Colt is halting production of its iconic modern sporting rifles in order to focus on providing the long guns to military and law enforcement.
The move was first hinted at in a Shooting Illustrated article last Thursday.
According to Colt commercial business vice president Paul Spitale, the shift in production focus is the result of changing markets.
“We listen to our customers,” Spitale said. “The whole basis for our reorganization was consumer feedback.
“We’ve seen a pretty sharp decline in rifle sales, given our price points, resulting in significant inventory build-up held by our distributors.”
In the wake of AR-15 rifles selling for under $350, Colt has decided to focus on its handgun line. Their two most iconic handguns, the 1911 and Cobra, will remain in production.
Colt itself addressed the rumors earlier today, insisting the company remains committed to both the Second Amendment and the civilian firearm market.
“The fact of the matter is that over the last few years, the market for modern sporting rifles has experienced significant excess manufacturing capacity,” the statement read. “Given this level of manufacturing capacity, we believe there is adequate supply for modern sporting rifles for the foreseeable future.
“On the other hand, our warfighters and law enforcement personnel continue to demand Colt rifles and we are fortunate enough to have been awarded significant military and law enforcement contracts. Currently, these high-volume contracts are absorbing all of Colt’s manufacturing capacity for rifles.”
Although seemingly driven by market needs rather than hate for sporting rifles, this decision comes on the heels of a wave of attacks against AR-15s.
Beto O’Rourke, one of the most widely-covered candidates fighting for the Democratic Party’s 2020 nomination, has been extremely vocal about his desire to disarm law-abiding American citizens.
O’Rourke is an advocate of the so-called mandatory “buyback,” a scheme that would see government confiscation of firearms. Those who refuse to hand over the rifles made illegal will face penalties under the law.
With AR-15 similar rifles common across America, O’Rourke’s plan doesn’t seem realistic, or even safe to attempt.
While the move by Colt isn’t necessarily a death blow for AR-15s in the United States, it comes as bad news for fans of the company’s iconic rifles.
There is hope for those fans, however.
Spitale confirmed the halt in production was “not forever” and could resume when consumers make the demand.
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