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“Gun maker Colt Defense LLC plans to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection by Monday, according to people familiar with the matter, amid business and accounting troubles. The company has secured financing to continue operating while in bankruptcy and expects to remain in business after the restructuring, the people said.” The combination of years of indifference toward the civilian market combined and the gut-punch that was losing most of its military AR business have finally caught up to Colt . . .

Venerable name or not, the West Hartford, Connecticut company has a tough row to hoe if it’s going to work its way out of its second bankruptcy in a little over 20 years. No one will be too surprised if this time results in a liquidation and sale of the name to someone with a better track record of making firearms a still gun-hungry public wants to buy.

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96 Responses to WSJ: Colt to File for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection Tomorrow

  1. That’s what happens when you suck up to a fickle government that goes for the lowest bidder, and ignore the civilian gun purchasers while inflating costs and decreasing quality. The current 3rd Generation Single Action Army from the Colt Custom Shop is generally lower quality (and has lots of manufacturing shortcuts) compared to a Uberti 1st Generation “clone”, and costs over twice as much!

    • Or it’s what happens when you cut a deal with the Clinton admin, in 1999, and stop development for a the civilian market just before it’s about to boom. The only thing of value left at Colt is the name, and that will be sold off along with office furniture and tools. Someone will snatch up the name and start importing Canik or some other turk gun as the new Colt. It will be just like Springfield Armory.

      • The key being that Springfield Armory imports guns that, while Croat made, are of excellent quality.

        If someone wants to slap the Colt name on imported firearms worth the money, that’s business and we’ll mourn the history of legendary American brand. I have a feeling it will instead be run into the ground a la Remington @ Freedom Group.

        • Colt actually tried to slap the Colt name on an imported gun around 15 years ago and it was a flop. They contracted CZ to design and build the Colt Z40, which became the CZ 40B after the deal fell apart.

      • Johnny,

        I couldnt agree more with you regarding what you said about Canik. I own one and i am very impressed by the quality. For $360, with shipping and transfer, I boughr mine. I am suprised that somebody like Colt doesnt put their moniker on them.

        I am a fan of the old school Colt products but as far as what they have done to the civilian market is their cup of poison.

        • Nonsense. If there is one country across the world that HATES AMERICA, it’s Turkey. I wouldn’t consider a Turk made gun if they were free.

    • Having had the opportunity to bid on military contracts and reading all the fine print, the process is far from going to the lowest bidder! The bidding process is rigged by so many regulations that only those with political influence [$$] need apply!

      IF I were president, and why not as anyone can beat Obama, the military budget would be cut by 25% and I’d rain a version of ‘Star Wars’ down on our enemies! They would die, we would not and that’s how it should work!

      • I’m not sure I understand, but I think you mean to have orbital satellite weapons that throw things from space to earth… AKA kinetic bombardment, aka rod of god, aka Lucifer’s hammer… is NOT the same thing as Star wars, which was mean to be space to space satellite/ICBM killers ONLY; not space to earth weapons.

        If you’re thinking that system will save money, I ask you this: unless you’re proposing building a space elevator (!!!:D) and already considering that cost amortized through the savings in military spending over a decade or so; then how exactly do you save money bringing hundreds or thousands of tons of material into space? Space delivery/flight isn’t exactly cheap (without a space elevator or something awesome like that)

        • It’s certainly not cheaper than pressing the red button on a Nuclear Weapons program that already is mostly paid for and has the capacity to blow up our enemies 100 times over.

    • Whoa… Hold your prancing ponies there cowboy. Dirty civilians are nowhere near tactical enough to own Colt products. What they need to do is go out again to get their teeth kicked in for government contracts by FNH… Again. I mean seriously, next you’re going to suggest that H&K sell semi-auto 416s to the public… Crazy talk.

      Don’t forget, you suck, and they hate you.

      • @Pwrserge, Colt actually tried to buy FNH in the late nineties. The Belgian government announced that it would nationalize FNH rather than have it fall into foreign hands.

    • When I think of Colt, I think of the Python. It’s time to dust off all the old Python machines and start cranking them out.

      • That’s not going to happen. Those old snake guns were labor intensive to build and much of it was hand fitting. The people who made them are long gone as is the knowledge of how they did what they did. It would be too little too late for Colt. You can’t sell 5000 or 6000 of a gun and make a turn around. Unless Colt has something on the drawing board that would do what Glock did in the 80’s, it’s too late for them.

  2. Well, any company that makes that many questionable business decisions deserves to go belly up. I’m still disappointed in Colt for more or less stopping the development of their civilian product lines.

  3. Colt sold out to the gun control crowd in the 1960s. Maybe somebody will buy them for the name and marketing. I do not see Colt turning around, too much inertia and largess.

    • Too late. The tooling is gone, and more importantly the skilled labor is not there. The skills can be relearned/taught, and the tools could be rebuilt but the market value to break even again would probably be $2000 per unit. How many people are going to pay that much for a good quality mass produced revolver, when they can get a performance center custom for the same or less?

    • Yup then they could release the Colt Mustang as the new R53, they can get the same guys responsible for the R51 working right on it. I’m sure the poor quality control will be a great way to improve Colt’s financial position.

      • Exactly. And if Cerberus Capital wasn’t trying to exit the firearms business, I’m sure they’d be all over Colt like hair on a gorilla.

        • Actually if another gun company buys colt it might be Taurus. I know they have their own QC issues at times but I would be nice to see some of thier innovative thinking be produced stateside without magizine restrictions, I think the Taurus carbine may have done better if not reduced to only 10 rounds and increased importation fees.

  4. I almost feel sorry for all the suckers who have been paying too much for their firearms just because it has the bucking bronco on it.

    Cue Colt fanatics to explain the logo.

    LOL

  5. “It is better to be at the head of a louse than at the tail of a lion!’… If I can’t be first, I won’t be second in anything.” (Samuel Colt). I guess he got his wish.

    • He would hope for the tail of a lion, if he saw his company seated in the a_ _ of the gay-wombat CT.

      Failure is grown and cultivated there.

  6. I thought Colt selling M4 type rifles to foreign countries was going to be the saving grace. Guess not.

      • That is a problem then. Colt doesn’t have a market share at all, because we already bought new FN M4 and M16 rifles for the Iraqi people with US tax dollars, guess they really need to find some paying customers… I would suggest Mexican drug cartels but Obama and Holder already stocked that area too.

  7. I still want a Colt or three–but none of them are current production. Colt Series I SAA, Colt Lightning, Colt M1911A1.

  8. “The combination of years of indifference toward the civilian market combined and the gut-punch that was losing most of its military AR business have finally caught up to Colt . . .”

    Yepper, they screwed the pooch big time and are paying for it now. Plus most of the POTG I know personally have pretty much stopped buying things out of trust JUST because it has a specific logo on it, Remington for me personally.

  9. I’m guessing this is a result of years of shaming from Connecticut residents condescending on the workers of colt: “You awful person! you make guns for a living?? Here? In the state of Connecticut?”

    Worker: “Oh no maam! We only make guns for military and law enforcement.”

    Shaming ignorance: “Oh – well that’s ok then. Military and law enforcement need guns for all the weirdo government questioning firearm owners out there. Freaks with phallic insecurities!”

    • Not at all, Connecticut much like up-sate New York is fairly conservative or libertarian there just aren’t enough votes in the rural parts of the state to overcome the liberal voting blocks in Hartford, New Haven & Bridgeport is statewide elections.

      The problems at Colt really boil down to years of mismanagement. The private equity firm that owns Colt has been loading it up with debt while at the same time hoovering out cash in the form “distributions” and “advisory fees.” for years.

  10. Said it months ago on a previous TTAG post. They lost the .gov honey money, ignored civilian sales to the point of being too late to the party. Remained overpriced, didn’t send reps to gun shows in rural America, they kept a upward turned nose and only sucked up at SHOT and NRA type National Events, had disconnected mgt. and stayed in the North East.

    I’ll say what I did months ago. MOVE the HELL OUT of the NE, do some down and dirty actual marketing. Dig out the old Snake spec line of revolvers, but DONT be snobs on the price. Aim Small, Miss Small. There are folks that would love to add a Colt to the stable, (I have 3), I would love a Snake issue.
    There is talent that can make them.
    Think outside the box, since you haven’t for sometime.

    • Read my post above, Affordable snake revolvers are not coming back, not unless Rossi or Taurus buy the rights.

      • “Affordable snake revolvers are not coming back, not unless Rossi or Taurus buy the rights.”

        It would be real interesting if Cabot bought the rights.

        After few years making them, take what they learned and apply it to how they should have built their 6K 1911.

        • Your forgetting the word “affordable” as soon as the word Cabot entered your response.

  11. This is what happens to a gun company when they kiss up to their enemies and ignore their friends. It is my hope that a good company, here in the South, buys the name when the company dies.

  12. Couldn’t happen to a nicer company!
    H&K is in trouble too!
    Maybe now companies can learn that they need the civilian market and cannot depend on military sales alone

    • Colt, HK, and Smith & Wesson from what I have been hearing. I think the list is much deeper too. Colt has plenty of guilt in their own demise but “we” have some culpability too. I think the “internet” has destroyed firearms manufacturers more than anything else. As production rose due to demand, the profit margins actually fell. Guns are now nothing more than a commodity and have absolutely little value when every whore in the land gives them away online. Kimber won’t be far behind in my opinion. Does anyone actually think that a dealer makes a “profit” off a Kimber? HAHA!

      • You can’t possibly expect me to believe that a basic 1911 from colt is worth over 1k and they aren’t making a profit on that. Guns are not that expensive to make. Maybe 1911s are a bit more labor intensive but as for cost of material. There isn’t even close to $1000 in material there. Just because the msrp says it’s worth x, but it’s sold online for far less. Doesn’t mean money wasn’t still made.

  13. Am I the only one who thinks “Colt 45 malt liquor”? Really don’t have an opinion either way except sorry for the lost jobs…

  14. The Colt that we knew and loved died decades ago, I personally am glad to see this imposter headed for the dustbin of history. Hopefully someone who actually cares buys the name.

  15. How? The Colt 1911 is the best handgun ever! If God rode a Harley, He would carry one. Do not post anything to the contrary. Robert Howard will verbally smack you so hard, time will slow down.

  16. Is this what one calls come uppance? I never understood why it was a big deal to own a “real colt” of any kind… They suck and cost way to much, but the operators I had the misfortune of knowing always made a big deal about how colt their stuff was… I guess on an operator’s salary it doesn’t matter.

    • Classic colts are definitely very nice guns. I have a 1917 GI 1911 that still runs like a Swiss clock 100 years later… Modern Colts… I’m not sure we can expect the same.

  17. I for one hope no one buys the name. Let it die. It confuses things and ultimately can be harmful to a legacy. Oh, and Colt had this coming for so long. I’m sorry for the people who lost their jobs, but screw colt. They have been tricking people into paying too much for mediocre guns for decades base on reputation.

    Capitalism has done that Darwinian thing that it does to crap companies.

    • Capitalism is whats going to keep the Colt name making money.. It’s an Icon.. Look what happened to Jeep..If they gotta brand ” My little pony” with the Colt name they will.

  18. Colt’s entire product line consists of designs that the patents and copyrights expired on decades ago. Many companies make the same products that are as good as or better than Colt…they need something unique…
    It might be possible to make something like a Python using modern CNC manufacturing that would have the slick action of the old snake guns without needing all the hand fitting…

  19. Wonder if FNH is going to buy them out just to get the M16/M4 TDP? How much would that save them in royalties?

    • They’ve already been in fire sale mode for the past few months…..bet the prices are going to rise due to people trying to get a 6920 before they start shipping products “improved” by their new chinese owners.

      I was hoping they’d sell a pencil 6720 in OEM2 low profile gas block version. Alas…not to be.

  20. The current Colt New Roll Mark Series 70 1911s are rated as far better than the much bally-hooed 1960s commercial guns and the original Series 70 by most custom gunsmiths, who actually work on them,and see the machining and quality steel. Other than a Jim Hoag-built 6″ alongside built on old Series 70, all of my Colts (6 at last count) are NRM 70s. They are pricey, at least compared to Springfields; but not compared to Baers, Wilsons, Browns and a few others. And far superior to cast versions coming from overseas.

    Sad to see them going under. Colt was stuck in CT with the tax breaks they got from the state. Any rational business model would have them move a long time ago.

  21. I wanted a Colt back in the early 80’s but couldn’t afford one as a student. After they came out in support of the Clinton gun ban in 88 I decided I would never want a product made by them. Never looked back.

    • I have a dick special that I bought from a friend in college in the 70s. Still have it. Only Colt I’ve ever owned, and at this point is probably the only Colt I’ll ever own. I don’t carry it, as I don’t want to bob the hammer. It lives in the safe, with maybe one or two range trips a year.

    • JD,

      Your not missing anything. I have a 1970’s python and it is my only Colt. Their 1911’s are garbage compared to what else is out there at the same price poing. Honestly, Springfield’s quality has improved quite a bit in the last 10 years and I think they make better 1911’s than Colt does. As far as ar-15’s go, they make a good one. It is milspec. That said, you can get a better than milspec AR from other companies for less money.

      You pay a lot for the prancing pony mark

  22. Maybe they will make a 1911 in polymer, with exchangeable grips, an accessory items. A python in a copolymer style, an something to rival LCR’s. Some good bolt an lever Acton rifles. A lever an other types of shotguns. Find ways to reduce costs not products and reliability, an services. Maybe do a market research an campaign. Include fresh backers and give them a voice. CCW, hunting, home defense are easy to see as a direction. They need to pull there head out there sphincter! Stop at local GS stores, see the cases of guns and see the bargain pieces. Find a way to squeeze in price ranges. Improve PR. Sad to see them face bankruptcy, maybe they should ask for a bailout! An imo also they should relocate to a area in Say Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, or Florida. An strive for excellence!

    • Very nice ideas, however, the truth is that when a company has been inept for a long time, it doesn’t know how to embrace change, nor does it attract “smart” people. It is best just to let the laggard companies die off to make room for innovators. Even Colt’s location (in Connecticut) is a drawback to attracting investment dollars, and no one is going to invest money to help a failed company move.

      • StJema, if they dont embrace Change, All is lost. If you look at it 2 ways, 1) dont change they may loose there jobs an the company. 2) implement big change may keep the company. BUT fire some who dont wish to change an let any head roll. Well like I said they need to pull there head out of there sphincter. (Or fail epic like an loose the company) hopefully they are smart enough to figure it out

  23. Good-bye Colt, Remington (and related brands), and half of the “me to” rifle companies.

    Now, let’s watch Ruger, S&W, Glock and others ignore the movement to modular handguns that have an easily removable trigger pack and serialized chassis. Most gun companies are slow to innovate and they make a big deal about announcing small, incremental improvements to their gun lines.

    • It takes tons of cash to implement every single idea we have. With margins so small, I really have my doubts that any U.S. based company survives. Problem with that, of course, is that gun control is easily accomplished via the State Department, ATF and other federal agencies that dictate importation. Most of use pay $200 per month for cell phones, $75 per month for cable, etc. and we bitch about a $950 1911.

  24. Remington had same problems after 1890 so the question is will they come back and bring new innovation and good prices to the market.

  25. Colt in chapter 11, again?

    This is what happens when you bet the farm on government and LEO sales, and your buyers decide to buy from another vendor.

    In the 1980s when Colt was previously in Chapter 11, they wouldn’t grant production licenses for M16s. So Australia and New Zealand chose the Steyr AUG. I remember seeing FNH marked M16A2s in the UK magazine “Combat and Survival” in the mid 1990s.

    Like H&K, Colt chose to almost all but ignore the civilian market. Even H&K’s receiving corporate welfare via the German military is now likely to end. Without the fallback of civilian sales, both companies are going to have to either sell-out or close-up.

    Colt did try the premium end of the civilian market, but too little and too late.

    • and it will be no great loss when they do except for the legacy of a once great American firearm.

  26. This is what happens when you depend on Government! Generals and politicians were not getting their cut and slapped the big shots in the face whom this Filing will not affect, only the line worker is hurt! gotta pay the big guys their bucks some how!
    GIgo is a proper term, this rifle was junk in Vietnam and still is! sucking on the Government Tit for a lot of years, they were able too pass off junk and still get a big fat check in their TEOTWAWKI, account!
    Colt has had a bad name for so long I don’t think realignment will work well! only one product to make and they blew that
    Colt has gone belly up so many times that they should be given n award for the most times~

  27. Sad news for an iconic American brand. On the plus side, my old Colt revolvers just doubled in price.

      • Restructuring the debt on an irrelevant company with declining sales and no significant intellectual property will eventually lead to the liquidation of the company.

  28. What do you say to a man with two black eyes? Nothing, he’s already been told twice.
    A historic past and a storied name count for exactly dick, in the free and open market.

  29. Colt lost it when they quit being competitive and innovative! They relied on GOV contracts and forgot to run a business.

  30. How long before we see a another price jump on the older Colts in the used market? Anyone wanting another Colt to stick in the safe will have to “pony ” up to get one now.

  31. All you “haters” are nothing more than “owner wanna be’s” but can’t because of COLT’S higher cost. High quality comes with high cost. Most great gunsmiths won’t work on anything but a COLT 1911…The others are cast junk and not forged steel. You pay for what you get. COLT needs to move South where the labor is a little cheaper and get rid of that lousy union that has been robbing it’s profits.

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