Colt halts production of civilian rifles

M4 Colt rifle are produced at the Colt Defense Plant in Hartford, Conn., Thursday, March 27, 2008. No weapon is more important to tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan than the carbine rifle. And for well over a decade, the military has relied on one company, Colt Defense of Hartford, Conn., to make the M4s they trust with their lives. (AP Photo/Richard Lardner)

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — Gunmaker Colt says it is stopping production of rifles for the civilian market.

Colt’s chief executive officer, Dennis Veilleux, says it is not permanently ending production but believes there is already an adequate supply of sporting rifles on the market. He said in a statement Thursday the company will concentrate on fulfilling military and law enforcement contracts with its rifle manufacturing.

The West Hartford, Connecticut-based company has received some criticism from gun rights advocates for moving away from the civilian market.

Veilleux said in the statement that some news reports “have incorrectly stated or implied that Colt is not committed to the consumer market. We want to assure you that Colt is committed to the Second Amendment, highly values its customers and continues to manufacture the world’s finest quality firearms for the consumer market.”

“The fact of the matter is that over the last few years, the market for modern sporting rifles has experienced significant excess manufacturing capacity,” said Veilleux. “Given this level of manufacturing capacity, we believe there is adequate supply for modern sporting rifles for the foreseeable future.”

A Colt .45 semi-automatic pistol with “United States Property” stamped into it on Oct. 2, 2014, in Cokeville, Wyo.  (AP Photo/George Frey)

Colt also has high-volume government contracts that Villeux said “are absorbing all of Colt’s manufacturing capacity for rifles.” The company is also continuing to supply it nationwide dealer network with expanding lines of handguns, including the popular 1911-style and revolvers.

“At the end of the day, we believe it is good sense to follow consumer demand and to adjust as market dynamics change,” said Villeux.

At the time of this article, only Colt’s XM177E2 Retro Carbine was in stock on the company’s web site. All other rifles, including variants of the AR-15 and M4 were listed as out of stock.