The economy of Western Massachusetts and the entire Knowledge Corridor Region has been steeped in the production of firearms since 1777, when George Washington selected Springfield as the site of the nation's first arsenal. Since that time, the area has spawned a number of arms manufacturers, accessory manufacturers and job shops to support the industry. These major players within the world of firearms production, Smith & Wesson, Savage Arms, Ruger, Colt, Marlin & Mossberg, were not only an epicenter for innovation during the industrial revolution, but are still developing advanced manufacturing techniques today.
The region's firearms industry has evolved from supplying the U.S. military, to becoming the primary supplier of arms to thousands of law enforcement agencies and commercial dealers worldwide. In 2005 alone, local arms producers manufactured 1.8 million firearms. Powering this industry is a highly skilled workforce, steeped in not only the region's tradition as a manufacturing hub, but also the hunting and shooting sports industries.
Smith and Wesson is one of the region's largest employers with a full-time workforce of more than 800. Within its facility, the Smith & Wesson Academy instructs law enforcement personnel from every state and more than 50 countries. It considered by many of the country's law enforcement agencies to be one of America's finest training facilities. Area residents have access to Smith & Wesson Retail Store and The Smith & Wesson Shooting Center for licensing, instruction, and recreational shooting on a large range of rentable lanes.
As a manufacturing mecca, Western Massachusetts offers the firearms industry a location touting the complete supply chain required to remain competitive in today's global economy. Local companies supporting the industry include factories producing abrasives, cutting tools, fluids and other manufacturing supplies, shops contracting specialty services, including the production of forging and castings, as well as major distribution centers with the advantage of the region's superb infrastructure.
The Knowledge Corridor region, and its firearms manufacturers, encompasses the majority of this industry world-wide.
Firearms Manufacturers of Western Massachusetts*
Smith & Wesson is the largest manufacturer of handguns in the United States. Founded in 1840, this manufacturer of firearms and ammunition maintains its world headquarters in Springfield, from which they continue to manufacture the weapons of choice for the nation's police departments, a tradition since the late 1800's.
The Savage Arms Company is a Westfield firearms manufacturing company founded in 1894. The company makes a variety of rim fire and center fire rifles, including the worlds' first smokeless muzzleloader and the SNAIL, an environmentally friendly shooting range system that has since been adopted by all major firearms' manufacturers, police, military and private shooting clubs in America and 14 other countries.
Colt Manufacturing is Hartford firearms manufacturer founded in 1847. Among the most famous products from Colt are the Walker Colt ,"Colt .45" revolver and M16 production. In 2002, Colt Defense was founded as the company's division of manufacturing solely for the law enforcement, military, and private security markets worldwide.
The Marlin Firearms Company of North Haven, Connecticut has manufactured Marlin high power, center fire, lever action, and .22 caliber rim fire rifles, as well as shotguns, derringers and revolvers for more than 130 years. This Remington Arms Company is the owner of H & R Firearms.
H & R 1871 LLC is a subsidiary of Marlin Firearms and the largest manufacturer of single shot shotguns and rifles in the world. This Gardner-based company employs over 200 people and markets products under the brand names of Harrington & Richardson and New England Firearms.
O.F. Mossberg & Sons Inc., a North Haven, CT company, has been a leader in firearm design breakthroughs since 1919. Mossberg® was the first long-gun manufacturer in the U.S. to achieve ISO 9001 certification and pride's itself on adhering to strict world-class levels of manufacturing standards.
Camfour Inc. is a Westfield, MA retailer a broad range of firearms, ammunition, and related accessories to independent retail sporting goods stores and dealers throughout the US. Product categories include air guns, new and used handguns and long guns, scopes and sights, reloading supplies, and powder from such brands as Glock, Smith & Wesson, Beretta, and Colt.
Lanber USA is the U.S. headquarters for this Spanish manufacturer of quality shotguns for hunting and competition. From their local operation, housed within the Camfour Inc. headquarters of Westfield MA, Lanber distributes and sells their more than 20 models of semi-auto and over/under shotguns in all standard gauges, including upland, hunting, and competition.
U.S. Firearms Manufacturing (U.S.F.A.) is the only gun company still manufacturing in Hartford, CT, and is the newest company of its kind in the modern CNC machine world of gun makers. This company holds a historic licensing agreement with Remington Arms Company, America's oldest gun maker, to manufacture historically accurate and 100% American made guns, under the E. Remington & Sons brand. Maxim Silent Firearms Company is a subsidiary of U.S.F.A.
Westfield Electroplating has been a leader in the plating industry since 1946, producing over fifty high quality finishes. This business was the first plating company to earn the full accreditation of the National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation program.
The Mosher Company INC. has been manufacturing Finishing Compounds and related finishing equipment for over 60 years in Chicopee, MA. This business is a large supplier to the region's metal working and plating industries.
The Fountain Plating Company was founded in February 1944 to serve customers in the electronic, aircraft and aerospace industries. Fountain Plating operates one of the largest custom and production plating sources in the Northeast from it's West Springfield Industrial Park facilities, one of industry's most advanced for metals testing, metal and organic finishing.
Peerless Handcuff Company was established in 1914 in Springfield, MA. Over eighty years later, their original swing-through design continues to be the industry standard. Peerless products are also used by law enforcement, corrections and military agencies in countries around the world.
*This list represents a sampling of the Knowledge Corridor region's many firearms manufacturing companies
The Massachusetts Department of Revenue is a resource for obtaining a manufacturing classification, regulations governing companies within the manufacturing industry and the tax credits and incentives available to this industry. This organization also maintains a searchable registry of all manufacturers in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The Western Massachusetts Chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Association is a formal alliance of more than 60 member companies, united to promote the precision machining industry, provide critical business intelligence to members. This group's main focuses are in public policy as well as the development of education, workforce, industry and membership.
Western Massachusetts public schools offer a Machine Tool Technology Program for high school students in five districts. Upon completion, the students have obtained the skills required to set-up and operate manual and CNC equipment, interpret engineering drawings, and perform quality inspection processes.
Westfield Public School District Technology Program
Holyoke Public School District Technology Program
Chicopee Public School District Technology Program
Northampton Public School District Technology Program
Franklin County Technical School
Pathfinder Regional Vocational
Asnuntuck, Holyoke Community College, and Springfield Technical Community Colleges offer Manufacturing Technology (Asnuntuck) and Mechanical Engineering Technology (STCC) Associate degree and Certificate programs that prepare students for a myriad of careers in precision manufacturing.