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SI takes a look at: Armscorp of America.

SI Takes A Look At:

You're going to be hearing a lot more about Armscorp of America, Inc. The Maryland-based firearms combine is not only the producer of the popular civilian version of the historic M14 service rifle but its president Jack Friese has formally announced it is now the sole U.S. distributor for S.A.B./Renato Gamba - those Italian craftsmen who today continue to create some of the world's finest over/under and side-by-side shotguns in a variety of configurations.

Basically, Armscorp of America remains an import operation, albeit a quality one. Headquartered in the suburbs of Baltimore, and overseen by the amiable Jack Friese, Armscorp has available to retailers any number of quality firearms as well as ammunition that can be purchased on a direct-to-dealer basis. In other words, no distributors or jobbers are involved. You can purchase Armscorp merchandise from its Maryland warehouse/manufacturing plant at intriguing prices.

Armscorp is a relative newcomer to the sport shooting world yet it has the expertise and wherewithal of any old-line combine. It actually had its inception just eight years ago and was then based at Silver Springs, Maryland. However, Friese moved the operation to the outskirts of Baltimore only last year primarily to be closer to more convenient transportation modes and skilled machinists.

Armscorp boasts a complete machine shop and manufacturing facility and since its inception has manufactured semi-automatic M14 receivers as well as assembled M14s in National Match and Service grades. In addition, its custom shop can add scopes, hone triggers and perform any number of other "accuracy" operations on its M14s to suit the individual requirements and demands of your customers.

The arms combine also has the capability of producing quality FAL (LSR) competition-quality rifles as well, although we're all well aware of the nationwide hysteria to ban the possession of such arms. Yet according to Jim Murray, Armscorp's vice president of marketing, "we are fully capable of manufacturing top quality FAL (LSR) receivers and can assemble FALs in both inch and metric models."

Murray added, however, that today Armscorp has a hold on future production of FAL arms and receivers until current anti-firearms legislation is ultimately resolved. "It is a sad day that our legislators have taken such a tack when it comes to firearms," Murray related. "What personally irks me is when the news media speaks of assault rifles it lumps all such arms including semi-automatic arms in the very same category. Actually the true definition of a so-called assault rifle is one which is capable of sustained full automatic fire. Our FALs are semi-automatic and can only be fired by pressing the trigger for each shot.

"Yet the news media continues to place such 'look-a-likes" (FALs) in the same category as fully automatic arms - nothing can be farther from the truth. Remember, all arms capable of full automatic fire (machineguns) must be purchased through a Class III dealer and licensed by the BATF. Also, no full-auto weapon with a receiver manufactured after may 19, 1986, can be sold to the general public. Further no semi-automatic rifle can be legally converted to full-auto fire," Murray pointed out.

Nevertheless, Armscorp continues to operate its machine shop on a three-shift, 24-hour, seven-day a week basis purely to meet the on-going demand for its M14 receivers and assembled M14s.

In the competitive-shooting world the Armscorp M14 is judged the best in its class. It features forged metal parts and an investment cast grade receiver and its National Match version is wholly capable of producing one-ince groups with consistency at 100 yards. It further boasts a full one-year warranty.

Hugh Palmer, DCM special projects coordinator and formerly the DCM coordinator for the PR&PA, field-tested Armscorp's M14 and according to him a sample picked at random from the production line passed all pre-firing functional tests without problems and that there were no malfunctions when actually shooting the service grade model on the range with M80 and M118 ammunition.

Palmer actually had this to say of the actual test firing of the M14. "The results with M80 ball are superior to the average groups fired for new M14 rifles tested during government production and procurement, and are equal to those obtained by TRW-produced rifles which were considered by many experts to be the best of the M14s. In short, this is good accuracy for a service grade rifle with service grade ammunition."

"The groups fired with M118 match ammo easily surpassed the two-minute-of-angle level which is generally regarded as the upper limit of match accuracy. Although this rifle did not meet the accuracy criteria of 1.5 minute used by the Pennsylvania Rifle & Pistol Association, its performance with M118 readily exceeded that of the Springfield Armory National Match (3.26 inches) and Super Match (1.82 inches) MIA rifles we tested previously. Although this is a service grade weapon, its accuracy level is sufficient for competitive use by all classes of shooters up to and including expert," Palmer stated.

Remember, Palmer was talking about the service grade M14 as assembled by Armscorp. On the other hand, Armscorp also has available National Match Grade M14s which are built to A.M.T.U. military specifications and again, Jack Friese tells us these National Match versions will indeed maintain minute-of-angle accuracy. Also keep in mind these M14s can be further customized at Armscorp to suit the individual demands of the consumer.

Armscorp further imports a number of arms from Argentina including its intriguing "look-a-like" of the time-honored Colt Woodsman. Its P22 is available in .22 caliber only with a choice of either a four or six inch barrel. They also inventory an Argentine semi-automatic .22 caliber rifle (its `Expert' Model) which features a free-floating, hammer-forged barrel, a stock of hand-polished hardwood and a one-screw disassembly for ready maintenance. It has a 10 round box magazine and it is an ideal all-around plinking arm, precision-made and reasonably priced.

The arms combine further imports several 9mm handguns known as its Hi Power Line. "Armscorp's experience with security and defense forces in the U.S. and abroad puts us in a particularly intelligent position to make this remarkable weapon," said Friese. "Meeting NATO's strictest military specifications, the Armscorp 9x19mm semi-automatic Hi Power performs with unexcelled reliability and accuracy, leading more than 60 countries to adopt it as their standard military pistol.

Friese further remarked that he has available .308 Match Grade Ball ammunition plus 9mm Ball ammunition, loaded in Argentina, and available to dealers at exciting prices.

However, the most exciting story to come from Armscorp is the announcement that it has become the sole U.S. distributor for a line of shotguns and handguns from the Italian craftsmen of S.A.B. Renato Gamba. The shotguns in question are true quality arms and range in price (retail) from $1,900 to $25,000. Gamba is in fact three manufacturers, Zanotti, Fratelli Gamba (Gamba Brothers), and Renato Gamba, recently united into one single entity. Today this fine Italian firearms combine is known as Societa Armi Bresciane (Association of Arms of Brescia), or S.A.B./Gamba.

Actually, the Gamba line of scatterguns includes such over/unders as "The Best" model plus the "Grifone Super," "Europa 2000" and the "Victory" as well as such side-by-side doubles as the "Principessa," "Oxford 90," "London," "Ambassador Gold and Black," and the "Ambassador Executive." All the side-by-side models feature a three bite double Purdy locking system and locking bolts on lugs as well as an exciting sidelock modification of the Holland system.

As a result of the merge, S.A.B./Gamba is able to produce both field and competition weapons, of various grades, prices and characteristics, while maintaining the highest standards of quality. Noteworthy are the Montreal and SL88 models, which among other outstanding features, have removable trigger groups. Also scheduled for delivery to Armscorp from Gamba will be G90 and G91 semi-automatic 9mm pistols, which are exact copies of the Czechoslovakia CZ-75 design. The G90 is the standard size, with a 15-round capacity, while the G91 is the compact with a 12-round capacity. Each model comes in a service version with fixed sights and a hammer-drop safety, or a competition version with adjustable sights and capable of being carried "cocked and locked" or hammer down with the first shot being double-action - shooter's choice.

The Zanotti 1625s, on the other hand, are exceptionally well constructed shotguns of pure majestic quality. All models of the Zanotti shotguns are side-by-side doubles and embellished in accord to the fancy and pocketbook of the purchaser. They are costly, there is no question. Yet for the sportsman seeking the ultimate in a quality side-by-side then the Zanotti is truly worth closer scrutiny.

"Here at Armscorp we wish to become truly innovative," interjected Jim Murray, "and we're open to suggestions. Keep in mind no one today really knows exactly where the firearms industry will be going in the future in light of the continued hysteria concerning firearms, all firearms that is."

"However, at this time we are importing as many Zanotti/Gamba shotguns as we can obtain from this old line Italian gunmaker and we will make such arms available to the firearms retailer on a direct basis (not through distributors). We will also emphasize our line of Argentine handguns and will continue to meet the demand for receivers and assembled M14 rifles," he added.

"We also plan to add more manufacturing and warehouse space at our Baltimore headquarters and even hope to construct an indoor rifle/handgun range on site. Finally, we have plans to begin assembling our imported Hi Power line of handguns at our Baltimore plant," Murray concluded.

Incidentally, Murray is an experienced retailer and handgunner. He managed the Valley Gun Shop for 14 years in Baltimore and is a competitive combat pistol shooter.

Retailers interested in additional information concerning the products offered by Armscorp should contact them in the following manner: For the Gamba line of Italian firearms, write to Tony Davilla, Director of Sales. For the M14, Argentine handguns and rifles or the M14 semi-automatic receivers write: Jim Murray, Vice President, Marketing Division. Armscorp of America, Inc., (Dept. SI), 4424 John Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland 21227 (301)247-6200).

PHOTO : "The Expert" is Armscorp Argentinean 10-shot .22 rifle.

PHOTO : An Armscorp machinist installs unfinished M14 receivers in a positioning jig of a CNC mill for additional machining.

PHOTO : M14 receivers are checked to ensure the trigger groups will fit easily.

PHOTO : An Armscorp technician checks the headspace after fitting the M14's barrel.
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Title Annotation:firearms manufacturer
Author:Brant, Howard
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:company profile
Date:Dec 1, 1989
Previous Article:SI Profile: Beretta U.S.A.
Next Article:The story behind Winchester's Supreme effort.

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