In the 60's Ray Wilkinson lived in Covina, CA producing parts for both go-karts and motorcycles. In a neighboring building was Bob Penney, owner of Alpine and National Ordnance who built M1 Carbines, 1903 Springfields, and the "Tanker Garand".
One day Ray showed up to Bob's office with a wooden model of a 9mm carbine. The purpose of the visit was to sell Bob on the idea of providing financing to produce the handy little carbines.
At that point J&R Engineering was formed and development of the M-68 began. The M-68 was a 9mm blowback carbine featuring a closed/telescoping bolt and a 31 round magazine capacity.
Orders for the carbine were instantly strong and J&R knew they had developed a good product. At this time mail orders for firearms were legal and this constituted the bulk of the sales. These orders were killed with the advent of the Gun Control Act of 1968. Not long after, J&R ceased operations. The remaining parts were assembled into carbines and sold under the name PJK by Bob and his son Jim. In addition to the M-68, the M-80 had been developed which moved the charging handle from the top to the left side.
Ray Wilkinson believed in his carbine and felt there was a market for it. He went back to the drawing board to resolve a few issues present, namely with extraction, and took the opportunity to also update the hammer, feedramp, receiver, barrel, and other parts.
The new carbine would be named Terry after Ray's daughter. Later a pistol version would be produced and named Linda. In addition to these two models, Wilkinson would also produce Diane, a .25acp pistol and Sherry, a .22LR pistol.
The common denominator with all of the models produced by Wilkinson was quality. Tight tolerances and robust designs lent themselves to accurate and reliable firearms. When Ray passed, the company was bought by Boyd Gray who fell in love with the carbine during a trip to Idaho. Boyd renamed the business to Northwest Arms and moved it to Washington. This brings us to today. Wilkinson is back!
- Special thanks to Bob & Jim Penney for giving me great insight into the early days of Wilkinson's history.