This Day in History: Gun Maker Eliphalet Remington is Born

This Day in History: Eliphalet Remington is Born
This Day in History: Eliphalet Remington is Born

Connecticut – -( On October 28, 1793, Eliphalet Remington II was born in Suffield, Connecticut. His father was a blacksmith, and Eliphalet followed in his footsteps, eventually going to work in the family business.

Eliphalet Remington II
Eliphalet Remington II

In August 1816, Eliphalet forged his first rifle barrel. When the Erie Canal was completed in 1825, an economic boom hit Remington’s region and afforded him an opportunity to expand. By 1828, the forge had been relocated to a 100 acre farm near what would become Ilion, New York, and he supplied thousands of rifle barrels to local gunsmiths. In 1839, Eliphalet’s son Philo joined the family business; second son Samuel followed in 1845. At this point, the company was doing quite well despite the fact that they only made barrels, not completed firearms.

Remington got their first government contract in 1845. In 1841, Nathan Ames of Massachusetts had been contracted by the Navy to build carbines designed by William Jenks. When an additional order was placed in late 1845, Ames’ health was failing and he did not want the contract. Jenks approached Remington and they entered into an agreement to supply the Navy with 1,000 carbines using equipment sold to Remington by Ames. This contract came just months after Remington got an Ordnance Department contract for 5,000 Model 1841 “Mississippi” rifles.

By the time the Civil War broke out in 1861, Remington offered both rifles and revolvers to the government. They ramped up production to meet demand and made .36 and .44 caliber revolvers as well as Model 1863 Percussion Contract Rifles, popularly known as the “Zouave” rifle because of its saber bayonet which was similar to the ones used in Algeria by the French.

Remington continued to make firearms in a variety of different styles after the war ended. Using additional designs from Mr. Beals, Mr. Rider, and others, they branched out into the civilian market as well.

In the late-19th and early-20th centuries, Remington offered an incredibly wide variety of firearms, ranging from small pocket revolvers to highly accurate target rifles used in competition.

The first Remington Armory was built in 1848.
The first Remington Armory was built in 1848.

The 20th century also saw Remington once again geared up for war. During World War I, Remington produced millions of arms used by a various countries. France used single-shot rolling blocks and Model 1907/15 rifles; England used Pattern 14 rifles; Russia used Model 1891 Mosin-Nagant rifles. Once the United States entered the war in 1917, Remington also made Mark III signal pistols, M1911 pistols, and M1903 rifles. They also produced half of all the ammunition used by the Allies in the entire war.

During World War II, Remington churned out more than one million firearms for the war effort. With a mixture of M1903 rifles, Models 11 and 31 shotguns, Models 81 and 550 semiautomatic rifles, and Model 512 bolt-action rifles, Remington made sure they were doing their part to aid in the war effort. They also did their part in manufacturing ammunition for all those firearms. By the war’s end, Remington had made more than 60 billion rounds of ammunition.

After WWII ended in 1945, Remington would go on to create some of their most iconic firearms in the coming decades.

First forge operated by Remington, as seen in 1945.
First forge operated by Remington, as seen in 1945.

In 1950, they introduced the Model 870 pump-action shotgun. With more than 10 million sold since then, it is by and large the most popular shotgun on the market.

Introduced in 1962, the Model 700 bolt-action rifle has been a mainstay in the hands of hunters in the woods and the Armed Forces in combat. More than five million Model 700s have been made to date and more than 30,000 have been used in combat since Vietnam.

In 1988, the M24 Sniper Rifle was adopted by the Army; it was used for 22 years, up until 2010.

Having been involved in almost every American conflict since the early 19th century and having products in the hands of civilians for the same amount of time, I think it’s unlikely that Eliphalet could have foreseen what the next two centuries would hold as he stood at the family forge in Herkimer County, New York, with his first rifle barrel.

About Logan MeteshLogan Metesh

Logan Metesh is a historian with a focus on firearms history and development. He runs High Caliber History LLC and has more than a decade of experience working for the Smithsonian Institution, the National Park Service, and the NRA Museums. His ability to present history and research in an engaging manner has made him a sought after consultant, writer, and museum professional. The ease with which he can recall obscure historical facts and figures makes him very good at Jeopardy!, but exceptionally bad at geometry.

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Wild Bill

They had no EPA or OSHA, but they did have vision, desire to succeed, and pride in their work. An interesting article.