A shot at a dream

One of his lower receivers laying on the counter, Jeff Pierce disassembles an AR-15 to show the multiple pieces.

One of his lower receivers laying on the counter, Jeff Pierce disassembles an AR-15 to show the multiple pieces. Photo by Matthew Zimmerman Banderas.

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For many men, sitting around a gun store all day would be a dream come true. Gun store owner Jeff Pierce, on the other hand, would rather devote his time to designing and building guns.

“Retail wasn’t really my focus,” Pierce said in a recent interview at his store. “It (is) necessary to do the other parts.”

Pierce began his fledgling business as an instructor in 2006, conducting a wide range of gun classes while still employed as a weapons instructor for the Army. After Pierce retired from the Army in 2012, he opened Double Diamond Tactical–Tac Armory in Milton-Freewater. But the store is just a stepping stone to achieve another goal – manufacturing his own brand of weapons.

“I was licensed as a manufacturer two years ago. I would focus on design and training classes if I didn’t have to work the counter,” Pierce said. “I’ve got a couple of unique designs, but ARs are the hot item..”

Pierce is focusing on manufacturing AR-15 style lower receivers, the first of several planned production pieces.

Initially developed in 1955 as the AR-10 by Eugene Stoner, and later modified by others at ArmaLite, Inc., the AR-15 style rifle was adopted by the U.S. Military the 1960’s and has become one of the most widely used and recognized weapons in the world.

According to Pierce, it is also one of the best selling rifle styles in the U.S., and despite many manufactures already producing AR-15 style weapons, there is still room for more production.

“The big thing right now is supply can’t keep up with demand,” Pierce said.

According to a 2012 article by Time Magazine, between 2008 and 2011, there was a 30 percent increase in employment in the gun industry, an industry that added $5.1 billion in taxes to federal and state government coffers.

Manpower isn’t the only issue, according to Pierce, who said gun legislation at both state and federal levels have stymied production.

“Everybody’s been afraid to invest in production,” Pierce said. “ People are scared of politics.”

Pierce himself has approached manufacturing cautiously as he expands his business.

“I don’t have loans, it’s all cash,” Pierce said. “I don’t like debt, so I avoided it like the plague.”

Pierce now worries, a little, he might have missed the gun boom as concerns about gun legislation have sparked shortages of guns and ammunition nationwide.

“When I made the decision it seemed smarter,” Pierce said, adding problems with investors have set him back a few months.

Currently Pierce only offers “80-percent” AR-15 receivers that he can ship to unlicensed buyers because they can not be turned into a functioning firearm without additional machining.

“It’s a pretty slim market of people willing to finish them,” Pierce said, adding because they are unfinished receivers, he doesn’t have to put a serial number on them. “(It) saves you from the paperwork, but you have to have the mechanical ability to finish them yourself.”

Pierce plans to purchase his own machinery and offer completed receivers this summer, and stated he hopes to tap into a custom rifle market.

“A lot of manufacturers are doing mil-spec (building to military specifications),” Pierce said. “I wanted to do something custom just for fun.”

Pierce calls his receivers “beyond mil-spec” with a more robust construction that still allows mil-spec parts to be used in the rest of the rifle construction.

“It’s beefed up,” Pierce said. “It’s like extra bracing in a house.”

Currently Pierce is advertising his unfinished receivers for $199, and plans to start building more parts, including rifle upper receivers. Eventually Pierce plans to also build bolt carrier groups (the part of the gun that loads and fires the rifle round for non-gun person) and 1911 style pistols.

In the distant future, Pierce also hopes to be able to work on some of his other designs as well.

For more information about Double Diamond Tactical and current training class offerings, visit www.TacArmory.com

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