Why the name Rockola? To be realistic unless you are a fairly serious military arms enthusiast you probably have never heard of a rifle made by the company Rockola. The origin of our use of this name goes back to last year’s Shot Show in Las Vegas. I have two major passions that have become intermixed in James River Armory. The first is history, my college major and the other is production systems, how things are made.
Last year’s Las Vegas dinner conversation with a couple of other manufacturers centered on what happened to American industry during WWII. Production of the M1 Carbine is fascinating since the only contractor with any experience in the arms industry was the developer, Winchester. Ten additional companies were tasked with producing the rifle and what they accomplished is beyond amazing. In short within only a few months of receiving a contract Rockola Music Company completely transformed its production capabilities to making almost every part on this rifle and actually delivering completed rifles at a rate exceeding 10,000 per month. Coming from a modern perspective this is mind boggling. The company would have had to completely retool, add thousands of new employees, virtually all would need to be trained, engineer and fixture dozens of complex precision parts all with nothing more sophisticated than drafting tables and slide rules. The quality of Rockola’s supervisors, engineers, and employees had to be exceptional to pull off what they did. Any M1 Carbine collector will tell you that their product was among the best of the carbines produced.
We literally spent months with original blueprints and original parts creating the receiver into computer solid model and programmed for CNC production. Rockola pulled off the entire rifle in less time. The challenges they faced were unbelievable. Our victory in WWII started with companies like Rockola and this was repeated by small to mid-sized manufacturers all over the country doing war work. I remember a class on logistics at Quantico when I was a young Lieutenant, we figured training, tactics, and leadership won battles until an instructor commented that logistics is how war is won, (of course we didn’t understand, thinking “why die, go supply.”) In reality, he was right. The logistical support we needed started on the home front with companies like Rockola. This incredible support is what allowed the US Serviceman to defeat the enemy and win the war.
I realize the M14 was made a decade and a half later, but it utilized the same concepts and techniques developed during WWII. Our Rockola brand represents our best work and our respect for the old school techniques utilized during this incredible period of our history. In short, the name Rockola in our firearms is a pure tribute, a salute to the companies and people that made this the greatest country in the world and to the greatest generation that prevented tyranny from flourishing.