Legends have a way of becoming so entrenched in our consciousness that we often accept them as fact. Whether these legends are passed down in fireside tales from grandfathers and fathers or presented in writing and, shall we say, enhanced with the flourishes of time, we grow to appreciate them.
Such was the birth of the Remington Arms Company, a legend that began with young Eliphalet Remington II of the small settlement of Ilion Gulch, New York, when he created a flintlock rifle for a target shooting competition. This was in autumn of 1816, in a small town on the Mohawk River in the middle of a young state beginning to grow, flex its muscles in the world and take shape for the future. The 23-year-old Eliphalet reportedly, as legend holds, claimed second place in the competition with the rifle barrel he crafted in his father’s forge.
Normally the legends and today’s success stories come with victories. A person, team or group believes in a goal, a dream, a product, fights through creation and maybe adversity, shines gloriously in victory and embraces success. Remington failed to win his target competition yet competitors, as legend holds, wanted a rifle just like his. They placed orders and promised payment.
The Birth of Big Green
And with that, 200 years ago, the name Remington emerged in Ilion, New York, as America’s oldest gun maker. The company known affectionately by hunters, shooters and within the industry as “Big Green” thanks to its iconic green-themed logo will celebrate its bicentennial in 2016.
Remington’s beginnings as a custom gun-making company eventually gave way to production as demand soared for its products. It was first known as E. Remington and then E. Remington & Son, and finally E. Remington and Sons as his family grew.
The company moved to a new production facility closer to the Erie Canal, which was completed in 1825, for ease of import and export. As the settlement began to grow, in 1843 a post office was established and a formal name was requested. Remington reportedly declined to have his family name used for the town and Ilion was chosen.
In our current time of synthetic stocks, incredible selection of calibers, superior ammunition, wonderful optics and other technological advances, just take a moment to imagine Reming- ton’s past. Eliphalet Remington II was born in 1793, just a few years after the United States was founded and with the Revolutionary War and battles against Native Americans still firmly in settlers’ minds. Throughout the new country’s colonies the flintlock rifle, accompanied by knives and possibly hatchets, was the means of home defense, putting food on the table and a symbol of the new world.
We still think of those things today, don’t we? Putting food on the table, defense of home and family, enjoyment of sport and the camaraderie of being with others at the range or in the field? Learning about firearm safety, taking the first shots with a rimfire or small- bore shotgun? Handling your father’s or grandfather’s rifle or shotgun to take aim at deer, pheasants, quail, ducks, elk or other game? Remington’s heritage has not diminished; if anything it has grown and become burnished with the patina of time.
Today, Remington Arms Company is involved in sporting, law enforcement and military arms development and sales, among other businesses. Within Remington’s offerings you’ll find rimfire and centerfire rifles, muzzleloaders, shotguns, handguns, ammunition and airguns in configurations from the most basic .308 Win. blued rifle with a synthetic stock to tactical rifles for military and law enforcement use. These are found in Remington Military, LE and Custom Shop divisions. Remington is involved in collaborations with other companies, among the latest and notable being the Remington 2020 digital optic system created with Texas-based Tracking-Point technology company.
Did you know that many years ago Remington also made typewriters?
Perhaps you’ve seen one in an antique store somewhere. Remington sold that division (it eventually became Sperry Rand Corporation), but that’s not all the company was involved with. Like most companies with manufacturing facilities Remington’s owners always looked for ways to diversify. The popularity of sporting apparel and accessories for hunters, and hunters’ hounds, never has been lost on the creative Remington minds, either. Today you’ll find divisions that include “Remington Country USA” accessories, “1816 by Remington” apparel and “Dublin Dog” accessories for hunting and companion dogs. Sporting clothing and gear, iconic artwork, knives that have grown in popularity with collectors, they’re all part of the Remington lore and family.
Guns for the Ages
But in all honesty it goes back to the guns. The rifle for big game or plinking. The shotgun for fowling or defense. The 870 Wingmaster is the best-selling shotgun of all time, introduced in 1951 and now with more than 10 million sold. This pump gun is responsible, no doubt, for untold numbers of deer slugs and waterfowl loads, upland bird loads, target loads and others being fired by eager hunters and shooters of all ages. Many a lad cuts his teeth on the 870 Wingmaster, a simplistic design with incredible efficiency.
Ask deer hunters about the most popular or greatest rifles and, without doubt, the list will include the Remington Model 700. It perhaps would be at the top of many lists, again for its rugged simplicity, durability, versatility and graceful style. Offered in about 50 calibers since its introduction, the “three rings of steel” construction along with superb accuracy has put this bolt-action rifle in millions of deer hunters’ hands. It wasn’t the only popular deer rifle Remington made, of course. Others among their vaunted family for whitetails include the Model 721 and Model 722 (predecessors of the 700), the Model 760 pump rifle, Model 740 autoloader and others, including today’s Modern Sporting Rifles.
Millions of words have been written and spoken about Remington Arms during its 200-year history, and many more will be in the years to come. Like any giant, old company it has had its share of incredible highs and some numbing lows, yet it continues to move forward, building each day on its history and legacy as part of our hunting heritage.
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