A glimpse at Gun Valley
A glimpse at Gun Valley
The Colt factory in Hartford.
Westfield’s Savage Arms, the century-old pioneer that had deteriorated to the point where it was mocked as “Salvage Arms” and left for dead, now can’t keep up with demand. Laurinda Pudlo (pictured) came to Savage about a year ago after having worked with toddlers at a day-care center. She finds this work less stressful.
Before joining Savage Arms, Rich Goss Jr. managed a Dollar Tree store. He says his job now is “easier than dealing with complaining customers in retail.”
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, an outspoken member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, secured $600,000 in tax incentives for Smith & Wesson, a gun maker in his city.
In the Savage Arms plant, Bruce Moore uses a high-tech machine to turn the barrel of a gun.
Shepherd Torres hand-straightens the barrel.
Gail Smith assembles parts to make the bolt and firing mechanism.
Guns at Savage Arms await repair.
Carlos Flores works in the 100-yard test range.
Savage Arms made and shipped more than 350,000 guns last year.
Rudy Wargo began working at Savage Arms in 1965. He repairs misfit guns.
Steel before it is drilled for specific calibers at Savage Arms.
The Savage plant’s high-tech corridor, where guns take shape in CNC machines.
William Barkyoumb, a 29-year-old former Marine, is in final assembly at Savage Arms, doing some of the most complicated work on the factory floor.
Sandy Molloy works in subassembly, which involves lots of small parts to make bolt and firing mechanisms.
Inez Otero also works in subassembly. She came to Savage 12 years ago after having worked at Walmart.
Anchored by Colt in Hartford and Smith & Wesson in Springfield, the Connecticut River Valley remains home to dozens of firearms manufacturers and suppliers. (Pictured: the Colt factory in Hartford.)
Gun sales are soaring across the nation, with many manufacturers having posted record profits in 2012. (Pictured: the Colt factory)
Although California and Texas are home to more gun-related jobs, Connecticut and Massachusetts rank fourth and fifth in total economic output from this industry, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms trade association. (Pictured: the Colt factory)
When it comes to average pay packages for those in the industry, Connecticut and Massachusetts occupy the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, at $71,123 and $65,386, boosted by all the executive salaries at those corporate headquarters. (Pictured: the Colt factory)
Governor Deval Patrick, a prominent gun control advocate, pushed through $6 million in tax breaks in 2010 for Smith & Wesson (pictured) to move 225 jobs from New Hampshire to Springfield.
In Springfield, where the unemployment rate tops 10 percent, Smith & Wesson is a success story. It has invested more than $80 million since 2009 to expand and modernize its sprawling plant there, according to vice president Liz Sharp, and plans to spend another $40 million in 2013.
It has employed multiple generations of the same families, and its Massachusetts full-time workforce has grown to nearly 1,300.
Even as sales soar, only about one-third of US households have guns, down from about half in the 1970s, according to the 2012 General Social Survey, produced by an independent research center at the University of Chicago.