[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
[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”5″]T[/su_dropcap]he American Built Arms Company was started in 2010 by Jason Combs, a veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division and the Maryland National Guard. As a longtime outdoor enthusiast, Combs has been around ﬁrearms and other hunting tools his whole life. After the economy went belly-up in 2008, he took his innovative AR-15 hand guard design idea and his life savings, and launched A*B Arms.
Over the next year and a half, the company continued to design and launch a few other AR-15, AK-47 and IWI Tavor parts and accessories. Soon, a large, high-end AR manufacturer approached them to produce quality, Swissmachined bolt assemblies, and this additional work helped A*B Arms move forward with increased name recognition and product sales.
When the AR-15 market went soft in 2014, A*B Arms saw the opportunity to shift gears and move back into the hunting and long-range shooting arena. The company designed and launched the MOD*X Modular Riﬂe System, a lightweight, aluminum chassis system for the Remington Model 700 Short Action.
Within a few months, they had sold more than 500 units to a variety of distributors, law enforcement agencies and hunting enthusiasts. Feedback was positive overall, but various Marine Corps snipers, SWAT team members and competitive long-range shooters shared some excellent advice regarding a few small, important changes that they wanted to see to improve the MOD*X. Combs listened to their feedback and launched the MOD*X GEN III. Today, A*B Arms is designing chassis systems for riﬂes beyond the Remington Model 700.
American Shooting Journal What are the typical signs that a person should upgrade their riﬂe to your MOD-X Chassis system?
American Built Arms Bolt-action enthusiasts are looking for two main things when evaluating an upgrade of their factory installed stock to our MOD*X GEN III chassis. The ﬁrst is to reduce weight, and the second is to give the riﬂe an improved tactical look and feel. Some states don’t allow hunting with an AR-15 and the MOD*X GEN III gives the user a riﬂe that looks like one. Some folks tell us that they “found” their grandpop’s old Model 700 with a beat-up, old stock and wanted to bring it into the 21st century.
ASJ Does this process require a gunsmith or anything different to change over to Chassis system?
ABA The beauty of the MOD*X GEN III Modular Riﬂe System is that you can remove your barreled action from your existing stock and assemble it into the MOD*X GEN III within 10 to 15 minutes. No special tools are needed. Just your standard hex screwdrivers and some Loctite. No gunsmithing is required.
ASJ All things being equal, is there a signiﬁcant shot group size reduction after transitioning to one of your MOD-X Chassis systems?
ABA Sure, all things being equal, the MOD*X GEN III will reduce your groupings substantially. That’s due to the fact that the chassis “envelops” the barreled action in a tight grip. No more potential slop often found in some bedded stocks.
ASJ Have only competition shooters made the changeover, or have you heard from hunters as well?
ABA Hunters are huge fans because of the weight reduction and the ability to add tactical accessories to the KeyMod rails, such as lights and night scopes, etc. Not to mention, with the side-folding variant, you can put your riﬂe into a carbine bag for easy transport.
ASJ Can you keep the same barrel and hardware when switching over?
ABA The MOD*X GEN III works with the Remington Model 700 short-barreled actions. Remington owners have built .223, .308 and 6.5 Creedmoor barreled actions into the MOD*X GEN III. A*B Arms provides all the hardware to make the switch from the stock to the chassis, as well as an easy-to-read assembly manual.
For more information, visit abarms.com.