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Coronavirus & Guns

Gun Companies Received Millions in PPP Loans

Firearm sales are soaring, but manufacturers like Henry and Century Arms received coronavirus relief funds from the federal government.

Gun companies received tens of millions of dollars in loans granted by the federal Paycheck Protection Program, new data shows, even as firearms sales hit record levels amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The data, released on July 6 by the Small Business Administration, lists all recipients of federal loans greater than $150,000. The Trace identified more than 50 manufacturers of guns and gun accessories that received such loans, which all together totaled between $33 million and $75 million. (The data does not list exact loan amounts.) The companies reported that they were able to retain more than 3,000 jobs which would have otherwise been lost.

Two companies, Brownells and Kimber Manufacturing, both received between $5 and $10 million — the largest loans available. Brownells is a popular retailer of guns and accessories that produces its own line of rifles. Kimber, one of the country’s largest pistol and rifle manufacturers, announced in late March that it was shuttering production at its New York manufacturing facilities due to its designation as a nonessential business. Kimber reported retaining 479 jobs, while Brownells did not include a figure.

The Trump administration initiated the Paycheck Protection Program to create an incentive for employers to avoid layoffs during the pandemic. Businesses must meet the SBA’s size standards to receive a loan. For “Small Arms, Ordnance, and Ordnance Accessories Manufacturing,” the category in which the majority of gunmakers fall, businesses with up to 1,000 employees are eligible.

Henry Repeating Arms, a major rifle and shotgun manufacturer, received a loan in the $2 to $5 million range, which allowed it to retain 384 positions. Georgia’s Daniel Defense also received $2 to $5 million. Century Arms, Wilson Combat, and Abrams Airborne Manufacturing all received loans in the $1 to $2 million range. So did CZ-USA, the American subsidiary of Czech gunmaker Česká zbrojovka Uherský Brod; SilencerCo, which manufactures silencers; US Ordnance, which supplies military armaments; Ohio Ordnance Works, a manufacturer of weapons for government agencies; and Barrett, the creator of the iconic .50-caliber sniper rifle.

More than 40 other gun companies received loans of less than $1 million each. 

While individual gun companies like Kimber faced coronavirus-related business setbacks, data indicates that the firearms industry has thrived during the pandemic, with Americans arming themselves in record numbers. March was the highest month on record for federal firearm background checks — the best available proxy for gun sales — until that record was broken again in June.

At least two companies that received loans have been in the spotlight for allegedly violating state gun laws. Polymer80, a Nevada-based outfit that received between $350,000 and $1 million, was sued in June by the Washington, D.C., attorney general for selling parts to make unserialized “ghost guns” to District residents. The office alleges that since 2017, local law enforcement has recovered more than 200 Polymer 80 products, leading investigators to believe the weapons are being advertised and sold illegally. Another Nevada-based company, New Frontier Armory, is facing a lawsuit filed by the New Jersey attorney general for illegally selling high capacity magazines to an undercover investigator. It received a loan for an amount between $150,000 and $350,000.

The Trace identified more than 40 other gun companies that received loans between $150,000 and $1 million:

  • American Tactical
  • Armscor 
  • Black Rain Ordnance
  • Cabot Guns
  • Caracal
  • Connecticut Shotgun Manufacturing
  • Cooper Firearms
  • Dark Storm Industries
  • Diamondback Firearms
  • DS Arms
  • Ed Brown Products
  • Faxon Firearms
  • Fierce Firearms
  • Fostech 
  • Franklin Armory
  • Freedom Ordnance
  • Head Down Firearms
  • HS Precision
  • Keystone Sporting Arms
  • Kriss USA 
  • Magnum Research
  • Masterpiece Arms Holding Company
  • Maxim Defense
  • Nighthawk Custom 
  • Noveske Rifleworks 
  • OSS Suppressors
  • Patriot Ordnance Factory
  • Primary Weapons Systems
  • Rainier Arms
  • Rock River Arms
  • SCCY Industries
  • Shadow Systems
  • Spikes Tactical
  • Steyr Arms 
  • Strategic Armory Corps
  • Tactical Solutions 
  • Taran Tactical Innovations
  • Troy Industries
  • US Competition Arms
  • Volquartsen Firearms
  • Weatherby
  • Windham Weaponry
  • ZRO Delta

Representatives of Brownells; Kimber; SilencerCo; Polymer80; Spikes Tactical; and Kriss USA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

This article has been updated to include additional companies.