Following reports that the company stopped production of commercial AR-15 sales, which was confirmed in this Shooting Illustrated story, Colt responded to outrage over insinuation that the company's halt in civilian rifle production had anti-gun motives. The company's president and CEO reinforced the company's commitment to the right to keep and bear arms in a public release today, highlighting the market-driven reasons for Colt's temporary halt in AR-15 production:
WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (September 19th, 2019) – There have been numerous articles recently published about Colt’s participation in the commercial rifle market. Some of these articles have incorrectly stated or implied that Colt is not committed to the consumer market. We want to assure you that Colt is committed to the Second Amendment, highly values its customers and continues to manufacture the world’s finest quality firearms for the consumer market.
The fact of the matter is that over the last few years, the market for modern sporting rifles has experienced significant excess manufacturing capacity. Given this level of manufacturing capacity, we believe there is adequate supply for modern sporting rifles for the foreseeable future.
On the other hand, our warfighters and law enforcement personnel continue to demand Colt rifles and we are fortunate enough to have been awarded significant military and law enforcement contracts. Currently, these high-volume contracts are absorbing all of Colt’s manufacturing capacity for rifles. Colt’s commitment to the consumer markets, however, is unwavering. We continue to expand our network of dealers across the country and to supply them with expanding lines of the finest quality 1911s and revolvers.
At the end of the day, we believe it is good sense to follow consumer demand and to adjust as market dynamics change. Colt has been a stout supporter of the Second Amendment for over 180 years, remains so, and will continue to provide its customers with the finest quality firearms in the world.
Dennis Veilleux, President and Chief Executive Officer
Many of those who want to see a more nefarious, anti-gun rationale for Colt's market-based decision highlight the fact that companies like Daniel Defense, Wilson Combat,SIG Sauer and others are selling AR-15s at higher prices than Colt rifles with seemingly great success. One look at Colt's long-gun offerings compared to the offerings of these companies will show that Colt's ARs are decidedly more mil-spec than comparably priced rifles from other makers. Today's consumers have made it clear that they're not looking for mil-spec AR-15s at the prices for which Colt can sell them.
As we reported in our initial story, this isn't the final word on Colt AR-15 production. As company executives stated clearly on multiple occasions, a lack of market demand for Colt's long guns led to a shift in focus and resources toward the company's handgun lineup versus its commercial rifles. Want Colt to make AR-15s for the civilian market again? Then go to your local gun shop and ask for a Colt rifle. The more people ask for Colt AR-15s, the sooner Colt will start cranking 'em out.
9/20 Edit:American Rifleman Editor-in-Chief Mark Keefe also chimed in with some clarifying information regarding Colt's AR-15 production. You can read his story HERE.