Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Orion Arms Custom Engraving : Make Your Mark


If any of you have ever built or thought about building a short barreled rifle/shotgun; you know that BATFE requires that you have the receiver engraved to exacting specifications. When I registered my AR lower I turned to Orion Arms.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Ryan, the Owner of Orion Arms, and asked him a few questions:


DoubleAught:
What made you want to get into the firearms business?

Ryan:
The idea of applying for a FFL started at a point in my life when I realized I knew too much about guns not to try and make some money from it. I wasn't sure how but, I figured I would come up with something other than just selling firearms. At first, I actually was going to sell hand fabricated drum magazines for a somewhat uncommon model. It required converting a double stack mag to single stack and making it work with a surplus drum. The three I made worked well in both full and semi-automatic versions of that model.

DoubleAught:
How did you come up with the name 'Orion Arms'?

Ryan:
The name of the business came from my favorite song; Orion by Metallica. It's an instrumental but, it's a great instrumental. It was actually played on a key board in the background of the first website. It ended up using too much space and got the boot. I gave anyone a $5 credit that could name it; it was never officially announced but, a couple mentioned the name and got $5 off.

DoubleAught:
How did Orion Arms get into firearms engraving?

Ryan:
The engraving side of things started when I was talking to a good friend of mine that owned and operated Tom Sawyer Manufacturing (TSM). His family was growing and guns were something that he didn't want around any more. I purchased the engraving equipment and tools and ran with it. TSM used to offer full custom receivers that they had manufactured for them. We have looked at this avenue many times but the right arrangement just hasn't come about yet. It didn't take long for the TSM fan base to accept us and trust us. I believe we have upheld the level of quality and customer service that TSM fans and new customer would expect.

DoubleAught:
Do you have any competition? What do you offer that they don't?

Ryan:
There are a couple of companies out there that are direct competition. Some have not lasted as long as others and are no longer around.
Our biggest offering over our competition is our engraving machine. It is a rotary engraver which uses a cutter to physically cut out and remove the material. Most companies use more modern equipment such as lasers. Unless you shell out the big dollars you won't have a laser powerful enough to penetrate deep enough to meet the BATFE requirements for manufacturer markings. Some cannot even burn through the layer of anodizing on an AR receiver, therefor, we see alot of SBR and SBS work as well as home built semi-auto rifles.
The use of a rotary cutter also allows us to reproduce many Government and non-copy righted machine gun markings. The channel left by the cutter closely resembles the look of a roll stamp on a M2HB or early Government issued M16's. We can reproduce many images with high accuracy. We have a goal of at least a 95% match to the original art.

DoubleAught:
What is your most popular service?

Ryan:
SBR markings are popular for us and we do a ton of custom images. The most common model we work with would have to be the AR15 type rifles. I refer to them as the Chevy small block of the firearms world. There are so many ways to build them with different calibers and such.
We keep a couple AR receivers on hand but, we are happy to work with items the customers already own.

DoubleAught:
How large is Orion Arms?

Ryan:
We are a small mom and pop type shop. Just a small low-key operation to keep costs down.

DoubleAught:
Do you consider yourself a firearms enthusiast?

Ryan:
I personally was not raised around firearms but, I did a once a year duck hunting trip on my grandparents farm. I do hunt small game from time to time with friends but, my real passion is historic firearms; anything from WW1 to the Vietnam War. The history tied to them is something that should never be forgotten; yet history still repeats itself.
It's fascinating how there can be so many different models of machine guns; that all preform the exact same task; load, fire, and repeat. It's neat to see them broken down and learn how they all do it differently.


For more information be sure to check out Orion Arms website. All photographs courtesy of Orion Arms.

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