Visiting Remington Arms: 200 Years Of Gunmaking History

    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 retired as associate editor since December 14th 2017. My replacement is my friend Pete M email: [email protected] you can reach Pete for product reviews etc.


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