SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) _ Smith & Wesson would make parts for Remington rifles under a deal between the two gun manufacturers.

The three-year contract could be worth $5 million to $10 million to the Springfield handgun maker depending on the volume of parts, according to John Kelly, chief financial officer for Smith & Wesson.

The two companies are already cooperating on developing internal electronic safety locks.

Smith & Wesson is to make the mental casing holding most of a rifle's firing mechanisms for some of Remington's centerfire rifles, the companies said Thursday.

Remington, which is based in Madison, N.C., will continue to make the internal parts, stocks and barrels at its plant in Ilion, N.Y.

For the past three years Smith & Wesson has been increasing its contract manufacturing operations, which now make up about 10 percent of its business, in an attempt to diversify.

Its handgun sales slumped last year in a consumer backlash over its agreement with the Clinton administration to restrict sales at gun shows and install trigger locks and other safety devices on its handguns.

In May, the British conglomerate Tomkins PLC sold Smith & Wesson to Saf-T-Hammer Corp., an Arizona gun lock company for $15 million and assumed liabilities.