Gun Manufacturers and Their Corporate Histories

The history of firearms is a fascinating tapestry of innovation, artistry, and sometimes controversy. Over the centuries, gun manufacturers have played pivotal roles in war, law enforcement, and sport. The purpose of this article is to explore the histories of prominent gun manufacturers, providing a snapshot of how they have developed, diversified, and positioned themselves in the market.

Gun Manufacturers and Their Corporate Histories


ArmaLite, a small arms engineering company, is known as the original developer of the AR-15, which was later adopted and modified by Colt. Established in the mid-1950s, ArmaLite had significant influence on the American military and civilian gun markets.

  • Year Established: 1954
  • Headquarters: Phoenix, Arizona, United States
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: AR-10, AR-15

Barrett Firearms

Barrett Firearms Manufacturing was founded by Ronnie Barrett, with its first product being the innovative Barrett .50 cal sniper rifle. Barrett’s rifles have been adopted by militaries worldwide and have seen action in major conflicts.

  • Year Established: 1982
  • Headquarters: Murfreesboro, Tennessee, United States
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: M82, MRAD, REC7, Sovereign, Fieldcraft


Bergara is a Spanish firearms manufacturer that specializes in precision rifles. The company was established in the mid-2000s, with its roots in Bergara’s barrel-making operations, which were known for high quality.

  • Year Established: 2004
  • Headquarters: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: B-14 Bolt Action Rifle,Premier Highlander, Premier Approach, Premier Mountain 2.0, BMR Micro Rimfire, BXR .22LR


With roots stretching back to 1526, Beretta is the oldest active firearms manufacturer in the world. Its guns have been used in every major European war since 1650, and it continues to innovate in the present day, known for its high-quality shotguns, pistols, and rifles.

  • Year Established: 1526
  • Headquarters: Gardone Val Trompia, Italy
  • Most Popular Modern Guns:92FS, PX4 Storm, 686, A400, APX, 1301, Nano


Benelli Armi S.p.A was established by six brothers who first owned a motorcycle company with the same name. It is renowned for its shotguns, used for hunting, sport shooting, and self-defense. In 2000, Benelli became part of the Beretta Holding Group.

  • Year Established: 1967
  • Headquarters: Urbino, Italy
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: M4, Super Black Eagle, Ethos, R1, Vinci, Montefeltro

Century Arms

Century Arms is an American firearms importer and manufacturer known for their AK-47 variants. The company offers a variety of popular guns, many of which are based on historical military designs. 

  • Year Established: 1961
  • Headquarters: Delray Beach, Florida, United States
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: AK-47 variants

Colt’s Manufacturing Company

Colt’s is known for the manufacture of the long-serving 1911 .45 ACP pistol and the M16 rifle, both of which saw extensive use in the U.S. military. Despite financial ups and downs, Colt’s influence on the gun world is undeniable.

  • Year Established: 1855
  • Headquarters: Hartford, Connecticut, United States
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: Colt 1911, Colt AR-15, Phyton, Single Action Army, Detective Special, .380 Mustang

CZ (Česká Zbrojovka)

Based in the Czech Republic, this company was founded in 1936 to serve the Czechoslovak military. CZ is renowned worldwide for their high-quality handguns, rifles, and shotguns.

  • Year Established: 1936
  • Headquarters: Uhersky Brod, Czech
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: CZ 75, P-10, Scorpion Evo 3, Shadow 2, CZ 455, CZ 527

Daniel Defense

Daniel Defense is a relatively new player, having been founded in 2002. Its founder, Marty Daniel, started the company to create custom parts for AR-15 rifles, but it has since evolved into a fully-fledged firearms manufacturer, known for its high-quality rifles.

  • Year Established: 2002
  • Headquarters: Black Creek, Georgia, United States
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: DDM4, MK18, DDM4 V7, DDM4 PDW, DD5


Girsan Gun Industry is a Turkish firearms manufacturer known for producing a wide range of handguns and shotguns. They offer reliable and affordable firearms that have gained popularity among shooters.

  • Year Established: 1993
  • Headquarters: Giresun, Turkey
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: MC28, Regard, MC1911, MC312, Yavuz 16, MC P35


Glock is an Austrian company that gained global acclaim with the introduction of its Glock 17 pistol, which revolutionized the handgun market with its polymer frame. Glock pistols are used by law enforcement agencies and military units around the world.

  • Year Established: 1963
  • Headquarters: Deutsch-Wagram, Lower Austria, Austria
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: Glock 17, Glock 19, Glock 21, Glock 43, Glock 26, Glock 34

Grand Power

Grand Power is a Slovakia-based worldwide exporter of firearms and tactical accessories founded in 2002 by Jaroslav Kuracina. This company is responsible for the K100 pistol which is popular for its unique “rotating barrel locking system.”

  • Year Established: 2002
  • Headquarters: Banská Bystrica, Slovakia
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: K100, X-Calibur, P11, Q1, K22

Heckler and Koch

Founded in post-WWII Germany, Heckler & Koch has established a reputation for producing high-quality firearms. Known for their MP5 submachine gun, G3 battle rifle, and USP series of pistols, they’ve remained a significant player in the firearms industry.

  • Year Established: 1949
  • Headquarters: Oberndorf am Neckar, Germany
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: MP5, HK416, Universal Self-Loading Pistol, G3 battle rifle, P30, VP9, G36, HK45

Herstal Group

The Herstal Group, also based in Belgium, is a holding company that includes FN Herstal, Browning, and Winchester. This group is one of the largest firearms manufacturers in the world.

FNH (Fabrique Nationale Herstal)

This Belgian company was founded in 1889 and is one of the most famous firearm manufacturers globally. FNH is known for many iconic firearms, such as the FN57 and FN FAL.

  • Year Established: 1889
  • Headquarters: Herstal, Wallonia, Belgium
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: FN57, Five-seveN, FN FAL, FN Browning High Power, FN SCAR, P90

Winchester Repeating Arms Company

Winchester was founded in 1866, in the United States. This company is known for its lever-action repeating rifles and has a reputation for quality and innovation.

  • Year Established: 1866
  • Headquarters: New Haven, Connecticut, United States
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: 1873, 1894, Model 70, 1897, Model 12, Model 94

Browning Arms Company

Founded by the legendary gun designer John Browning, this company is responsible for creating iconic firearms like the M1911 pistol, Browning Hi-Power, and Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR). They also have a reputation for making fine autoloading shotguns. Browning’s designs continue to influence firearms design to this day.

  • Year Established: 1878
  • Headquarters: Morgan, Utah, United States
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: Auto-5, Hi-Power, BAR, Buck Mark, Citori, X-Bolt, 


Hi-Point Firearms is known for producing affordable handguns and carbines that are designed for budget-conscious shooters. While they may not have the same level of popularity or reputation as some other firearm manufacturers, they do have a dedicated following.

  • Year Established: 1992
  • Headquarters: Mansfield, Ohio, United States
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: C9, JHP, 4095TS, 995TS

Iver Johnson

Iver Johnson was an American firearms, bicycle, and motorcycle manufacturer. Despite ceasing operations in 1993, their firearms, especially the top-break revolvers, remain a symbol of the Old West era.

  • Year Established: 1871
  • Headquarters: Jacksonville, Arkansas, United States
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: TP22, PAS12, Cadet, Safety Automatic Revolvers

Kimber Manufacturing Arms

Kimber initially focused on .22 caliber rifles. However, they became famous for their M1911-style handguns, which offer high performance and craftsmanship. Their guns are popular among civilian shooters, law enforcement, and special forces.

  • Year Established: 1979
  • Headquarters: Troy, Alabama, United States
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: M1911 Custom II, Micro 9, EVO SP, K6s, Rapide

Knight’s Armament Company

Knight’s Armament Company (KAC) is known for developing advanced firearms and accessories. Their most recognized product is the SR-25 semi-automatic sniper system, which has been used by various branches of the U.S. military.

  • Year Established: 1982
  • Headquarters: Titusville, Florida, United States
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: SR-25, SR-15, Personal Defense Weapon (PDW), Stoner LMG, SR-30


KRISS USA (formerly Transformational Defense Industries) is a firearms manufacturer known for their innovative designs and unique operating systems. They have developed a reputation for producing firearms that offer reduced recoil and improved control.

  • Year Established: 2012
  • Headquarters: Jacksonville, Arkansas, United States
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: Vector, Vector CRB/SO, Defiance DMK22C, DMK22

O.F. Mossberg & Sons

O.F. Mossberg & Sons is the oldest family-owned firearms manufacturer in America and the largest pump-action shotgun maker in the world. Its reliable and affordable shotguns are standard in hunting circles and home defense.

  • Year Established: 1919
  • Headquarters: North Haven, New Haven, Connecticut, United States
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: Mossberg 500, 590, 930, Patriot, MVP

Palmetto State Armory

Palmetto State Armory (PSA) caters primarily to the U.S. domestic market, focusing on manufacturing affordable firearms, parts, and accessories. They’re especially known for their AR-15 rifles and kits but recently have made a name for their high quality AK lineup.

  • Year Established: 2008
  • Headquarters: Columbia, South Carolina, United States
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: PSAAR-15s, PSA AK-47s, PSA AR-10s

Remington Arms

Remington is one of the oldest and most recognized gun makers in the world. Despite recent financial struggles and restructurings, the company’s legacy lives on in its diverse line of firearms, from the Model 700 bolt-action rifle to the 870 pump-action shotgun.

  • Year Established: 1816
  • Headquarters: Madison, North Carolina, United States
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: Remington700, 870, V3, RP9, 1911 R1

Rock River Arms

Rock River Arms is a firearms manufacturer known for producing high-quality AR-15-style rifles and pistols. They offer a range of modern guns that have gained popularity among shooters.

  • Year Established: 1996
  • Headquarters: Colona, Illinois, United States
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: LAR-15, RRAGE, BT-9, ATH, LAR-458

Savage Arms

Savage Arms is famous for its series of lever-action and bolt-action rifles. Known for their accuracy and innovation, Savage continues to be a major player in the hunting and sport shooting market.

  • Year Established: 1894
  • Headquarters: Westfield, Massachusetts, United States
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: Savage Model 10, Savage 220, Axis, MSR 15, Savage Model 110

Sig Sauer

Originally a Swiss-German collaboration, Sig Sauer has grown into a global brand renowned for its handguns, rifles, and optics. Among its iconic designs are the P226 pistol and the MCX rifle.

  • Year Established: 1976
  • Headquarters: Eckernförde, Germany
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: P320, MCX, P365, MPX, P226

Smith & Wesson

Smith & Wesson was founded by Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson in Norwich, Connecticut, in 1852. The partnership was initially dedicated to manufacturing a firearm that could fire a fully self-contained cartridge, and their first product was a lever-action pistol known as the Volcanic pistol.

In 1856, Smith & Wesson produced the first revolver that could reliably fire a self-contained cartridge, the Model 1, that set the stage for the development of modern revolvers.

In 2020, Smith & Wesson underwent a significant restructuring. Its parent company, American Outdoor Brands Corporation, decided to separate the outdoor products and accessories business from the firearm business. As a result, Smith & Wesson became an independent publicly traded company, and American Outdoor Brands Corporation became a separate entity.

  • Year Established: 1852
  • Headquarters: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: M&P Shield, Shield 2.0, M&P9, M&P380 Shield EZ, M&P .45, Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport II 5.56 NATO

Thompson Center

Thompson/Center Arms, commonly known as Thompson Center, is a U.S-based firearms manufacturer renowned for its production of high-quality hunting rifles and black powder muzzleloaders. The company was founded in 1965 by K.W. Thompson Tool Company, originally focusing on custom, single-shot pistols and rifles, and quickly earned a reputation for quality and innovation.

In 2007, Thompson Center was acquired by Smith & Wesson, further extending its reach and influence within the firearm industry. Despite changes over the years, Thompson Center remains a major player in the industry, continuously introducing innovative designs and maintaining its commitment to manufacturing quality firearms.

  • Year Established: 1965
  • Headquarters: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: Encore, Contender, Compass, Venture, Pro Hunter, Impact, Triumph

Sportsman’s Warehouse Holdings

Established in 1986, Sportsman’s Warehouse is not a manufacturer but a large outdoor sporting goods retailer. It offers a comprehensive selection of premium hunting, shooting, and outdoor products, including firearms from the manufacturers mentioned in this list.

  • Year Established: 1986
  • Headquarters: Midvale, Utah, United States

Springfield Armory, Inc

Not to be confused with the historical U.S. federal armory, the commercial Springfield Armory provides reliable firearms to civilian, law enforcement, and military markets.

  • Year Established: 1974
  • Headquarters: Geneseo, Illinois, United States
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: M1A rifle, XD pistol series

Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc.

Commonly known as Ruger, this is one of the largest firearms manufacturers in the United States. Ruger is known for its wide range of high-quality firearms, from single-action revolvers to modern sporting rifles.

  • Year Established: 1949
  • Headquarters: Southport, Connecticut, United States
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: Ruger Precision Rifle, LCP, LCP II, SR1911, LCR, SR40c

Marlin Firearms

Marlin Firearms is best known for its lever-action rifles, .22 caliber rifles, and high-powered camp carbines. Despite being acquired by Remington Arms in 2007 and by Sturm, Ruger, & Co. in 2020, enduring corporate turmoil, Marlin continues to be a beloved brand among hunters and sport shooters.

  • Year Established: 1870
  • Headquarters: Madison, North Carolina, United States
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: 39A, 336, 1894, and 1895


Taurus Armas is a Brazilian company that is one of the largest small arms manufacturers in the world and is known for their revolvers and pistols.

  • Year Established: 1939
  • Headquarters: Rio Grande do Sul, São Leopoldo, Brazil
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: G3, TX22, GX4, Raging Hunter, Taurus Spectrum, Taurus Curve, Judge


Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen (commonly known as Walther) is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of firearms, particularly pistols. In 2012, a subsidiary was formed in Fort Smith, Arkansas under the name Walther Arms Inc.

  • Year Established: 1886
  • Headquarters: Ulm and Arnsberg, Germany
  • Most Popular Modern Guns: PDP, PK380, PPQ, Walther Model 8, CCP, P22, P99, WA 2000


The histories of these gun manufacturers offer insight into the evolution of firearms technology and the commercial strategies behind these businesses. They are part of the broader story of economic growth, technological progress, and societal change in the countries where they were established. With the firearm industry continuing to evolve rapidly in response to shifting global conditions, these companies will likely continue to shape the narrative well into the future.

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