Benghazi hero Dave ‘Boon’ Benton unveils his ‘Askari’ at the Orlando International SWAT Round-Up
STORY AND PHOTOS BY PAUL PAWELA
The Alamo is one of the most celebrated feats of bravery in American history. For 13 days in 1836, a small band of rebels (reports say 160 to 180 men) defending an old Spanish mission called the Alamo held out against a vastly superior-sized fighting force of an estimated 4,000.
That bloody siege came to an end on the morning of March 6 when Mexican
General Santa Anna’s soldiers attacked and killed the entire Alamo garrison.
The story of the Alamo quickly enshrined the event in its place of
importance in history and made people like William B. Travis, James Bowie and David Crockett largerthan-life American folk heroes. To stand on the hallowed grounds of the Alamo, the spirits call out for remembrance in both patriotism and heroism. One can almost hear the voice of Lieutenant Colonel Travis, commander of the Alamo, as he penned the final letter of his life:
“To the people of Texas and all Americans in the world – fellow citizens and compatriots – I am besieged, by a thousand or more Mexicans under Santa Anna – I have sustained a continual bombardment and cannonade for 24 hours and have not lost a man. The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise be put to the sword, if the fort is taken – I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, and our flag waves proudly from the walls.
In Arabic and in Swahili, Askari means “soldier.” In Old Norse, it means the “spear of God.”
I shall never surrender or retreat. I call on you in the name of liberty, of patriotism and everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch – The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily and will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his honor and that of his country – victory or death!”
That is what makes America great, the fighting spirit and resolve of its warriors who live the creed Lt. Col. Travis spoke of.
MANY YEARS LATER on September 11, 2012, another group of rough and tough, true-grit Americans found themselves fighting against overwhelming odds, this time overseas in Benghazi, one of the most dangerous places on the planet. The story has been well documented and was excellently featured in the February 2016 American Shooting Journal article “The Hell That Was Benghazi,” by Frank Jardim, about the movie 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.
Just as the men of The Alamo have become household names, so too have the men of Benghazi, including Mark “Oz” Geist, Kris “Tanto” Paronto, John “Tig” Tiegen, and Dave “Boon” Benton.
Boon, who prefers anonymity to fame, is a former Marine Corps sergeant and a former SWAT team police officer. In the Marines, he was a member of a Maritime Special Purpose Force and special operations capable. As the book 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi states, he is a man of many specialties, from close-quarters battle to long-distance sniping and everything in between. For over a decade he was also a highly valued personal protection specialist for the CIA.
In the industry, Boon is well known and well documented for his heroism under fire. I was honored to receive training from him and Tanto, and I was even more honored to write about the two and the tactical lessons they imparted to me in a July 2018 American Shooting Journal article.
AS TIME HAS passed, I have gotten to personally know Boon better. I have traveled with him, broken bread with him, lived under the same roof as him and trained classes with him, and I can attest he is the real deal 24/7. You may be thinking that I am just idol worshiping the man.
Alex Ferrer, owner of Veritas Tactical, Dave “Boon” Benton and Deputy Sheriff Marla Coveland, Orange County Sheriff’s Office and Range Master.
The truth of the matter is that all my life I have been blessed to be surrounded by warriors; my dad was a World War II four combat-jump paratrooper wounded at the Battle of the Bulge and a charter featured in the movie A Bridge Too Far, as he was on that bridge.
I am constantly mentored by larger-than life good friends such as Ranger Hall of Famers Gary O’Neal and Max Mullen, and Danny McKnight, who
commanded ground forces during the Battle of Mogadishu and was portrayed
by Tom Sizemore in Black Hawk Down. Then there are all my ex-Delta and Seal Team 6 mentors.
Benton is a unique man, a quiet man, very much a philosopher of life. He is a family man, a lover of his country and God. A man who will fight to the death if need be, but trust me, it would be no easy task to kill him, as it has been tried many times before. On weapons, tactics, combatives and overall survival skills, there are very few people I listen to more closely than Boon. TOGETHER WITH ALEX Ferrer, the CEO and owner of Veritas and a custom rifle builder, Boon has come up with a new design for the AR pistol he has dubbed the Askari. The Askari, which conceals well in an average backpack, is a 5.56 AR pistol platform with 7075 T6 forged aluminum upper and lower ambidextrous bolt catch and release.
It also features a 7.5-inch 1:7-twist SEP match barrel with a 4150V-grade
Mil-Spec B 1159E chrome moly (CrMo V) and black nitride finish-NiB barrel extension.
Dead Foot Arms
The pistol-length gas system with Geissele .750-inch low-profile gas block comes complete with a 7-inch Geissele MK 14 Rail System, Geissele airborne charging handle and Geissele carbine buffer and 42 wire carbine buffer spring. Other accoutrements to be found on the Askari include an AAC Flash Hider, WMD Nib M16 BCG, Radian 45-degree ambidextrous safety, Law Tactical folding adapter SB SBA3 Pistol brace, VZ Grips AR Grips, rail panels and hand stop, and Magpul Pro back and front flip-up sights
complete with Magpul Trigger guard.
Also included in the package is an Askari laser-engraved 30-round magazine, Askari name and logo laser engraved on the receiver and hard case, along with a personal autographed picture from Boon himself.
THE ASKARI LOGO’S history has deep rooted meaning to Boon. In Arabic and in Swahili, Askari means “soldier.” In Old Norse, it means the “spear of God.” The triangle symbolizes the diverse mission profile of direct action with the tenants of close-quarter battle (speed, surprise and violence of action), as well as the PPS operators’ mission
statement (deter, detect and defend).
The Latin phrase Invenimus tibi translates to “we found you,” which means you are safe because we are protecting you. The stars are deeply personal, as they pay tribute to fallen brothers of Boon’s who were lost in three different actions in three different geographical operating areas. The spear pays homage to those who are always deployed forward and operating beyond the tip of the spear.
SO WHAT IS so special about the Askari? For one, it was tested and vetted by another famous Marine war hero and firearms instructor extraordinaire, Israel Matos, one of the famed individuals featured in Paronto’s new book The Patriot’s Creed. With the Askari, Matos was able to hit targets out to 250 yards with a 1¾-inch grouping using a standard 55-grain .223-caliber bullet. That is outstanding coming from a 7-inch barrel. The Askari was well vetted at last November’s Orlando International SWAT Round-Up, where the gun performed so well that another article is warranted on it in the future.
Second, Davy Crockett’s rifle ol’ Betsy was just as beautiful as it was
lethal; fully functional with deadly good looks. The Askari fits the same bill and profile – beautiful and lethal.
Third, the gun was built and designed by an American hero, thus making the Askari, like Crockett’s Betsy, part of American history – and rightfully so!
Editor’s note: For more information on Dave “Boon” Benton’s training, go to threatmanagementsolutions.com. For more on the Askari and Veritas Tactical, Boon on the range. go to veritastactical.com.
Veritas Tactical makes AR pistols for self-defense applications.
For those who know me and have trained with me as well, it is no secret I am a huge advocate of the AR pistol. There are many reasons, which I shall address in this article.
Without going into a lot of lawyer speak, the National Firearms Act of
1934 established a law forbidding the possession of a rifle or shotgun under the barrel length of 16 inches, which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms would classify as a short barrel rifle.
Of course, a law-abiding citizen could apply for the tax stamp at a cost of $200, plus the jackedup price for their choice of an SBR, which can easily go from $2,000 to $3,000 or more, with a wait for the feds to approve your paperwork for a year or more.
Or one can simply buy an approved AR pistol with an approved SIG brace, Shockwave blade, Lawman Tactical or some other approved variant stock that the BATF allows, even for shoulder firing positions. All for half the cost of an approved SBR.
Considering the outrage against semiautomatic rifles in the news lately, some might question the sanity of a recommendation for the AR platform. Let me explain.
Alex Ferrer (right), Veritas CEO and owner, and Fernando “Zep” Zeppieri, the company’s sales manager, have years of tactical experience with law enforcement and personal protection for the CIA and others.
FIRST, FROM THE historical side of it. The group of people I put as the best ever overall citizens in the United States who used guns in their daily lives were the pioneers of the 1800s traveling west in covered wagons and building homes in the open prairie.
It was not uncommon for them to have the newest weaponry of some kind of single-action sixshooter like a Colt, a double-barreled shotgun (usually under 16 inches for concealability) and the most popular assault rifle of the day, the Winchester lever-action.
And every man, woman and child knew how to safely use those weapons with great proficiency. Why? Because those weapons provided food on the table and protection from hostiles and marauders.
So what has changed between the hostiles and marauders of yesterday and those of today? Nothing much, except for the fact that the evil men of today are getting more violent and more aggressive, preying on victims who are helpless against them, because some social bureaucrats who are well protected from violence themselves with armed guards see fit to restrict the very guns that would help the common citizen household.
The AR platform is also ideal for self-defense.
For the legally armed citizen, the two most common areas of vulnerability, not surprisingly, are the home and the vehicle.
Obviously, it makes perfect sense to have the best weapons system one
could have to fortify their defensive positions in the places most likely to get attacked. This may not be a politically correct statement, as the anti-crowd denounces the use of the AR rifle for any reason, especially making the case that most mass murder active shooters used these types of weapons.
A rational human being will cite that evil people will use whatever implement they want to murder someone. However, consider the damage and destruction someone who had very little to no training on the AR system and how effective it was.
Then how much more effective would it be in the well-trained hands
of the law-abiding citizen?
RECENTLY I ATTENDED a training session with two of the heroes from Benghazi and 13 Hours fame. Kris “Tanto” Paronto and Dave “Boon” Benton were the instructors of this two-day course. What caught my eye was the AR pistol that Benton was shooting.
He explained to me that it was built by Veritas Tactical. When I further pressed if that was one of the men in the handgun portion of the class, I learned that indeed it was – one Fernando “Zep” Zeppieri.
Zep is not only the sales manager for Veritas Tactical but also a gunsmith and firearms trainer. Now I was even more intrigued.
When a distinguished man like Benton – a man who has a valued reputation in this industry amongst his peers, and a man who has been there, done that for real – endorses a product and puts his name on it with his own
personal stamp of approval, one should pay attention, and I did just that.
An endorsement from Boon is an honor, and Veritas Tactical truly
deserves it. After much sycophant pleading to our great editor, he gave
me the green light to spotlight Veritas Tactical and their AR pistol platform.
VERITAS IS OWNED and operated by Alex Ferrer, who is cut from the same mold as Benton. Ferrer has over 19 years of tactical experience in law enforcement and 12 years of private security and intelligence, working for very high-speed people.
Ferrer worked undercover operations and tactics, and has also had combined work with DEA, ICE, FBI and the Secret Service. Zeppieri, the
aforementioned sales manager, has an equally impressive LEO background.
He has had experience in everything from patrol to criminal investigation division working in the narcotics section/street and investigation.
In plain English, these men are seasoned door-kickers. Men who have taken down bad guys and slugged it out with them in gunfights.
Why is this important? Because they are putting out a product they
themselves would use. They would bet their own lives that the guns
they build work each and every time.
They know from life experience what works and what doesn’t because they
have learned life lessons, learned the hard way, and they’re still standing, which speaks volumes!
As Ferrer himself states, “I’ve always had a passion for guns since I was a kid. My interest was knowing how they worked and I can remember taking my brother’s guns apart and putting them back together at a very young age.”
In 2015, he started his own business by building AR rifles with the
finest American machined parts. This led to an interest in shorter AR guns, even an AR with a 10.5-inch barrel working in conjunction with Artisan Arms out of Apopka, Florida, for gun barrels Veritas Tactical could work their magic around.
As they say in the business, the rest is history.
Working both in undercover operations and executive protection fields for years, Ferrer understood the need for a compact AR weapon system
that was still chambered in 5.56mm or .300 Blackout and the most important element to make the gun work!
IN 2016 AT S.H.O.T. Show in Las Vegas, Veritas introduced to the public the fruits of their labor: the Veritas
Executive PDW/Pistol weapon systems. These are available with a
4.5-or 5-inch barrel in 5.56mm or .300 Blackout.
The Veritas Pro or Pro Elite Series SBR/Pistol weapon systems are available with 7.5-, 10.5-and 11.5-inch barrels chambered in the same calibers. Using the same barrels in all of Veritas’ weapons gives working consistency and a great performing barrel in all lengths.
The weapon system from Veritas that had me salivating the most was their VT15 Pro Elite 7P AR-Pistol.
Being true experts, it would have been very easy for them just to go on their own personal experiences to build their guns, only they didn’t.
They took the time to consult with other experts in the industry doing
the job every day. From all the data they gained, their decision was
clear to use the Geissele rail system and other components as standard
features on the Pro Elite Series.
The Geissele components consist of rail system, gas block, charging handle, buffer spring, maritime bolt catch (on non-PDQ model) and trigger. The Pro Elite Models come with Veritas Tactical premium match hybrid polygonal barrels guaranteed to shoot sub-MOA groups with match-quality
ammunition from their 14.5-inch barrels (which is incredible).
To document just how good the Veritas guns are, a sheriff’s department in Florida conducted a ballistic test using multiple bonded and duty rounds.
The rounds were fired out of the Pro 7.5 and it performed very well, and on a few of the tests it had better penetration results than other 10.5-inch and even 16-inch rifles that were being tested by the sheriff’s department.
THE AR PISTOL is a great self-defense platform, as it is portable to conceal and transport. If things go bad, a lot of rounds can go downrange with pinpoint accuracy to make the threat go away quickly.
Just as our pioneer ancestors of the Old West had in their inventory
for survival – a good single-action revolver, a double-barreled shotgun
and a Winchester rifle – we should do the same with modern safety
A good quality semiautomatic pistol like a Glock 17, a good pump shotgun like the Remington 870, and a good AR pistol from Veritas Tactical. Much to the chagrin of my girlfriend, I will heed my own advice as the Veritas Tactical VT15 Pro Elite is the next gun that will be a warm welcome with the rest of my inventory. ? Editor’s note: For more information, go to veritastactical.com.