The past week has proven to me -again- that everyone should take time away from their normal diet of “news information.” For the past week while exploring South Dakota and Wyoming, I’ve intentionally been out of the proverbial news loop. Today, I’m tired, but mentally refreshed.
A constant barrage of bad news is like eating nothing but junk food. Eventually, you’ll pay the price for those dismal diet choices. Junk, whatever the genre, is no good for your health or your soul.
As I noted in Friday’s wires, this trip included a mix of activities. Our sightseeing included visits to shooting ranges where we tried new firearms from several manufacturers in addition to the obligatory stops at Mount Rushmore and Devil’s Tower.
Barnaul ammunition isn’t well known in most of the U.S.- yet, but it’s recognized as top tier in the rest of the world. And it’s available in a variety of calibers.
During our range time, we also shot lots of Barnaul ammunition’s in a variety of guns. I’d never tried Barnaul ammo, but I certainly won’t hesitate going forward. It ran as smoothly and accurately in a variety of guns, in calibers ranging from .223 to .300 AAC Blackout, and .308 Winchester rifle ammo to 9mm, and .45 Auto pistol ammo. Exclusive importer MKS Supply’s Charlie Brown tells me there will be even more new offerings soon, including premium competition ammo.
But we didn’t just shoot guns, we visited H-S Precision’s production facilities in Rapid City. That’s where I began to see that the U.S. is still more than capable of high-end manufacturing. While most of the computerized machines turning out parts are imported, H-S precision rifles are manufactured entirely in-house. According to COO Tim Houghton, the company was impacted by restrictions on workers and raw materials, but didn’t suffer the supply chain stress for components. “We build them here,” he said, “so we didn’t need to worry about getting parts, just raw materials and shipping materials.”
From the small parts (above) to the barrel blank being examined by Inland Manufacturing’s Ron Norton (middle), every part of H-S precisions rifles, including the stock Tim Houghton’s holding (below) are created in Rapid City.
My industry visits didn’t end with Motoschutzen. On the way home, I detoured (about a mile) off of Interstate 90 to visit Boyd’s Gunstocks. Boyds is located -literally - I the middle of farmland outside Mitchell, South Dakota. Not exactly where most of us would expect to find high-level manufacturing.
Forty years ago, Boyds Gunstocks was a one-man operation. Today, it’s the world’s largest manufacturer of aftermarket gunstocks. More than 100 workers crank out wooden gunstocks in everything from fine claro walnut to brightly colored composites.
From blocks of hardwood (top) Boyds Gunstocks takes pieces of wood, combines machine precision and hand-finish expertise (bottom) and turns out precision gun stocks (below) in a variety of configurations as attractive as they are accurate.
If you’re into woodworking, it’s awesome to see the mix of hand tools and computerized manufacturing turn pieces of hand-sawn hardwood into rifle stocks. Throughout the process, craftsmen and craftswomen watch, check, hand-finish and approve completed stocks.
A couple of years ago I put a Boyds Gunstock on a very accurate, but otherwise very drab looking, but very accurate rifle. The transformation from ugly but accurate to good-looking was immediate. And their variety of stock options means you can go from mild to wild with your look.
Today, I understand why. It’s called pride in workmanship.
When you hear someone droning on about the inability of this country to make quality products, don’t pay too-much attention to them. They’re simply parroting someone else’s thoughts. There are plenty of skilled workers turning out quality products across the United States.
You just don’t hear much about them- unfortunately.
— Jim Shepherd