Visiting Remington Arms: 200 Years Of Gunmaking History

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Most readers are aware that Remington is celebrating its 200 year in business in 2016. This will be a multi part article of the tour of the Ilion plant as well as the new Huntsville plant. I want to start with Remington history and the tour of the Remington museum which is just next door to the plant.

Remington was officially founded after the Remington family learned to make their own barrels by sending Eliphalet Remington to a nearby town to purchase a barrel and learn how barrels were made from a well known barrel maker.

After returning home with the new barrel and knowledge of making barrels he and his blacksmith father began making a few. At around this time Eliphalet entered a shooting competition and came in second. This got everyones attention and before you know it the young man had more orders than he and his father knew what to do with but manage the orders they did.

Perhaps at this point I should clarify that many farmers and others living in the country would dedicate the winter months to chores they had no time for during the planting and harvesting season. These farmers made their own guns many times but purchased the barrel for whatever gun they were building at the time.

As time went on young Eliphalet walked the country carrying his barrels and selling them to the locals. The family eventually moved to Ilion, New York in 1828 to the present site of Remington Arms and there it has remained to this day. The photo below shows the old first building. The location was perfect. On one side of the plant ran the Erie canal while the other side ran Main street in Ilion. Prime real estate for sure.

Main building with the rest of the plant in the background.

Main building with the rest of the plant in the background.

In 1915 the plant was expanded and remains pretty much the same to this day. The plant covers 1,000,000 square feet in central Ilion. There is a phrase around the plant that refers to long time workers and multi-generation families that work at the Remington plant. The phrase is they “bleed green”. It’s a real source of pride among these families. I met one gentleman who is a supervisor nearing retirement. He is the fourth generation to work at Remington. His son is considering a career at Remington so he will be the fifth generation to work in the same plant. Now that is some family history! There are a good number of people working there that are multi generation employees.

Prior to our tour of the plant itself we were treated to a tour of the museum. The Remington museum host approximately 100,000 visitors per year. Many take the trip to Ilion just to tour the museum. Visitors come from around the US as well as various foreign countries.

There is so much to see it would be impossible to document and photograph all of the guns and other historical items on display so I tried to get some of the more interesting items on display. Let me start with some of the non firearm products Remington has made over the years.

As many history buffs know companies in the late 19th and early 20th century branched out to make products not necessarily related to their primary product. Bicycles were a very big deal during this time and Remington was not one to be left out of this market.

Remington bicycle. It has a tan leather seat and note the wheels are wood!

Remington bicycle. It has a tan leather seat and note the wheels are wood!

The glass made for difficult picture taking. This is an original ad for the Remington bike.

The glass made for difficult picture taking. This is an original ad for the Remington bike.

This photo shows a Remington cash register, sewing machine and typewriter. No company wanted to be left out of the profits from these new fangled machines!

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A one of a kind gunsmith vice from the custom shop.

A one of a kind gunsmith vise from the custom shop.

Bowie knife from the custom shop.

Bowie knife from the custom shop.

This photo shows one of several walls of rifles from over the years.
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Remington and other historic handguns.
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Various Springfield 1903-A3s as well as Enfield rifles made for the war effort in WWII.
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Bronze statue with early flintlock

Bronze statue with early flintlock

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The steps to a completed gun

The steps to a completed gun

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Remington 1100 and 700

Remington 1100 and 700

This is an example or template of a particular gun model. All Remington guns had these made with their own wooden case.

This is an example or template of a particular gun model. All Remington guns had these made with their own wooden case.

Another example

Another example

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Ammunition over the years

Ammunition over the years

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Remington cartridge conversion

Remington cartridge conversion

For many years Remington hired champion shooters to display their shooting skills to the public.

For many years Remington hired champion shooters to display their shooting skills to the public.

Various Remington guns. Anybody else own a nylon 66 (top center).

Various Remington guns. Anybody else own a nylon 66 (top center).

Last is this order book from the late 1800s. Orders were mailed in recorded, payment made and then shipped out.
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As I said this will be a multi part post. The next post will be on the tour of the factory floor at Ilion. I hope you enjoy it!



Phil White

Retired police officer with 30 years of service. Firearms instructor and SRU team member. I still instruct with local agencies. My daily carry pistol is the tried and true 1911. I’m the Associate Editor and moderator at TFB. I really enjoy answering readers questions and comments. We can all learn from each other about our favorite hobby!


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  • Nicks87

    That bench vice is off the chain, I would love to have one in my garage.

  • Don Ward

    Excellent photo article Phil.

  • TheMaskedMan

    Remington has a lot of history, but I wonder if it has a future.

  • JohnnyBGood

    It’s too bad they’ve turned into such garbage. I had hopes they would turn it around with their move to huntsville and new management but they haven’t. What a shame.

    • They are still setting up new areas at Huntsville. These things take much more time than most realize. About half the floor area is active a month ago.

      • Miguel Raton

        And the thing to remember is that the move to Huntsville was concurrent with a change to top management and sacking the idiot Cerberus group had saddled Remington with [who was directly responsible for the loss of QC.] So there’s still hope.

  • john huscio

    Ol’ eliphalet is spinning in his grave.

    • Kefefs

      If we could hooked him and Bill Ruger up to the electrical grid we could probably generate enough electricity to power the midwest.

      • mosinman

        i’d like to think that Bill Ruger is spinning for all the right reasons though 😉

  • adverse

    We didn’t lose our edge, we gave it away.

  • Kefefs

    Well it’s nice to see Remington thriving. I would hope all that cannibalizing other classic American companies wouldn’t be in vain.

    /obligatoryRemingtonhate

    Good article though. Remington used to be one of my favourite manufacturers and I really like reading and seeing their history. I look forward to the rest of the articles.

  • The Rifleman

    Excellent article. Seeing all of those old Remington guns and products brings back many fond memories .I’m looking forward to your next article on the IIilon plant.

  • Glenn

    Why the heck can’t people keep the words sight and site, vise and vice straight ? Just careless and stupid.

    • schizuki

      I see vise spelled “vice” more often than I see it spelled correctly. By a factor of about ten. Same with visegrips.

  • Joe Hathaway

    It is good to see that Remington still exists! In August they will have had my recalled R-51 pistol for a full two years! Repeated calls to their (very busy) “OOPS! We screwed up again! Send us your new firearm and we may get around to fixing or replacing it!” department reveals that they have no actual plans to ever replace the R-51 returned crap, and simply plan to let the current owners die of old age.

  • schizuki

    “A one of a kind gunsmith vice from the custom shop.”

    I shudder to think what a “one-of-a-kind vice” is. Maybe sex with a three-legged anteater while snorting coke from a runaway’s shoes?

    Oh, and the silver custom vise is interesting as well.

    • Budogunner

      Auto-necrophilia maybe? You’d only hey one shot at that. Might be another way to describe what happened to Carradine.

  • Matt Frikin Bennett

    Are you going to cover the part of their history where they have a line of weapons they wont sell to us lowly civilians???

    • What guns might those be? If by chance you mean the Army sniper rifle they started selling those to the public in December of 2014.

  • its an awful shame what freedom group did to them.

    • carlcasino

      Isn’t Freedom Group one of George Soros investments? If it is I can understand the decline. Profit over Product. Seen it too many times in my 80 years,

  • gusto

    I just recenty decommisioned my rem1100, first gun I owned, had it since I was 18. but alas, the homebobbad things finally caught up with it, pleasant shooter thou and I have bagged loads of game with it

    My electric razor is a remington thou does that count?

  • Budogunner

    I respect the Remington of yesteryear, but the Remington of today is on my boycott list.

  • Miguel Raton

    Ironically, “bleeding green” is accounting speak for operating at a loss or hemorrhaging funds due to mismanagement, which Remington has been doing for years now. Here’s hoping they STOP “bleeding green” and manage to put the QC and value back into the product mix!