Hard Kick From John Wayne's Gun





Come spring, the Winchester rifle, immortalized as the gun that won the West and rode into the sunset with John Wayne, will be made in Portugal and Japan.

The U.S. Repeating Arms Company, which has manufactured rifles and shotguns in New Haven since 1866, is set to shut its doors on March 31. About 200 people will lose their jobs, many having worked for decades on the plant's assembly line.

Workers were told of the decision to close the plant this month after executives learned in December that projected sales for 2006 were expected to decline by one-third.

Paul DeMennato, a company spokesman, did not provide production and sales numbers, but the New Haven mayor's office released a statement saying that only 80,000 guns had been produced at the plant last year. The factory is capable of producing 300,000 a year.

"It's just not profitable to continue to manufacture that small quantity of firearms," said Mr. DeMennato, whose father assembled Winchester guns in the 1940's, when the plant had 19,000 employees and maintained its own hospital and police department.



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