Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Smith & Wesson Buys Thompson Center Arms

Smith & Wesson (S&W) Buys Thompson Center Arms (TCA) might be old news (the link takes you to S&W's press release) but the real question for me is, "is it good news?" I don't know.

Usually, when one company takes over another management takes the first hit with a "housecleaning" done to bring known people on board and pave the way for other changes. Every manager knows that people are resistant to change and they get rid of those who would likely stand in the way of change. Then, there is a period of evaluation and finally, the new company initiates changes. Usually those changes are more to do with maximizing profit than improving quality. Why? Because the money spent on the acquisition has to be returned to the stockholders as quickly as possible.

TCA has not had the best quality control in one regard, barrels. Their manfacturing methods are not likely to produce the very highest quality and might, at least on occasion, produce product substantially below customer expectation. There are some who expect S&W to take over barrel production but, because TCA's product line uses a very brand specific barrel, I wonder if this will ever happen. I do expect some restructuring of S&W and TCA to streamline production, I guess my fingers are crossed.

Meanwhile, and I don't know how much this will affect the changes in TCA products, S&W is producing new product variations including the first color case finish M36 revolvers. Unfortunately the lock is still there. I'd read/heard that the M40 would also be brought back, color cased but sans lock, but I don't see it on the web site. If I see one like that I'm buying it! These guns are part of the S&W Classic Series. I'd consider them more "classic" sans lock.

What will TCA be doing? Well, they've introduced a new bolt-action rifle! The Icon has the style of TCA's Classic Rimfire rifle but I see nothing otherwise outstanding about it. My lack of enthusiasm might be due to my lack of enthusiasm about bolt action rifles generally! It is modular permitting owner/operator modifications and it has a three lug bolt (not new) permitting a short bolt lift.

Will these new product introductions continue, I think so. So, what will happen to the old products? I think the Encore is fairly secure, the G2 perhaps a bit less so. The black powder/muzzleloading line is undergoing constant review. Maybe, if the primitive weapons resurgence continues we'll see more sidelock cap-lock and flint-lock guns from TCA. Maybe.

What do you think will happen?

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