Top 5 Firearm Brands With a History
Nowadays, there are plenty of firearm manufacturers all over the world. Here are 5 brands that have managed to stand out and earn a reputation for themselves.
5 Largest Gun Brands In The World
Every sphere has its leaders, and the firearm industry is no exception. Even though the discussion on firearms never seems to stop, guns will hardly ever cease being part of our life. Be it military and law enforcement officers, hunters, target shooters, or law-abiding citizens – thousands of people carry firearms every day. It takes two to make a good shot: a good shooter and a good gun. We leave the good shooter part to you, and you leave the gun part to us. Which brands are to be trusted when choosing your dream firearm? Here are the top 5 firearm brands that lead the gun industry today or have made an invaluable contribution to its development.
America’s first federal armory, whose construction was initiated by Jorge Washington himself. Springfield Armory had all chances to remain history after it was closed in 1986, but luckily for everyone, this proud name lives on, guiding a new generation of gunmakers.
Springfield is rightfully considered a cradle of gun-making since it has been or remains home to two whole companies on this list. Back in 1777, when Springfield was but a small town, Jorge Washington chose it to house the first federal armory. The town’s advantageous geographical position informed his decision. In the beginning, it only stored weapons and ammunition, but in some twenty years it became a place where the first American musket was produced. Since then, it began producing firearms and gun components.
Springfield remained the primary weapon supplier for all American armed conflicts, including The Civil War. It was also a major driver of two Industrial Revolutions, so it’s hard to overestimate the role that the Springfield Armory played in the history of America. The Armory was the birthplace of several technological innovations that influenced the way firearms were produced. Unfortunately, the original Springfield Armory was closed in 1968, its facilities sold off and property turned over to the city. The Main Arsenal became the Springfield Armory Museum, which houses one of the largest collections of weaponry.
That is only the first part of the story. Springfield Armory had a legacy to pass or a reputation too good to let it go to waste, depending on your way of thinking. The new Springfield Armory saw the light of day in 1974, after only six years of the original armory’s closure. Gunmaker Elmer C. Ballance began using the name to mark his adaptation of the M14 rifle, originally produced by his predecessor. The same year Ballance sold the company to the Reese brothers, who owned a well-established production shop in Illinois. The Reese brothers acquired a license to manufacture M1A rifles (redesigned M14) and 1911 pistols under the name of Springfield Armory. After a successful launch, the company expanded its production line. Today Springfield Armory is well-known for its Hellcat and XD pistol series and M1A and Saint rifle series.
Springfield Armory, Inc. values the heritage of American gun making and keeps the bar as high as the first federal armory set it.
Smith & Wesson
With about 170 years of experience, Smith & Wesson remains one of the oldest active gun manufacturers and the biggest producer of handguns in America. They have made a name for themselves by producing revolvers and pistols back in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, they continue to bring their customers only the best quality products.
The current Smith & Wesson was founded back in 1856, but its founders, Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson had been successfully working in the firearms production industry since 1852. Their first company, under the original name of “Smith & Wesson Company”, produced Volcanic rifles. After Smith had developed and patented an original design of a new Volcanic cartridge in 1854, the company changed its name to “Volcanic Repeating Arms” in 1855. This year also marked the company’s purchase by Oliver Winchester. Smith left, but Wesson stayed as plant manager for another eight months. This company was destined to become the renowned Winchester Repeating Arms Company, which remained operational until 2006.
Meanwhile, Samuel Colt’s exclusive patent on the revolver was to expire in 1856, so Smith and Wesson reunited in Springfield, Massachusetts, to develop an original prototype for the cartridge revolver. That’s when the Smith & Wesson Revolver company came into being. The outbreak of the Civil War boosted the popularity of their revolvers, which soldiers from both sides acquired for self-defense purposes. Yet, even before the war, the demand for the revolvers exceeded Smith & Wesson’s production capacities, which led to the company’s expansion into a new facility and experiments to find a new cartridge design.
The end of the Civil War marked the decline of revolvers, so Smith & Wesson shifted their focus on firearms suitable for use on the American frontier. In the 70’s they moved on from pocket-sized revolvers to heavier calibers. In 1899 the company introduced its most widely used revolver Smith & Wesson Model 10, which remained the standard sidearm of police officers for most of the 20th century.
The 20th century also marked the beginning of the Magnum era of handguns, which began with a Model 27. The highest point was reached in 1955 when Smith & Wesson introduced a Model 29, which later became famous as 44 Magnum Dirty Harry, named after the series of movies featuring this particular model.
Smith & Wesson has been through its highs and lows but never stopped doing what they believed in. Staying true to their dedication, Smith & Wesson keeps producing quality handguns that never fail to live up to a once-earned reputation. Their most popular pistol and revolver models include Smith & Wesson 686 (L-frame revolver), Model 29 (K-frame revolver), Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 (polymer frame pistol), and SW 1911 (the company’s version of the iconic 1911 handgun).
A foreign curiosity on the American market, Česká zbrojovka a.s. Uherský Brod exclusively exports and distributes its goods through a subsidiary company CZ-USA. Though born in a small country in Central Europe, CZ holds a decent share of the firearm market. It ranks in the top 10 small arms manufacturers and top 5 manufacturers of automatic firearms in the whole world.
The company’s history began in 1936 in former Czechoslovakia, when an overarching campaign on production capacities transfer began. In anticipation of the German attack, all strategically important facilities were relocated from the western borders. Thus a brand new firearms factory was established in the small town of Uherský Brod. It was one of the most well-equipped and efficient factories at the time.
After World War II, the company was nationalized, while the branch factory in Uherský Brod became independent in 1950. It gradually turned into the primary Czechoslovak small firearms manufacturer, having established an innovative Sa vz. 48, later renamed as the CZ Model 25, that fired 9mm Parabellum cartridges. CZ has also developed an alternative to the Soviet’s AK-47 under the name of the vz. 58 assault rifle, which was in production until 1984. 1961 marked the invention of the compact submachine gun, designed to fill the gap between classic submachine guns and service pistols. That was the first machine pistol of the CZ Scorpion series, one of the two most renowned product lines of the company. The second revolutionary firearm was the CZ 75 semi-automatic pistol, endowed with perfect ergonomics and a unique double-action trigger mechanism.
In 1992 Česká zbrojovka was privatized and became a joint-stock company. The company reinforced its position on the international market by establishing a subsidiary distribution company in the USA in 1997. Since then, Česká zbrojovka has also increased its presence on the Latin American market by opening a space for repairing and assembling CZ pistols within the FAME army plant in Lima, Peru. An upgraded and enhanced CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 was launched in 2011. It remains one of the company’s signature firearms to this day.
Last year Česká zbrojovka bought Colt’s Manufacturing Company. That might give you an idea of how ambitious this Chezch company is. Over the last 90 years, this company has reached significant heights and has no plans to stop any time soon.
Officially known as Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc., this Connecticut-based firearm manufacturing company had long retained the title of the biggest firearm producer in the USA. Even though the data for the last several years is not available, there are no reasons to assume anything changed. The company’s motto “Arms Makers for Responsible Citizens” illustrates the principal values that the company sticks to – to deliver quality and innovative firearms to those who need them.
It has been this way since the very moment the company was founded by two friends, William b. Ruger and Alexander Sturm, in 1949. Ruger has already had some experience in firearm design and production, having worked at the renowned Springfield Armory for several months, and was very passionate about opening his own firearm company. Unfortunately, he had no funds to do so. In turn, Alexander Sturm came from a wealthy family, was a Yale Art School graduate, and took an interest in firearms. Their collaboration led to the founding of Sturm, Ruger & Company, with an initial investment of $50,000. Ruger was responsible for designing and manufacturing, while Sturm was in charge of advertising and designing the company’s trademark, a Germanic heraldic eagle, found on every Ruger firearm.
Their first product was a .22 caliber pistol, which became one of the most popular handguns in the country and the company’s mainstay for almost 50 years. After Sturn’s death, Ruger became the sole manager of the company. Within the following decades, Ruger has expanded its line of firearms. The Ruger Single-Six revolver was the second great success that strengthened the company’s position on the market. By 1953 it was profitable enough to introduce a new casting method, called precision investment casting, for greater efficiency. Such a transition further boosted the company’s reputation.
From 1959 to 1995, the company’s revenue increased from $3 million to $192.6 million. The company owns facilities in New Hampshire, Arizona, and North Carolina. Ruger dominates the rimfire arms market, with .22 LR rifles and .22 rimfire semi-automatic pistols Ruger MK II and Ruger MK III. Sturm, Ruger has been publicly traded since 1969 and became a New York Stock Exchange company in 1990.
Ruger has taken its deserved place among the classic names of US gunmakers. The Heraldic eagle became a symbol of quality and reliability that marks every product coming from Ruger’s production facilities.
Another guest from overseas, Sig Sauer is a company with Swiss and German roots that managed to become America’s fourth-biggest firearm producer within some 30 years.
It all began with a Schweizerische Waggon Fabrik, which translates as Swiss Wagon Factory. Three capable engineers in the faces of Friedrich Peyer im Hof, Heinrich Moser, and Johann Conrad Neher united their forces and designed the 1860 Prelaz-Burnard rifle, which won the grant for army supply. The company got the contract to produce 30,000 rifles for the Swiss army. That event boosted the company’s reputation and encouraged the cofounders to change the name to Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft, abbreviated to SIG.
The 20th century witnessed the creation of several other iconic weapons: one of the first auto-loading rifles with a selector for fire-rate Mondragon and a SIG P210 pistol, which brought the company even more acclaim. To overcome the limitations that Swiss law imposed on firearm exporters, the company acquired Hämmerli and J. P. Sauer and Sohn. This purchase led to another change of the company’s name, this time to “SIG Sauer” as we know it today.
In 1985, SIGARMS, Inc. was established. It was a subsidiary located in Virginia, responsible for importing and distributing firearms on the territory of the USA. It became organizationally separate in 2000 and changed its name to SIG Sauer, Inc. in 2007.
By 2017 SIG Sauer became the second-largest handgun maker and fourth firearm producer in the USA. It was a hardwon achievement, attained through decades of persistent work. 2017 was also the year SIG Sauer won a contract for the US military to replace the current M9 pistol model. The same year SIG P320 pistols were used by every third police officer. SIG P365 is another user favorite that was the best-selling handgun in the United States in both 2018 and 2019. Considering how competitive the US firearm market is and how many other worthy brands there are, it is an accomplishment to be proud of. To this day, SIG Sauer continues to bring quality handguns to those who can truly appreciate them.