john hinkley jr

The "Ring of Fire" companies

Here’s how the same terrible gun got sold under so many names.

Strap in, this gets weird.

In 1968, Röhm sold cheap, crappy revolvers. They sold so many that the Gun Control Act 1968 banned them, largely because people were scared of the poor having firearms, partly because they were bad firearms, but mostly because John Hinkley Jr had one.

Enter George Jennings. In 1970 he designed a cheap firearm, so cheap it used a cheap zinc alloy for its frame, because a friend who sold Röhms now had no inventory. Raven Arms was founded in 1970 to sell them, and their MP-25 was the original “Saturday night special”. It was cheap, dangerous (the safety sometimes discharged a round when you deactivated it), and they sold loads of them.

In 1978, George’s son, Bruce, decides he wants to go into the family trade. He starts Jennings Firearms, and makes the J-22, which is basically the reason for drop safety testing standards. Jennings was renamed to Bryco, then went bankrupt in 2003 because of lawsuits.

In 1982, the office manager of Bryco sets up shop as Davis Industries to sell cheap zinc guns out of pawn shops, then got sued into oblivion in 1999.

Around this time, the ATF calls all these companies the “Ring of Fire”, because they’re all located within a 100 mile circle of Los Angeles.

In 1989, a high school friend of Bruce licenses his designs and starts Lorcin Engineering. In 1993 they were the largest selling handguns in America. Lawsuits bankrupted Lorcin in 1996. In 1997 the started again, then lawsuits put them down for good in 1998. Some of their people went to Nevada, started Standard Arms, and renamed the Lorcin L-9 to the SA-9.

Also in 1989, George’s nephew starts Sundance Industries, making the same firearms as everyone else. They closed in 2002.

In 1991, a fire destroyed the Raven factory. George sold his designs to Phoenix Arms, a company run by his ex-wife, children, grandchildren, and old general manager. Phoenix still produce the MP-25 today.

In 2003, the former Bryco factory foreman buys the designs and tooling from the shell of Bryco, and sets up shop as Jimenez Arms. Jimenez took the terribad J-22, and made it in a bunch of other calibers.In 2006, their guns failed the safety tests for guns made in California, so they boxed up the factory and moved it to Nevada.

Arcadia Machine & Tool is the only “Ring of Fire” company not directly involved in this zinc-alloy soap opera. They made bad firearms out of stainless steel, and were bankrupted by quality control and a patent infringement case from Ruger.