The ten longest running defence companies

2 August 2019 (Last Updated January 20th, 2020 13:53)

Firearms manufacturer Beretta, whose origins date back to the 16th century, is the world's oldest operating defence company, followed by Naval Group, the builder of the world’s first ocean-going battleship. Army-technology lists the world’s longest-running defence companies, based on year of establishment.

The ten longest running defence companies
Colt manufactures pistols, revolvers, rifles, and accessories. Image courtesy of Staff Sgt. Suzanne M. Day, U.S. Air Force.
Longest running defence companies
Beretta is the prodder of firearms, ammunition, optics, electro-optics, and tactical clothing. Image courtesy of Zorin Denu.

Fabbrica d’Armi Pietro Beretta- 1526

Founded in the 16th century, Fabbrica d’Armi Pietro Beretta received its first order from the State of Venice, Italy, in October 1526 to supply 185 Arquibus barrels for 296 Ducats or gold coins.

Beretta Defense Technologies (BDT), the strategic alliance of four Beretta Holding defence companies, including Beretta, Benelli, Sako, and Steiner, offers firearms, ammunition, optics, electro-optics, and tactical clothing.

Headquartered in Brescia, Italy, Beretta exports weapons to more than 100 countries. Its firearms are widely used by civilians, law enforcement agencies, and military forces.

Longest running defence companies
Naval Group’s popular surface ship offerings include FREMM-class frigates and Gowind-class corvettes. Image courtesy of Leonard Adams, U.S. Navy.

Naval Group – 1631

Naval Group (formerly DCNS) was founded in the 17th century as France’s first naval shipyard. It is the creator of the world’s first ocean-going battleship Gloire, which was launched in Toulon in 1858.

Naval Group offers a range of products and services, including surface vessels such as FREMM-class frigates and Gowind-class corvettes, Scorpène class submarines, underwater weapons, combat systems, maritime surveillance and intervention solutions, and naval infrastructure, training and maintenance.

Headquartered in Paris, France, Naval Group has its presence in 16 countries, including Brazil, Canada, Saudi Arabia, India, Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia. It employs more than 13,600 people worldwide.

Longest running defence companies
Tula Arms Plant’s products portfolio includes guided missiles, assault and sniper rifles, shotguns, and carbines. Image courtesy of A.Savin.

Tulsky Oruzheiny Zavod – 1712

Founded by Peter the Great in 1712, Tulsky Oruzheiny Zavod (Tula Arms Plant) is the first government arms factory of Russia. The arms produced by Tula have played a key role in many great battles fought by the Russian Army.

Tula Arms Plant was converted into a joint-stock company in 1993. The plant currently produces guided missiles, assault, and sniper rifles for the armed forces, as well as shotguns and carbines for civilian applications.

Based in Tula, Russia, Tulsky Oruzheiny Zavod currently has a workforce of more than 3,000.

Longest running defence companies
The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) manages 41 ordnance factories spread across India.

Indian Ordnance Factories – 1775

The history of Indian Ordnance Factories could be traced back to the 18th century when British rulers authorised the establishment of the Board of Ordnance in Fort William, Kolkata, India, in 1775.

The Indian Ministry of Defence established the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) in 1979 to govern Indian Ordnance Factories. The OFB currently operates 41 ordnance factories spread across India.

The Indian Ordnance Factories are the major suppliers of arms to the Indian Armed Forces. The plants also export arms and ammunition, spares, chemicals and explosives, and tactical clothing to more than 30 countries.

Hydromash JSC – 1805

Hydromash was established as a carriage factory in Moscow, Russia, in 1805. It is currently involved in the development, production and testing of undercarriage and hydraulic systems for the aviation industry.

The privately-held company offers landing gears and hydraulic equipment for civilian and military aircraft and helicopters, in co-operation with Liebherr Group and Messier-Dowty.

Hydromash’s systems are used by Airbus, Embraer and Global Express aircraft, as well as AugustaWestland (now Leonardo) helicopters.

Longest running defence companies
Kalashnikov Concern is accountable for approximately 95% of the small arms produced in Russia.

Kalashnikov Concern JSC (Kalashnikov Group) – 1807

Kalashnikov Concern JSC (formerly Izhmash) was founded by an order of Russian monarch Alexander I in 1807. Kalashnikov is renowned for producing the AK series of assault rifles, including the world-famous AK-47 assault rifle.

The group currently constitutes affiliates including Kalashnikov, Izhevsk Mechanical Plant, Rybinsk Shipyard, and Vympel Shipyard. Kalashnikov is the leader of domestic rifle industry, producing approximately 95% of the small arms in Russia.

Kalashnikov Group’s portfolio includes remote-controlled combat modules, unmanned aerial vehicles, high-speed assault boats, robotic systems, and modular tactical vests. The group exports its products to more than 27 countries across the world.

Longest running defence companies
Remington is the biggest manufacturer of shotguns and rifles in the US.

Remington Arms Company – 1816

Remington Arms Company, whose founder Eliphalet Remington produced the first hand-made rifle in 1816, eventually became the biggest producer of shotguns and rifles in the US.

Remington received a contract from the US Army to manufacture 24,000 M4A1 carbines, in 2012. The US Army also placed a contract with Remington for commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) 5.56mm carbines in 2018.

The company sells firearms and ammunition to individuals, government agencies in the US, and more than 55 allied countries. Headquartered in Madison, US, Remington employs more than 3,500 people.

Longest running defence companies
Sellier & Bellot manufacturers ammunition for pistols, rifles, and shotguns.

Sellier & Bellot J.S.C. – 1825

Founded in 1825, Sellier & Bellot is the longest-running defence company in the Czech Republic. The company is currently owned by Companhia Brasileira de Cartuchos (CBC), an ammunition manufacturer based in Brazil.

Sellier & Bellot offers ammunition for pistols, rifles, and shotguns. It is one of the major suppliers of Nato-compliant small arms ammunition for military and law enforcement forces worldwide.

Based in Vlasim, Czech Republic, Sellier & Bellot employs more than 1,600 people. CBC has its presence in more than 130 countries and employs approximately 3,500 skilled workers.

Longest running defence companies
Colt manufactures pistols, revolvers, rifles, and accessories. Image courtesy of Staff Sgt. Suzanne M. Day, U.S. Air Force.

Colt’s Manufacturing Company- 1836

Colt’s Manufacturing Company, established in 1836 by Samuel Colt, is renowned for inventing a six-barrelled Colt pistol called ‘revolver’, which is one of the most popular gun designs in the history.

Colt has been a reliable supplier of superior firearms for the US armed forces since its inception. Colt’s Manufacturing Company formed Colt Defense as part of a reorganisation in 2002 to cater to defence and law enforcement markets.

Headquartered in Hartford, US, Colt Defense supplies pistols, revolvers, rifles and accessories for civilian, military, and law enforcement customers. Its manufacturing facilities are located in West Hartford, US, and Kitchener, Canada.

Longest running defence companies
Ensign-Bickford Aerospace & Defense Company offers products and solutions for aerospace and defence applications. Image courtesy of Ensign-Bickford Aerospace & Defense Company.

Ensign Bickford Aerospace & Defense Company – 1836

Ensign-Bickford Aerospace & Defense Company (EBA&D/EBAD) commenced business in 1836 as a manufacturer of safety fuses for use in the mining industry. The company has evolved to become a leading developer of reliable solutions for aerospace and defence applications.

Ensign-Bickford offers flight termination systems for airborne missiles or launch vehicles, as well as tandem warhead delay systems, linear-shaped charges, reactive armour and accessories for military applications.

EBAD’s headquarters are located in Simsbury, US, while its manufacturing facilities are situated in Graham and Moorpark in the US.