[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”5″]S[/su_dropcap]tarting out as a gun shop in western Oregon’s Willamette Valley, R&J Firearms now builds ARs and may soon manufacture suppressors. American Shooting Journal’s Garn Kennedy sat down with cofounder Jason Harris for more about the family business.
Garn Kennedy Can you tell us about why you started R&J Firearms and what makes you different?
Jason Harris My father, Bob, and I started R&J Firearms in
March 2012 as a simple home-based 01 FFL, primarily as a way to make a little side income. I’ve always had an interest in shooting and ﬁrearms in general, and this seemed like it could be a fun venture.
One thing we quickly noticed was how many folks, especially ﬁrst-time buyers and women, were afraid to ask questions. They had likely either had a bad previous experience or were afraid of sounding uneducated. We make a ﬁrm point to make sure our customers are not afraid to ask any questions so they can be educated and make proper decisions. Many are buying their ﬁrst ﬁrearm, which may be the only one they’ll purchase. We want to make sure that they are getting a great match and feel comfortable when they leave our shop.
As the business quickly grew, we constantly found ourselves in a position where we were either limited or unable to purchase many ﬁrearms, mainly AR-type riﬂes. At that point we decided to change over to an 07 manufacturer’s license and see how well our brand would sell. I’ll admit, it has been a ton of work, but now having control of our own product is incredible!
We have partnered with some great businesses in the industry and are, in my humble opinion, producing amazing products at a great price point for consumers. Because we are not a large-scale producer, we are able to place more attention to details, ﬁt and ﬁnish in our ARs. Each R&J AR is assembled from start to ﬁnish and test-ﬁred by the same person. This allows us greater attention to detail. The only time I want to see one of our ARs come back to the shop is for some sort of upgrade and not for repair. We are completely family-owned and operated.
GK Do you specialize in something that sets you apart?
JH While we offer ARs in 5.56, .300 Blackout, 7.62X39 and .502 T-Sabre, the .502 is probably a standout caliber. As for a specialty riﬂe, our 7.62X39 ARs are really popular. We build them to be as reliable as a 5.56, with an enhanced stainless ﬁre pin, performance hammer spring, proper feed ramps and quality magazine. We build the gun to run the caliber. They have no problem eating up steel-cased surplus! They are a great .30-caliber option and cheap to feed!
GK That .502 Sabre looks like it delivers quite a thump. Can you tell us a little about it and why it is a good option?
JH The .502 T-Sabre is a fun round to shoot. Cloud Mountain originally developed it around 2000 or 2001. Not too many were produced – maybe less than 50. We bought the rights to the branding, all of the available .502 T-Sabre Starline brass and barrel inventory. After about a year of toying around with the platform, we have it where we are pretty happy with it! The riﬂes retail for $1,599. They feature a 16-inch stainless Lothar Walther 1:19 barrel. They now come with a thread protector or the R&J Mega Keg brake for $99, including a 10-round mag. Five-round hunting mags are available and recoil is pretty civilized. It’s about the same as a 12-gauge pump shotgun. We currently offer three loads: 330-grain hardcast slugs at 1,875 feet per second, 325-grain JHP at 1,650 fps and 300-grain FTX at 1,775 fps. Ammo costs start at $1 per round, which puts it as one of the most affordable bigbore ARs on the market.
GK What are most of your return customers saying when they come back to you and what else are they looking for?
JH We have some of the best customers in the business! Many travel several hours to come out to us. It’s very humbling to hear how happy people are with their purchase, especially when it’s a product we produced. Many times they are returning for some sort of upgrade(s) or to expand their collection, or to just come in and say hi!
GK Where do you see your company going from here and which area would you like to grow?
JH I hope to see us continue to expand and grow the R&J Firearms name. We currently have the RJ-10 platform in the works and will be offering them in a .308 and 6.5 Creedmoor. We have also discussed producing our own suppressors, as that market has really boomed – bad pun – in the past couple years.
For more, visit rjﬁrearms.org. ASJ