Colt Ending Production of AR-15s for Civilian Market

September 19, 2019 Updated: September 19, 2019

Colt confirmed on Sept. 19 it was ending production of long guns for the civilian market in order to shift to selling to military and law enforcement, a week after a company official first disclosed the news.

One of the long guns the Connecticut-based company will stop producing is AR-15s.

“The fact of the matter is that over the last few years, the market for modern sporting rifles has experienced significant excess manufacturing capacity. Given this level of manufacturing capacity, we believe there is adequate supply for modern sporting rifles for the foreseeable future,” Dennis Veilleux, president and CEO, said in a statement.

“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.”

In addition, Veilleux said the company is expanding its network of dealers across the country. The company will supply them with “expanding lines of the finest quality 1911s and revolvers.”

“There have been numerous articles recently published about Colt’s participation in the commercial rifle market. Some of these articles have incorrectly stated or implied that Colt is not committed to the consumer market. We want to assure you that Colt is committed to the Second Amendment, highly values its customers and continues to manufacture the world’s finest quality firearms for the consumer market,” he said.

“At the end of the day, we believe it is good sense to follow consumer demand and to adjust as market dynamics change. Colt has been a stout supporter of the Second Amendment for over 180 years, remains so, and will continue to provide its customers with the finest quality firearms in the world.”

This February 4, 2013 photo illustration in Manassas, Virginia, shows a man holding a Colt AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. (Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)
A Colt Close Quarters Combat (CQB) 1911 .45 ACP pistol is displayed during the annual NRA convention in Houston, Texas in 2013. (Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)

A leaked email from RSR Group, a firearm distributor, showed Colt telling the company it was ending production of all Colt long guns earlier this month.

In response, Paul Spitale, Colt’s senior vice president for commercial business, confirmed to Shooting Illustrated, a National Rifle Association magazine, on Sept. 12, that the company was ending production for retail long guns but noted the shift was in part because the price of modern sporting rifles has sharply declined as the market has flooded.

The production capacity for AR-style rifles is tied up in producing guns for contracts Colt has already signed, Spitale said. Combined with the lack of demand from the market for Colt long guns, Colt determined it would suspend production for retail.

On the other hand, Spitale said the company is focusing on handguns.

“We’re going to focus on the products that our consumers are asking for,” Spitale said.

“We’ve expanded our 1911s and our revolver line, and that market has been very positive for us.”

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