Remington Bankruptcy Stirs Memories for Sportsmen

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Remington firearms and ammunition have been a staple in the firearms industry for 200 years. Recent announcement of the company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy has many Remington owners wondering about the future of the legendary company. (Photo: Richard Simms)

If you have been a hunter for any length of time it is very likely that some sort of Remington firearm has a place in your gun cabinet.

Perhaps it is a Remington Model 700 bolt-action rifle – one of the most technologically-advanced bolt actions of its time. The company says more Model 700’s have been sold than any other bolt-action made before or since.

Or maybe you have a semi-automatic Remington 1100 shotgun dubbed the best-selling autoloading shotgun in history.

Or perhaps like me, you have two of the old workhorse Remingtons, the 870 pump shotgun – the best-selling gun in Remington history. There is no way to prove it but I think it is possible that in the 50 or 60 years those guns have been around, they have felled more wild game than most other firearms combined.

Sadly those hallmark weapons and other Remington products may go the way of the dodo bird as the company deals with a tarnished financial future. Remington Outdoor Company Inc. has said it would file for bankruptcy protection. The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing will let Remington stay in business while it works out a plan to turn around the company and pay its creditors.

The 200-year-old company said Monday that the agreement with lenders will reduce its debt by about $700 million and add about $145 million in new capital.

“Difficult industry conditions make today’s agreement prudent,” said Remington Executive Chairman Jim Geisler, “I am confident this regrouping ensures that Remington will continue both as a strong company and an indelible part of our national heritage.”

In the world of sporting arms manufacturers such as Bennelli, Beretta, Mossberg, Ruger, Savage, Weatherby and a laundry list of others often come to mind. But for hunters who have been around for more than a decade, the name Remington will likely always be first and foremost.

We posted news of the pending bankruptcy on Facebook, soliciting comments and feedback. We were flooded as dozens of sportsmen shared their favorite Remington memories.

“Remington brings back specific memories afield with my father,” wrote Gil Lackey. “As far as I know, he never owned anything but Remington firearms, and he passed them down to my brothers and me. The first gun I ever bought myself was a [Remington] 1187. I’ve since bought guns that cater more specifically to ducks, geese, turkeys or doves. But for some reason, I almost always break out that old 1187 instead of the others.”

“One fall day on a waterfowling trip, I used my Remington 1100 for a boat paddle as well as crutch and still shot a limit of mallards with it,” writes Tony Dolle. “I’ve shot every whitetail I ever killed with a Remington rifle and for a lot of years there was no other brand of firearm (long gun) in my house.”

Terry Rogers writes, “[My wife] bought me a Remington 1100 while we were dating 46 years ago and I still shoot it. Oh, I still have her too.”

But along with stories of rich Remington memories came more recent anecdotes of poor quality in the newer Remington firearms.

Keith Garner writes, ” I personally think any Remington made after 2000 is not really a real Remington based on the ones many of us grew up shooting.”

Nancy Wells shared, “I think part of their downfall was a few poorly functioning shotguns. The 1187 super mag had a trigger assembly/carrier bolt flaw and instead of fixing it, they stopped production of the shotgun and any replacement parts.”

Some say Remington’s financial woes could just be the tip of the iceberg for the firearms industry. During the Obama administration, under the fear of stricter gun control laws, gun and ammunition sales skyrocketed.

That changed with the election of President Donald Trump. He became the first sitting president to address the National Rifle Association in three decades, telling members at their annual meeting last spring that “You have a true friend and champion in the White House.”

The firearm “fear factor” subsided and sales with it. Firearm background checks declined faster in 2017 than in any year since 1998, when the FBI first began compiling the data.

Remington was largely controlled by the investment firm Cerberus Capital Management. Remington came under fire itself following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, where the shooter used a Remington Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle. The company was cleared of any wrongdoing but investors distanced themselves Cerberus.

Jim Shepherd, owner/producer of “The Outdoor Wire” is very much an insider in the firearms industry.

Shepherd writes that, “The industry is quietly pleased that this latest financial arrangement will take Cerberus Capital Management out of the gun industry.

In the bankruptcy reorganization, Cerberus will lose its ownership, and the company’s creditors – which include Franklin Templeton Investments and JP Morgan Asset Management will swap their debt for equity.

Freed from that crushing debt load, Remington has a new lease on life. Now it’s up to Remington and its associated brands to produce quality products that consumers want to buy.”

To steal Shepherd’s favorite tag line, “We’ll keep you posted.”

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