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Last year, Colt Competition manufactured and sold some forty thousand AR-15s. When Donald Trump was elected, sales dropped like a stone. The gunmaker has been struggling to sell 500 rifles per month lately. And then Uncle Sam came knocking . . .

wondering where it could go to collect some $2 million in back taxes for Colt Competition’s banner year. The answer: nowhere. The same place Colt Competition is today.

Colt Competition — which licensed its name from Colt Manufacturing LLC (which has no financial interest in Colt Competition) — is no more. The Breckenridge, Texas-based rifle maker has ceased production and dismissed over 70 employees.

Although Colt Competition has a substantial inventory of partially completed rifles, no parts supplier will touch them. The guns can’t be completed.

Given the moribund market for modern sporting rifles, the chances that Colt Competition will rise from the ashes are slim to none, and Slim just left town.

Colt Competition traces its roots back to 2009, when tech entrepreneur Charlie Lake purchased Warne Scope Mounts. Mr. Lake bought one of Warne’s parts makers and tasked them with building rifles as Colt Competition.

Mr. Lake sold Warne in 2013 and moved the then-successful Colt Competition factory to Texas — just in time for the first great AR-15 sales crash.

“It took us two-and-a-half years to get ourselves out of the hole,” Colt Competition VP Dave Wilcox told TTAG. “But we never got fully out of debt.”

The 43-year-old Army vet and former Kimber employee predicted Donald Trump’s victory in the last presidential election. But his company wasn’t prepared for an 80 percent drop in sales. The tax bill was the straw that broke the ailing camel’s back.

As we wrote earlier, the AR-15 market is in free-fall, with significantly more supply than demand. “If we’re down, everybody’s down,” Wilcox said. “It’s going to be a tough year.”

Colt Competition sold superb rifles — all guaranteed and shot to sub-MOA standards. The company’s staff were unfailingly polite and professional. The market may not miss the brand, but its satisfied customers will.

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  1. Sorry to hear it but the first Colt Competition AR I saw had about a 1/4″ exposed gas tube between the gas block and handguard. Not exactly quality exuding and confidence inspiring.

    • Keep it classy, man, after all, how many jobs have you created?

      My experience with CCR is they’re high quality guns, well designed and manufactured.

    • They should have given themselves their own brand instead of making their company look like a Chinese counterfeiter operation. Anyone who looks at their stuff would at first think colt, then look closer and see Its not and think “ripoff!”. I’ve seen their products 100 time and never had any idea they were any good since they come off as a copycat. I honestly think that was a major secondary cause of their demise.

  2. Anybody wanna guesstimate how long Colt firearms has left in business how long it has left to stay in business??

    • Some companies focus on MSRs. Others, like Ruger and S&W make a wide variety of firearms, including MSRs.

      I’m sure the slump in AR sales hurts Ruger and S&W, but likely not too badly.

      I’m sure Ruger is still selling good numbers of 10/22’s, American rifles, LCP/LC9/LCR, Redhawk, Blackhawk, GP100 etc.

      Smith is still selling good numbers of M&P pistols, J-frames, Shields, etc.

      The folks that only sell AR’s are getting pinched.

      • Heck, I just bought two 10/22s. I bought a talo tiger and a pink hogue silver finish target for my youngest.
        Now that I can find 22lr ammo that’s what I’m shooting.
        Just ordered some gongs and dueling targets so my youngest and I can work on speed drills this summer

        • I recently picked up a new Shield 9mm, and a Henry lever action .22.

          It’s my first lever action rifle.
          The current low prices make me start to think about picking up a second AR15.

  3. The great irony of Barack Obama going down in history as the best president ever for gun manufacturers.

    • To be fair, O had more than enough help from Pelosi, Giffords, the Bloomberg toadies, et al. So not all credit goes to him.
      Unfortunately, my prediction has come true: the smaller MSR companies are going away and only the big established names will remain.

  4. Well hell. Hands down the best direct impingement AR I’ve ever shot. I’m glad I bought one but bummer I won’t get any more.

  5. If he did predict a Trump win, then why did he get caught with his dick in his hand and go bankrupt? If I’d have known Trump was going to win, I’d have sold my RGR stock on November 7th.

    • Did you read the article? No one can survive an 80% cut. That’s just a business killer right there. Plus even if you know a slump is coming, this isn’t stock this is a real business. How many employees do you fire based on your hunch? And it’s not like all those machines are worth much after they’ve been used. There’s a glut in the market of used Haas machines as it is.

      • They should have diversified with other models earlier and made it easier to sell the other add ons or barrels like some of the other custom rifle makers. IE sell complete uppers or the adjustable gas system. I would have bought the gas system for a colt I was revising if it was available.

        Colt has few options for the public beyond the AR15 and 1911 so I can see it would have been hard to compete without branching out into a .336 or other model to draw in the long range crowd or some other custom option.

        Advertising was pretty bad too. Never would have found them if not for the colt sight link. Hardly any reviews or feedback on most forums.

  6. I’m not cheering. American jobs gone. Meanwhile I did my bit by buying some Blazer Brass today(American ain’t it?)…

    • Yeah I feel bad for colt employees. Not so much the admin, but I was hoping that Ruger or S&W or someone, would buy colt and produce Colt guns under the name with a better buisness model. Then at least the employees would have jobs.

      • If Colt is going to have a snowball’s chance in hell of surviving as a viable company, they’re going to have to get purchased by a group that actually wants to make quality firearms instead of people who only want to loot the company for what little is left to squeeze. It is also imperative for the company’s survival that they get the hell out of the union controlled north, and the union the hell out of Colt firearms. The union has been a mill stone around Colt’s neck for years. Yep, find a quality minded buyer, head South and dump the union on the way out the door; it’s a recipe for success!

  7. AR’s are one of if not the easiest rifles to build and customize yourself at home with minimal tools. I’m surprised the parts industry has taken such a hit. It’s a mixed bag for consumers. Right now parts are cheap and plentiful to get exactly what you want which is great! The down side will be less RD in the future with less new products hitting the market. Over the last eight years its remarkable to look back at all the new coatings and barrel contours, calibers for whatever you want, pistol grips, forward grips, angled grips, MLok, Keymod, receiver extensions galore, arm braces and I could go on. It’s been amazing if you think about it.

    • Honestly a huge chunk of gun owners don’t shoot. I’ll even go as far as saying the majority don’t shoot.

      Without the impending demise of the 2nd amendment most of them are quick to forget they have a gun.

      • My son bought an AR YEARS ago, like 5 or more! He never shot it until I took him to the range last father’s day! Amazing! If I get a new gun I can hardly spend the time to clean it and ready it for the range before I take it out and put some rounds through it.

  8. When will the premium parts start dropping in price?

    Optics, match grade barrels, those whoop-de-bob components a working stiff couldn’t touch 2 years ago?

    Don’t see those prices coming down.

  9. I was just looking at the Daniel Defense website and if anything I thought some of their prices had increased. My imagination? Hoping someone with better knowledge of DDs product line can comment

    • I’ve been hoping the prices on thier 300 blackouts would come down a bit. There’s a space in my safe for one.

  10. I built my ar 2.5 years ago. Election hadn’t come up yet and I could get parts. Now that we are low again I’m thinking it’s time to start a LR308 build before the next election rumbling.

  11. “Although Colt Competition has a substantial inventory of partially completed rifles, no parts supplier will touch them. The guns can’t be completed.”

    Why is that? They can’t just separate the upper, strip out the internals and destroy the serialized lower receiver?

    And why can’t another SOT (like you, for example) just buy the existing inventory of incomplete lowers?

      • OK, back to my original question, after the corporate assets are liquidated could another licensed manufacturer finish them?

        • You are only focusing on one part of the statement, i.e. that the guns can’t be completed. That’s not to say no one CAN get the parts, it’s that no one WANTS them. That is clearly stated. The implication is that EVERYONE has a glut of inventory so they’re not looking to buy up someone else’s stock. When you see retailers like Brownell’s et al selling some things for the same price that smaller FFL holding builder/dealers pay wholesale this is obvious.

          To answer the part about liquidation, yes if anyone buys the stuff it can be used but it will be a very hard sale in this climate. There are a lot of AR based businesses probably barely hanging on (more than any of us realize most likely). Only a really anchored AR based business would go out on a limb right now to purchase this stuff, no matter how cheap, when most of them are also suffering poor sales. It’s just too big of a risk. I don’t know who the Baron Rothschild is of the AR world who could pull it off, i.e. “The time to buy is when there’s blood in the streets.”

    • If they are already in bankruptcy the judge may have frozen. Possibly a licensing problem,the lowers are probably already marked colt and not sure if the agreement would allow another party to complete it and sell them. Possible after bankruptcy the judge will strike it down and allow them to be sold for completion and resale cause A lot of times judges void out contracts to get cash flow to pay debts. When I was in a contract with a guy whos company filed for bankruptcy, the bankruptcy judge screwed me over that way. Allowed them to sell stuff in a way that the contract specifically said could not be done.
      The parts are probably not worth what is owed my the true manufacturers without the colt logo

      • OK, I can see Colt logo branded lowers being unsalable.

        There’s a lot more to an AR platform weapon than the receiver. The internals and the like are unsalable? I would think the bankruptcy creditors are entitled a crack at maximizing the most from the liquidators…

        • I don’t know how long its been in bankruptcy, but if the assets are frozen until things are settled, its likely nothing will move. Once settled that MAY be a different story.

  12. Apparently Smith and Wesson massively overproduced Shields with the $75 rebate going on for the next calendar quarter.

  13. Interesting that Colts Manufacturing just bought their West Hartford, CT manufacturing facility and plans to keep their workforce of 600 adding 100 jobs over the next 5 years. I had hoped they would relo out of CT.

    I know they are not the same as Colt Competition mentioned in this story. But they are subject to the same market trends…. Go figure…

  14. The parent company of Colt Competition also produced the Colt expanse rifle; so I think its safe to assume that the expanse will be a short lived product.

  15. I was trying to buy one of their rifles(NJ compliant) with no luck for 6 months prior to their demise. Every dealer I spoke with never heard of them and after I explained who they were, were unable to get a reply as to how to buy their products. I finally spoke with people at CCM and they had no idea when the rifle I was interested in would be available. They had to go out of business with no name recognition of their own, not Colts, and making it impossible for me to give them my money. Sorry to see them go.

  16. I just bought a Colt Competition lower and parts kit from last week. They have several different things from this manufacturer for sale right now. I plan on building a SBR with mine

  17. For those who purchased one of these Colt Competition Rifle…will Colt honor any warranty service should a part break or malfunction?

  18. What ever happened to that Oregon company that built to first, high quality Colt competition rifles? They were awesome and gave sub ,5 moa right from the box.

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