchester on a sales trip several years ago (maybe 5?) and they were primarily making the newer version of the model 70 in the short magnum calibers - I also saw some pump shotguns in the racks. There was a LOT of rework laying around all over the place and most of the equipment and processes were manual with very little CNC that I could see. Maybe I was in the wrong part of the plant. I don't recall seeing very many factory people, most seemed to be older skilled workers who probably had some history with the company and were trying to be the last to leave. I'll bet the overhead was substantial to keep that place open.

Ries
09-06-2006, 12:30 PM
I think you are right about insurance- that was undoubtedly a big reason to quit making the guns here.

But as far as other costs- the building is pretty new, a concrete tiltup in an industrial park. They moved out of the old factory long ago. Which means its still expensive, just not old.

Labor costs in Japan, if that is where the Browning factory is, are much higher than connecticut- and they have unions there too.
Same with Belgium- I have been in factories in Belgium (not arms factories) and talked with management. Wages are high, laws restrict firing and layoffs, and there is such a labor shortage that many employees commute from France.
One thing they have in both Japan and Belgium, though, is universal health care, so the factory doesnt pay any health benefits. They also have government pension plans in both countries, so the factories have smaller, if any pension costs.
Both of these things make it cheaper to produce guns there.

Another factor though, is that the guns being made at the Repeating Arms factory, unlike the M16's at FN's other plant in South Carolina, are not military weapons- they are nostalgia guns for consumers.
And the consumer market in the USA has become very fashion and trend oriented. There is a solid base for old classics, yes, but with over 200 million guns in circulation, there are lots of used ones available.

The big money in guns these days is in the flavor of the month- the latest, greatest, most expensive, flashy gun you saw in an action movie.

Just like in the auto industry, where the profits were in big luxury SUV's and Pickups, the gun industry doesnt make much on a 22 plinking rifle, or a K-Mart shotgun.
Nope, the money is in hand engraved over and unders, assault rifle lookalikes, 50 caliber sniper rifles, ($7750 for a Barrett) and fantasy pistols like the Linebaugh 50 caliber revolvers, which start at $2900 with your frame.

HWooldridge
09-06-2006, 03:29 PM
Ries,

I went in the newer of the two buildings - not the old original one, although it was pointed out to me on a tour. As I recall, it was vacant and most of the windows were knocked out.

I dealt with making parts for the firearms business for several years and always thought Marlin and Mossberg to be two of the better managed ones. Mossberg assembles in in Eagle Pass - just across from Piedras Negras, Mexico and seems to make a decent quality, competitive product. Up until a few years ago, the last Mr. Mossberg to work at the Connecticut headquarters was still coming in the door every day in his walker, which is probably why they were doing well. Marlin never had the famous Winchester name but still enjoyed a wide following - I personally prefer their lever guns to W because of the side ejection feature.

You are so right about flavor of the month. In sane and logical company, it's generally accepted wisdom that you can hunt 99% of the world's game with only three things in the arsenal: a 30-06, a 12 ga shotgun and a 22 rifle. However, the gun pundits would have nothing to write about if the .13 Super Flea didn't debut at the next SHOT show...

HTRN
09-07-2006, 02:50 AM
There was a LOT of rework laying around all over the place and most of the equipment and processes were manual with very little CNC that I could see. Maybe I was in the wrong part of the plant.

Go take a look at the auction listing - a dozen or so late model turning centers, a Star Screwmachine, A CNC grinder, a bunch of VMC's...

Somebody pointed out that for the last few years, FN seemed to be squeezing whatever they could out of the plant, with putting money back into it. Another problem was that they were hell bent on competing with Remington on price - basically trying to offer a Caddilac at an oldsmobile price. What they should have done, was focus on turning out first rate guns, and charged accordingly(IOW, use the "Dakota" business model, before they got themselves in trouble with mergermania), rather than sacrificing their good name by cutting corners - the last of the 94's were particularly bad, or so I heard.


HTRN