Thursday, August 17, 2006

Some Thoughts on the Winchester "Return"

This from the SHOOTING WIRE a couple of days ago:
Winchester Ammunition and Browning Firearms have announced a new, long-term firearms licensing agreement. Under the new agreement, Browning will continue to produce Winchester firearms, retaining the Winchester license. Sources tell The Outdoor Wire the agreement will cover modern firearms including the Super-X shotgun and Super-X rifles, but will not include the traditional Winchester firearms (Model 94s, Model 70s and the Model 1300 Speed Pump Shotguns) formerly produced in USRAC's now-shuttered New Haven, Connecticut plant.
I don't think this changes anything I'd heard earlier. The only guns that were definitely off the table were the 94 lever gun, the Model 70 rifle and the 1300 pump gun. I heard an interesting tidbit a couple of days ago about production at the USRAC Hartford plant in the months leading up to the closing.

One of my cherubs and seraphim told me that, essentially, the plant was cranking out pretty much nothing but pre-64 style Winchester actions for FNH's hugely successful FBI rifle, and there's now a lot in inventory.

Here's some whispers to watch for...Browning has released a Model 1892 Winchester clone, the B-92, before. The "Made-in-Japan" Browning/Winchesters, produced in small numbers in .44 Magnum and .357 Magnum in the early 1980s, are among the best '92 clones ever made.

At the time of their manufacture, Cowboy Action Shooting hadn't really taken off, and the pistol-cartridge B-92s were solutions in search of a problem. A new B-92 in the classic cartridges of the original, .44-40 and .38-40, might find a pretty good market. The Japanese probably stil have the tooling, so it wouldn't be that big of a putt...


Countertop said...

A local FFl told me (yeah, yeah, I know never to believe 'em) that FN had shipped all of the tooling out to Belgium and that regardless of whether someone came in to purchase the name, they could never remake the rifles cause the machines were gone.

Any truth to that? Whats actually happened to the plant and the machines and the toolings?

GunGeek said...

One thing that was made public at the same time as the initial announcement of the plant closing was that the contract with the union had a clause in it requiring that the models made there could only be made there by members of that union for the duration of the contract. Said contract not expiring until something like middle of next year.
In fact, I think it didn't expire until a few months after the license from Winchester to USRAC for making the guns ran out.
IIRC, it was something like March of 2007 Winchester could let someone else have the license to make those particular weapons, and USRAC's contract with the union ran out in July 2007 or somesuch.
IANAL, so I have no idea what would be possible between March and July (or whatever the exact months are) when USRAC might have no license but the union still has a contract to make those models.