With a hands-off and gun-friendly attitude, the Treasure State is home to a variety of the firearms industry's biggest players. 

Big Sky Country, also known as Montana, is more than just Yellowstone. However, Gov. Greg Gianforte is making sure the state stays rooted in the same values that made the state what it is today. The state's first Republican governor since 2005, he has already signed a popular permitless carry bill into law along with key protections for gun stores, ranges, or any business that engages in the lawful selling or servicing of firearms, components, or accessories.

"Our Second Amendment-protected right to keep and bear arms is part of Montana’s, and our nation’s, rich heritage," said Gianforte on making the state the 18th in the country to recognize permitless carry. "We have a responsibility to preserve it."

Gov. Greg Gianforte speaking at SHOT show
"We're probably one of the only states in the country – if anybody loves to hunt and fish – to allow large game hunting 11 out of 12 months," Gianforte said while attending SHOT Show in Las Vegas earlier this year. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

While in Congress prior to being elected governor, Gianforte was a co-sponsor of the Hearing Protection Act – a bill to remove suppressors from NFA restrictions – and the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, among other gun rights protections. 

Today, while Gianforte is backing the repeal of needless state regulations and making sure Montana's taxpayer dollars aren't used for activist investing, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) has filed the Firearm Industry Nondiscrimination Act on Capitol Hill. The FIND Act would stop the federal government from entering into contracts with entities that promote anti-2A policies.

"The Constitution is clear – the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, especially not by woke corporations that are taking Montanans’ hard-earned taxpayer dollars," Daines said. "We must send a clear message to these anti-Second Amendment companies that infringing on Americans’ Constitutional rights is unacceptable."  

Meanwhile, Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen has spearheaded a letter joined by 15 other state AGs calling out President Biden’s recent "irresponsible, radical, and unconstitutional statements" in favor of a federal ban on common semi-automatic firearms. Knudsen has also brought together a group of 24 states condemning the move by credit card companies to reclassify firearm and ammunition sales into a special category.

$366 Million Annual Impact

All told, as of 2021 Montana was home to no less than 57 Type 7 FFLs – firearms manufacturers. This includes Noreen Firearms in Belgrade, Defiance Machine in Columbia Falls, Sharps Arms in Big Timber, and Falkor in Kalispell. The state is also home to dozens of top-notch custom rifle makers such as Powder River, Misery Custom, and Fowler Precision. That should come as no surprise as PROOF Research, perhaps the best-known makers of carbon-fiber-wrapped barrels, is in Columbia Falls. Importantly, PROOF makes the only carbon-fiber barrel in use by the U.S. military: the M230 30mm chain gun on the Apache gunship. 

When it comes to ammo makers, Montana is home to Choice Ammunition in Victor and HSM in Stevensville.  

Such companies across the state, counted with hundreds of retail locations that sell firearms, ammunition, and hunting equipment, employed as many as 1,247 people in Montana in 2021, as estimated by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Further, those endeavors generate an additional 1,207 jobs for their suppliers and related industries. This translates to a steady $366-million-per-year economic impact on the state.

Chart: NSSF, 2021 figures.

"Montana has made no secret of the respect the state holds for Second Amendment rights and the firearm industry," Mark Oliva, public affairs director for the NSSF, told Guns.com. "Governor Greg Gianforte’s attendance at this year’s SHOT Show highlighted the importance Montana places on this industry and the jobs it brings. Senator Steve Daines introduced the Firearm Industry Nondiscrimination (FIND) Act in the U.S. Senate to end corporate discrimination against the firearm industry and defending sportsmen and women from traditional ammunition restrictions. 

"Attorney General Austin Knudsen has been on the forefront leading other state attorneys general in pushing back on onerous and unconstitutional government overreach on Second Amendment rights by the Biden administration. The state legislature is currently considering legislation that would end the ability of corporate entities, including large banks, from discriminating against the firearm industry while benefiting from taxpayer-funded contracts. This is a state, from top-to-bottom, that is fully invested in responsible firearms ownership and growing our industry," said Oliva. 

Banner image: Impulse Mountain Hunter from Savage Arms, using a PROOF barrel from Montana. (Photo: PROOF)

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