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 Firearms International, Inc. Where???
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RancheroPaul
Senior Member

USA
1625 Posts

Posted - 06/27/2003 :  5:01:29 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Quite a few years ago, (More than I would like to mention here), This company called "Firearms International, Inc., from Washington, D.C.," was responsible for the import of many different Brands of guns. Among these were the FN Mauser, Sako, Husqvarna, and several more too numerous to mention. Can anyone give me any History on this Company?

Anyone know when they went out of business? Anything would be appreciated! Thanks in advance!

"Life is FRAGILE!" Handle With Care!

drobs
Advanced Member

USA
20167 Posts

Posted - 06/27/2003 :  5:21:53 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This is kinda confusing but check out:
http://store.bluebookinc.com/downloads/BrowseCategory.asp?Product=firearms&Heading=340

Looks like they were the importer for IAI.

Here's a strange one for ya:
http://www.highstandard.com/main.html


Regards,


Edited by - drobs on 06/27/2003 5:26:15 PM
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mark christian
Administrator

Panama
18965 Posts

Posted - 06/27/2003 :  6:22:49 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Paul, don't confuse the current Firearms International in Houston, Texas with you company as that company has no ties or history to the earlier Firearms International which was located at 515 Kerby Hill Rd., Washington DC 20022. What I am going to tell you now is thought throughout the firearms industry to be true, although there was and will never be anyone who will document this as fact. The Firearms International firm was begun in around 1952 as a front for the CIA to obtain and ship, through supposed commercial sales channels, surplus firearms to allies of the United States during the Cold War. One of the major buyers for this new company was a then little known arms expert for the CIA's Office of Sceintific Intelligence named Sam Cummings. Allan Dulles, then CIA director, gave Cummings the assignment to travel around Europe as a buyer for Firearms International and purchase huge quantities of WWII suplus firearms and equipment, ostensibly to be used in Hollywood war movies! The results were impressive to say the least; Cummings was able to purchase surplus military arms buy the TON and millions of rounds of ammunition. In reality nearly all of this equipment was going to Nationalist China, South East Asia, the Middle East (I'll let you guess what tiny country we were supplying) and later to the Bay of Pigs fiasco. The CIA divested itself from Firearms International in 1962 after the Bay of Pigs when it became pretty clear to everyone (including Congress) exactly what was going on. Cummings himself went on to start INTERARMCO and later Interarms and the rest is firearms history. This came from my old boss who knew (and STRONGLY disliked) Cummings from the old days as well as other information I have obtained from people "in the know". Take it with a grain of salt, but I believe it. the rest of the Firearms International story is far more conventional.

During the 1960's Firearms International were the official importers for such firearms as Rossi, Taurus, Star, Astra, and SAKO. They also imported a fabulous 12ga brrech loading saluting cannon which they retailed for $7.95. The little company did a good business but when the Gun Control Act of 1968 hit they fell on hard times. In 1969 the Garcia Corperation purchased Firearms International outright and set up a small factory in Accokeek, Maryland (ever heard of the place?). The idea was to manufacturer in the United States handguns which could no longer be imported due to the GCA-68 "sporting purpose" test. Garcia kept the Firearms International's name on certian handguns, but most of their lines carried the Garcia stamp. These included Beretta, SAKO, FN, Musketeer, Unique, and some other Spanish shotguns and an interesting pistol called the Gaucho. This was a Spanish copy of the Colt Woddsman which looked so real that Garcia was forced to discontinue it under threat of legal action. All and all Garcia had a very wide selection of firearms, including many I did not bother to mention. later the Firearms International name was discontinued by Garcia completely...but the story does not end here.

In late 1978 Berreta's import agreement with Garcia was going to expire and Beretta was interested in entering the US market under its own name. They were also interested in producing pistols like the Model 950, Model 20 and Model 21 in the United States to avoid the restrictions of the GCA-68, none of those models had been available for sale for a decade and there was a continuing demand in the USA for small pocket automatics and Beretta wanted a slice of that pie very badly. A deal was struck and they purchased the old FI/Garcia factory in Accokeek, Maryland. They used this small factory as a basis for their entry into the trails for a new 9mm service pistol for the United States in the early 80's, the requirement being that the pistol selected must be assembled in the USA after a certain point in the contract. So there you are Paul, Firearms International is really behind the adoption of the Beretta M9 serive pistol, I'll bet you never knew that. I hope you found something in here useful.





Mark T. Christian
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RancheroPaul
Senior Member

USA
1625 Posts

Posted - 06/27/2003 :  6:46:21 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for the info, Mark! As usual, you did good. The name, "Firearms International, Inc." certainly has made the rounds! I have been trying to locate the "Original" owner(s) for possible information for the Book, but have had no luck........and your story pretty much answers why. I had heard an almost verbatim account of what you relate here, before. I believe most of this is probably very close to the truth if not the exact truth! Too many folks are aware of this obscure Government involvement. It also would explain the absence of a lot of "public information" that is normally available, which is non-existent for this company. Most folks at this point in time, could care less about any company from the late 50's and early 60's. Oh well, way too many years have passed now to make it matter to anyone except some idiot like me trying to find a few more facts for my research. They did play a major role in those days, as I will relate. Thanks again!

P.S. Drobs......Thanks also, for those two links! They add to my knowledge also. Appreciate that much!

"Life is FRAGILE!" Handle With Care!

Edited by - RancheroPaul on 06/27/2003 6:50:19 PM
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outdoortexas
Advanced Member

USA
4556 Posts

Posted - 06/28/2003 :  09:10:00 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
One of the guns that Mark didn't mention is the FI swing bbl 22's.
Doubt they are of any interest to you Paul, but pretty neat little guns. I collect them and have a variety including a Garcia, they also made a 22 mag, a 410, and of course the 22/410.

There was a story on them a while back in Shotgun News and I'll send you a copy if you need it.
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RancheroPaul
Senior Member

USA
1625 Posts

Posted - 06/28/2003 :  10:50:05 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Outdoortexas:
Actually, Firearms International, Inc., of the late 50's and early 60's, had a hand somehow or another with almost every gun that was manufactured anywhere outside the U. S., if they were imported here. I am not as much concerned with the different guns as I am with their Operation and the role they played in providing guns and parts, and to whom. The most interesting thing to me is that while they would supply parts and guns to Distributors and Manufacturers, they also "ran competition" with those same folks and sold "Retail" to anyone with the money and a Post Office box they could send the gun to.

Mark's post above describing the story of the Government's role in this company gives a lot of insight as to the "purchasing power" this company had and the ability to "corner the market" on some items. My interest is along the lines of "what did they really do" in providing guns and parts to Distributors, Manufacturers, and even End Users; shooters such as you and me. It would be an understatement to describe them anyway except as a "Giant" of the times from the information I have obtained. Thanks for you imput. It shows another example of a gun they "cornered the market" with!

"Life is FRAGILE!" Handle With Care!
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