I would have to stop and count the number of Springfield firearms I own. And when I say Springfield, let me be clear. I mean firearms from the commercial firm located in Geneseo, Illinois. I am not denigrating commercially-produced Springfield Armory firearms. They are very high quality, well-made firearms. I'd be disappointed if I couldn't own the ones I currently do. That said, I have never been happy about the way the company bandies about the name as if they are some sort of continuation of the original United States government armory. They are not, though their advertising suggests that they think they are.
The U.S. Springfield Armory of Springfield, Massachusetts was closed down in 1968. After nearly two centuries of designing and producing a wide variety of arms for the U.S. government, the doors closed. Today it's a U.S. Park Service National historic site.(1) The Armory has a great history.
In 1974, the rights to use the name were acquired by the Reese family, who own the commercial firm. According to their web site history they "rescued" the name. In my opinion the name hardly needing rescuing. The government armory's history will live on forever, as will the legitimate firearms produced by the original Springfield Armory through time, many of those arms now in the hands of collectors. No, what I believe happened is what the Reese family wanted to do, and did do, was to be able to build 1911A1s, M1 Garands, and M14-style rifles from mostly surplus parts, and to be able to give them some legitimacy by stamping a name on them that nearly everyone would recognize. The marketing ruse worked.
To give them their due, here is what you'll find on Springfield's website.(2) You'll find this in their timeline, which, unbelievably, starts off with the founding of the original United States Government Armory, and then continues without pause, as if the Reese family acquisition of the name gives them ownership to a matter of United States history. I cannot help but to simply call this gall.
"Then in 1974, a passionate family by the name of Reese rescued not only the name “Springfield Armory®,” but the philosophy that drove it for centuries.
With reverence for the legacy of The Armory, the Reese family resurrected the most historically significant designs produced by The Armory – M1 Garand, 1911-A1, M14. Fueled by the same obsession for improved manufacturing techniques and cutting edge design that inspired the likes of John C. Garand, and John Browning, they have continued to develop products that are loyal to Springfield Armory’s heritage while ensuring The Armory’s place in the progression of American firearms."
How can we really take seriously any company that puts themselves on the level with Browning and Garand? They were putting together Garands and 1911s from surplus parts, not creating these guns from fresh ideas they came up with on their own. Disingenuous at best, but perhaps something worse--pulling the wool over the eyes of their 21st Century customers who are naive enough to read and swallow such nonsense.
The "reverence for the legacy of The Armory" part bothers me a lot. What I believe this company has always had is a respect for the much better earnings potential the name Springfield Armory holds for them than if they'd had to to call themselves "Reese Firearms" or something equally unknown or uninspiring.
The reality is that this company has succeeded for two reasons. One, and I believe the greatest, is that they sell fine firearms--mostly designed, tested, developed, and built by others and then acquired by the Reese family--but fine firearms nonetheless.* But they had a leg up based on the name they use, and they continue to milk the name for all it's worth to this day. A recent press release on their new "Tanker M1A" rifle read, in part:
"This Tanker configuration of our famous SOCOM 16 features a vintage walnut stock that pays tribute to those who have carried Springfield Armory rifles into battle for over 200 years."(3)
They continue to talk as if the original Armory and their commercial company are one and the same. They--are--not. There is no connection. They bought the name. They have and continue to exploit the name. If you want one more thing to convince you I'm on to something, look at the current Springfield logo shown near the top of this editorial. Note the "since 1794" they use on it. Perhaps to this company it just seems like a brilliant way of doing business. Their success is unarguable. Perhaps you agree with the company. Your right of course. To me it simply seems shameful. And I feel better getting my thoughts off my chest.
* I say Springfield, the commercial firm, sells fine firearms, and they do. For the most part, they are an importer, which perhaps most people realize. Once they ran out of surplus parts and cast about for other products to sell, Springfield began importing and selling (mostly) pistols from around the world. But also were selling military style rifles, many built by Imbel of Brazil, where their current 1911-style pistols are made. The XD-series of pistols are of course made in Croatia, where, after buying out the HS2000 pistol, Springfield built a state-of-the-art factory. But little is built in Geneseo to the best of my knowledge. In fact, I sincerely doubt they ever had a fresh idea there when it comes to designing guns--something the original Springfield Armory was known for.