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Smith & Wesson to produce rifle
Thursday, January 19, 2006
By WILLIAM [email protected]
Smith & Wesson yesterday announced it will sell a military-style rifle, the first time in 20 years the handgun maker has sold a long gun.
The new model M&P15 tactical rifle will be unveiled Feb. 9 at a trade show, and will immediately be available for sale.
Because it includes an adjustable-length stock and a 32-round magazine, the gun cannot be sold legally in Massachusetts, California or some other states that have restricted sales of so-called assault weapons, company officials said. Company officials said the semiautomatic rifle will be sold to law enforcement agencies and the military, but also to target shooters and hunters in states where it is legal.
"Extending the military and police family of firearms is important to us," said Thomas L. Taylor, vice president of marketing for Smith & Wesson.
The tactical rifle market has been growing in recent years, in part thanks to police departments switching from shotguns to rifles, Taylor said.
More traditional rifle types have languished, he said. The U.S. Repeating Arms Co. said Tuesday that it would close a factory in New Haven, Conn., that made Winchester-brand bolt-action and level-action rifles.
Springfield-based Smith & Wesson has parts for the gun made by other manufacturers in the United States, the company said.
The rifle is based on the design of the AR-15, a 1960s-era rifle that evolved into the fully-automatic M16 carried by the United States military as a standard rifle today. Many companies make variants on the design.
Smith & Wesson officials had said the decision to enter the long gun market was made following market research that shows gun buyers wanted to be able to purchase a Smith & Wesson branded rifle or shotgun.
Smith & Wesson spokesman Paul Pluff said the rifle offers more features for the price than many competitors.
The basic version will include an adjustable stock, removable carry handle and adjustable sights for a suggested price of $1,200, while a second version will include folding sights and a rail system to add laser aiming devices and lights at a price of $1,700
 
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