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Colt's booth at a National Rifle Association exhibit in Nashville, Tenn., on April 11. Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Colt's booth at a National Rifle Association exhibit in Nashville, Tenn., on April 11.

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Iconic American gun-maker Colt Defense has filed for bankruptcy protection.

The company says in a statement that its Chapter 11 filing late Sunday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware will allow for a faster sale of business operations in the U.S. and Canada.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the filing was expected because Colt "failed to win the support of bondholders for a debt reshaping agreement." It adds: "Colt plans to try to reduce its $355 million debt burden via a court-supervised auction of its business, to generate proceeds to repay some of its lenders."

Colt says that Sciens Capital Management has proposed to buy "all of Colt's assets and assume secured liabilities and all liabilities related to existing agreements with employees, customers, vendors, and trade creditors."

The process is expected to be completed in 60 to 90 days. Colt says its existing secured lenders have agreed to provide $20 million to allow for continuation of operations.

It's not the first time Colt has seen financial trouble.

Sam Colt opened a firearms plant in 1836, but sales weren't great and it closed six years later. In 1855, Colt founded Colt's Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Co., which has manufactured American guns ever since.

"Among other failings, the severed halves of Colt somehow missed the post-2008 'Obama surge' as much as other U.S. gun manufacturers. Whipped up by NRA warnings that the Democratic president intended to toughen gun control, consumers cleared gun store shelves of ammunition and weapons. Better-prepared manufacturers such as Glock saw sales rise sharply. Colt's Manufacturing, for its part, offered only a limited selection of the handguns so much in demand."

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