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Petzal: Dakota Arms is Back from the Brink

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October 26, 2009

Petzal: Dakota Arms is Back from the Brink

By David E. Petzal

In 1987, Don Allen a retired airline pilot from Sturgis, South Dakota, and his wife Norma, founded Dakota Arms, a company that produced high-grade hunting rifles based on a design worked up by him and ace metal man Pete Grisel. The Dakota Model 76, the company’s basic model, was an immediate success, and was soon joined by other variations.

In 2003 Don Allen died, and not long thereafter Norma sold the company. The new owner brought other lines under the Dakota roof: Miller Arms (single-shot rifles), Dan Walter (aluminum cases) and Nesika Bay Precision (rifles and actions). But for whatever reasons it all went wrong, and this past summer Dakota was about a week away from closing its doors forever.

Enter Remington Arms, which bought the enterprise and is now engaged in bringing Dakota back. The man in charge of this is Carlos Martinez who, a year ago, was given control of the Remington Custom Shop and told to breathe new life into it. He did, in spades, but now he has a more difficult job.

Dakota has always built beautiful rifles (even the plain ones) but from my own experience, which is pretty extensive, they have been plagued with quality-control problems and have not been as accurate they should be.

We will see what Mr. Martinez can do. In the meanwhile, Dakota is on sound financial footing once again. If you have a rifle on order you will get it. If you want to order one, you will get it. I wish them well. Don Allen was one of the all-time nice guys in the business, and his creation is worth keeping alive.

Comments (20)

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from bluecollarkid wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

Of course, Remington Arms is owned by Cerberus Capital who will be launching a new IPO in the firearms market for a company called Freedom Group Inc. There's a lot of consolidation going on in the ammunition and firearms manufacturing market right now. Both a good and a bad thing I suppose.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

I am not a "fan" of LLC buyouts these days, but if it keeps Americans employed more power to them!
Firearms production must be kept alive here in our country either way, and I hope they can turn around the Dakota Co.-Thanks for update DP

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from sgaredneck wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

This is one of those stories where you know there is bad mixed in with the good. I don't know what Cerberus' real motivations are (of course $$$), but they have also bought up other small outfits like Advanced Armament. I guess if it saves some jobs it's immediately a good thing. Time will tell how this works out for Joe Gunmaker on the line just trying to earn a day's wage.

I always thought Dakota made a gorgeous rifle but they were out of my price range. Best of luck to them, and hopefully there will be a long and prosperous future there.

In this financial climate we are in there will be more changes before it is all said and done. All the bloodletting is not done yet.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from cliff68 wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

Have always lusted over the Dakota's but they were out of my price range. Maybe they will offer more of a standard model that would be in reach of the working man.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim in Mo wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

Quality control is the key. If they or anyone doesn't have that then your selling a pretty piece of nothing. I hope Mr. Martinez has the authority to bring in experienced gunsmiths. We've all heard the old saying of what makes a gun interesting.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from ChevJames wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

There's not a much worse combination than something that costs much more than its run-of-the-mill competition, but performs much worse than such competition. A custom rifle that isn't accurate is overpriced, any way you look at it. Imagine a Ferrari or Lamborghini that could be smoked off the line by a Chevy Impala or Ford Taurus . . . it's pretty hard to justify a high price if that high price isn't accompanied by high performance. That said, I hope the company survives and thrives. I hope Winchester pulls out of the doldrums once and for all. It looks like Remington is going to be around for a while. And I'm glad!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from SL wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

I think Remington did them a BIG favor by buying them out. Maybe they should have been left to die a natural death? As someone else mentioned, I surely couldn't see any justification in buying a high priced gun that wasn't performing any better than an over the counter gun. It sounds to me like they were ripping off their customers big time in asking a high price and not giving them much else than a nice wood stock.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Edward J. Palumbo wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

I've admired rifles produced by Dakota Arms and hope they survive this economic crisis. Too many upscale arms manufacturers have fallen victim to recessive economic conditions. Rifles in the price range of Dakota Arms products should be expected to perform, and hopefully this storm will pass to permit greater investment in the line.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

at least we are hearing of jobs remaining in place instead of being eliminated for the time being. reminton is strong and hopefully we will get some of the old dakota quality at a price most of us can afford. we don't need more lost jobs.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Scott Kittinger wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

How about a model 700 made to look like products of the Dakota Arms company. That hasn't occurred since the old style BDL of yesteryear. There are those of us out there who might spend the money to get an out-the-box accurate rifle like that.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from cheapiphones wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

I have heard a lot about Dakota rifles. I own a Kimber rifle and it is pretty good. I am happy with it.

Cheap iphones

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jere Smith wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

I agreee, my old 870 looks much better than my new 11-87

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

I don't know what this means. Does this mean:

-Remington (or the group) finally have a Mauser-type action "made in America" and having the look, fit and finish that will make it worth their while to manufacture?

-if the Cerberus/Freedom Group/Remington decide to continue the Dakota product line, will they keep left-handed action in good supply (you know what that means, Mr. Petzal)?

-will Remington's current people follow the lead of their predecessors and "re-engineer" the Dakota to make it cheaper? They did it with the 1903 Springfield in WW2, coming up with an uglier but cheaper version called the A3. BTW, Dakota already went that path with the Model 97, a Mauser-type bolt but with a Model 700-like tubular receiver and with a Model 700 trigger. Beretta had a similar rifle called the Mato.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gunslinger wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

If Remington ( which I like their 700's) don't do a better job marketing this new adventure than they did with the EAA Co they acquired then the Dakato rifle is short lived. These other Co's they also bought, who ever heard of them ? not me, but I live so far back in the hills that I know litle of the real world.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mikemontague wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

Remington has enough QC problems of their own to worry about without buying a company that already has serious problems with them. Remington needs to get their own house in order first. The past five years or so have been terrible.

Mike

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

If they can just marry the pretty wood to an accurate action all will be well. Martinez has his hands full.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gunslinger wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

I've use Remington products for over 55 yrs and neve any problem other than the trigger system, which is way to heavy. Over the past 5-7 ys, Rem has gotten away from thier old standards and bought some Co's that they should have forgotten about. The thay come out with that 2 bit piece of junk in a Viper 22 rifle, then the 710, 715, and now the 770. They screwed up the Auto with the lousy to large of forearm. Then a few yes back they bought part of EAA which included their hunting rifle line and some handguns. THe Mausers, have not gone over and the s x e dble rifle in 06 and 45/70. Now they take on a high dollar gun Co. and 2 othr cheaper Co's I never heard of. Any Co can make a beautiful rifle, but there is a lot more to a successful fiearm than good looks. The guts is what maters. The 700 has the guts and fairly good looks so long as its a l piece Walnut stock. They also finally made a trigger that is sutable to most of us. I wish them well, but with the economy in the dumps, a high dollar firearm will not be successful.Only a few rich guys will pay 3500.00 for a gun and i sure am not able to do so. I hope they will continue the 700 quality as the last 3-4 I bought have been above average for a bolt gun. Time will tell and so will sales. Good luck to them and the poor guy who has been selected to bring Dakato back to the front runners. Shoot-um-Straight and often. There are so many cheap firearms out now that are dangerous to shoot, and hopefully the other lines Rem bought along with DAkato is a better quality than most cheapoe's

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gunslinger wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

In todays market place, the price and quality of mdse is more important than in the past. I like and use Rre.700's and their old 742's. Now I bought a MArlin XL7 for les than l/2 the price of a 700. Also, lets not forgt Savage. It's a better working, and now looks and accuracy than is givem credit for. With the new l4 and ll4 in Walnut and the 3 bold to action it is a great firear and looks as good as most costin much more. With it's 3 position safety its a safe firearm. But, for some reason in the past Usd Savages have just not sold that well. The new MArlinXL7 appears to be almost a copy of the old Savage ll0 other than the trigger. If I were looking for another firer to take west it would be the Model ll4 in 06. I also would use the Savage action for a custom rifle and really have a jewel of a rifle. I think Remington is taking on too much and forgtting their 700 line. That Model 770 is a piece ofJunk.Remington has not produced really nice firearmsince the CDl came out a few yrs back. I bought one as soon as one was available and its gone to the Rockies for past 4 yrs and not required a 2nd shot yet and I never missed a first shot on any animal I shot. As a rule I try to stay around 200-250 yds, but in the Rockies those valleys between the hills will fool you in distance. My last kill was at 345 yds and I thought was about l75 yds till i scoped it. But lets not forget Ammo, scopes, snd mounts, they all play a important role in our shoting game. Also, lots of pratice is necessary to be a successful hunter. So shoot-um-straight and often.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from DakotaMan wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I'm happy to see that Don Allen's hard work and great ideas at least have a chance to survive. The high end Dakota rifles are a work of art. I have enjoyed seeing an American manufacturer making a quality high end rifle. I also like his invention of the Dakota line of cartriges. I shoot a .300 Dakota in my custom rifle and find it to be inherently accurate and producing less recoil than anything in its velocity class. I wish they would keep the line of Dakota cartriges alive but that is doubtful considering Remington already did their best to copy them in the Remington Ultra Mag line.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mel hoover wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

recently, on a pheasant hunt in s. dakota, my son and i stopped by the dakota arms factory. we were greeted and treated well, and shown dakota's model 76, 97,and 10. we also got to hold and view the miller single shot-all quality arms. i have owned a .338 model 97 which shot half inch groups,no bull. also a little 7mm-08, was also a half inch rifle. a beautifully wood stocked .270 shot inch groups, and never had a chance to develop better reloads, before i traded it [my reason was that although it was beautiful, the rifle was very heavy for caliber].i also have some experience with several berreta matos, which are essentially dakota 97 rifles. the calibers 270, 280, 30.06, and 300 win mag have all shot beautifully with lothar walter barrells. i guess opinions vary, but i can say this has been my experience. if kimber can make an excellent rifle for around one grand, then so should dakota. in my very humble view, rugar is "the" all american company, which makes everything and all of it in the USA at a price that most guys can afford.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

I am not a "fan" of LLC buyouts these days, but if it keeps Americans employed more power to them!
Firearms production must be kept alive here in our country either way, and I hope they can turn around the Dakota Co.-Thanks for update DP

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from bluecollarkid wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

Of course, Remington Arms is owned by Cerberus Capital who will be launching a new IPO in the firearms market for a company called Freedom Group Inc. There's a lot of consolidation going on in the ammunition and firearms manufacturing market right now. Both a good and a bad thing I suppose.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from sgaredneck wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

This is one of those stories where you know there is bad mixed in with the good. I don't know what Cerberus' real motivations are (of course $$$), but they have also bought up other small outfits like Advanced Armament. I guess if it saves some jobs it's immediately a good thing. Time will tell how this works out for Joe Gunmaker on the line just trying to earn a day's wage.

I always thought Dakota made a gorgeous rifle but they were out of my price range. Best of luck to them, and hopefully there will be a long and prosperous future there.

In this financial climate we are in there will be more changes before it is all said and done. All the bloodletting is not done yet.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from ChevJames wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

There's not a much worse combination than something that costs much more than its run-of-the-mill competition, but performs much worse than such competition. A custom rifle that isn't accurate is overpriced, any way you look at it. Imagine a Ferrari or Lamborghini that could be smoked off the line by a Chevy Impala or Ford Taurus . . . it's pretty hard to justify a high price if that high price isn't accompanied by high performance. That said, I hope the company survives and thrives. I hope Winchester pulls out of the doldrums once and for all. It looks like Remington is going to be around for a while. And I'm glad!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from cliff68 wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

Have always lusted over the Dakota's but they were out of my price range. Maybe they will offer more of a standard model that would be in reach of the working man.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim in Mo wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

Quality control is the key. If they or anyone doesn't have that then your selling a pretty piece of nothing. I hope Mr. Martinez has the authority to bring in experienced gunsmiths. We've all heard the old saying of what makes a gun interesting.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from SL wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

I think Remington did them a BIG favor by buying them out. Maybe they should have been left to die a natural death? As someone else mentioned, I surely couldn't see any justification in buying a high priced gun that wasn't performing any better than an over the counter gun. It sounds to me like they were ripping off their customers big time in asking a high price and not giving them much else than a nice wood stock.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

at least we are hearing of jobs remaining in place instead of being eliminated for the time being. reminton is strong and hopefully we will get some of the old dakota quality at a price most of us can afford. we don't need more lost jobs.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Edward J. Palumbo wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

I've admired rifles produced by Dakota Arms and hope they survive this economic crisis. Too many upscale arms manufacturers have fallen victim to recessive economic conditions. Rifles in the price range of Dakota Arms products should be expected to perform, and hopefully this storm will pass to permit greater investment in the line.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Scott Kittinger wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

How about a model 700 made to look like products of the Dakota Arms company. That hasn't occurred since the old style BDL of yesteryear. There are those of us out there who might spend the money to get an out-the-box accurate rifle like that.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from cheapiphones wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

I have heard a lot about Dakota rifles. I own a Kimber rifle and it is pretty good. I am happy with it.

Cheap iphones

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jere Smith wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

I agreee, my old 870 looks much better than my new 11-87

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

I don't know what this means. Does this mean:

-Remington (or the group) finally have a Mauser-type action "made in America" and having the look, fit and finish that will make it worth their while to manufacture?

-if the Cerberus/Freedom Group/Remington decide to continue the Dakota product line, will they keep left-handed action in good supply (you know what that means, Mr. Petzal)?

-will Remington's current people follow the lead of their predecessors and "re-engineer" the Dakota to make it cheaper? They did it with the 1903 Springfield in WW2, coming up with an uglier but cheaper version called the A3. BTW, Dakota already went that path with the Model 97, a Mauser-type bolt but with a Model 700-like tubular receiver and with a Model 700 trigger. Beretta had a similar rifle called the Mato.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gunslinger wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

If Remington ( which I like their 700's) don't do a better job marketing this new adventure than they did with the EAA Co they acquired then the Dakato rifle is short lived. These other Co's they also bought, who ever heard of them ? not me, but I live so far back in the hills that I know litle of the real world.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mikemontague wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

Remington has enough QC problems of their own to worry about without buying a company that already has serious problems with them. Remington needs to get their own house in order first. The past five years or so have been terrible.

Mike

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

If they can just marry the pretty wood to an accurate action all will be well. Martinez has his hands full.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gunslinger wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

I've use Remington products for over 55 yrs and neve any problem other than the trigger system, which is way to heavy. Over the past 5-7 ys, Rem has gotten away from thier old standards and bought some Co's that they should have forgotten about. The thay come out with that 2 bit piece of junk in a Viper 22 rifle, then the 710, 715, and now the 770. They screwed up the Auto with the lousy to large of forearm. Then a few yes back they bought part of EAA which included their hunting rifle line and some handguns. THe Mausers, have not gone over and the s x e dble rifle in 06 and 45/70. Now they take on a high dollar gun Co. and 2 othr cheaper Co's I never heard of. Any Co can make a beautiful rifle, but there is a lot more to a successful fiearm than good looks. The guts is what maters. The 700 has the guts and fairly good looks so long as its a l piece Walnut stock. They also finally made a trigger that is sutable to most of us. I wish them well, but with the economy in the dumps, a high dollar firearm will not be successful.Only a few rich guys will pay 3500.00 for a gun and i sure am not able to do so. I hope they will continue the 700 quality as the last 3-4 I bought have been above average for a bolt gun. Time will tell and so will sales. Good luck to them and the poor guy who has been selected to bring Dakato back to the front runners. Shoot-um-Straight and often. There are so many cheap firearms out now that are dangerous to shoot, and hopefully the other lines Rem bought along with DAkato is a better quality than most cheapoe's

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gunslinger wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

In todays market place, the price and quality of mdse is more important than in the past. I like and use Rre.700's and their old 742's. Now I bought a MArlin XL7 for les than l/2 the price of a 700. Also, lets not forgt Savage. It's a better working, and now looks and accuracy than is givem credit for. With the new l4 and ll4 in Walnut and the 3 bold to action it is a great firear and looks as good as most costin much more. With it's 3 position safety its a safe firearm. But, for some reason in the past Usd Savages have just not sold that well. The new MArlinXL7 appears to be almost a copy of the old Savage ll0 other than the trigger. If I were looking for another firer to take west it would be the Model ll4 in 06. I also would use the Savage action for a custom rifle and really have a jewel of a rifle. I think Remington is taking on too much and forgtting their 700 line. That Model 770 is a piece ofJunk.Remington has not produced really nice firearmsince the CDl came out a few yrs back. I bought one as soon as one was available and its gone to the Rockies for past 4 yrs and not required a 2nd shot yet and I never missed a first shot on any animal I shot. As a rule I try to stay around 200-250 yds, but in the Rockies those valleys between the hills will fool you in distance. My last kill was at 345 yds and I thought was about l75 yds till i scoped it. But lets not forget Ammo, scopes, snd mounts, they all play a important role in our shoting game. Also, lots of pratice is necessary to be a successful hunter. So shoot-um-straight and often.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from DakotaMan wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I'm happy to see that Don Allen's hard work and great ideas at least have a chance to survive. The high end Dakota rifles are a work of art. I have enjoyed seeing an American manufacturer making a quality high end rifle. I also like his invention of the Dakota line of cartriges. I shoot a .300 Dakota in my custom rifle and find it to be inherently accurate and producing less recoil than anything in its velocity class. I wish they would keep the line of Dakota cartriges alive but that is doubtful considering Remington already did their best to copy them in the Remington Ultra Mag line.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mel hoover wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

recently, on a pheasant hunt in s. dakota, my son and i stopped by the dakota arms factory. we were greeted and treated well, and shown dakota's model 76, 97,and 10. we also got to hold and view the miller single shot-all quality arms. i have owned a .338 model 97 which shot half inch groups,no bull. also a little 7mm-08, was also a half inch rifle. a beautifully wood stocked .270 shot inch groups, and never had a chance to develop better reloads, before i traded it [my reason was that although it was beautiful, the rifle was very heavy for caliber].i also have some experience with several berreta matos, which are essentially dakota 97 rifles. the calibers 270, 280, 30.06, and 300 win mag have all shot beautifully with lothar walter barrells. i guess opinions vary, but i can say this has been my experience. if kimber can make an excellent rifle for around one grand, then so should dakota. in my very humble view, rugar is "the" all american company, which makes everything and all of it in the USA at a price that most guys can afford.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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