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Montana Rifle Company in Creston closes

by Daily Inter Lake
| March 29, 2020 1:00 AM

Montana Rifle Company recently announced the immediate closure of the Creston-based firearms manufacturer.

The company was founded nearly 25 years ago by Brian Sipe and was purchased by Montana Outdoor Group in early 2019.

Representatives from the company cited low production levels and outdated equipment as the reason for the closure.

“While sales of our popular calibers have been outstanding, production levels have not risen to a profitable level to continue without additional investments,” Chief Executive Officer Calvin Bontrager said in a press release. “New equipment would be required to reach a service level demanded by our dealers and conservation groups.”

A company representative elaborated in an email to the Daily Inter Lake, stating the “main reason” for suspending operations was that “while sales were at a record level and [there were] many new offerings, production levels never reached demand levels. This was primarily due to older equipment and [a] lack of funds to purchase new machinery.”

In January, then-CEO Ron Petty said “our production capability is up quite a bit. It was a great year this past year.”

Montana Rifle produced custom-action rifles and the Model 1999 was one of its most popular products.

The press release added the decision to close came down “pending fiscal restructuring.

“We are looking at opportunities that could see Montana Rifle re-opening and ask people to monitor our website for any forthcoming updates,” a representative told the Inter Lake.

There were 22 employees working at the Creston manufacturer at the time of the closure, following some layoffs earlier in the year.

“Most of our employees were able to find employment at other manufacturers in the Flathead area,” a company spokesman said.