October 01, 2021
By Mark Chesnut
Storied firearm maker Smith & Wesson will soon become the latest industry company to make a move from a highly restrictive state to one more friendly to both gun owners and gun makers.
The nation’s oldest firearm manufacturer announced on Thursday that it will be moving its headquarters and other significant elements of its operations from Springfield, Massachusetts, to Maryville, Tennessee, in 2023. S&W has been in Springfield since the company was incorporated in 1852.
Mark Smith, president and CEO of S&W, cited an increasingly hostile environment in Massachusetts, specifically pointing to legislation recently proposed at the state legislature aimed at severely restricting modern sporting rifles.
“This has been an extremely difficult and emotional decision for us, but after an exhaustive
and thorough analysis, for the continued health and strength of our iconic company, we feel that we have been left with no other alternative,” Smith said. “These bills would prevent Smith & Wesson from manufacturing firearms that are legal in almost every state in America and that are safely used by tens of millions of law-abiding citizens every day exercising their Constitutional 2nd Amendment rights, protecting themselves and their families, and enjoying the shooting sports.
“While we are hopeful that this arbitrary and damaging legislation will be defeated in this session, these products made up over 60 percent of our revenue last year, and the unfortunate likelihood that such restrictions would be raised again led to a review of the best path forward for Smith & Wesson."
S&W’s departure from Massachusetts isn’t the first instance in which a firearms-related company chose to move to more 2A-friendly pastures. In fact, more than a dozen companies have left New York, Illinois, Connecticut and Colorado in the past few years.
Lawrence Kean, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), focused on the trend in a news item sent to members on Thursday.
“This follows a pattern of firearm and ammunition manufacturers that are migrating to states that respect the contributions of the firearm industry and respect the Second Amendment rights of those who purchase their products,” Keane said. “The decision to expand production by any firearm manufacturer is indicative of the strong and vibrant market of lawful gun ownership. Firearm sales have been at record levels for more than 18 months and this investment in the future shows that the leading firearms manufacturers see a market with continued room for growth.”
According to the NSSF, Smith & Wesson’s new Tennessee home is no stranger to firearm manufacturing. Earlier this year, Troy Manufacturing announced it was moving production from West Springfield, Massachusetts, to Clarksville, Tennessee. Beretta U.S.A. Corporation moved production from Maryland to Gallatin, Tennessee, in 2016, and Barrett Firearms is headquartered in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
The S&W facility in Springfield will be reconfigured but will remain operational. S&W will keep some of its manufacturing operations in Springfield, including all forging, machining, metal finishing and assembly of revolvers, and will continue to have more than 1,000 employees in the state. The new facility will be built in Maryville, Tennessee, and will comprise of the company's headquarters, plastic injection molding, pistol and long gun assembly and distribution.
"The strong support we have received from the state of Tennessee and the entire leadership of Blount County throughout this process, combined with the quality of life, outdoor lifestyle, and low cost of living in the Greater Knoxville area, has left no doubt that Tennessee is the ideal location for Smith & Wesson's new headquarters,” said S&W’s Smith. “We would like to specifically thank Governor Lee for his decisive contributions and the entire state legislature for their unwavering support of the Second Amendment and for creating a welcoming, business-friendly environment."
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for more than 20 years.