Bushmaster, DPMS, Panther Arms Black Rifle Brands Revived
A host of popular AR brands from the early days of black rifles are rebounding after being allowed to sunset in early 2020.
In recent weeks, there have been rumblings of Bushmaster and DPMS/Panther Arms returning to the consumer firearms market with a new focus after ownership changes. The brands had all been acquired by Cerberus Capital in the early 2000s then, via the Freedom Group, moved under the Remington Outdoor Company umbrella. However, as ROC prepped for what ended up as a company-ending federal bankruptcy filing last year, "Big Green" quietly closed its AR lines to make it potentially more attractive to buyers outside of the gun industry, such as a failed round of pre-bankruptcy negotiations with the Navajo Nation.
Now, it seems the old names are once again headed for new production.
As previously reported by Guns.com, Bushmaster has restarted its social media account after a long hiatus and is teasing new models. Purchased out of hock by Nevada-based Franklin Armory, the new Bushmaster announced this week it is a standalone operation and is not an affiliate of any other firearms manufacturing companies.
“Bushmaster Firearms is proud to be focusing on quality, American-made manufacturing, driven by a long history that Bushmaster has accompanied," said the company's CEO, Sun Naegel. "We will be using innovating and improved engineering, advanced materials, as well as the latest technology."
The initial offerings from today's Bushmaster included variants of the XM15-E2S model such as the Optics Ready Carbine, Quick Response Carbine, and M4 Patrolman. Notably, several models will include Franklin Armory's Binary Firing System III trigger systems as standard.
Also making a comeback is the Adaptive Combat Rifle, or ACR, with the company saying, "In the future, we look forward to producing the ACR and models chambered in 450 Bushmaster."
Founded originally in Maine back in 1978, Bushmaster was in the first generation of black rifle makers, delivering the lightweight Carbon-15, the .50-cal BA50, the M17S Bullpup rifle, the XM-10, the XM-15 rifle, and others to the consumer market. Acquired in 2006 by the same holding company that owned Remington Outdoors, the company shifted operations and moved to North Carolina, suffering a reputational decline as ROC allowed its modern sporting rifle lines to decay in the lead up to the troubled company's federal bankruptcy filing last year.
Formed originally in Minnesota as Defense Procurement Manufacturing Services, DPMS started making rifles in 1986. Besides AR-15s, it brought some of the first practical AR-10-style guns to the market and popularized their use. Its Panther Arms subsidiary, which concentrated at first on making DCM-style competition and hunting ARs, launched in 1998. The operation was purchased by Cerberus in 2007 then folded into Remington Outdoors and eventually moved production to Huntsville, Alabama, which Guns.com toured in 2017.
In February 2020, the brand's long-running website started redirecting to Remington proper. The previous December, the company posted an outrageous Black Friday Sale, with everything half off. By mid-2020, huge lots of DPMS/Panther spare parts started showing up in the mailers for firearms liquidator CDNN. At about the same time, it was reported that JJE Capital, which owns Palmetto State Armory, purchased the DPMS, Storm Lake barrels, AAC suppressors, and H&R brands at ROC's bankruptcy auction for $1.9 million. This tracks as the current holder of the DPMS/Panther Arms trademark are listed as JJE.
While the old DPMS Facebook page hasn't had a new post since December 2019, the company's website is no longer a deadlink back to ROC but is listed as "Coming Soon." Further, Tactical Gear Distributors announced through an industry bulletin board last week that they are "now stocking DPMS Panther Arms products, including firearms, upper and lower receivers, in addition to gun accessories," for distribution to FFLs, going on to describe DPMS as based in Columbia, South Carolina. Of note, Columbia is also the home of PSA and JJE.
Either way, color us unsurprised should we find Bushmaster and DPMS/Panther booths at upcoming trade shows.