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I suppose that, given current trends, this was predictable--but I did't see it coming:

Press Release Source: Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation
Smith & Wesson Enters Long-Gun Market with M&P15 Rifles

Wednesday January 18, 8:00 am ET
Company Expands Military & Police Series With Rifles Designed for Law Enforcement, Military, and Sporting Shooters

SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Jan. 18 -- Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation, parent company of Smith & Wesson Corp., the legendary, 154-year old, global provider of products and services for safety, security, protection and sport, announced its initial entry into the market for tactical rifles and will begin shipments in early February of the Smith & Wesson M&P15 Rifle and the Smith & Wesson M&P15T Rifle. These tactical rifles are additions to the Company's Military & Police (M&P) series of firearms specifically engineered to meet the needs of global military and police personnel, as well as sporting shooters.

Michael F. Golden, Smith & Wesson's President and CEO, said, "We are entering the $1 billion market for long guns with products that provide the exceptional functionality and reliability that Smith & Wesson customers have come to expect. We believe the features of these tactical rifles make them strong contenders in the military and law enforcement markets. We also believe that our M&P rifle series fills a tremendous gap in the marketplace by delivering high-quality, feature-rich tactical rifles that will be readily available in commercial channels. As a company that stands for safety, security, protection and sport, the Smith & Wesson brand and reputation have earned a position for us in that market. The M&P15 rifle series is produced entirely in the United States under manufacturing alliances with several American companies."

The M&P rifle series is based upon a combat-proven design and incorporates a full set of standard features currently unmatched in other AR-15-type tactical rifles. Both the M&P15 and the M&P15T (with its high-end accessory package) are rugged, lightweight, semi-automatic rifles. Both are chambered in 5.56mm NATO ammunition and are built to perform under a diverse range of conditions. Reliability features of the gas-operated rifles include a chrome-lined gas key, bolt carrier and barrel. Both the M&P15 and the M&P15T are designed to accommodate a variety of shooters and shooting positions through the use of a six-position adjustable stock.

The M&P15 incorporates a traditional AR-15 design featuring a removable carry-handle and adjustable rear and front post sights, allowing for quick target acquisition and convenient handling. The black anodized rifle measures 35 inches in length when fully extended and has an unloaded weight of 6.74 pounds.

The M&P15T, with its high-end accessory package, features folding front and rear battle sights and a four-sided equipment rail system that allows the addition of accessories, such as lights, laser-aiming devices, and vertical grips. The rifle measures 35 inches in length when fully extended and has an unloaded weight of 6.85 pounds.

The M&P15 and M&P15T join a comprehensive family of Smith & Wesson products designed and manufactured to meet the needs of law enforcement professionals. Other products include a full-line of Smith & Wesson's world-renowned revolvers used for primary duty and backup side arms, the recently announced M&P series of polymer pistols designed specifically for law enforcement and military use, and a wide range of handcuffs, restraint products and tactical vision devices.

Both the M&P15 and the M&P15T will be unveiled at SHOT Show 2006, February 9-12 at the Las Vegas, Nevada Convention Center. The Company expects that editorial coverage in multiple industry publications will occur beginning with that event. Initial shipments of both rifles are expected to begin concurrent with SHOT Show and will be distributed initially to law enforcement agencies for test and evaluation and to the sporting goods distribution channel. The M&P15 will carry a suggested retail price of $1,200, while the M&P15T will retail for $1,700.
 

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LIProgun said:
We also believe that our M&P rifle series fills a tremendous gap in the marketplace by delivering high-quality, feature-rich tactical rifles that will be readily available in commercial channels."....The M&P15 will carry a suggested retail price of $1,200, while the M&P15T will retail for $1,700.
He's seeing a "tremendous gap" in the market that's escaping me. Now, if it had a piston system and was also offered in 6.8mm at a price competitive with the rest of the market, then they'd be on to something.
 

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I'm with you Snake... but generally the way I find "tremendous gaps" is when I fall in them.

I did know this was coming but am surprised at the announcement so far ahead of the show.

The real question is who is actually making them?
 

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Charlie Petty said:
The real question is who is actually making them?
I also considered the possibility of "rebadging," but forgot to put it in my post. Point to you, Charlie!

If memory serves, S&W has never exactly been able to set any segment of the long gun market on fire....
 

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First, a M1911. Now an AR-15. What next, a SAA? :lol:

FWIW: I once read that S&W Historian Roy Jinks acquired a SAA and had it reworked with a full set of S&W rollmarks. It was then presented to Colt Historian R.L. Wilson as a gag gift.
 

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If someone up there thought the market was big enough...

I can see Roy doing something like that. Wouldn't that be a treasure in anyone's collection?

Time will tell, but aren't there even more companies selling AR clones than 1911s?
 

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The great irony in all this is Smith&Wesson made this announcement the day after Winchester's New Haven plant announced the end of the Model 70, the Model 94 and the Model 1300.

Obviously, the market is no longer focused on or about "hunting" like many keep thinking it is.

Makes you wonder What If?????

All The Best,
Frank W. James
 

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I'm not saying there's a lot of clone companies out there, but my beagle, ALF THE WONDER DOG, has started whining whenever she sees a picture of a collapsable stock...I think she wants to get into the business...

Michael B
 

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Charlie Petty said:
I can see Roy doing something like that. Wouldn't that be a treasure in anyone's collection?
Had the same thought--that gun would have to be worth many times whatever it was worth before being "ruined," sort of the way a guitar that's been smashed by Pete Townsend is worth several times what it was when it was still a playable guitar.
 

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Frank W. James said:
Obviously, the market is no longer focused on or about "hunting" like many keep thinking it is.
All The Best,
Frank W. James
They may just be catching on...
The sporting market is thriving in some areas but the "martial" market is moving and shaking. As for the gap that S&W speaks of...I think the gap they're talking about is them not making money on AR's. But the lesson from all the 1911 clones is... Just when you think the maket's completely saturated, there's room for more, so why not? If they can make money, more power to 'em.
 

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S&W recently placed an order for over 30 CNC machining centers. I don't know what machines they are purchasing but such machines can cost from $150k to over $1 million. You then have to add hundreds of thousands of dollars for tooling and fixtures to hold the parts to be machined. I assumed these were meant for the new M&P pistol line. I guess there is more to it than that.

A company with existing CNC machings should be able to buy receiver castings or billets and finish machine the receivers without a relatively small additional investment. With good program writers and QC, any production machine shop should be able to make as good a product as anyother.

S&W has the advantage of being able to manufacture small internal parts without having to outsource them.

I would love for all of the gun mfgs. move from the anti-gun states and cities and move to Alabama where we are free Americans. We have built 4 automobile plants plus all of their just-in-time suppliers and are now known as Detroit South.
 

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Yea, adding a new gun to the line is a matter of programming new CNC cutter paths and stocking the relevant cutting tool shelves. S&W already has lots of CNC machines and plenty of shop floor. They have experience with aluminum, and hey, there's that Scandium stuff. Anodizing is obviously not a problem. So, we're left with barrels longer than usual.

Buy .224" bored and rifled barrel blanks and re-program the CNC lathes to produces 16" instead of 4-5" barrels.

If all S&W did was steal half the market share from all the minor players, they could make money and not have cut into the sales of A-B-C by one gun. With the right product (and the new product manager people at S&W strike me as clever and ambitious) they could steal market share from the big three.

Competition improves the breed.
 

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S&W recently placed an order for over 30 CNC machining centers
Could you please site a source for that information?

Some of S&W's current CNC equipment is probably due for replacement and upgrade and I'm not sure we should read too much into such an order. It is certain that they are going to do little more than assemble rifles at first- maybe not even that- and I'd sure want to see if they were going to fly before investing in that much equipment. While there are herds of companies selling AR stuff I wonder how many actually MAKE it?
 

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Charlies, you'd needs drugs and rubber hoses to get to the bottom of that question. There are lots and lots of people who have CNC mahcines. Fewer who have the skilled programmers to makes the cuts. Fewer still who have the actual dimensions and (and more importantly) the tolerances.

Everyone wants to be a "manufacturer" even if they are just top-notch assemblers. (And nothing wrong with that, by the way.)

I would not be surprised to find that there are perhaps as few as eight places that can forge the platters for uppers and lowers, and I'd be surprised if there were as many as twenty who could machine mil-spec or "close enough" receivers.
 

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Maybe we can talk them into making Colt D-frames.
 

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I doubt that there are that many. There are only a few forging houses that can do the volume and while you're right that there are lots of shops with good CNC I wonder how many have excess capacity to take on something like this.

As far as drawings go I bet that would be easy and you might even be able to buy a canned CNC program but making the fixtures would be costly. That's why I think someone who is already making ARs is a good suspect.
 
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