by Dave Workman
The Marlin Firearms Company of North Haven, CT, has announced the purchase of H&R 1871 Inc., maker of the famous Harrington & Richardson and New England Firearms break-action, single-shot rifles and shotguns.
Henceforth, the company will be known as H&R 1871, LLC.
No sale price was announced, but Marlin did say there will be no significant changes in current top management. H&R 1871s Jim Garrison, who had purchased the company in mid-1991, told Gun Week that he will be staying on for at least 12 months in an advisory capacity.
Rumors of the impending purchase had circulated around the firearms industry for several weeks. However, the official announcement did not come until Nov. 13, as many in the firearms industry were preparing to gather for the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers show in Tampa, FL. The sale did not include H&R 1871s handgun operation. The Gardner, MA-based company has not built handguns since 1999.
H&R 1871 is now the only domestic manufacturer of single-shot shotguns. A few other companies, notably Sturm, Ruger and Thompson/Center, also make single-shot rifles.
Included in the sale were the brand names Harrington & Richardson, New England Firearms and Wesson & Harrington. Production of H&R and NEF rifles and shotguns will continue at the Gardner plant.
While discussions had been on-going for some time, Garrison said the actual agreement did not come together until a couple of weeks ago. He said the purchase agreement not only helps provide some protection to the company from a rash of municipal anti-gun lawsuits, but also provides job security for H&R 1871s 230 employees.
Garrison acknowledged that the threat of lawsuits was one of the guiding factors in his decision to sell. Being one of the smaller companies in the industry, H&R was facing huge legal costs from the lawsuits. He noted that even gun companies whose products have never been directly connected to inner-city violence have been targeted by some of these legal actions.
Garrison candidly stated, My feeling is that these (lawsuits) are absolutely, positively 100% designed to drive manufacturers and importers out of business. Theres no question in my mind.
Marlin President Bob Behn has already met with H&R 1871 employees, but he was unavailable for comment as Gun Week went to press, since he was already traveling to the wholesaler show.
When Garrison bought the company, it was within weeks of being closed. The original Harrington & Richardson Company had gone bankrupt in 1986, and New England Firearms rose out of those ashes the following year, when the equipment was purchased from bankruptcy by other interests, Garrison recalled. When he came along about four years later, NEF had fallen back on hard financial times.
The bank had called the note, he said. I arrived on the scene two weeks before they would have locked the doors.
When he bought the company, he had 54 employees. Present employment is more than four times the original number.
Theres a lot invested in here, he said. These people are like a family. They made it successful. I looked on the (legal) horizon and figured, This doesnt look good.
Under Garrisons leadership, H&R 1871 has been very actively involved in firearms safety education programs for both young people and their parents. Their most recent catalogs and press releases have included many firearms safety tips.
The company has also produced a number of youth models in their single-shot shotgun and rifle lines.
Return to Archive Index