UPDATE: Sabre Defence issues statement
Updated with statement from Sabre Defence at the end of this article
Federal law enforcement agents, led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, descended on Nashville's Sabre Defence Industries this morning and closed down the facility for at least the day.
Sabre manufactures firearms and firearm parts and accessories. It is contracted by the U.S. armed forces for parts and mounts for the M2 Browning .50-caliber machine gun and Minigun. In addition to its government contracts, it produces the XR15 rifle, non-standard M4 Carbines, and non-standard M16A4s.
Law enforcement officials were seen escorting employees one by one of the company out of their 35,000-square-foot facility on Allied Drive. Each employee was searched next to their personal vehicle, had their vehicle searched and, when cleared, were allowed to leave the premises. No individuals were witnessed being arrested.
After almost all of the employees had left the premises, agents brought in a trailer and backed it up to the company's loading dock.
Reached for comment, federal law enforcement officials declined to comment on their actions and would not specify what the focus of their investigation is.
United Kingdom-based Sabre acquired the Nashville facility in 2002 but had been making military 0.50-caliber barrels and guns since 1979, as well as commercial rifle barrels for various companies. Guy Savage is the CEO and owner of the company, and the Nashville facility is managed by Charles Shearon.
In December of last year, Aerospace Manufacturing Services of Colorado filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee claiming that it is owed $1.05 million for 2,400 .50-calibre machine gun firing bolts.
According to previous media reports, the company employed approximately 85 individuals at its Nashville facility.
Statement from Sabre
Sabre Defence Industries LLC, an established manufacturer of firearms and weapon systems to the United States military, state and local law enforcement, and worldwide commercial markets, is fully cooperating with federal agents in an ongoing investigation into potential criminal misuse of certain non-saleable firearms produced by Sabre and purchased by some of its employees. Sabre has received information that employee(s) involved in inventory control may have obtained and re-sold some items without appropriate licenses. Sabre is and has been cooperating with federal agents in this investigation.
Sabre has more than 120 employees in its Nashville plant. Sabre’s biggest customer is the United States military. Sabre products used by United States armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan include .50 caliber barrels and components of the M2 Browning machine gun, 7.62 mm mini-gun barrels, and M-16A3 and A4 rifles. Sabre is the only non-public company in the world ever to be awarded a contract for a military spec M-16 rifle. Sabre is dedicated to continuing to provide high quality firearms to the United States military, state and local law enforcement, and Sabre's commercial customers.