What US State would be the best to open a manufacturing facility?


An employee of a well known gun company asked me which state would be the best to open a manufacturing facility. Because I am not an expert in this area I thought I would ask y’all to help.

Which state(s) do you think are best and why? Please sound off in the comments.



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • Mark-1

    I would say TN (eastern part) because #1 We have a very cooperative state gov at the moment, new VW plant and an AMAZON didtribution center soon and #2 I need a job ! lol !

  • Timmeehh

    If we are talking about gun manufacturing, then it should be in one of the states that has passed a Firearms Freedom Act, such as Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. These are very gun friendly states and Wyoming is now the fourth state to have Constitutional Carry.

    Also, there is no State Income Tax in Wyoming and energy costs are low in Wyoming as it produces a lot of cheap coal. However winters are cold!

  • KC

    Utah; but I’m biased and have no manufacturing experience at all

    We do have Browning, Robinson Arms and Vector Arms here; although I’m not sure if the XCR is actually manufactured here or not.

    We’re a very gun friendly state and also a right to work state too, if unions are an issue

  • I’m betting that there are bigger concerns than a particular state. Does this company need access to ports or airfields? A favorable legal environment? Cheap land and facilities? A test fire range? Complementary local manufacturers? A pool of qualified workers? Low cost of living? Proximity to military bases?

    If any state will work than Idaho is good. Close enough to WA and OR to access the .mil, population base and production areas or both minus the legal and economic concerns of either and near to several other manufacturers.

    But, I’m betting they end up on the East Coast or in the Illinois valley for the same reasons all the others are in those places.

  • Bill

    Idaho.

    Friendly, hardworking people who love their weapons.

    CCI, Speer already are there.

  • Utah. We already have Browning Firearms, LAR Manufacturing, North American Arms, Robison Armament Company, and Vector Arms. (We also have Cobra Enterprises but I’d rather not claim them).

  • It really depends on what you are manufacturing and how.

    Ideally you want a low tax state, without onerous environmental regulations, a large pool of relatively low cost but skilled labor, and easy access to transportation and materiel supply.

    IF you are talking about relatively low volume, light manufacturing (small volumes of firearms, suppressors etc…); then you can move your logistics concerns down the list somewhat.

    Heavy manufacturing, you absolutely have to be near a major port, or a major intermodal rail yard… preferably both; and close to a source of your major materiel is a plus.

    You of still have to deal with the environmental regulation (finishing supplies for example), taxes, and labor.

    Do you need precision machinists?

    That’s probably the hardest manufacturing job to fill in this country, and the populations of them are generally clustered around high labor cost states, and major urban areas (particularly Detroit, Chicago, Boston, Hartford, Seattle, Indianapolis, and Lost Angeles).

    Also, in general, it would be best if you could avoid a current or former “machine” state, like Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois etc…

    For general light manufacturing, Reno and the areas just outside of Las Vegas are a good choice. Low regulatory burden, low tax, fairly large pool of skilled and semi-skilled labor; but only mediocre logistics.

    Outside of Phoenix is similar. Higher tax, slightly better logistics (better rail and trucking).

    Outside of Dallas isn’t too bad (you want to stay outside the major cities, in a satellite city if you can. Less regulatory bullshit). Austin actually isn’t bad either, with lots of electronics skill available, though not as much on the machine work side.

    If you want to do some medium manufacturing with a reasonable pool of skilled machinists, you can go for Delaware (you can draw from the labor pools of Pennsylvania and New Jersey), Indiana (the labor pools of Wisconsin and Illinois, plus Indiana itself, and to an extent Ohio), Kentucky (Kentucky plus ohio, Indiana and West Virginia), Kansas (labor pool from Missouri), and West Virginia (coal workers, mine workers, auto workers etc…).

    Though do remember, Indiana and West Virginia both have nasty union issues, and some areas of machine control; and the Delaware state government, is absurd… though better than the states which surround it.

    In Idaho, Lewiston and Coeur D’Alene have great access to infrastructure (trucking and rail in CdA, rail and ship in Lewiston) and a skilled labor pool in light manufacturing and light machining. Plus Idaho is a moderate tax state, with a reasonable government, and the cost of labor here is very low.

    Eastern Washington has excellent access to skilled labor for light manufacturing, electronics, and light machine work (as you can draw from Idaho, Oregon, and Montana as well). The costs of labor are low, and it is a low tax state. Unfortunately, you have to deal with the government in Olympia (which thinks that there is no state outside of king county and its surroundings).

    Southern New Hampshire has perhaps the best access to skilled electronics workers in the country, and very good access to precision and light machine workers (you can draw from New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island), while being a very low tax state, having a generally good government, and environmental regulation. Unfortunately, the cost of living, and the wage scale, are both relatively high.

    In Colorado you have an idiotic state government and awful city governments, but decent access to rail and trucking, and a large skilled labor population, especially around Boulder, Fort Collins, and Colorado Springs.

    Obviously, the best manufacturing labor pools and access to infrastructure, will be in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Michigan; but those are all states you want to avoid like the plague… unless you can get tax, environmental, and labor concessions from the government (which very well may be possible).

  • Oh and I did deliberately exclude Massachusetts and Connecticut; because although they have among the best labor pools in the country, they are two of the worst state governments, two of the highest tax states, and two of the highest labor cost states.

    New Jersey and California share the distinction of being tied as the states with the best labor pools, transport and logistics, combined with the worst taxes and state governments.

  • MikeJ

    Here is a multi-step process I’d take (mirrors closely my recent picking of a state to live in)…

    Only include states with shall issue CC. ( http://www.handgunlaw.us/ ) Does a gun company want to be somewhere where employees can’t carry what they make?

    “Brady Score” under 15 (wanted to include CO (they allow CCW on college campuses, but require NICS at gun shows, hence the high score)).

    Tax levels, I used personal income taxes. They would want to use corp taxes.

    Population level… I wanted some place with a major city about an hour away, but lots of unpopulated land even closer.

    Beyond that it’s about location, can you get what you need and can you move out what you need to. If Blackhawk can do manufacturing in Meridian, ID and Bozeman, MT, it might all come down to where the owners of the company want to be and what type of incentives the states and cities come up with.

  • Joel

    The most business friendly state that you can find. Gun laws would have little effect on manufacturing, states don’t want to lose businesses for no reason, even they realize that the manufacturers aren’t murderers. Everybody is going to go on about the gun laws of each state, but that would be much lower on the list for an actual company.

  • Lance

    Idaho Very pro-gun no bad natural disasters alot IE weather or earth quakes. Lots of open land for security and expansion.

  • Ray

    Somewhere in the south. Texas, Colorado, Georgia, Florida all would be pretty good choices in my opinion.

  • roamer

    This is the sort of question that gets asked of specialty consulting firms that make *lots* of money answering them, because of the need to balance multiple variables. If we assume they are going to be manufacturing firearms, then they need a location with a well-trained pool of possible employees, good transportation infrastructure, reasonable cost of land or available buildings that can be converted, inexpensive power, and politically neutral or positive towards guns. The bigger the facility is going to be, the harder it is to find a good location, but the more jobs they will be adding to the local economy, and therefore a better deal can be secured from the local governments.

    The biggest cost is always the labor. The largest percentage of employees are going to be on the floor – machinists and assemblers, with some quality control and supervisors needed.

    For any area, I would look for a local company that makes firearms or significant components and try to recruit an executive or former exec who can guide you through the regulatory process and help avoid PC bureaucrats and traps. Any area that didn’t have this available would simply be a no-go zone.

    Regionally, a company’s organization and the relations between workers and management vary hugely. I only thought I’d seen bad blood between management and union before I moved to Washington and met Boeing staffers. Historically, the South is regarded as ‘friendly’ to businesses – there’s little or no unionization, which is regarded as a huge benefit. Of course, the company may already be unionized, in which case that’s unimportant. However, unless the company itself is moving, I recommend they build the new plant in their own home region.

    In general, any area that has or recently had a large manufacturing presence will have everything you need. Especially with a region that lost a major plant, the possibility of gaining something to replace it will garner much support.

    Just as an example, Norfolk, Virginia had a major Ford plant – Ford’s most efficient – until mid-2007, that was closed because of the cost of shipping parts from suppliers in other areas. The area also has historically low labor costs, excellent rail and shipping infrastructure, and if it’s significant, it’s easy to find people with government clearances. I don’t like Virginia, but Norfolk might be a good choice, especially if the company has significant military contracts.

    If Virginia doesn’t work, then you might try Charleston (New Boeing plant means lots of trained labor) Wilmington (recently closed GM plant) Windham (Bushmaster’s old mfg. facility).

    If you truly want to build from the ground up, or are focused on being in smaller, less traditional areas, then you need to reduce other costs as much as possible. If so, take a look at towns that have large datacenter hosting facilities.

    Big companies tend to have two kinds of datacenters: those near their headquarters, and those in remote locations. The remote centers are chosen for their low land prices and very low power costs. Locations like Oregon’s the Dalles and Washington’s Wenatchee are located in remote regions, near large dams that supply power and water very inexpensively. The datacenters themselves are very large to huge buildings (frequently several times larger than needed) with excellent security and access to fast transportation. These are smaller, friendly towns, less expensive, but within an hour or two from major metro areas. A former datacenter might make a good manufacturing facility.

    Hope this helps!

  • Mr. D

    Arizona has been host to many new and veteran firearms manufacturers. The laws also seem to be doing nothing going in favor of second amendment rights. With that, I believe such a thing would be welcomed with open arms.

  • jdun1911

    Not sure about manufacturing but the best pro business is VA.

    It is also a great place to deal in military/government contracts. A large number of military hardware companies are base around Hampton Roads and NC boarder.

  • I would recommend Arizona for a firearms related manufacturing operation.

    We have a pro-business, pro gun state, numerous weapons and aerospace manufacturers to draw talent from, and cheaper commercial/residential real estate than we’ve seen in more than 17 years.

    Need precision machinists for mass production of metal parts? We’ve got ‘em.

    If a company needs people with propellant handling experience, we have an abundance of people trained to work with propellants and explosives, as we’re home to companies that manufacture airbag inflators, ejection seats, GBUs and Tomahawk cruise missiles, just to name a few related industries.

    Arizona is also a right-to-work state, so unions aren’t an issue here.

  • Pete
  • Mr. B

    Florida.

    Land that is now cheap and won’t always be cheap…..and there’s a lot of it.

  • Chris

    I would love to tell him Connecticut but with the taxes our new governor is proposing I doubt any business would want to locate to our fair state. In fact, I have a feeling that said gun manufacturer already resides in Connecticut 🙁

  • griffin

    Hmmm I’m not sure if Ohio is any good.

  • Erik

    Georgia, lots of very intelligent people there who used to work at Martin Marietta… cheap land, etc.

  • SpudGun

    Aside from the usual tax, available workforce and geographic considerations, transportation should be a primary factor. Any state with an international airport and decent road / rail infrastructure would get my deciding vote.

    Even though it gets to damn hot in the summer, Florida is worth investigating.

  • Nater

    From a manufacturer’s standpoint? Indiana has got to be towards the top of the list. There aren’t any labor laws that I’m aware of beyond the usual child labor laws that apply anywhere. You literally don’t have to give your employees ANY breaks of any sort. You can run them 12 hours straight. Not that it would be a good idea to do this, but you could.

    You’ve also got a fairly large population of hard working, unemployed/under employed, manufacturing workers.

  • Trailboss

    Kentucky – why?-any gun made in ky and stays in ky will not fall under federal restrictions.

  • DaveTheGreat

    Well, it’s more than culture/politics/workforce, so it’s a darn tricky question. Proximity to seaport for shipping/receiving, proximity to cheap electricity for running the machines, a cheap but dedicated labor force, tax laws, cost of living and maybe even steel plants nearby would all be right up there. No state I can think of has all of that, but some have more than others.

    It would be nice to have a state that is not politically opposed to guns too, for safe measure, but honestly even the most anti-gun state is unlikely to screw with a job-producing factory (for the same reason Jack Daniels’s distillery is allowed to operate in a country that forbids the sale of liquor). I live in a very “blue” state that is also home to our nation’s Umatilla Chemical Weapons Depot – us hippies have WMDs and we don’t care because it brings paychecks. I guess it shows just how genuine the anti-gun folk here are (though in fairness, we are also a “shall issue” concealed handgun state with no bans on class III firearms or any of that nonsense that our neighbor to the south has).

    Anyway . . . Oregon isn’t a bad option. We have seaports and cargo rail lines directly to Canada, the East Coast and almost all the way to Mexico, we have plenty of buildable land in the east, plenty of water, etc.

    My money would be on Pennsylvania, Michigan or Utah though. PA has the ports, steel, rail and workforce plus it’s a daytrip to places like Washington D.C., Aberdeen Proving Grounds and other useful spots for a gun factory. Michigan has iron ore, water ports, close rail, a generally pro-gun culture (north of Detroit at least), and so on. The unions may be a pain in the ass for a new factory (there is a reason a lot of them moved out of state . . . and country) but the other infrastructure there may offset that. And Utah is a good fit for most of the above reasons as well.

    That’s just off the top of my head, but if I had to make a snap decision, it would be to suggest those three states, and then buy the person asking a few drinks while I try to convince him to move it to Oregon so I can play with the new toys as they are being tested. Especially if it’s a factory that makes guns that will poke a hole in something 800-1000 yards away.

  • DaveTheGreat

    I meant “county” rather than “country” when mentioning Jack Daniel’s

  • Rignerd

    Texas!

    1. No Income tax.
    2. Large pool of trained and talented machinists.
    3. Right to work state.
    4. Right to carry state.
    5. Great weather, few weather related interruptions.
    6. Central location, low, roughly equal shipping to the other two coasts.
    7. It’s Texas.

  • PaulD

    It would really depend on the scale of the operation. However, both SIG and HK have opened plants in NH. That says to me that there’s a good quantity of other manufacturers to act as subs for parts. Further, the New England area does have a history of being a good place for small, machine intensive manufacturing.

    NH strikes me as both benefitting from being close to MA in terms of expertise but not suffering from the bad tax climate there.

  • Jonathan

    Because of the combination of skilled workers and friendly laws (to both business AND firearms), I choose my state of residence, Indiana. (If anyone wants to consider Elkhart, they have an overabundance of metal-working skilled labor due to RV and musical instrument manufacturing AND affordable, developed, real estate).

  • Mike

    Stay out of Illinois unless you like to be taxed and regulated to death.

  • Brian

    One of the Southern states like Georgia (but not South Carolina). Low taxes, states provide great incentives for new businesses, very gun friendly culture and legislature, no unions, low wages and convenient logistics hubs (air/see and train). Just ask Glock. They are opening their new factory in a suburb of Atlanta.

  • Fred

    Texas is one of the most business friendly states in the country followed closely by Georgia in my opinion.

  • Chuck

    Maine! Put those Bushmaster employees back to work!

  • Todd

    Kentucky. Loves guns and is logisticly interesting (most of the US is within a 1 day drive).

  • Flight-ER-Doc

    Montana is pretty good (no sales taxes)…So is Wyoming and S. Dakota (no income taxes), N. Dakota (very inexpensive cost of living).

    All have quite supportive governments.

    As far as qualified people, hire them and they will come.

  • John Smith

    Luling, Texas – we just had a company (Security Cameras Direct) leave. They left a facility with warehouse and office space. Texas has no personal income tax, is a right to work state and everyone knows Texans love their guns. Luling also has a hospital, is within 10 minutes if I-10 (a major corridor between Houston and San Antonio) and is 45 minutes from the Austin airport and about 1 hour from the San Antonio airport.

  • Rick

    SC. Conservative, non-union, pro-business, pro-military. Home of Joe Wilson, Nikki Haley and Jim Demint. Mild winters, summers no worse than any where else. Good transportation. Wonderful beaches in the east, mountains in the west with farm land, hunting, fishing and small towns in between.

  • JPCMT

    Montana of course! We have two relatively new ammo manufacturers here in West Montana that have their feet in the door at at least two big online resellers (CTD and Cabelas); BVAC and HSM. We have some of the most generous gun rights in the country. A top notch black rifle maker in Kalispell called SI Defense with outstanding service and quality. We also have some of the worst economic decline of 2A lovers so naturally a firearms manufacturer would be instantly up and in production with fairly knowledgeable and determined workforce. It’s also dirt cheap to open such a facility around here and it would thrive. Bitterroot Valley is the place to go.

  • Shootin’ Buddy

    That depends on the company’s current position.

    Further, what will the Chamber of Commerce do for me?

    You need low cost of incorporation, low regulation, centrally located with good shipping prospects.

    A state like Indiana seem optimal, you are within 80% of the population in 24 hours, criss cross of highways, low regulation, one sheet of paper for incorporation, corporate taxes set to come decrease, manufacturing based economy with work ready population in tool and die work, engineering schools to draw from (Rose Hulman, Purdue, inter alia), and gun friendly legislation and a jury pool relunctant to give unnecessary damages (I believe only Utah is lower).

  • gman

    My guess would be the states that already have firearm friendly laws. Arizona, Texas, Utah, Florida come to mind at first. I know Arizona is already home to Ruger, and several other smaller manufacturers.

  • It all comes down to if they are unionized or not… then besides that, it would be based on which state offers the biggest tax break for going there.

  • filip

    LA currently has the best incentives for setting up new facilities, especially if you are starting a manufacturing facility from scratch. NY has also has a good program that is a negotiated incentive, but also beneficial. It really depends on what you are trying to do.

  • Indiana, and in particular Kokomo. Delphi and Chrysler both have large facilities here where numerous employees with high skills have been laid off. We also have Haynes International who make very high end metal alloys – http://www.haynesintl.com/.

    Indiana is a very pro-gun state.

    Transportation links are good from Kokomo.

    The city government is very in tune with luring business here. Call Mayor Greg Goodnight 765-456-7444 or email him at mayor@cityofkokomo.org.

  • This is Michael, from Zel Custom Mfg. A couple of years ago, I was looking to move back West. I reached out to the folks in the state economic development offices of Colorado, Utah, South Dakota and Idaho. I was too small to even count as a blip for CO and UT. Both South Dakota and Idaho went to great lengths to help us in our evaluation and both made a very positive impression about each state as a possible new home. They both offer great quality of life, welcoming regulatory environments, competitive tax rates and good labor.

    We’re still here in Florida, which has offers favorable tax and legal environment for gun manufacturers, plus a labor pool with significant defense and aerospace experience. There are many gun manufacturers in the state- though my experience has been that we’re not a collegial as one would expect.

  • AvatarofKhorne_5589

    Mississippi, but as a resident I’m less than impartial. That aside we are a right to work state, with a business friendly governor, cheap land and a gun loving populace. Olin Chemical already moved most of their munitions production to our state in fact.

  • Gabriel

    Well, I’m from Kansas, so maybe I’m biased, but we have some things going for us…

    1. Low cost of living, including relatively low taxes
    2. Many small and medium sized towns offer significant financial incentives to attract new employers.
    3. Excellent weather (few work stoppages due to weather)
    4. Kansas is a right to work state
    5. The town where I live already has a junior college/technical school which already has programs to train skilled machinists, etc.
    6. A pool of skilled and experienced mechanical and industrial engineers is already present in the state because of the aircraft industry in and around Wichita, KS.
    7. Kansas has relatively reasonable firearms laws.
    8 Kansas has good access to the transportation network, both by highway and rail.

  • WeaponBuilder

    Just outside the Fargo area of North Dakota.

    Extremely gun-friendly state… Can own Full-Auto weapons, Suppressed weapons, and most any other NFA weapons in North Dakota. Land is rather cheap, and if located outside the city in a more rural area a gun manufacturer can have their own test-firing range on-site.

    Some of the lowest taxes in the US. Extremely friendly to small, medium, and large businesses. VERY low cost of living. It’s one of the ONLY states that’s operating with a budget SURPLUS, and operating within its means. It’s one of the only states that has been GROWING even during this economic depression…

    While Atlas is Shrugging, North Dakota is the new Colorado.

    I’ll be moving there within ~2 years.

  • Chris

    Ohio, due to the unemployment rate most areas would make deals with companies willing to come in and help our economy.

  • Chris Wilson

    Oklahoma. Land is cheap, and can be bought in large tacts if needed. The taxes and laws are fairly open. It’s centrally located, and is the intersection of three major interstates I-40, I-45, and I-35. cost of living is low, and it should be fairly easy to find qualified labor – many schools in the Vo-Tech system offer gunsmithing courses, not to mention large swatchs of the population that literally grew up drilling, welding and building stuff.

  • Don

    Pennsylvania. People here like guns and factories, but mainly because I live here 😉

    -D

  • Todd

    As crazy as it sounds I would put in a vote for NY. They are desperate for manufacturing to return to the state and will likely give HUGE tax incentives as well as Gov. Cuomo’s recently announced electricity for industry that would come from NY hydro-power reallocations. A company may be able to operate with very little tax and energy overhead for 20+ years. Who knows, maybe by that time NY will have become a red state. 😐

  • Numlock

    Texas is very gun friendly and I’m sure between Austin, San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston any firearms company could find all the skilled employee’s they could ever want.

    Lots of shooters, food, culture and other attractions to attract potential employees as well. This wouldn’t be moving to the middle of nowhere.

  • Con Jorzine

    NJ …. we’re super gun friendly!

    We love guns.
    We love people legally owning guns.
    We love providing permits for guns.

    GUNS GUNS GUNS… Come to NJ.

  • Sheepdog instructor

    Georgia- A non-union “Right to work” state. All Republican majority, pro-business, pro 2nd amendment, state government. Excellent firearms laws with very reasonable concealed carry permits. I’m sure the new governor would work out some type of tax break to any new factory creating new GA jobs. Most of GA’s population are pro-gun and pro-hunting from way back. I think they would welcome another gun company.

  • North Dakota

    I can best answer with a quote:
    “North Dakota Is Booming…
    …What accounts for the state’s success? Dakotans didn’t bet the farm, so to speak, on solar cells, high-density housing or high-speed rail. Taxes are moderate—the state ranks near the middle in terms of tax per capita, according to the Tax Foundation—and North Dakota is a right-to-work state, which makes it attractive to new employers, especially in manufacturing. But the state’s real key to success is doing the first things first—such as producing energy, food and specialized manufactured goods for which there is a growing, world-wide market. This is what creates the employment and wealth that can support environmental protection and higher education.”

    The full article can be read here:
    http://www.joelkotkin.com/content/00386-why-north-dakota-booming

  • lance

    New Mexico.

    Dry climate, full range of climate throghout the year, easily accessable with in the state from 100+ degrees in summer to freezing temps and snow in the winter. Desert areas, mountanous areas, (little lacking on the water department). Close proximity to numberous military sites, Kirkland AFB, Holloman AFB, White Sands Missle Range, other federal sites. Area available to build a factory from the ground up. Lots of open space for testing if required. Not prone to natural disasters. Frankly NM could use the industry.
    Worth a look.

  • Newt

    South Dakota! No corporate income tax! Thats why all the major credit card companies have a huge presence in SD (citibank, wellsfargo, firstpremiere, hsbc).

    Several tech schools also offer great programs in machine tool technology so there would be no shortage of skilled machinists to build stuff.

  • Texas. Low taxes, no income tax, very business and gun friendly.

  • Texas_Dave

    Texas no doubt! Why? Texas is almost predictably gun-friendly except in a few urban enclaves like Austin.

    Texas has a massive population of mechanically skilled workers and technology schools that graduate the best machinists, fabricators and designers in America.

    Texans buy the local brand. If your firearm product is made here in Texas by Texans, and it already has an excellent reputation, it will be highly marketable here; and we Texans love to buy guns.

    Texas is affordable. Your company’s workers will be able to find good housing, decent schools and a decent lifestyle anywhere you decide to put your manufacturing facility.

    Texas is a conservative, business-friendly state and it has no state income tax.

  • Burst

    The cutthroat answer is, as always- wherever somebody else failed.

    Find a site where another manufacturer closed up shop, and hire whoever they laid off. You’ll save money training people, and you won’t have to dangle incentives to relocate them.

    Given how often TFB has stories on a new facility closure, I’d guess there must be quite a few places that meet that criteria.

  • Other Steve

    Any state that has a Firearms Freedom Act would be a good start (even if they are symbolic, it shows the state gov is supportive of the industry).

    Western States have the fewest limitations and most likely to give tax breaks.

    Start at the Dakotas or under, go up to but no including CA, OR, and WA.

  • Andy

    Georgia would seem to be a popular choice for manufacturers, or accessory manufacturers.

    Major: Glock (Smyrna), HK (Columbus)
    Other: Cobray, C3 Defense, TAPCO, Lothar Walther, Masterpiece Arms

    And that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head.

    Taurus considers ATL for US HQ:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64hk6KSBChw

    GA is a right-to-work state, also attractive to manufacturers, though parts of the Rust Belt might be attractive for a machinist labor pool that is looking for work.

  • Andy

    Oops, scratch Cobray, I must have been thinking MPA on that one

  • Clemente

    Ahhh… Texas. No State Income tax.

    Now if if we can keep all these damn Yankees who keep moving here looking for work to stop voting for these Liberal Democrats/RINOs who caused them to flee their former state of residence in the first place, it would be perfect.

  • Iceman

    I’m going to go ahead and say Nebraska, why? It all has to do with Shipping. Omaha, NE, is a massive shipping hub. Rail, Airfreight, Semi-trucks. All of it is there, coupled with being a centralized location in the US, you’ll have the overall-cheapest shipping to anywhere in the Continental US. In addition, you have extremely low-cost power, the power districts are publicly owned and operated, with a timely and efficient repair service. Taxes are low, regulations are minimal. It just makes sense. Plus, you have a large amount of gun owners who would more than gladly buy a firearm made here.

  • Gary Anthony

    Montana

  • Freiheit

    Kentucky. There is a big gun culture here, a manufacturing base, easy access to transportation (UPS hub in Louisville, FedEx in Lexington, Ohio River, I-75, I-65, I-64, I-71), very low cost of living, plenty of hilly (but not mountainous) land for firing ranges.

  • James

    South Carolina is quite popular these days. The state has seen a huge influx of manufacturing jobs due to the favorable laws, low wages and low cost of living. Tennessee is also growing in popularity for similar reasons, especially in the outer-ring counties surrounding Nashville, which is nice because land and labor are cheap, yet there is easy access to a major city with an international airport with flights everywhere. There are several major facilities that I know of south of Nashville, including Nissan’s truck line, Bridgestone, and formerly GM.

  • South Carolina. It has Fort Jackson, Paris Island, a huge gun culture, and none of the cruddy anti-gun laws that slow down firearm ownership places like California has. Fabrique Nationale is there too.

  • Philip Williams

    I don’t know a lot about what other states have to offer, but I’d have to say my home state of Florida is very competitive.

    Florida is a business-friendly, right-to-work state with no state income tax. The state is replete with ports, airports and Interstate highways, which make transportation to and from a manufacturing industry cheap and readily available.

    The weather is great, and there are plenty of things for people to do in their leisure time.

    Florida is also a gun-friendly state.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I work for an ad agency, and one of our clients is an organization dedicated to bringing business to northeast Florida.

    You should check out their website, since it has detailed information which you can use for comparison to other states.

    And if this company is big enough to need an ad agency, you have my email address!

  • Griffin

    I vote for New Mexico.

    It’s a very business friendly state as well as a very gun friendly state.

    Land is cheap, there is an overabundance of skilled workers, and likely the state would provide significant tax breaks as they have done with other manufacturers (such as Intel and Tempurpedic).

    Albuquerque, specifically, is so gun friendly we have a state of the art municipal gun range open to the public. The range hosts the annual NRA National Police Shooting championship.

  • JM

    There’s a huge distributor market in Texas, and I’m sure Gov. Perry would be quick to make a special deal for a high-profile manufacturer to reside here. There are tax breaks for large companies, as well. Plenty of open space for testing, multiple military bases for all branches, every federal agency represented in fair capacity, and an open market to civilians. Can’t go wrong with Texas.

  • William

    Idaho, plain and simple. It’s a state that is very supportive of firearms and the outdoor lifestyle, and science and technology bring in more dollars than any other industry (move over, potatoes!). The state has plenty of engineers to go around and any manufacturer who set-up shop there would find immediate acceptance from the locals.

  • D

    If you can take living there, my friend tells me Cleveland is a pretty good bet. Supposedly factory space is $0.40 a square foot and there is already skilled labor, low cost of living (but quality follows) and machinery abounds (I’m guessing you are looking for firearms mfg’ing?).

    I’ll bet Detroit is dirt cheap as well, but well, it have fun in Detroit. But I don’t think (and honestly can’t remember) that Michigan is terribly gun friendly.

    TN also has the labor, low cost of living but high quality of living and good tax incentives. For firearms there is also already a really high quality pool of experience given that Barrett is in the area. Plant managers abound from the automotive mfg’ing centers in the area as well.

  • Riceball

    I don’t know what state would be best but I know one that would not be and that’s CA, followed by NY and just about any other East Coats/New England state.

  • Sid Viscous

    New Hampshire without a doubt.

    No state income tax, low corporate taxes, high property taxes as a percentage, but low property values for the area. Very good gun laws, or lack thereof. Educated workforce, as well as lots of skilled labor. Particularly when you consider the number of firearms manufacturers in the area (Mass, Maine) that while I don’t understand why the manufacturers would be there (very anti gun states) means that there are experienced people within reasonable distance, and essentially most people in the area, that would lean towards firearms, only need an excuse to move to NH.

    Lots of open area and industrial capacity. Excellent shipping options, and without the traffic hassles of most of the northeast.

  • Unistat

    Michigan is worth a look. We have a lot of talented people, trained to work in manufacturing as well as industrial designers and engineers. With our new Republican House, Senate, and Govenor we should see a better climate for corporations soon. Check out the Michigan Economic Developers Corporation (MEDC.) They help businesses move into and thrive in Michigan.

  • D

    Actually come to think of it, I have a project due on Thursday on setting up a plant somewhere. If there is somebody with firearms mfg’ing experience, what are three or four variables (regulations, labor costs, etc.) that might go into this. For academic purposes, I’ll post my results from expert’s choice on this comment which might give some indication.

  • Big Jay

    South Dakota, especially the Rapid City/Black Hills Area. South Dakota is the home to HS Precision, Black Hills Ammo, Corbon, and Ultramax. We passed a state law similar to the Lawful Commerce in Arms Act that protects firearm and ammunition manufacturers from civil suits if their products were sold legally and later used illegally by other parties. There is a top ranked engineering college in Rapid City (the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology) to recruit design and manufacturing engineers from. There is no state income tax and we are in the bottom 10 states for cost of living (its cheaper to live in South Dakota than it is in most other states, we have some of the cheapest housing anywhere in the country).

  • Mike

    They should consider South Carolina.

    It is attractive to manufacturers in general for a couple of reasons.

    First, it’s a right to work state (http://www.nrtw.org/c/scrtwlaw.htm) meaning that there would never be any problems with labor unions.

    Partly for this reason, companies like Boeing (http://www2.wspa.com/news/2009/oct/29/boeing_plant_moving_to_south_carolina-ar-33639/) and BMW (http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/10/13/bmw-gives-big-boost-south-carolina-workforce-expansion-assembly-plant/) have opened plants in SC in recent years.

    Depending on their logistics requirements they can locate in the upstate (like BMW) for proximity to major highways and a more central location, or near Charleston and the port (like Boeing) for access to international shipping.

    Cost of living is generally low, translating to cheaper pay for workers. The unemployment rate is such that it would be easy to staff a facility, but not so bad that it might turn into an apocalyptic wasteland (like Detroit).

    There are many good universities in the area (Clemson, U SCar, and then UGA, GT, UNC etc…), so it’d be easy to find engineers or management personnel if there was ever a desire.

    Last, the south in general is probably a good cultural fit for a firearms firm.

  • El Duderino

    Prescott, AZ. Huge local gun industry in both manufacturing and distribution. AZ has become the natural destination for shooters leaving CA.

    Idaho for the same reasons as others have posted.

    South Dakota for the same reasons as others have posted.

    I live in WA, do not start any low-margin business here. We have a business tax that comes off of the GROSS, not the NET. It discourages any low-margin business, period, I imagine Costco gets a break but the other well-known Fortune 1000s here like Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks all work with very healthy margins. I don’t know about the gun industry, I know it’s not a 5% margin industry but it’s not a “boutique” vertical either.

  • Martyn C. Reiss

    Montana, of course. Firearms Friendly, Firearms Freedom Act (pending) and a balanced state budget. Low corporation taxes. Our educated workforce is second to none. The Last Best Place.

  • Philip Williams

    Forgot to leave the link for the website I mentioned in my previous comment: http://expandinjax.com/Home.aspx

  • Robert

    Taking the hint from Burst, Maine is a good state to locate. Bushmaster has pulled out leaving a well-trained work force. Maine is one of the largest fund raisers per capita for the non-profit Friends of the NRA. Maine is also a gun friendly state.

  • I’d love to say Pennsylvania and then submit an application but I can’t. Plenty of highly skilled labor and plenty of interest in firearms. Firearms laws are pretty good. Transportation access and cheap real estate also abound. Unfortunately the tax and regulatory environment is about as hostile as it can get.

    I’d say Texas, Idaho, and Utah would look the best long term. Montana has a great legal and tax environment but the infrastructure and available employee base isn’t great for a larger company. Nevada and Arizona used to be on the list but with the border violence created by the War on Drugs and the influx of people fleeing the tragedy that is California now living there and seemingly voting to make NV and AZ just as tragic, TX, ID, and UT look to have the best balance of population, transportation, available cheap land, taxes, firearms laws, etc.

  • Dan

    South Carolina. Other above have hit the points I was going to mention. I actually work for BMW, and have seen first hand the benefits of manufacturing in South Carolina. I would LOVE to see a major firearm manufacturer here in the upstate of SC! FN Herstal is down in Columbia already.

  • armed_partisan

    I give a second vote for Florida, for the reasons Phillip notes, as well as the following:
    1) Florida was the first state to adopt a modern Concealed Carry Program and is about to pass open carry. We have a long history of pro-gun politics. Other states either never outlawed concealed carry (very few, like Vermont) or followed Florida’s lead.
    2) Florida is the home to several world class firearms companies. Knights Armament Company, Kel-Tec, Taurus, European American Armory, Spike’s Tactical, Diamondback, SCCY, Heritage Manufacturing, Serbu, and many, many other firearms and related products manufacturers call Florida home.
    3) The reduction in the Shuttle Program will mean a glut of highly experienced aerospace engineers, machinists, and other personnel, will be available and looking for work. Florida was once the home of Aerospace manufacturer MacDonnell Douglas and armored vehicle manufacturer Cadillac Gage before the end of the Cold War caused both companies to go out of business.
    4) Florida has more coast line than any other state in the lower 48, making shipping to anywhere a breeze. Alaska has more, but most of it is frozen.
    5) You won’t freeze to death in Florida, and you don’t have to factor in heating costs for you buildings. Thick insulation will keep you cool.

    Florida is a great state, very business friendly, and no state income tax.

  • Petey

    Forget Nebraska. Not an industry friendly state. High business taxes, high property taxes, no business tax incentives, no labor incentives. The small towns drive out cheap labor every chance they get and the nearest component OEMs are a day or two away by UPS. And all that’s before the local government tries to get you to pay for their problems.

    As much as I hate to say it (as a Nebraskan); Iowa is a much better place for manufacturing. They’ve got Superior Arms already and huge amounts of industrial infrastructure up and down the Mississippi River side of the state. They offer high incentives for new manufacturing and the labor laws are less restrictive than some Southern States.

  • Jeffipoo

    Alabama.

    Pretty aggressive state level incentives as well as aggressive incentive packages from the utility companies. One of the best industrial training programs in the U.S. (AIDT). Excellent interstate and rail access with direct routes to both Gulf and Atlantic-based ports.

  • Pliskin

    Take a careful look at Oklahoma and I think you’ll find it the best.

  • sadlerbw

    I would say NOT Ohio. We do have plenty of out-of-work machinists and buildings, but you could do much better than the tax structure we have here. Oh, and Ohio, in general, is reasonably gun friendly, but Cleveland is not. Indiana isn’t bad. Texas is pretty good, and they don’t call Florida the Gun-shine state for nothing. In the end, I would look at the tax ramifications, and if you are big enough (or small enough) what incentives a particular area would give you to bring in a new business. Second to that would be proximity to suppliers and availability of a skilled workforce. Playing vulture and starting up in a building that a failed manufacturer vacated sounds reasonable, but often there are reasons specific to that location the contributed to their failure so I would be careful about that.

  • Michael

    South Dakota is a great option. Very low cost of living and land. Relaxed environmental and labor regulations. One of the highest standards of education as well. They also have a state gov’t that is very willing to cut deals via tax waivers and financing to attract jobs. This is why Sioux Falls is the #3 financial center in the U.S., right after NY and Chicago (really, its true). Because the state is so small, population wise, it is that much easier to get the ear of the local development authorities to line up incentives.

    Tennessee is also a good place to look. Moderate cost of living and land, good taxes and low state debt. They have a large manufacturing base with which to draw experienced machinists. There are also several large gun manufacturing facilities, including Barrett and the recently shuttered Sabre Defense.

  • Beaumont

    Tennessee already has a firearms manufacturing base, no personal income taxes (we do have the bass-ackwards Hall tax, which hopefully will be repealed soon).

    Also, a good labor pool skilled in manufacturing, relatively low land costs, access to several major interstate highways, a good rail infrastructure, and even barges can reach most of the industrial hubs in the state, which makes shipments of raw materials cheap compared to other transportation methods.

    And we have a large and active gun culture. We’re closing in on half a million carry permit holders.

  • RW

    I’m going to agree with THAT GUY:

    “Texas. Low taxes, no income tax, very business and gun friendly.”

  • Lt. Smith

    South Carolina. No unions. Very pro-gun. Already home to an FN manufacturing facility. State government gives very deep incentives to new manufacturers.

  • James

    South Carolina–For all the reasons Mike listed, but especially Horry County. New Intersate construction going on right now, and only 2 hours to Charlston ports or about an hour to the Georgetown port. Georgetown used to have steel manufacturing. Marion county has lots of un- and underdeveloped land — CHEAP! Horry County has the highest growth in the state and is located between Marion county and Georgetown County. Please check it out, you will like what you see.

  • Bob

    Nevada – specifically Las Vegas. No Income taxes – gun friendly. PMC had a ammo plant here previously.

    They are so desperate for employment here – it is NOT the 15% unemployment as reported in the news – it’s more like 30%.

    They will probably give the manufacturer free land.

  • Jim W.

    S. Dakota.

  • JT

    On the firearms freedom act, it would be interesting if somebody opened a facility in a state with an FFA that included state attorney general protection from federal prosecution AND full auto allowance in the FFA. Who wouldn’t want to pick up a Mac-clone for a few hundred bucks. Better yet, produce auto sears for Kel-Tec sub-2000’s. Just some good old clean fun there.

  • Thom

    First off, I don’t live in the USA. My information is limited to what I pick up from my contact over there. Anyway, friend of mine lives in Missouri, near what he tells me is one of two-ammunition factories owned by the US military. Apparently, his one deals specifically in small arms ammunition? While it is probably not the best place for a manufacturing plant (due to political and physical geography, etc.), it has to be a good location for a product Research and Development facility?

    Let’s face it, if you’re manufacturing firearms in this economic climate; you need succeed where others had not, there fore you will need to have something that others don’t.

    Just trying to be helpful, and chip in with my two pence.
    (That should tell you where I’m from!)

  • Zel

    Idaho. Plain and simple Idaho.

  • H.L.

    Texas! We have a solid infrastructure, a skilled labor force, and the “gun culture” is entrenched here. Texas has no state income tax, a temperate climate, and is a great place to start a business and raise a family!

  • MichaelD

    Utah.

    1. Favorable business climate. We’re a right-to-work state, so unions aren’t big here. We also have relatively low taxes.

    2. Work ethic. We have a well-educated population who know the value of hard work.

    3. Low cost of living. We consistently have one of the lower cost of living indexes in the country.

    4. Labor pool. We have a large number of engineering and manufacturing employees in northern Utah who were laid off by ATK due to the end of the Shuttle program. Some lucky company could get their hands on a lot of talented people if they located a facility in the Ogden-Brigham City corridor.

    5. Gun-friendly legal climate. We have the best Brady score in the nation; a perfect zero. We have a Firearms Freedom Act on the books and our legislators are always trying to make things even more gun-friendly every year.

    6. Don’t forget Utah was home to John Moses Browning. The M1911 is our state firearm.

  • AFSarge

    Wyoming, low cost of living, energy costs low, high quality of life, educated, and hard working workforce. Super gun friendly, Constitutional carry.

    You cannot go wrong.

  • Ross

    Oregon. Just ask Noveske, Leupold and FLIR. We have lots of cheap real estate, gun-favorable laws, tax breaks for businesses who create jobs, cheap electricity, and plenty of skilled labor and machinists from the ship building, train building, tractor-trailer building, and related industries. Hell yeah, Oregon!

  • Rodney

    West Virginia (Not Western Virginia) because its on the east coast, a gun friendly state, low B&O taxes, thousands of acres of cheap construction ready land thanks to strip mining, and a willing and able work force. I even know of a large tract of land that is ready for construction near a major highway.

  • Ktech

    I will recommend more than a state. Look specifically at Sheridan, WY. Several years ago, they built a large industrial center at the airport and (at least in 2008) had phenomenal programs for helping product related companies move to or start up in their city (tac breaks, extremely low rent, utility subsidies, etc). They continue to expand the facility, and are attracting several high tech companies from Colorado, Oregon and California. Labor rates are low, cost of living is low, the local schools have very high graduation rates and still have a great vocational program. At one point, Wyoming also had business to grant loan deals. If you moved into the state and guaranteed a certain number of jobs, you qualified for a business development loan at very attractive rates. If you maintained that job level for several years, the loan was converted to a grant and written off. Contact the wyoming business development council for more information. There are several other cities in Wyoming that have similar programs, but Sheridan had the best. (disclosure: I don’t live there, we looked at moving my company there in 2006 from Washington. Didn’t happen because we shifted focus of the company)

  • WEK

    I suggest the state of Maine. Maine has an underemployed work force with good skills and a good work ethic. We have some machine shops and the technical colleges have good training programs for this profession. Land is cheap. Buildings are cheap. Construction costs are modest. Maine is a gun state without stiff gun laws and also has good hunting opportunities. We have several good shooting clubs with good places to shoot. Contact the Maine Department of Economic Development, a state agency. They will answer your questions and help you to find a good location.

  • Mark L.

    I’ll second (or third, fourth or whatever it’s up to) Idaho. In addition to CCI and Speer, Buck Knives is now in Post Falls (northern part near Spokane, WA) after moving from California. A bit of rain and snow but no tornadoes or hurricanes or big city liberal mayors to contend with. Just my $.02.

  • New Hampshire:
    Already has Ruger and Sig.
    Just south (but in a far worse state, MA) is Smith & Wesson, Kel-Tec, and Kahr.

    Really it should be a state that allows the people that live there to actually own the guns they make. Which is why I don’t like guns made in Jersey, Mass., New York, etc.

  • Patrick

    Alabama has one of the highest regressive tax rates in the country. That’s good for business.

  • Tomas G. Brewer

    I must give a big shout out to the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Kentucky is a fantastic state for business and our laws regarding arms are incredibly friendly. Also, our community college systems provide a well educated workforce.

    https://www.kmac.org/

  • If we’re talking about a big enough manufacturing facility I would approach a Firearms Freedom Act state and negotiate passage and enforcement of the FFA as a condition for bringing in the jobs and capital. The ability to sell SBRs and silencers without NFA tax and registration to every civilian in the state could outweigh almost every other consideration or possible concession mentioned!

  • RollTide

    Alabama
    Labor pool,non union,pro firearms,low tax burden,sea ports,rail,roads,land the list goes on.
    Plus it’s the heart of Dixie!

  • Sean

    About a year ago the Reason Foundation and Drew Carey had a video series project where they put together a recovery plan for Cleveland. It was called “Reason saves Cleveland”. In episode 4 at the 6:50 point they introduced their role model city which they identified as having an ideal commercial atmosphere. The city they identified was Houston, TX. Listen to what they have to say about Houston.

  • Thomas B

    Florida. Land is cheap right now, everyone loves guns and… I would like a job.

  • Erin

    While I have no idea about the taxes or business aspects of opening here (though I’m sure the information is probably depressing), I must recommend Minnesota.

    We have no shortage of Engineers, machinists, or designers, here. More importantly, we need a firearm company to put something in here. Sure, there’s Magnum Research, but they don’t make a thing in MN. So outside of having enough people who would happily fill the facility, all I can say is that it would be nice.

    Besides, where else am I going to want to work after I finish school?

  • Texas! The governor is a Second Ammendment supporter, and a supporter of entrepreneurs!

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