BREAKING: Lewis Machine and Tool Bails on Illinois


By John Boch

Les Baer left the Illinois side of the river and settled in Iowa about five years ago. Today, gun maker Lewis Machine and Tool announced its departure from Illinois, taking 170 good-paying jobs with them. In fact the owner, Karl Lewis, said he was very eager to make the move. How soon? “The sooner the better.” Ouch . . .


Their destination: Davenport, Iowa. “Why?” you ask. Gee, could it be Illinois’ less than gun-friendly legislature, constantly working against gun owners’ interests?

We say congratulations to LMT. Why pay taxes to a state government that hates you?

DAVENPORT (Quad Cities Online) — A longtime Milan-based gun manufacturer announced plans Thursday to move his 170-employee operation to Davenport.

During a city enterprise zone commission meeting, Karl Lewis, owner of Lewis Machine and Tool Co., said he plans to build a 60,000-square-foot building on Kimmel Drive. The board unanimously approved Mr. Lewis’ plans.

If those plans come to fruition, Lewis Machine and Tool will be the second gun manufacturer to move across the river in the past five years. In 2008, Les Baer Customs moved its operations and two dozen workers to a new 18,000-square-foot building.

“I would hope, if everything lines up as it should, that sometime in 2014 we’ll make the formal move,” Mr. Lewis said. “The sooner, the better.”

What does LMT make?

They make guns that cause some Illinois politicians to lose bladder and bowel control.


This article originally appeared at and is reprinted here with permission.


  1. avatar Buster says:

    That’s Great!!

    1. avatar J- says:

      No, no it’s not! I live in Illinois. I would rather have LMT fighting for the rights of its fellow Illinoisans than bailing. They, and Les Baer, Springfield Armory, Rock River Armory, DS Arms, and the rest of the gun manufactures in Illinois should use the fact that they employ thousands of people and pay millions in taxes to to push for better treatment of Illinois legal gun owners. When the state tries to pass an AWB, the CEOs of these companies should testify before the state senate. When they bail, it weakens our position.

      1. avatar John L. says:

        No they shouldn’t.

        They should go where they can make money, they’re welcomed by the populace, and supported as much as reasonable by the local political environment.

        If LMT thinks things will be better for the business based in Iowa, they should move.

        Oh, and don’t forget the Henry Ford lesson. One of his major criteria for his cars was that the people making them should be able to buy them. In his time that meant affordable. For a firearms maker, it’s likely a different reason – but I think the principle still applies.

  2. avatar Taro Tsujimoto says:

    That’s a commitment. Moving precision machinery is no small endeavor.

  3. avatar peirsonb says:

    Wonder if they need a good engineer…..

  4. avatar Gila says:

    ummmm, don’t you mean ‘bails’

    we’re not talkin cotton, here

  5. avatar soccerdad1150 says:

    Title should read ‘bails’ not bales. says ‘bales’ only on the FB link.

    1. Yep. Corrected as soon as I put it up. But the link was already out there. D’oh!

  6. avatar Ralph says:

    Does Magpul know about this?

  7. avatar Merits says:

    Good work LMT!

  8. avatar Daniel Silverman says:

    Besides gun friendly I bet the taxes are lower, land is cheaper, and utilities, amongst everything else.
    I find it surprising that companies would reside in places, like New York,or California. Not just Gun companies, I mean everyone. High tech firms could move elsewhere, and save a butt load, their talent would move too because it is cheaper in other states.

    1. avatar CarlosT says:

      I’m not so sure about that. It could work if a bunch of them did it at the same time, in the same place. Otherwise, I don’t see it.

      If you’re an SDE in the Bay Area or Seattle, for example , there are multiple places you can work. That gives you more control over your career, because you can plan your moves and be selective when the time comes.

      If you move out to work for the one software firm in Davenport, Iowa, then you’re stuck moving away if you want to change companies. Some people won’t mind that, but it won’t be attractive to a lot of others.

      1. Maybe you are only thinking one kind of software.

        Deere and Rockwell need software too…

        1. avatar VSN says:

          I work near Des Moines–we’ve got Principal Financial and Wells Fargo. Microsoft and Google are expanding their presence in Iowa, and FaceBook is planning a new data center nearby.

  9. avatar Craig says:

    Put some ear protection in/on!

  10. avatar Brian says:

    So…. that leaves Springfield Armory, Armalite and Rock River. Anyone else?

    1. avatar Commie IL says:

      White Oak Armament, and Im sure a few others I am forgetting. It amazes me every time I learn of a new arms manufacture in IL. Not for the whole anti- politics, but more so for the taxes and regulation BS.

      Not a gun manufacture, but Winchester Ammo in Alton, IL is another.

  11. avatar 505markf says:

    Oh, man… their .308 modular weapons system makes me druel and my wife to lose sleep (over the cost).

    Good call, LMT!

  12. avatar Stu says:

    Great…now I have to wait EVEN LONGER for MRP barrels 😛

  13. avatar Cyrano says:

    Welcome to Iowa LMT!

    Now if we could only get NFA laws through and be allowed to own suppressors here.

    1. And SBR. I want SBR much.

  14. avatar Crunkleross says:

    Seems to me since they are only moving 10 miles or so the current employees could commute if they wanted to keep their jobs. I hope so for their sake.

    1. avatar JeremyR says:

      Why commute? Iowa has homes for sale, and plenty of reasons to stay. Either way, they are living in a state that puts Idiot on the side of their state trucks and misspells it.

  15. avatar Matt in FL says:

    The cool thing is that this only amounts to about a 7 mile move, about 11 minutes to drive, so none of their employees should be affected in any way, besides having a shiny clean new restroom.

    1. avatar Crunkleross says:

      Wish I thought of that. HEH

  16. avatar pc_load_letter says:

    Funny, nothing on any Illinois based news sites. Just the chief of police ranting on about illegal guns. Funny he never blames the gangs who pull the trigger.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      McCarthy is the biggest horse’s @ss in the history of police — and that’s saying something. Sixty years ago, he would have been “Bull” McCarthy and he’d abuse law-abiding citizens with dogs and water cannons while playing kissy-face with the KKK. Now, he just plays [email protected] with mayor Rahmbutt.

      Worst of all, the pr1ck makes $250K a year. And for what?

  17. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

    News like this does not help without quantifying how much in taxes/wages are moving. And then making it public and brutal. Make sure the local politicians bitch to chicago/springfield about the % loss of tax revenue – that’s how you win the war. Make sure it comes up during legislative season. 🙂

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      Well, if the company isn’t moving very far, and the people in the jobs are most likely keeping them, then you can’t really say the wages are moving, because even if they’re now earning their money in IA, they’re spending it where they live, and for at least some of them, that’s IL. What is leaving is the payroll taxes and business taxes, for sure.

      I’d be curious to see what a breakdown of their employee residency looks like. Moline, IL and Davenport, IA are roughly equally sized cities on opposite sides of the river, so it’s easily possible that as many as half of LMT’s employees don’t live in the same state as which they work.

      1. avatar Buzzy243 says:

        As a resident of Davenport I can almost guarantee that the majority of the employees already live on the Iowa side. Cost of living is lower (gas is always $0.25/gal cheaper), the schools are A LOT better, and the retail sector has slowly drifted over from Illinois over the past 10 years, so all the shopping is here now. And of course the gun laws are in better shape.

        Now we just need to legalize NFA items, dammit!

  18. avatar Russ Bixby says:

    Just as Illinois was stepping up to the plate, too.

    Too little and too late, methinks.

  19. avatar Derrick says:

    Awesome Ill crack a beer over this later.

  20. avatar Frank Masotti says:

    This is great news. At least for now we the people and business’ still have the right to vote with out feet.

  21. avatar VKA says:

    This actually hurts us gun rights people. Illinois just passed concealed carry laws, and actually liberalized gun ownership regs despite Sandy Hook and everything. Granted, it was under the court’s direct order, but still.

    Having these jobs move away after a state actually moves toward our cause isn’t a good thing- positive reinforcement is the name of the game.

    1. avatar Chad says:

      Methinks they are moving for different reasons. Companies are fleeing Illinois due to Illinois politicians inability to address their fiscal responsibilities. And they seem to be trying to squeeze businesses for as much as they think they can get away with, and then some.

  22. avatar ready,fire,aim says:

    good thing they are moving ….now the shootings in Chicago can seize….in ….3…..2….

  23. avatar Chris from Iowa says:

    Brownell’s is here too. We will take all of them we can get. I know letters and emails have been sent to quite a few manufacturers inviting them to the state, the more the merrier.

  24. avatar Frank says:

    Guess I’ll never see a enhanced bolt for the next 5 years. For god’s sake just make the goddamn bolts, I’m so tired of searching for one.

  25. avatar Austin Hunt says:

    “You over tax, over regulate my business and force me to hire overpriced union labor I will take my business elsewhere ” a Southern California business man Blue states are losing jobs and business. Here in Seattle Boeing is shipping jobs to South Carolina. If you like Detroit you will love Obama land

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