The Firearms Produced By Non-Firearms Manufacturers Thread

The Firearms Produced By Non-Firearms Manufacturers Thread

This is a discussion on The Firearms Produced By Non-Firearms Manufacturers Thread within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Would you be willing to trust in, and commit to using firearms that were produced by manufacturing concerns with no prior firearms manufacturing experience? Companies ...

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Thread: The Firearms Produced By Non-Firearms Manufacturers Thread

  1. #1
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    The Firearms Produced By Non-Firearms Manufacturers Thread

    Would you be willing to trust in, and commit to using firearms that were produced by manufacturing concerns with no prior firearms manufacturing experience? Companies that built a business producing goods having nothing to do with firearms? Firearms that were rushed to the end user in some cases without a lot of field testing? Would you consider relying on such a firearm at a crucial time when you desperately needed self-protection during an emergency?

    Our nation did just that during both World Wars. Non-firearms manufacturers of all kinds were tapped to produce all manner of small arms to equip the "Arsenal of Democracy" during a time of great crisis. While most Forum members are aware of the many different prime contractors who produced small arms during wartime some perhaps are unaware of the extent of manufacturers who successfully produced weaponry though having no prior experience. Perhaps readers can mention some additional prime contractors not having anything to do with firearms manufacture but producing firearms nonetheless. Feel free to contribute to this thread.

    Three such firearms live around here. On the one hand it's amusing to use a gun made by a typewriter manufacturer but it is also a sobering thought to consider that a national emergency required such firearms to be produced. That such firearms served with great distinction is a tribute to American manufacturing skill. The big question is: Could we do it again? There's no reason to assume that we will never again be compelled to resort to such planning and production to adequately arm the nation in future.



    1903-A3 produced by the Smith Corona Company, M1 Carbine produced by the Underwood Elliott Fisher, 1911A1 produced by Remington Rand. All three were produced by companies whose peacetime business was typewriter production.






    Receiver and barrel markings of the Smith Corona '03A3





    You'll just have to assume that the receiver is marked "Underwood" as the marking is mostly covered by the "Type II" rear sight which was a mid-WWII armorer modification of the original "flip" sight. Barrel marking is shown as well.



    Roll marking on the slide of the Remington Rand M1911A1.


    Another non-firearms M1 Carbine, my dad's Quality Hardware Machine Company example. This particular all-original carbine was produced by Quality Hardware using a barrel produced by Rock-Ola, a manufacturer of jukeboxes. Rock-Ola was a prime contractor for the M1 Carbine, and in addition to supplying other prime contractors with component parts, produced M1 Carbines roll-marked with its own name.

    Listed below are most prime contractors who produced arms for World War I, World War II and even as late as beyond the cease fire of the Korean War. Notice how many were not traditional gun makers. As a small child, I recall badly stumping my toe on a large object in the floor of a relative's very cluttered and semi-dark garage and bawling and squalling over the event. I was told at the time it was a machine gun. Later, as a teen I found out it was the receiver of an M2 .50. Close examination revealed it was produced by the "A/C Spark Plug Division of General Motors Corp."

    So, I've sustained an injury from a .50 caliber machine gun.

    1911 and 1911A1 pistol

    World War I production 1911 pistols

    Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company- arms manufacturer
    North American Arms Company- arms manufacturer
    Remington UMC- arms manufacturer
    Springfield Armory- (U.S. Government facility)
    A. J. Savage Company- arms manufacturer (slides only)

    World War II production 1911A1 pistols

    Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company- arms manufacturer
    Ithaca Gun Company Incorporated- arms manufacturer
    Remington Rand Company- typewriters, business machines, shavers
    The Singer Company- sewing machines (scarce, only around 500 made)
    Union Switch & Signal- railway signaling equipment and services

    1903 and 1903A3 Springfield

    Springfield Armory- (U.S. Government facility)
    Rock Island Arsenal- (U.S. Government facility)
    Remington Arms - arms maker
    Smith Corona Company- typewriters, business machines

    M1 Carbine

    Winchester Repeating Arms Company- arms maker
    Inland Manufacturing Division of General Motors Corporation- subsidiary of GM
    Underwood Elliot Fisher- typewriters, office equipment
    Rock-Ola Company- jukeboxes, novelty and slot machines
    Quality Hardware Machine Corporation- hardware, fasteners
    National Postal Meter Company- postal meters, mail handling equipment
    Irwin Pedersen Arms- Company Formed specifically to manufacture Carbines. Failed the attempt. (Rare)
    Standard Products- Company automotive parts and equipment
    Saginaw Steering Gear Division of General Motors- automotive components, gearboxes
    International Business Machines Corporation- business machines

    M1

    Springfield Armory- (U.S. Government facility)
    Winchester Repeating Arms Company- arms maker
    International Harvester- (1950s contractor) trucks, tractors, farming machinery and implements
    Harrington & Richardson- (1950s contractor) arms maker


    The contractors producing the models listed below are likely incomplete and could use some attention. I have reference works for the models listed above but don't have anything definitive on hand for these guns.

    M3 Grease Gun

    Guide Lamp division of GM- automotive electrical components
    Ithaca Gun Company- arms manufacturer

    Thompson and M1A1

    Auto Ordnance Corporation- arms maker
    Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company- arms maker
    Savage Arms Company- arms maker

    Browning Automatic Rifle

    World War I production

    Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company- arms maker
    Winchester Repeating Arms Company- arms maker
    Marlin-Rockwell (later Marlin Firearms)- arms maker

    World War II production

    Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company- arms maker
    New England Small Arms Corporation- arms maker
    International Business Machines Corporation- business machines
    Royal McBee Typewriter Company- (1950s production) typewriters


    M1919 Browning .30 Machine Gun

    Frigidaire Division of GM- air conditioners, cooling equipment, household appliances
    A/C Spark Plug Division of GM- spark plugs, automotive electrical components
    Saginaw Steering Gear Division of GM- automotive components
    Brown-Lipe-Chapin Division of GM- maker of gearboxes, transmissions
    Winchester Repeating Arms Company- arms maker
    Remington Arms Company- arms maker
    Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company- arms maker
    Springfield Armory- (U.S. Government facility)
    Rock Island Arsenal- (U.S Government facility)
    Frankford Arsenal- (U.S. Government facility)
    High Standard Manufacturing Company- arms maker
    Buffalo Arms Corporation- arms maker
    Kelsey-Hays Wheel Company- automotive and industrial wheels


    M2 .50 Machine Gun

    Colt's Patent Firearms Company- arms maker
    High Standard Manufacturing Company- arms maker
    Savage Arms Company- arms maker
    Buffalo Arms Corporation- arms maker
    Frigidaire Division of GM- air conditioners, cooling equipment, household appliances
    AC Spark Plug Division of GM- spark plugs, automotive electrical components
    Brown-Lipe-Chappin Division of GM - maker of gearboxes, transmissions
    Saginaw Divisions of GM- automotive components, gearboxes
    Kelsey Hayes Wheel Company- automotive and industrial wheels


    This list does not include all the myriad sub-contractors who funneled small parts and even large components to the prime contractors. For instance Union Switch & Signal produced some receivers for Quality Hardware's use in its M1 Carbine contract. These will be marked "UN-QUALITY." Some of the troops were said to be upset with "second rate guns" stamped so.

    It also doesn't consider additional contractors who provided attachments and accouterments for the weapons of the World Wars. For instance I have a M1942 bayonet marked "A. F. & H", American Fork & Hoe company, a hand implement maker who obtained a contract to make bayonets for the government. Lots more of this kind of stuff is out there. Let's see if we can add to the list through Forum members' knowledge and collections. Photos added would be appreciated.
    Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society

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    Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893


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    Member Array sanfordreed's Avatar
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    I kinda wish A-C Spark Plug Co. would get back into the gun making business. I would seriously look at buying one.

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    I think back to when AMT introduced their line of guns. Some were good out of the box, but most needed tweaking to get them to operate correctly (if they ever did).

    Would I trust a gun today, that was made by "Joe's Screwdriver and Fire Extinguisher Manufacturing". Probably not. Tolerances in today's guns are a lot tighter than they were during WWI & II. The margin of error in manufacturing aren't near as great. Most manufacturing today is controlled by computers. The human element has been removed for the most part. The pride of workmanship doesn't exist like it did back then.

    That said, if I had to have a gun, and the only thing I could get was one made by Joe's, then yes I would get it.
    Freedom doesn't come free. It is bought and paid for by the lives and blood of our men and women in uniform.

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    These will be marked "UN-QUALITY." Some of the troops were said to be upset with "second rate guns" stamped so.
    I didn't know the UN existed back then! Did they shoot Jelly Beans and flowers?
    Freedom doesn't come free. It is bought and paid for by the lives and blood of our men and women in uniform.

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    I'm not convinced that this type of measure will never be needed again. If, for example, we were to engage in total war with China or Russia, we'd need millions of rifles fast - and it's likely that the major manufacturing centers, large firearms manufacturing facilities, and transportation hubs would be primary targets of nuclear strikes.

    As for trusting non-gun manufacturers, no problem. In terms of machines and tools, firearms are extremely simple. Any good-sized machine shop with design prints and a true quality system could turn out excellent guns. Hey, look at Glock, maker of knives and plastic consumer products - their first production handgun was the G17, which is widely regarded as the gold standard for reliability.
    "Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of the way... The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way."

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    Another great post, Bryan!

    Do you know that the Canadian North American Arms Company produced fewer pistols (100) than Singer's 500, but aren't worth anywhere near what the Singers are? None of the 100 pistol were accepted/stamped by the Ordnance Department and aren't considered actual USGI weapons by most militaria collectors .
    "The pistol, learn it well, carry it always ..." ~ Jeff Cooper

    "Terrorists: They hated you yesterday, they hate you today, and they will hate you tomorrow. End the cycle of hatred, don’t give them a tomorrow."

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    VIP Member Array rammerjammer's Avatar
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    A few years back I remember seeing ammo produced by non-traditional manufacturers as well up for auction or maybe they were just being sold at high costs. I'm not one to collect that kind of stuff but it is really cool to know what this country can do in a pinch.
    "Was there no end to the conspiracy of irrational prejudice against Red Ryder and his peacemaker?"

    Revolvers, “more elegant weapons for a more civilized age.”

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    Quote Originally Posted by OD* View Post
    Another great post, Bryan!

    Do you know that the Canadian North American Arms Company produced fewer pistols (100) than Singer's 500, but aren't worth anywhere near what the Singers are? None of the 100 pistol were accepted/stamped by the Ordnance Department and aren't considered actual USGI weapons by most militaria collectors .
    Hi OD*; Wasn't certain about the North American Arms Company contract other than it was a bust. Makes sense that pistols not accepted would actually not be considered actual USGI weapons. Wouldn't you like to have a good example of one though?!
    Rock and Glock likes this.
    Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society

    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

    Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893

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    Give a good machinist a decent set of plans and he'll make it--even if he doesn't know what it is.
    Retired USAF E-8. Lighten up and enjoy life because:
    Paranoia strikes deep, into your heart it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid... "For What It's Worth" Buffalo Springfield

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    Wasent Glock something else before they made guns?

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    First off, Thanks for your post! A great piece of American history. Would such a gun be my first choice? No! But when there is no choice you do what you got to do. The fact that where here today speaking English means great men did.
    Rock and Glock likes this.

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    The 1903,The M1 Grand and others all went through problems and issues depending on who made it and when.
    Some have Bolts with less than desirable metals ,some metals not hardened properly .
    That is why you must do your home work on them by serial number before buying one.
    Often the new manufactures were copying a proven design already.
    There are a lot of M1 Grand copies that were made in Japan floating around , they are not safe to fire.
    The Thompson went through a lot of production changes depending on when it was made.
    I base purchase on any weapon on research.

  13. #13
    OD*
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    Wouldn't you like to have a good example of one though?!
    YES I WOULD!

    I'd also like to have a Union Switch & Signal, the poor man's Singer.
    "The pistol, learn it well, carry it always ..." ~ Jeff Cooper

    "Terrorists: They hated you yesterday, they hate you today, and they will hate you tomorrow. End the cycle of hatred, don’t give them a tomorrow."

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    ABSOUTELY!! IBM, Remington-Rand (the typwriter folks) , Saginaw, etc.. I am in need a good original Rock-Ola.. Isn't it amazing what the term "Mil-spec" has become....
    A wise man once said: "Bugout bag?..What's that? Is that all the junk you sidewalk commandos plan on humping when the SHTF...I'll grab a Nylon 66, a box of 22s and a poncho liner and in less than a week I will have all of your stuff and everything else that I need for the duration."

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    Quote Originally Posted by sanfordreed View Post
    I kinda wish A-C Spark Plug Co. would get back into the gun making business. I would seriously look at buying one.
    I'd be happy if there even WAS an A-C Spark Plug company around to make anything. I have little faith in products made south of the border by today's Delphi.
    Smitty
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