The Inbox

PH gun maker aims higher for recognition

Gunsmiths at Armscor's Marikina plant assemble pistols.

By Norman Sison, VERA Files

In the Philippines, ask a security guard what make his firearm is and most likely it’s made by the local gun company Armscor.

But not for patriotic reasons. Armscor is known for producing relatively inexpensive revolvers, shotguns and rifles, making it the brand of choice of local security agencies. However, the Filipino appetite for foreign brands made the word “inexpensive” synonymous with “inferior”.

Armscor has a long way to go before it achieves legendary status alongside Italy’s Beretta, America’s Colt, Germany’s Heckler & Koch and other high-caliber names. But for the past years it has been making a name for itself abroad, particularly in the United States, because of a legendary American firearm that debuted in the Philippines.

Following its annexation of the Philippines in 1899, the United States sent troops to the main southern Philippine island of Mindanao as America exerted its control over its new colonial possession.

There, US troops found that the then-standard issue .38-caliber M1892 Colt revolver didn’t have enough stopping power to bring down Moro warriors, who resisted American colonial rule as they did the Spanish conquistadors for 300 years. Soldiers complained that it took at least four bullets to stop a charge.

That prompted the US Army to look for a replacement pistol that fired a larger bullet. On May 29, 1911, the army introduced the iconic .45-caliber Colt M1911 pistol, which sees action to this day, from World War I to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In 1985, the US military replaced the M1911 with the 9-mm Beretta 92F pistol to conform to NATO standards, but the “1911” remained popular with US troops and American civilians because of its stopping power, not to mention its patriotic appeal.

A technician inspects .45-caliber bullets for quality.hat switch to the Beretta effectively left an open market for Armscor, which started churning out 1911s — known as the “45” in the Philippines — in 1990.

Armscor markets 1911s in the US under the American brand Rock Island Armory, which it acquired in 1990s. Some members of the US Marines and other services have bought 1911s from Armscor for their personal use, according to George Chua, Armscor’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Armscor traces its roots to a gun retail store Squires, Bingham & Co. that set up shop in 1905 in Manila. In 1980, the company was reorganized and became Arms Corporation of the Philippines, better known by its trade name.

Today, the company is the world’s largest producer of 1911s, cranking out around 7,000 a month. That’s aside from semi-automatic pistols of different calibers using the 1911 design, revolvers and rifles. Armscor also manufactures ammunition of various calibers.

At its seven-hectare plant in Marikina City, most of the gunsmiths are women, who are preferred for their delicate touch and eye for detail.

Last year, Armscor unveiled its new logo at a gun show in Manila to signal its drive to become a world-class brand. “Definitely, it is a stylish and modern-looking design that has gotten a lot of positive attention,” says Chua.

Armscor has found recent success by going small. In 2011, it introduced a 1911-style pistol that fires a new type of cartridge produced only by Armscor: the 22 TCM — the “T” stands for the company’s Tuason family owners, the “C” stands for American TCM designer Fred Craig, and the “M” for Micro-Magnum.

It has a huge stopping power because of the increased velocity — at around 2,100 feet per second — but with less recoil, which allows a shooter to aim faster for another shot. Also, the smaller bullet size means more ammunition in the gun. A traditional 1911 has seven bullets, while a TCM pistol can carry 18 rounds.

So far, most reactions from gun enthusiasts have been positive. In one YouTube video, an American shooter demonstrating the new ammunition blew up a watermelon, while a 9-mm round only cracked the fruit. “Incredible,” he remarked.

Since the TCM pistol fires ammunition that is unique to Armscor, the kit comes with a 9-mm barrel so the weapon can be converted to fire the more available ammunition if the shooters runs out of TCM bullets. To meet the demand for the 22 TCM, the company opened a plant in Montana in 2011, its second in the US.

Meanwhile, in the works is a new design 9-mm pistol, which Armscor hopes will take it to new heights.

Last year, Filipino nationalists were angered when the Philippine National Police bid out a contract for 60,000 9-mm pistols and awarded it to an importer of the Austrian-made Glock.

Armscor has proven that something produced from the Philippines can compete with the best in the world, they said. The government should take the lead in showing off to the world the efficiency and power of arms made in the Philippines.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February
    ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February

    Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) sustains its strong sales in its February performance. Toyota’s strong performance last month was due to the  high demand of the Vios, with sales of 2,012 units and of course the rest of Toyota’s line up such as the Fortuner, Innova, Wigo, Hilux, Avanza and Corolla Altis. Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus, recorded 60 units last month. …

  • No apology, but Noy seeks understanding
    No apology, but Noy seeks understanding

    There was no apology, but President Aquino yesterday expressed regret, took “full responsibility” and appealed to the nation for “deepest understanding” for the Jan. 25 Mamasapano raid in which dozens died, including 44 police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos. “To every Filipino who has felt failure or has been hurt because of the events related to this operation, it is with abiding humility that I ask for your deepest understanding,” Aquino said in a speech before the 246 new graduates of …

  • MVP on endorsement: Thanks, I’m no politician
    MVP on endorsement: Thanks, I’m no politician

    Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan is grateful for Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s praise and presidential endorsement, but says he is not a politician. In an interview on the sidelines of the launch of the search for The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines 2015 Wednesday night, Pangilinan dismissed the idea of running for president in the 2016 elections. “I’m not a politician, I’m just an ordinary business person,” he added. Santiago endorsed Pangilinan as a presidential candidate …

  • No Lenten break in operations vs lawless groups – AFP
    No Lenten break in operations vs lawless groups – AFP

    The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is not suspending its offensive against the Abu Sayyaf, New People’s Army (NPA) and other lawless groups during the Holy Week, an official said yesterday. Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, AFP public affairs office chief, said the AFP leadership is leaving it up to area and division commanders whether to raise the alert status in preparation for the Holy Week. Those deployed in areas where there are ongoing law enforcement operations against terrorist groups …

  • Probe harassment vs human rights lawyer, CA orders AFP
    Probe harassment vs human rights lawyer, CA orders AFP

    The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to investigate a human rights lawyer’s claim of harassment, including surveillance, by several military officers. In a 22-page decision, the former Special Sixth Division of the appellate court granted the petition for writ of amparo and habeas data of Maria Catherine Dannug-Salucon. The CA ordered the AFP to identify the officers behind the surveillance and file charges against them. The CA ruling said …

  • Noy vows to dismantle bata-bata system in PNP
    Noy vows to dismantle bata-bata system in PNP

    President Aquino vowed yesterday to dismantle the culture of factionalism or the bata-bata system within the Philippine National Police as he continued the search for the next PNP chief. Speaking at the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) commencement exercises here, the President said the country needed solidarity among leaders and members of the police force so that the policemen would be effective protectors of Filipinos. “Our challenge to the next chief of our national police force: …

  • Envoy to expats: Retire, invest in Phl
    Envoy to expats: Retire, invest in Phl

    Retire and invest in real estate in the Philippines, especially now that the country has made it to the top 10 retirement destinations in the world. This is the message being spread by the Philippine embassy in Washington, with Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr. leading the refrain in meetings with various Filipino-American communities in the US. In his talks, Cuisia said that an affordable cost of living as well as warm climate and people are just some of the things that make the Philippines a top …

  • PNPA spotlight falls on Ampatuan grandson
    PNPA spotlight falls on Ampatuan grandson

    The stigma of being a namesake of the principal suspect in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre did not prevent Cadet First Class Andal Ampatuan III from entering and graduating from the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA). Ampatuan III, now with a rank of police inspector, is a grandson of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. The younger Ampatuan was among the 246 graduates of the PNPA “Lakandula” Class of 2015. Ampatuan III’s mother is Bai Rebecca Ampatuan, a daughter of the …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options