Why did Colt get out of the Revolver Game?


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phantomak47
October 13, 2007, 11:37 AM
Simply put, what was the main reason why they got out of the revolver world and is there any chance that they would start again or has that market just withered away with the popularity of the auto loader?

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BigG
October 13, 2007, 11:38 AM
You have to make enough sales to pay the overhead - cost to produce - and make a profit or you stop or go out of business.

Jim March
October 13, 2007, 01:26 PM
Too much inbreeding with sickly chimpanzees?

GunTech
October 13, 2007, 01:42 PM
Colt looted the gun side of things in the early years, not returning enough money into replacement tooling. By the 1980s almost all of Colt's tooling was worn out and complete replacement was prohibitively expensive.

Also, Colt never really focused much attentetion on civilian sales. From Day one, Colt was interested in military contracts and their investment in machinery followed that idea. M4 production is done one state of the art CNC machines, while the rest of their production is on worn out tooling, some of it ocer 100 years old.

Right now, the only thing keeping Colt in business is military contracts.

dfariswheel
October 13, 2007, 02:45 PM
Lots of wrong info here.

Colt split into TWO companies in the early 2000's.
Colt Defense makes Military/Police weapons, Colt Manufacturing makes commercial firearms.

Both companies are doing quite well, with the commercial company selling everything they can make.
Colt Mfg. is in a financial situation where they have to be careful about their business decisions. They simply can't afford another Colt All American 2000 disaster.

In 2000 Colt Mfg had to decide what guns were the most profitable, and drop those that just weren't good money makers.
They decided that the double action revolver lines just weren't making enough money, and required too much expensive hand labor to make. This made the DA revolvers more expensive than the competing S&W and Ruger models.

Colt kept the Anaconda and Python until 2003.
The Python was a true hand-made, hand fitted, hand polished semi-custom revolver, and the gun had simply priced itself out of the market.
The numbers of people willing to spend that kind of money simply couldn't support the continued production.
The Anaconda also wasn't selling in large enough numbers, so it too was dropped in 2003.

The bottom line for Colt is the bottom line. In order to continue to survive, they had to focus their manufacturing capacity to best-selling models, and the revolvers no longer were.
Colt is still very much in business, and doing fine in a niche market.
What they might do in the future about a DA revolver is unknown, but anything is possible.

GRIZ22
October 13, 2007, 03:17 PM
M4 production is done one state of the art CNC machines, while the rest of their production is on worn out tooling, some of it ocer 100 years old.


I saw this when I had a chance to go to the Colt plant in the late 90s.

Kimber1911_06238
October 13, 2007, 03:23 PM
they make as much money off their single actions.....and those take less skill and less time to produce. that equals more money...period

tipoc
October 13, 2007, 06:00 PM
Without going into all the details (dfarris is about right) Colt management made a number of wrong steps which left them vunerable when the "wondernine" revolution hit. They had already lost a good portion of the LEO market to S&W wheelguns and the "wondernines" hit them hard as it did S&W. Colt revolvers were more labor intensive to make than the S&Ws. So less sales meant less profit.

Today the Python, Trooper, Lawman, Carry Magnum, etc. are sought after guns on the used market. But 15 years ago, 10 years ago that was not the case. One by one they were dropped. Even the Python was not selling by the time production stopped.

tipoc

Rover 'n Rugers
October 13, 2007, 06:16 PM
In the last years of revolver production Colt had only a couple % of the revolver market.
As noted above their older models required a lot of hand fitting compared to the competition driving the cost up. There has been a rumor of a new double action design but as Grant Cunningham noted it may be just to create interest in Colt. If one did come out it probably would be unlike Colts of old except maybe in appearance and use modern production methods to reduce hand fitting. What action quality it would have compared to old models probably would be different and whether the old customers would accept this remains to be seen. Even a number of the old time S&W customers grumbled about the MIM parts way before the locks materialized. The question also exists about whether the market could support another manufacturer. CZ has not done much with Dan Wesson revolvers since its acquisiton. In the past they did have more modern revolvers that reduced hand fitting as noted such as the Mark III, Mark V, Anaconda, Magnum Carry. Why the Anaconda didn't sell better one can only speculate e.g. lack of supply, late to market vs. the competition most of whom arrived by 1980 10 or so years earlier in the .44 mag market. I suspect Colt operated backwards. Usually, one decides what niche in the market they desire, the price that will sell the product in that market in the volume required and then design to cost. Colt probably decided to enter the market, design a product and then price on the basis of cost plus profit.

weagle99
October 13, 2007, 06:35 PM
they make as much money off their single actions.....and those take less skill and less time to produce. that equals more money...period

That is possibly the most inaccurate statement I have ever read on this forum.

The polishing and finishing on the Single Action Army is much more involved than any double action. Also, the action of the SAA must be precisely hand-fitted to work correctly.

HammerBite
October 13, 2007, 07:32 PM
At least for Colt and S&W double action revolvers the gun must do what a SAA does plus provide for double-action firing plus provide for hammer rebound plus provide a hammer block plus provide for a swing-out cylinder with simultaneous ejection. All those extra things must also be made to work correctly.

In comparison a SAA is stone-age simple, and less expensive to build.

gandog56
October 14, 2007, 10:29 AM
Hmmmm, which one is right in the above two posts?

Kimber1911_06238
October 14, 2007, 10:35 AM
they make as much money off their single actions.....and those take less skill and less time to produce. that equals more money...period

That is possibly the most inaccurate statement I have ever read on this forum.

The polishing and finishing on the Single Action Army is much more involved than any double action. Also, the action of the SAA must be precisely hand-fitted to work correctly.

Actually, it's not that inaccurate. I shouldn't have said requires less skill. I know someone who works at colt and travels the US working on colts at Cowboy Action shoots. The reason they got out of DA revolvers is speculative, but most of the guys that built DA revolvers have retired and the new guys simply have never built a DA revolver....the training required to get back in the Da game would be cost prohibitive.

From what he has told me, the DA revolvers require quite a bit more work than SA....

Oh yeah, and they don't have any plans to make a DA revolver in the foreseeable future....no matter what their reasoning is.

22-rimfire
October 14, 2007, 10:36 AM
I'm in the Hammerbite camp.

Colt is out of the double action revolver market because they could not compete effectively and sell sufficient volume to make the investment to modernize cost effective. Simple as that....

I read the discussions about the Heritage Rough Rider 22 versus the Ruger Single Six. Newbies frequently go for the Rough Rider due to price. Compare that to a better Colt New Frontier or Peacemaker price in the used market. Again, Colt could not compete.

Jeff Timm
October 14, 2007, 10:53 AM
The Colt MK. III series was a "modern" DA revolver. It didn't sell well when compared to the Ruger and S&W. Prices were slightly higher, but there never seemed to be very many in the market place. According to my old gun dealer in Avon Lake, Ohio, he sold every one that came in, but they never arrived in more than dribbles and there were times they never showed up at all. He did have the Government Model and the Commanders, but the DA revolvers were never available in quantity.

Colt had good sales of it's .380 automatic, but never followed up with a slightly larger 9mm. Then QA went to heck.

I'll never figure out that company.

Geoff
Who notes spotty quality from "union labor" is a given.

MikePGS
October 14, 2007, 11:14 AM
I just wish they produced their survivor model, which is basically the Medusa No. 47 that they bought the rights to.

ronwill
October 14, 2007, 11:28 AM
Colt reduced private firearms manufacture to concentrate on their military contracts. Simply put they went where the money was.

gbran
October 14, 2007, 12:20 PM
Colt might take another look at rosco's in CA after the micro-stamping law takes effect.

weagle99
October 14, 2007, 01:51 PM
Kimber, I was perhaps a bit too harsh in my first post.

I will grant you that production of the older Colt action (Python, Det. Spec., etc) is possibly more involved that the creation of a Single Action Army (particularly the Python with its high-polish finish). However, I can't believe that it takes more work to assemble a stainless King Cobra or Anaconda than to polish, finish (blue and caseharden), and assemble a Single Action Army. The KC and Anaconda actions were designed for ease of manufacture.

I'm not saying your source at Colt is wrong, but it just doesn't make sense.

One last point and I will drop out: USFA manufactures single actions using probably the most efficient methods available. Their blue and casehardened guns list for around $1000. Compare that price to a typical S&W DA for what, $600 or so (or less)? The action of the SA might be simpler but the work required to complete the gun is more labor intensive when you consider the finishing.

ktd
October 14, 2007, 03:24 PM
Colt has always seemed to have problems with the managing of their business, they have filed bankrupcty several times, starting from before the civil war.

I guess like anything else they could not make revolvers profitable, especially with a reduced demand for them.

My advice, anytime you find something you like, buy a lifetime supply, because they will stop making them.

HammerBite
October 14, 2007, 06:07 PM
It seems to me that Colt really didn't have anywhere to go with their DA revolver line. When production costs rose to the point where the public wouldn't buy, they couldn't go the S&W route of MIM cookie-cutter parts and unskilled labor and "this gun will probably work, ship it" quality control -- the Colt lockwork is sufficiently more complex than S&W lockwork that they still wouldn't have been able to compete. A total redesign would have been a very risky proposition, especially in view of the fact that Ruger, with its transfer bar, has made DA design about as simple as it can get, while being very user friendly in the routine inspection and maintenance area.

So Colt simply bowed out of the arena. I think it is sad, but at least they went out knowing that they had built some of the very best.

.41Dave
October 14, 2007, 06:15 PM
Colt has been plagued by incompetent management for decades. I would suspect this has more to do with their inability to compete than any other reason. All other reasons are largely red herrings intended to distract from the gross stupidity of the company's executives.

TexasRifleman
October 14, 2007, 06:18 PM
If you had the opportunity to take a permanent suck-lock on Uncle Sugars teat it would be hard to resist the temptation.

Texas Moon
October 14, 2007, 07:52 PM
I agree with .41dave.

Colt's leadership has had their head up their you know what for the last 40 years.

They missed the automatic switch by millions of Police.

They missed the cowboy action craze.

They still haven't caught up with the AR market.

About the only thing they are doing half right is with their 1911's.
The WW1 re-pop gun went like crazy.
Now they should do a WW2 EXACT re-pop and watch it go crazy too.
They have brought back the Series 70.

Kimber1911_06238
October 14, 2007, 09:29 PM
weagle, he works in their "custom shop" not sure what's it's called exactly. maybe his opinion was a bit biased since he works on custom guns and not the production ones

GunTech
October 14, 2007, 10:36 PM
Colt, like many companies also suffered from the 'MBA' effect. To many companies get taken over by management professionals who think all products are the same, and that growth is nore imporatant that sales, profit and reputations. It's all about stock value.

Right now, this same transition is happening at Leupold. I've seen it in several firearms related companies. The people who founded the company, or who really understood the business get replaced by 'suits' with no understanding of their product or market, but have MBA degrees. They show great returns to the stockholders while they run the company into the ground.

I'm not sure what has been going on with Colt for the last 30 years, but they haven't produced anything new and innovative since the AA2000, and that was a disaster. Other designs seem to have come from the marketing department. How many good guns have been designed by commmitees based on focus groups?

BTW, according to at least one distributor I worked with, the Python was in high demand at the time they finally ended production, and was backordered by the distributor.

Colt cancelled the Mustang and other miniguns as part of a gentleman's agreement with CT not to sell 'Saturday Night Specials'. IIRC, there was also an issue with Kahr over a patent.

Finally, one of the things that is killing the big gun manufacturer is the NIH syndrone. There are hundred of talented gun designers out there, but the big gun companies only want to build what they have always built, or go with in house and often terrible committe designed guns.

Remingyon 770 anyone?

ironvic
October 14, 2007, 11:25 PM
I can only look at Colt from a consumer's point of view. Their guns, especially revolvers, were too expensive and they never seemed to have their marketing act together. Smith and Wesson offered more choices, offering constantly evolving revolvers built on state of the art machinery and they seemed to have an uncanny abiltiy to gauge revolver shooter's wants and needs; and I still think they built better wheelguns than Colt (with that said, I do have a Trooper Mk-111 6" .357 that's drop-dead gorgeous and accurate in the extreme-it's one of my favorites!). When people were clamoring for more single action Colts, they curtailed production--then along came the Ruger Vaquero to fill the vacuum...

Of course, Colt really scored with the 1911 and there's still a certain cache to the name over other 1911s in a crowded market, ditto for the AR-15/M-16. In that respect, it's interesting that Smith & Wesson chose to copy those weapons as it sought to expand its LE and military offerings.

When it's all said and done, I hope Colt remains in the race for a long time to come-after Winchester's demise, we need all the gun manufacturers we can get!

Logan5
October 15, 2007, 01:53 AM
In my opinion, they are getting killed on the few products they still produce by virtually every distributor's decision to tack two or three zeros onto the MSRP of every Colt product.

hemiram
October 15, 2007, 02:17 AM
My Python was a really nice gun, but I wasn't going to carry it, due to fear it would get scratched up, and my Dan Wesson Model 15's shot as well, or better, so when I was offered a lot more than I paid for it, off it went.

My Combat Commander was a total disaster, there was nothing good about that gun other than looks when I bought it new. After a trip back to Colt, it didn't even have that going for it. They scratched the slide all up. I took the loss and dumped it ASAP.

The Anaconda looks interesting, but if I want a 44 mag, it will be a DW or S&W.

HammerBite
October 15, 2007, 05:05 AM
Finally, one of the things that is killing the big gun manufacturer is the NIH syndrone.
Yes, the good old "not invented here" syndrome. I understand that Colt had the opportunity to buy rights to Seecamp's excellent double-action conversion, and declined.

Powderman
October 15, 2007, 06:46 AM
They still haven't caught up with the AR market.

Respectfully, I beg to differ.

Look at the hottest selling AR variant on the market, from ANY manufacturer--the 16" stepped barrel, with detachable carry handle. When did that first hit the market? With Colt's M4.

You will pay good money for any of the AR's, usually below one thousand bucks.

You will also pay good money for the M4 clone, the LE6920. They go for around $1300, brand new. You will usually find Armalites, Bushmasters and even Rock Rivers on the shelves, along with some not so well known brands. Yet, you almost never see 6920's languishing on the dealer's rack. Why? They're purchased in advance, or sold right after they hit the store.

Finally, even with so many choices and variants on the market, the Colt rifle is the one that is spec'd for the Armed Forces, even well after 2010.

You will also notice this: Why aren't other variants called AR's in their brand name? Because "AR15" is a registered Colt trade mark.

Colt doesn't need to catch up with the AR market.

Colt IS the AR market.

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