Connecticut gun manufacturer may be eyeing move to New Hampshire

The Granite State is one of three finalists for the firearms plant

PTR Industries, a manufacturer of semiautomatic rifles that says it is leaving Connecticut in protest of that state’s new tough gun control laws, might be heading to New Hampshire.

The Granite State is one of the three finalists, along with Texas and South Carolina, according to Josh Fiorini, PTR’s CEO, as reported by the Republican American, a newspaper in Waterbury, Conn.

NHBR was not able to get more details about the selection from the company by deadline. According to the PTR website, more than half of the Bristol plant’s 40 employees – including all of its engineering staff and skilled gunsmiths – have accepted the company’s offer to relocate them to the location it chooses.

New Hampshire officials confirmed that they had approached the company about relocating here.

Representatives of the state Division of Economic Development have had conversations with PTR, “and we hope to have more of them,” said Christopher Way, interim director of the agency.

Way would not give details of the discussions, except to say that the agency emphasized New Hampshire’s tax and business climate background, and stayed away from discussions about gun control politics.

JLD Enterprises conceived PTR (which stands for Precision Target Rifle) in 2002 as a “clone” of the HK-91 semiautomatic rifle made by Heckler and Koch, which was outlawed in the assault weapons ban enacted in 1994 and that expired in 2004.

JLD purchased the prints and tooling from an HK-approved plant in Portugal, and by making a few cosmetic changes created the PTR-91.

After 2005, JLD branched out to manufacture firearms from imported military surplus. The company also now makes most of its own parts.

Sales have been so brisk that it has had trouble keeping up with demand. According to the Republican American, the company had received 56,000 orders for guns ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 each and only produced 6,000, leaving a substantial backlog.

It’s not clear when PTR would make its move. In an April statement, the company said it would be “actively considering offers from states friendly to the industry” and that it had hoped to complete the move by the end of the year.

New Hampshire might be considered friendly to the gun industry, having few firearm restrictions. The state is already home to two firearms manufacturers – a Sturm Ruger plant in Newport and SIG Sauer on the Seacoast.

Ruger, a public company that is itself headquartered in Connecticut, has also been a strong opponent of gun control legislation. However, Ruger has said that it had no plans to leave Connecticut and would rather “stay and fight.” The company also said it planned to expand, but made it clear it was looking to do so in another state, not New Hampshire nor Arizona, the home of its other facility.

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