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Preview – Production Power – An Inside Look at FN Manufacturing

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It was like being in “gun heaven.” Everywhere we turned our eyes were met with a sea of guns, gun barrels, gun parts, or machinery that made guns.

To our right, hundreds of brand-spanking new M16s hung overhead and were in the process of getting dipped in preservative oil. Nearby, dozens of nearly complete M249s sat on racks awaiting final assembly. Just a few yards away, technicians assembled various rifle parts in rows of efficiently arranged work stations. And all the while the whirl, hum, and hiss of millions of dollars’ worth of sophisticated technology filled the air.

FNH Robotic Arm Used for WeldingFNH One Millionth Barrel

This was a firearm enthusiast’s wet dream. This was FN Manufacturing. “FN Manufacturing?” you might ask. “Don’t you mean FNH?” The answer is, well almost, but no.

FN Manufacturing is actually the U.S.-based production arm of the Herstal Group, which includes FNH USA in McLean, Virginia, FN Herstal in Herstal, Belgium, and Browning Arms Co. in Morgan, Utah. (Yep, Browning is a subsidiary of the Herstal Group.) While they are a part of the same family, FN Manufacturing is its own corporation. And it’s where an arsenal of guns — from the FNS and FNX series of pistols to the FN SPR lineup of rifles — are forged, assembled, heat-treated, and coated for the sister companies. It’s also where the M16, light and medium machineguns like the M249 and M240, and other firearms are created for the company’s military contracts.

Call it the one-stop, small-arms shop for all things FNH USA.

Recently, we were granted a nearly all-access pass to FN Manufacturing’s headquarters in Columbia, South Carolina, which opened its doors in 1981 to produce the M240 for the U.S. military. After clearing security, we had a perpetual grin from ear to ear the entire time. What shooter hasn’t looked at his or her weapon and asked, “I wonder how this gets made?” The privilege to witness the birth of a firearm was a beautiful thing, but to witness the birth of an entire army’s arsenal? That was mind-blowing.

FN Mk-19 Belt-Fed Automatic Grenade Launcher

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