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50 Years Of Bushmaster Firearms

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Founded in 1973, Bushmaster Firearms is celebrating a half-century in business this year. Over the course of five decades, the company’s product lineup has evolved dramatically, from the Arm Pistol of its early years (bottom) to the cutting-edge Bravo Zulu rifle (top) introduced in 2023 as an updated AR-15 for the American market.

Initially located in Bangor, Maine, Bushmaster was the successor company of Gwinn Arms, founded by Mack Gwinn, Jr., a Vietnam War veteran. In its earliest years, the company focused on commercializing what was then a prototype for an Air Force aircrew survival arm, the IMP-221, which had initially been developed by Colt. The design combined aspects of the AR-15 with features more typically associated with the AK-47, like a long-stroke gas-piston operating system. In its civilian guise, this would be produced as the Bushmaster Arm Pistol, chambered in 5.56 NATO.

Production of the Arm Pistol continued into the late 1980s, but, by the early ’90s, the company had transitioned to the production of the M17S, a bullpup rifle initially designed as a prototype for the Australian military. Chambered in 5.56 NATO, the M17S used an operating system similar to that of the ArmaLite AR-18 and was sold throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.

In 2006, Bushmaster was sold to Cerberus Capital Management, which eventually became part of Freedom Group, joining sister companies Remington Arms, Marlin Firearms, Advanced Armament Corp. and more. In 2020, following the dissolution of Remington Outdoor Co., formerly Freedom Group, Crotalus Holdings purchased the brand, which is now headquartered in Carson City, Nev. Recently, Bushmaster refreshed its product line and now offers an assortment of AR-15 rifles chambered for today’s popular hunting and sporting cartridges. For more information, visit bushmaster.com.



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