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Colt Firearms Up For Sale

April 29, 1989

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Colt Firearms, maker of the gun that won the West, has been placed on the auction block.

A 3-year-old strike by hundreds of Colt workers and the recent loss of its contract to make M-16 rifles for the military - its main business - have hampered the company. But officials at parent company Colt Industries said those problems didn’t force a sale.

″It’s a going business and it’s profitable, and, of course, it has a history of quality products,″ company spokesman Michael G. Dunn said Friday.

New York-based Colt Industries is selling the firearms division so it can concentrate on its aerospace, automotive and industrial service operations, Dunn said.

The Colt company was founded in Hartford in 1836 by Samuel Colt, the inventor of the first successful repeating pistol.

After the entrepreneur’s death in 1862, his company manufactured the six- shooter that every cowboy carried in his holster and that was said to have won the West.

About 800 workers at Colt Firearms’ Connecticut plants have been on strike since January 1986 in a dispute over wages and benefits.

″I think (the sale) might be a good omen,″ said Robert Madore, president of United Auto Workers Local 376, which represents the strikers. ″I think maybe a new face, a new owner might turn it around.″

Colt had produced the M-16 rifle for the Army since 1964. But last October, the Army announced it was dropping Colt after it was underbid for a contract to produce about 1 million rifles.

Colt also makes the Colt 45 handgun, the King Cobra magnum revolver.

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