Native American Tribe Seeks To Aid Colt In Bankruptcy

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In a bizarre twist to the Colt bankruptcy story, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians has stepped into give the famous gun manufacturer a helping hand. The Wall Street Journal reports:

A business-savvy tribe of Native Americans, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, is riding to the rescue of Colt Defense LLC, the embattled gun maker caught up in a contentious bankruptcy case.

Private-equity owner Sciens Capital Management has been clashing with bondholders over control of Colt. Sciens had the upper hand, but bondholders then moved into the lead, offering to finance a turnaround via the chapter 11 proceeding that began June 14. At this point, the fate of the Connecticut company, which has roots that run back to the 19th century, is unknown.

After the initial dustups in the bankruptcy brawl, the Morongo tribe had its lawyers on the phone to everyone concerned, offering to open talks with the maker of the “gun that won the West.”

“We are the West,” said Drew Ryce, attorney for the Morongo tribe, which is based in Southern California near Palm Springs. “All we know is that the company failed and we don’t want that to happen. It’s an iconic American company. It shouldn’t fail. It shouldn’t go away.”

Colt foundered financially after losing key military contracts. Bondholders blame Sciens for letting the military contracts slip away due to alleged failure to invest to keep Colt competitive. Sciens denies mishandling the company. Colt, Sciens and a lawyer for bondholders didn’t respond to a request for comment on the interest from the Morongo.

The Morongo aren’t taking sides, said Vickie Driver, a Texas bankruptcy lawyer advising the tribe on how to find a way in to the chapter 11 action.  “We’re open, ready to talk. Colt needs something to right its ship,” she said.

One of the largest tribal business conglomerates, the Morongo run a $250 million resort and casino on tribal land, as well as a golf club and travel center. The tribe also owns the Hadley Fruit Orchard stores and online businesses, it also has an alliance with Nestle Water North America which sells water bottled at a $26 million plant on the reservation.  “Manufacturing in the Northeast is a very good diversification play,” Mr. Ryce said.

If it is money Colt needs, the tribe has it, Mr. Ryce said. Colt could still be put up for sale, and if it is, the Morongo will bid. Should the company choose a turnaround plan, the Morongo could step up as a chapter 11 plan “sponsor,” or outsider that funds the relaunch of a reorganized business.

If it’s an advantage in winning back U.S. government military supply contracts lost in recent years, the tribe has that, too, thanks to federal programs for Native American businesses, Mr. Ryce said.

Colt makes sense as a business investment for the Morongo. The tribe’s interest, however, is economics tinged with patriotism, according to its lawyer.

If that article reads like a film script to you, then you’re not alone. It seems that Colt’s name is deeply embedded enough in American culture for almost anything to happen in the battle to keep it alive.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • M.M.D.C.

    “It’s an iconic American company. It shouldn’t fail. It shouldn’t go away.”

    That sums up my feelings. I know there is little love lost between Colt and some of us but, historically, Colt is very much a part of American culture. It would be a shame to see it go due to recent mismanagement.

    • Dan

      Don’t hate the company hate the people running it. That’s how i look at it

  • SD3

    “If it is money Colt needs, the tribe has it,…”

    Really? Millions of dollars, just lying around looking for a good investment?

    • Todd

      Sure, that’s what savvy investors do. They stay liquid and stay nimble and seek out good opportunities. I know that one Native tribe in the Midwest makes the PASGT armor. it would stand to reason that a Native owned defense products company would be first in line for military and LE contracts. Seems like a smart move and I wish them all the best.

    • That doesn’t surprise me in the least.

    • John

      It really depends on the tribe/nation. Many are very poor. Some have more wealth than you’d think. All are subject to the Bureau of Indian Affairs when they’re located inside the United States, so it’ll be interesting to see if this goes through.

      Smith and Wesson is doing well with their mostly-polymer M&P series. If Colt is smart, they’ll research and develop a similar model.

      And a LOT of people will pay good money for a Colt Walker in a modern cartridge.

      • Bill

        The All-American was a huge flop, but maybe it was just before it’s time, same for their SIG/I mean the Double Eagle.

        The tribes that are rich are hugely rich, but others are at 3rd or 4th world standards.

  • Spencerhut

    Hey if they drop the Series 80 MIM and plastic filled junk and start pumping out decently fit Series 70 guns without plastic parts, things might get better for Colt.
    And update the Delta Elite for God’s sake, they make this thing called an extended beaver-tail you know.

    • nobody

      No, things might get better for Colt if they actually started selling something new that tons of other companies didn’t already make.

      • Spencerhut

        For Colt it is simpler than that, they just have to make a good to great Series 70 for a decent price and they will sell. When they are back on their feet from concentrating on the basics, then they can play a little.

        • javierjuanmanuel

          They need to sell what ever makes money, high quality, good value sorta premium.

          -22 rifle something like a premium 10/22.
          -poly 9 40 45 handgun
          -shotguns
          -22 hanguns like rugers mk3
          -bolt action hunting rifle line from about $650-1300.

          • Spencerhut

            No, they need to go back to their core competencies. If they do as you suggest they would be no better at any of those things than any other company, it would dilute the brand and they will BK again in no time.

      • I agree, but I want a damn Python.

        • ostiariusalpha

          I do too. Hopefully with parts at least as durable as the old ones, if not a bit stronger in the pawl to extend it’s mean time to repair/replacement.

  • Michael Sesto

    There IS a pro gun presence in California! Now we know where to look 🙂

    • 3XLwolfshirt

      If any group of people understands the importance of gun ownership, it’s the Native Americans.

      • Dan

        Without them they could have been nothing more than a mere mention in a history book.

    • Cymond

      Yes, there are definitely pro-gun people in CA. Just look at CalGuns and Firearms Policy Commission. They’re just badly outnumbered, especially because of the influence of the big cities like LA and San Fran. They fight the good fight and in many ways they’re on the front line. CA is often a ‘test ground’ for pushing the edge on legislation.

  • kipy

    This article makes me wonder if Savage Arms ever gets any hate from the politically correct bandwagon. (because of the native american logo/name)

    • ostiariusalpha

      The name has nothing to do with Native Americans.

      • kipy

        I just looked it up, you are right. Tho you can see how someone could make that assumption.

      • Raven Lee

        Hence the logo. lol
        Obviously, the founder wanted to tie his last name with the derogatory term for Native Americans.

        • ostiariusalpha

          You know absolutely nothing about Arthur Savage, fool. He was proud of his name, and he respected & admired Native Americans. To use the image of Chief Lame Deer (who was a political figure fighting for the return of lands stolen by the U.S. government) made it clear where his sympathies lay. In addition, for the tribe’s endorsement, he gave them a discount on any rifles they wished to purchase.

    • MP

      The logo comes from an early marketing deal with chief Lame Deer in exchange for discounted rifles. The name is from Arthur Savage, the founder of the company.

      • Southpaw89

        They were smart to make that deal back then, it almost seems funny that in that era someone would go through the trouble of getting permission when there likely wouldn’t have been any fallout. But now if anyone does give them grief over the image or the name, they have two good legs to stand on.

    • There are people named Savage. One of them founded Savage Arms.

  • Vitsaus

    This would infuse some legitimacy back into Colt. They’d go from a bunch of out of touch stock holders to wise, obviously successful business people, with the romanticized associations that the larger culture has toward American Indians.

  • MAUSERMAN

    I hope the company learn from this if it survive the chapter 11. Focus on the civilian market, innovate and design new products every year. Make miitary contracts a bonus mission for the company. After all during the lean years its the civilian market that is going to get you through.

    • 3XLwolfshirt

      Exactly. Smith and Wesson made some dumb decisions in the past, but they survived because they didn’t put all their eggs in one basket (the military market).

      If Colt wants to make it, they need to expand into the police sector and improve their presence in the civilian sector.

      • nico

        Yeah, and not overly charge for their weapons when you have simalar quality firearms without the colt logo for less.

    • HenryV

      As an outsider looking in I constantly amazed at how considering the size of your gun culture so many big names didn’t survive as going concerns on their own. I think if you had told an American in 1900 that Winchester one day would be owned by a Belgian company and had most of their rifles built in Japan he would have thought you a mad man.

      Let’s hope Colt survives.

  • Will

    I hope they will buy Colt, fire all the incompetents, who think their produnts should rival Kimberly in price, and reboot the company to keep the prices within reach of the average income.

    • El Duderino

      Those Kimberly-Clark guns are pretty nice. Of course, it does Depend® on the model.

      • Anonymoose

        Meh.

  • John Bear Ross

    Best line in that article, from the tribe’s lawyer…

    For Colt’s Native American suitors, it’s not just business; it’s
    history, interest and commitment, their attorney said. “We have gone to
    great lengths to get our hands on Colts,” he said. “Just ask General
    Custer.”

    • Raven Lee

      Best. Quote. Ever.

  • ostiariusalpha

    I always thought it was humorous that their unofficial motto was “Colt makes war horses, not show ponies,” yet the logo is clearly a performing show pony.

  • Citizen J

    Colt deserves whatever they get without a drip of sympathy from me. They decided the common American shooter was below them and their product offerings. Price point and lack of involvement in all things shooting except government contracts and catering to the elite proves my point. Let ’em rot. I’m old enough to even remember the day, it was right around 1985 after the government switched to Berettas that Colt told the American shooters F.U. and started acting like babies. Let ’em go the way of the Dodo. I have my Glocks.

    • Cymond

      On the other hand, that was 30 years ago. Maybe we should blame the managers, not ‘Colt’. It’s not as if the brandname or factory are too blame.

      Bill Ruger was not fully pro-2A and many boycotted Ruger firearms, but Bill died years ago and the modern Ruger is quite pleased to sell pocket pistols, tactical rifles, and full capacity magazines.

  • milesdigby

    I just hope they keep Colt in the U.S.A then start making Canik type of guns. Low cost, high quality. Slowly people will come to trust the name of Colt again. Then they can reintroduce the Colt Python etc. Many folks would happily pay big for that baby if they knew it came with a llife time warranty that followed the gun. That is why I bought my only Taurus 20 years ago, 5 shot .38 special, it has been a perfect gun.

  • Mazryonh

    Just how much of a chance does this bid to rescue Colt by the Morongo tribe have of succeeding? I’m sure there are lots of rich overseas buyers who would love to buy out Colt, whether to take it over or liquidate it. Since “money talks” and more money talks better, I think the only chance they have might be if the authorities stepped in and allowed only “domestic buyers” a chance at getting Colt.

    On the off-chance the Morongo tribe succeeds, I have a feeling they’ll rename the company “Morongo-Colt.” Maybe then a logo change will be in order too. Instead of the “big-C” Colt, they’ll have a small picture of a Morongo tribe member in the days of the Old West holding a historical Colt rifle, standing next to a young male horse (which is course what the word “Colt” usually refers to).