Photos by Guy J. Sagi, logo courtesy of Remington
Eliphalet Remington and the trio of sons who helped pour the foundation for two centuries of firearms bearing their name probably wouldn’t recognize the M40 and M24 families of sniper-rifles that have performed so well in the hands of the United States Marine Corps and U.S. Army. The R-15 and R-25 would add to the confusion, although the barrels would the tip-off them off, partly because that’s where the history of Remington begins.
Memories get fuzzy in 200 years, so there are more legends as to how the company started in the Mohawk River Valley than Model 700 flavors available today. One version has it Eliphalet senior—a blacksmith—sent junior to order a barrel for a flintlock he was building, but told him to learn how it’s done before he returned. The pair mastered the process, the youngster took second place in a shooting competition with one of their early rifles and came home with a bunch of orders.
Another popular history of Remington claims Eliphalet II somehow managed to forge his own barrel, had it rifled by someone else, completed the flintlock and, naturally, those figurative cash registers started to ring. “The History of Manufacturers in the United States,” by J. Leander Bishop, cites an 1820 census, though, that indicates no complete guns were coming out of the firm at the time. Barrels, however, were.
The company name and management has been through quite a few “iterations” in the 200 year history of Remington. It began as E. Remington in 1816, then E. Remington & Son and finally E. Remington & Sons as his three boys joined the firm. Then the company sold to owners who controlled United Metallic Cartridge (U.M.C.) in 1888—taking the family out of the business—and operated as Remington Arms. Operations consolidated 1912 with the change to Remington U.M.C. Chemical giant DuPont owned the company for a while, then an investment firm, and finally Cerberus Capitol Management purchased it in 2007 and moved it into its Freedom Group.
Regardless of iteration, though, the Remington name has always been prominent with firearm enthusiasts. Part of the family’s early success in the history of Remington was an undying dedication to quality and innovation. The management style, according to Roy Marcot in his book “The History of Remington Firearms,” featured, “….organizational principles anticipated by more than 100 years of the ‘quality team’ concepts so familiar to us today.” New ideas were encouraged from anyone within or outside the company. During this time, the firm introduced cast steel barrels, enhanced the interchangeable-parts concept of manufacturing, produced the first typewriters (more than 2,500 a year at one point), made sewing machines and somehow still managed to crank out 144,000 revolvers, 12,500 rifles, 20,000 carbines and 40,000 muskets during the Civil War.
Remington filed more than 1,000 patents between 1914 and 1948.
There’s no doubt that attitude, and long-term approach, is one of the primary reasons the Remington Model 700 became the “foundation” for many of nation’s sniper rifle systems. Rather than join the chorus praises, we’ll leave it to an expert like Chris Kyle. His comments on the .300 Win. Mag. in his book, “American Sniper” explains, “Other services fire the round from different (or slightly different) guns; arguably the most famous is the Army’s M-24 Sniper Weapon System, which is based on the Remington 700 rifle. In our case, we started out with McMillan stocks, customized the barrels, and used 700 action. These were nice rifles.”
Some enthusiasts were shocked when Remington rolled out its 1911 R1 handgun in 2010, but the firearm wasn’t new to the company. In fact, it produced 21,677 for the United States during World War I. The government’s total order was for half a million pistols, but the Armistice intervened.
The company also manufactured the R51 semi-automatic handgun to mixed and sometimes caustic reviews. The new model is based on a John. D. Pederson design made available to the public in 1919. In the seven years that model remained in production 64,796 were made.
Most recently, tough, Remington rolled out the RM380, a pocket-pistol-sized .380 ACP-chambered handgun for carry. Reviews have been solid.
The company isn't immune to today's challenging business climate, though. In early 2017 it was forced to lay off 126 union workers and 16 supervisory staff at its New York and Kentucky plants.
Eliphalet’s legacy, whether the guns are coming from Remington Arms, Remington Law Enforcement or Remington Defense, is still alive and well—even the more than 200 years in the history of Remington.
History of Remington
1816—Company founded as E. Remington
1873—Company begins producing typewriters
1886—Typewriter business sold
1888—Company sold to investors who also own United Metallic Cartridge, and operates as Remington Arms
1912—Companies consolidated operating as Remington U.M.C.
1933—DuPont purchases 60% share in company
1934—Company purchases Peters Cartridge
1950—Model 870 pump-action shotgun introduced
1960—Remington introduced plastic-hulled shotshells
1962—Model 700 bolt-action rifle introduced
1963—Remington purchases 55% of Brewer Pharmical
1980—DuPont purchases remaining shares in the company
1993—Purchased from DuPont by RACI Acquisitions
1996—New corporate headquarters in North Carolina built
2007—Acquired by Cerberus Capitol Management
2010—Made part of Freedom Group, under the same ownership