Make: Bryco Arms
History of Bryco Arms
Bryco Arms/Jennings Firearms Bryco Arms was one of the so-called "Ring of Fire" manufacturers of Saturday Night Special firearms that operated in and around Los Angeles, California. It produced firearms branded as Jennings Firearms at its Irvine, California facility and branded as Bryco Arms at its former Carson City, Nevada facility and at its Costa Mesa, California facility.
Bryco Arms went into bankruptcy in 2003 as a result of losing a lawsuit filed in Oakland, California, which resulted in a jury award of a record $24 million judgment against it. The lawsuit stemmed from an injury to a 12-year old who was attempting to unload the 380 ACP version of the Bryco Arms Model 38 and pulled the trigger with a round still in the gun. An ensuing accidental discharge resulted in paralyzing a young boy named Brandon Maxfield. The jury ruled that the pistol had a design flaw, in that it had to have the trigger pulled to de-cock the striker after unloading the semi-automatic pistol.
Many, if not most, semi-automatic pistols with external hammers utilize a similar design, which has found widespread use since early Colt Firearms first used this method around 1905. Notable among pistols which require hammer decocking is the standard US Military issue pistol for over 70 years, the Colt M1911.
Jimenez Arms Bryco's former foreman, Paul Jimenez, bought the bankrupt Bryco Arms for $510,000 in August 2004, and renamed the company Jimenez Arms. The former Model 380 (the 380 ACP version of the Model 38) was renamed the JA-380, and production of the same semi-automatic pistol design was resumed.
In an ironic twist, the victim of the accidental shooting, Brandon Maxfield, was a runner-up bidder for taking control of the Bryco Arms company, bidding $505,000. If he had the high bid, his plan was to melt all stockpiles of guns and gun parts at the company to make a sculpture and to close the company, firing all of the employees.
Bryco was purchased by Paul Jimenez and resumed operation in Costa Mesa, California under the new name of Jimenez Arms. Jimenez Arms resumed the manufacture of the former Jennings Firearms and Bryco Arms models after only changing the name and model numbers on the slides of the models. This transition was easily accomplished by simply making minor changes in the engineering drawings for the next set of slides when it came time to order more. The JA-NINE, the former Bryco Arms Model 380 (renamed the JA-380), the former Jennings J-22 (renamed the JA-22 LR), and the Jennings J-25 (renamed the JA-25 Auto) quickly became the only four firearms currently manufactured by the company.
Allegedly, the JA-NINE 9mm handgun was prone to catastrophic failure under normal firing conditions. (If you have any proof of a catastrophic failure please email this website. As far as the owner of this site has been able to research, none have been presented to a court of law).
Lawsuits were brought forth in 2004 by the same groups that had forced Bryco Arms into bankruptcy earlier, claiming that Jimenez Arms was again selling an unsafe, inferior firearm to the public, as had been claimed of the Bryco Arms Model 380 (claimed but never proven in a court of law!). As a result of the negative publicity, ongoing lawsuits, and the fact the gun's magazine held( two more than the 10 round limit of the Federally-sunsetted Assault Weapons Ban, which was mandated in California, the California Department of Justice ordered Jimenez Arms to cease manufacturing JA-NINE pistols for sale in California on January 13, 2005, only 5 months after Jimenez Arms had been re-incarnated from Bryco Arms. Jimenez Arms was forced into bankruptcy in January 2005.
Jimenez Arms no longer produces the JA-NINE for sale in California but has continued to produce and sell the JA-NINE, JA-380, and other product offerings to dealers physically located outside of California. Newly-manufactured JA-NINE pistols are currently available for sale to end customers throughout most of the US through Internet gun auction sites for $150-$170. Wholesale quantities are available from distributor Shining Star Investments, LLC for even less. This inexpensive gun is the top line model sold by Jimenez Arms. The company's guns are extremely popular with pawnshops, often being the lowest-priced new handguns available. Critics, on the other hand, claim they are simply more Saturday Night Specials. Durability is perhaps not as good as more expensive guns, and there are also occasional problems with the guns. However, each gun is sold with a lifetime warranty to original purchasers so that if problems arise, they can usually be resolved.
The end result is that these low-cost guns are extremely popular for many, especially those in the inner cities, who often cannot afford more expensive guns for self-protection. They have been sold in quantities of tens of millions per decade since 1978. Their popularity notwithstanding, they are often the hated target of those who favor gun control in the gun politics debate, primarily for being representative of the worst handguns sold and for being affordable to the poor (a good reason to buy one if for no other).
Recent attempts by the company's former owners to re-establish the company in Nevada have thus far proven unsuccessful. JA officials believe the California rulings regarding the safety of the JA-NINE firearm to be false. They claim that private individuals with a vested interest [remove reference to Brandon… until later] in a particular outcome had funded the testing, repeating the tests with numerous guns until finally finding several that failed to operate as intended, and then submitted these few guns with problems for California safety-testing (Read Brandon Maxfield's lawyer). If this claim is true, it makes the gun safety tests unrepresentative at best, and malicious at worst, in the anti-gun business climate that exists in California.