Sunday, November 07, 2010

Visiting The Ruger Factory in Prescott, AZ.

The Ruger factory in Prescott, Arizona is the source of manufacture for all of the Ruger semi-Auto pistols, excluding the Ruger charger, which is based the Ruger 10/22 rifle. The Prescott facility is also where a lot of Ruger product development and design takes place, so KeeWee and I had to sign a form that we promised not to let any cats out of the bag, so to speak. We also were very careful to ask first before taking any pictures. When I asked if I could go over and look in a particular machine, I was politely told No! Needless to say, we saw neither cats nor bags, so to speak! Do they have some new things in the development process? Yes. Do I have any idea what it (they) might be from our tour? Nope. Whatever it is, I'm pretty sure it will be one, cool, and two, I'll want one!

When we pulled into the parking lot in front of the Ruger plant, two things instantly caught our eye. First, the American flag and the Ruger flag flying proudly in front of the factory. 

"An Honest Day's Work" by Fred Fellows
 The second thing you notice is the life size bronze statue of a cowboy on a bucking horse. The bronze plaque in front of the statue says it all:

"In the vast reaches of the American West, the work ethic still exists. The man who makes his living on horses that are bound to buck earns his pay. A good hand is loyal to his outfit, meets a challenge, and takes pride in an honest day's work."

Our "Tour Guide" was Jim Elliott, the plant manager. Jim is not only the plant manager, he is also a journeyman tool and die maker and a Cowboy Action Shooter.

Jim Elliott and one of the Ruger machinists in front of one of their machines. It was the day before Halloween. Can you tell?
The Ruger factory is very efficient, and the parts move quickly  from one machine to the next, and on down the line, with little or no time wasted in between.The section of the factory manufacturing the Ruger .380 LCP has a sign hanging over it calling it "LCP Alley".

The machine starts with a chunk of shaft, and ends up with the LCP barrel!

Ruger LCP Slides, almost complete.
As I mentioned, there were a lot of times that I refrained from taking pictures, and I've mostly confined the few I did take to small and specific details, rather than wide angle shots of their manufacturing lines. As I mentioned to Jim, though, being the machine junkie I am, if I lived in Prescott I'd probably pay Ruger just to work there so I could play with all of the neat machines!

How many times have you heard that when you buy a new gun you need to fully strip it, clean it, degrease it, re-lube it, and then put it back together before heading out to the range? No so with the Ruger Semi-autos. There is no shipping grease, assembly oil,  cosmoline, or anything like that used when they are assembled. They are lubed at the factory with the right stuff, and you don't need to clean them until you get them dirty!

Someone on the Internet (sadly, a Gun Blogger) stripped and cleaned a brand new Ruger pistol, and then failed to properly re-lube it before assembly. He had degreased it pretty well, and the dry metal on metal now produced a poor trigger feel. (DUH!) He then complained about what a poor trigger the Ruger had. I'll bet with a bit of the right lube it smoothed right out. As gun bloggers we have a responsibility to make sure our reviews are as accurate as possible, and to clearly separate personal preferences from actual deficiencies. There are a lot of readers that look to us for our opinion, and we owe it to our readers to be as accurate and unbiased as possible.

I did take a couple of pictures of their trigger pull gauge machine.The machine actually plots the trigger pull on the screen of a laptop computer. It looks to me like it even shows how smooth and linear the pull happens to be. I want one!

Trigger Pull machine.

The Trigger Pull graph.

After the pistols are assembled and checked, they go into the test area where they are test fired. We donned hearing protectors and entered the area to watch the testing. I watched as the tester would slip a full magazine into the LCP and then rapid fire the gun until empty. Do they baby them? Nope! The also have a "Brass Catcher" so they can collect one round of brass, put it in an envelope, and ship it with the new pistol. The casing comes out of the pistol, into the brass catcher, and slides out the bottom chute into a waiting envelope.

It seemed like we had just started out tour, and suddenly it was lunch time. As we were walking back to the front of the plant and to the reception area, a number of thoughts crossed my mind. I think I can sum it up in two words, Pride, and Quality. The folks out in the plant, in the front office, and everywhere in between definitely gave you the impression that they were proud to be part of an American company building American firearms, and building them to be the best they can be.

With out a doubt, the Ruger facility in Prescott, Arizona is one of the things that's still right about America!

Here's KeeWee's post on the Ruger facility

Disclaimer: KeeWee and I were not hired or paid to write this post. I call 'em like I see 'em, and I was impressed.



At Monday, November 08, 2010 9:13:00 PM, Blogger David aka True Blue Sam said...

This was a really big deal, and we all owe a big Thanks to Ruger for letting us have a peak. With EJ working in manufacturing, we have been thoroughly schooled in the need for secrecy and security in factories. What a rare treat!

At Monday, January 24, 2011 9:57:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I want to go!

At Wednesday, October 05, 2011 11:49:00 AM, Blogger shtfgear said...

Did you have to ask permission before you showed up to the facility? Im visiting prescott and would love to tour the facilities...

At Wednesday, October 05, 2011 12:01:00 PM, Blogger Mr. Completely said...

The Prescott facility is not open to visits by the general public, generally speaking. You might write then in advance and ask, but they aren't really set up for tours, and being as they are also the Semi-auto handgun R&D facility,they often have stuff they don't want seen until it's ready to be announced. It never hurts to ask, though....

Mr. C.

At Tuesday, February 19, 2013 10:33:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I purchase the SR22, very nice. Just what I needed.
I notice the address is Prescott, AZ. Small world, I have family thats been their for over 20 years, would like to see the faclity, next time I am in town.
Thank you for made in the USA.

At Monday, April 13, 2015 8:29:00 AM, Anonymous Jim Jakosh said...

That's too bad it is not open for public tours. I'd really like to visit because I like their American made products and we live in Casa Grande, Az in the winter.

Jim Jakosh, Grand Rapids, Mi

At Thursday, December 17, 2015 3:46:00 PM, Anonymous Russ lowe said...

I,m a 74 year old retired machinist and would give my left nut to work for Ruger if I was young again , Russ lowe

At Friday, January 22, 2016 11:53:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Had no idea this factory was in Prescott until I had an antelope hunt there last year. We actually cut through the employee parking lot to get to an area we were hunting...and one of the bucks we saw several times became known as the Ruger buck. Nice write-up!


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