When’s the last time a Colt firearm was on your wish list? Colt Competition has done some pretty cool stuff recently, but Colt’s Manufacturing Co. hasn’t really come out with anything “new” in quite a while. The lone exception is their line of rifles based on the Colt 901, which is a cool design concept that didn’t seem to be well executed at all. It seems like the only thing keeping Colt alive has been the massive industry-wide surge in sales over the last couple years, but now that’s over and Colt is struggling to pay its bills . . .
From the Wall Street Journal:
Colt Defense LLC warned that it could default by the end of the year, as the privately owned company, which has suffered from declining demand for rifles and handguns, is likely to miss a payment to bondholders.
The gun maker faces a $10.9 million payment to bondholders Nov. 17, according to a filing on Wednesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. If Colt skips the payment, it will enter a 30-day grace period, but without payment by Dec. 15 it will be in default and bondholders can demand immediate, full payment.
Colt, which is controlled by investment firm Sciens Capital Management LLC, had $248.8 million outstanding on the bonds as of June 29. The bonds were trading in the mid-30 cents on the dollar—deep in distressed territory—on Thursday.
Colt has been on the decline for quite some time. The key to Colt’s success has been their government contracts — Colt was the sole manufacturer of the M4 carbine and M16 rifle for decades. But in 2013, FNM won the contract for the M4 and the M16 rifle, and the military is showing no signs of going back. With its main cash cow gone, all that’s left for the manufacturing giant is the commercial market (which they had more or less ignored for years). Now, unable to compete in the modern firearms market, Colt may soon be just another corporate casualty.
Heckler & Koch has been in the same boat for a while now, as rumors of their impending doom have been circulating since the middle of last year. But nothing has come of those rumors so far, and H&K seems to be in a stronger position with their new line of civilian-focused (and priced) handguns. It’s possible Colt can do the same thing, pivoting hard toward the commercial market with the right products at the right time, but it seems unlikely. A more probable outcome is that some investor (Freedom Group?) may take a crack at buying the manufacturer with the legendary name, but at this point there doesn’t seem to be any suitors lined up.