Petzal: Dakota Arms is Back from the Brink

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.