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Since around Feb. 24th, 2017, rumors having been flying around the internet about “bad days” at Colt Manufacturing. Beginning around then, members of 1911Forum.com started posting cryptic messages about substantial layoffs at Colt. Some of the posters apparently had inside knowledge about what is/was going on there due to knowing people who actually work at the plant and confirmed that Colt is going through some very rough times. On Feb. 28th, Brent Turchi, the director of Colt Custom Shop, confirmed that he had been laid off by Colt’s Manufacturing.
However, to those familiar with basic economics and Colt’s “unique” business history this shouldn’t really be surprising. Following Colt Defense’s most recent 2015 bankruptcy, Colt in its entirety, to include the civilian Colt Manufacturing, has seemed to be floundering.
In late 2015/early 2016, Colt changed their distribution model, ordering their dealers to stock at least $100,000.00 of inventory or lose their status as a Colt dealer. In response…. Colt lost a lot of dealers. Fast forward a few months from there and Colt had inventory pouring out of their asses and had an untold amount of product stuck in distribution outlets. In fact, Colt Manufacturing was rumored to have sold guns at a loss just to generate some of their capitol back. I myself benefitted from this, and snatched up a Colt M45 Marine for a screaming deal.
It’s important to note that Colt Manufacturing (civilian) and Colt Defense are separate entities, along with Colt Canada and other subsidiaries. However, neither of the Colt names having been doing very well, and frankly their problems aren’t new. Ever since the mid 1950’s Colt has been setting itself up for failure. Rumors have even been circulating that Colt Canada and some of their other advanced facilities/projects like Colt SWORD are all going under or struggling.
Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, depending on where you stand) Colt is a name that’s “too big to die”. Every time Colt fails, a new group of investors snatches it up and drains the company dry for any profit they can make. Even if that means licensing out the Colt name to other companies to make a substandard product (looking at you, “Colt” Expanse), or even selling of their own tooling and machinery. It’s really a shame that such a storied American company be treated so poorly and repeatedly run through the ringer for the sake of a few extra dollars.
But that’s capitalism, folks. I wish the best to the employees at Colt, and hope that their senior management can get their heads out of their asses. But I’m not holding my breath. The gun bubble is finally coming to a collapse, and I suspect that Colt won’t be it’s last victim. Olympic Arms was the first causality, and there will be more down the road. It’s really just a matter of how severe. Today’s modern firearms manufacturer needs to be responsive to customers, innovative, and above all: have a fantastic marketing department (I’m only half joking). Hopefully these failures will serve as a wake-up call to the industry that they can no longer keep serving up luke warm ideas that lack innovation or invention. To survive, the gun industry will have to get off it’s laurels, roll up its sleeves, and go back to actual work.