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.