1910's

Ø In 1910, A New York city cabinet maker named Seymour Griffin reads the newly published book ‘African Game Trails’ by ex-president Theodore Roosevelt. Inspired by the tales of African safari hunting with a 1903 Springfield rifle, Griffin decides to purchase one for himself.

Unhappy with the government-issue stock and finish, he purchases a piece of $5 French walnut from Von Lengerke & Detmond - a well-respected New York dealer of fine European sporting guns. Using his woodworking skills, he restocks, polishes, blues and resights his Springfield until the military rifle is no longer recognizable. The final result is such a success that a friend immediately offers Griffin a handsome sum for it. Griffin’s taste for gun-making was born, and he makes several more custom Springfield sporters for affluent customers, becoming renowned for his work.

Ø Colonel Townsend Whelen, a prolific writer on guns and hunting and hugely influential in the development of modern rifles, comes to hear about Griffin’s stock-making skills. Whelen is the director of research and development at Springfield Armory, and Commanding Officer of Frankford Arsenal.

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1920's

Ø In 1921, Whelen meets Pennsylvanian gunmaker James Virgil Howe, the foreman of the Frankford Arsenal machine shop. Together they work on creating a new cartridge – the .35 Whelen, a .30/06 case necked up to .35 caliber. A specialist in metalwork, Howe makes the dies, reamers, chambering tools, and chambers the rifles. Whelen is inspired to introduce Howe to Griffin, and encourages the two to go into business together and create a gunmaking company to combine their complementary talents.

Ø  In April 1923, Griffin, Howe and Whelan meet with potential financers to pitch their idea of a new outdoor sporting goods store and custom gun shop in New York. Having established financial backing, Griffin & Howe opens to the public on June 1st 1923, with a store at 234 East 29th Street, with Whelen serving as advisor. Later that year, Howe leaves the company to work for the Hoffman Arms Company in Cleveland, Ohio.

Ø  Business booms, and Griffin assembles a talented group of American and European master gunsmiths to work in the custom gun shop. Griffin & Howe establishes a reputation for building some of the world’s best bolt action sporting rifles, whilst also becoming a full service big game outfitter, selling not just firearms but optical equipment, tents and clothing.

Ø  Griffin & Howe develops the proprietary .35 G&H magnum cartridge.

Ø  In 1927, Griffin & Howe develops an innovative detachable sidelever telescopic sight mount, where at the flip of a lever the scope could be removed and replaced without altering the rifle’s zero.

Ø  From boom to bust – the Great Depression strikes in 1929, and sales drop dramatically. Determined not to fail, Griffin & Howe seeks financial backing.

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1930s

Ø March 14th 1930 – Ernest Hemingway writes to his friend Milford Baker “I’ll put myself in your hands on the Springfield. As to measurements, I’m six feet tall, weight 190 pounds, have small hands for my size (have smashed them boxing many times on that account) but I suppose they have a standard measurement for 6 ft and 190 lbs. I would like to get a good job on the Springfield and, if you suggest, a Griffin and Howe mount on the scope.” Milford drove ambulances in Italy with Hemingway, and would later advise him to purchase a G&H Springfield for his first centerfire hunting rifle.

Ø  On September 1st 1930, Griffin & Howe becomes a subsidiary of Abercrombie & Fitch, but retaining its own building and branding.

Ø  In 1931 Griffin & Howe patent their detachable scope side mount system. This is still used today

Ø  The company’s main source of business becomes converting government issue US Model 1903 Springfield army rifles into sporting rifles. Word spreads, and celebrities such as Ernest Hemingway, Clark Gable and Gary Cooper become Griffin & Howe clients.

Ø  In 1935 Griffin & Howe opens the first shooting school in the country, at what is now the Orvis Shooting Grounds in Sandanona NY.

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1940s

Ø America joins the fray of World War Two at the end of 1941, following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Whilst the company continues to make a small selection of sporting rifles, priority shifts to the war effort – the Griffin & Howe machine shop turns its hand to producing aircraft parts, in particular around 40,000 anti-aircraft gun triggers. Griffin & Howe are also able to provide a solution to the problem of mounting scopes on the M1 Garand service rifles. Taking influence from their side mounts, the company builds a conversion system known as the M1C Sniper Conversion, allowing scopes to be mounted without interfering in the rifle’s function or loading. Griffin & Howe eventually produces around 23,000 of these mounts.

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1950s

Ø  In the rising prosperity of the post-war era, hunting and shooting become increasingly popular and the demand for high-end firearms and accessories increases. Bolt action sporting rifles become more common and companies such as Winchester and Remington begin to produce their own. Griffin & Howe continue to maintain their reputation as high-end gunmakers, producing sporters for clients such as Robert Ruark and President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Ø  Seymour Griffin retires.

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1960s

Ø  Still a subsidiary of Abercrombie & Fitch, Griffin & Howe move across several different locations in Manhattan, settling into premises at 114 East 13th Street. The company advertises their latest development - an auto safety for the Browning Superposed shotgun. 

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1970s

Ø  In 1977, Abercrombie & Fitch goes into liquidation. The parent company sells its name to various clothing manufacturers. Griffin & Howe’s assets are purchased by long-time Abercrombie & Fitch gunsmith Bill Ward. Working with John Realmuto, previously the manager of the Abercrombie & Fitch gunsmithing division, the two move Griffin & Howe to 589 Broadway and continue the tradition of retailing, repairing and making fine firearms.

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1980s

Ø  In 1987 after 10 years on Broadway, Bill Ward moves the company to 36 West 44th St. He purchases an old hardware store in Bernardsville, New Jersey, where he relocates the gunmaking shop and opens a second retail shop. This becomes the new Griffin & Howe headquarters.

Ø  In 1989, John Realmuto retires, and Bill Ward sells the company to an investor, in partnership with Joe Prather who becomes company president.

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1990s

Ø  Longtime employee Paul Chapman becomes Vice President and Director of Gunmaking in 1996.

Ø  1997 sees the purchase of Hudson Farm in Andover, New Jersey, as a new site for the Griffin & Howe Shooting Academy.

Ø  In 1999, Griffin & Howe opens a new location in Greenwich, Connecticut. Previously an existing fine gun shop - Morris Hallowell Jr.’s, it becomes another retail site for the company.

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2000s

Ø  The New York location closes in 2003, and Griffin & Howe moves its showroom and outfitting services to the Hudson Farm property in Andover, New Jersey, to be alongside its shooting school.

Ø  In 2007, Guy Bignell succeeds Joe Prather as president of the company.

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2010s

Ø  Griffin & Howe builds a 15,000 square foot barn structure, designed to maximize construction material efficiencies and featuring solar panels. In 2011 all gunsmithing operations are moved to a dedicated 6,000 square foot space within the barn.

Ø  By 2015, COO Steven Polanish succeeds Guy Bignell as president of the company and decides to unite all operations at the Hudson Farm location.

Ø  Whilst historically known for high-end traditional shotguns and bolt-action rifles, Griffin & Howe continues to look forward and embrace the future. In 2015 the company releases its first proprietary ‘Long-Range Precision Rifle’.

Ø In 2017, Griffin & Howe launches their line of lightweight Highlander hunting rifles.

Ø In 2018, Griffin & Howe launches the All-American rifle.

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2020s

Ø  2021 sees the introduction of two new arms to the company: Griffin & Howe Gundogs and a new Archery department.

Ø  In 2022 the Griffin & Howe Showroom is renovated to expand its space to 24,000 square feet.

Ø  2023 – Griffin & Howe celebrates its 100 year anniversary with a three day Showcase, official launch of the new Showroom, and a limited edition release of a .35 Whelen.

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