The Treasures of Brownells: A gift to the American shooter

Even though I felt at the time that I had lived five lifetimes before I ever hit 20 years of age and had some college under my belt along with two yeas of gunsmithing school, that a fresh-faced kid from Southern Ohio was going to struggle financially under that chosen profession.  Customers after all like seasoned veterans for that kind of work and I hadn’t been around the block much in the shooting world—not officially anyway.  So as a young gunsmith in a little shed behind our home, I was getting work—but it wasn’t the type of high-priced work I’d need to care for a growing family while keeping my wife home so that she could care properly for our children.  The other issue was that clients who would give me a shot as such a young face were the type of people who were in trouble with the law and did not want the older, and orthodox Federal Firearms License holders to handle their needs.  I couldn’t bring those types of people around the house with a one and two-year old children running around.  The other issue was that I needed more experience on the craftsmanship end.  So I took my acquired skills learned through gunsmithing and took professional jobs that required frequent measurements of .001 of an inch reading micrometers and calipers so that I’d develop all the hand skills of the gunsmithing trade.  Along the way I’d write books, get more involved with bullwhip work and spend another five lifetimes over the next twenty-five years getting lots, and lots of experience using many of the gunsmithing skills I had to do work for various companies.  Whereas I made the money to take care of my family in lots of unusual ways my love of gunsmithing never really went away. And one of the great memories from my past during the early days of my marriage to my wife before we started a family was the constant books and catalogues from Brownells which populated our home with huge stacks of shooting literature.

My love for America was shaped during my youth by a gradual introduction to Brownells through my gunsmithing school and our frequent trips to Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  I loved the common sense of rural Americans who found the popular Smoky Mountain resort town such a destination of choosing.  And under that culture was a love of guns, and the people at Brownells even more than the NRA loved the business side of firearms to a point that I found it easy to connect to.  They are such a great organization who unselfishly taught so many neat tricks that they preserved in a way I thought greatly beneficial an aspect of American life that I could see vanishing before my eyes.  Only in the gun circles of companies like Brownells was the true nature of American life being preserved in the way the Constitution always intended.  The videos shown here are just a small example of how Brownells approach the business as they teach how to clean and repair a basic single action revolver.  They additionally break down the care of AR-15s and SIGs with the same patient instruction and they do a lot of this for free.  Also on their website is a section that offers schematics for just about every gun in production so that if you need a little sear for some obscure gun you found at a trade show, you can order it by part number and get a replacement.

When I finally bought my .500 magnum recently after many years and miles of contemplation dividing up my busy life, I took a little more time to admire the vast stock that Bass Pro Shop had to provide materials to the shooting sportsman.  I told my wife that having a place like Bass Pro around would have been very helpful in my early days of gunsmithing because there was nothing like that back then.  You had to go to Gatlinburg or some other exotic place to get that type of positive American atmosphere, let alone the unequivocal support.  But I also told her that Bass Pro had good stuff on their shelves, but that they were no Brownells.  That’s when I realized that I hadn’t visited their site since I stopped performing gunsmithing, so I pulled them up on my iPad and reconnected with an old friend.

I was so happy to see that Brownells was still going strong. They still offer their gigantic full color catalogue which was very expensive back in 1989—it must be ungodly today—but they still ship them to their customers.  They offer hundreds of how-to videos on YouTube completely free of charge and have that same American enthusiasm for the shooting profession they have always been known for, which was a relief.  So it didn’t take me long to reconnect with them after two decades.  As foreign as it sounds, a few decades can get away from you if you don’t watch your time carefully.  I am very selfish with my time because I always have so much going on.  Shooting was only a part of my life, so when you get busy with other things like philosophy, politics, legalisms, economics, and raising a family the proper way, months and years fly by like lightning across the sky.  But it’s never too late to come back to an old project which for me began with the purchase of my .500 magnum from Smith and Wesson.

Another thing that came up when I was younger was the stigma of shooting. I certainly felt it during the late 80s into 90s as the Clinton administration looked like it would be successful in banning military style firearms after the Brady Bill.  I didn’t know at the time if the shooting profession itself was going to be banned all together—it looked that way at the time.  I wasn’t sure how long a company like Brownells would be able to continue doing what they were doing.  When it comes to gunsmithing, they are the primary supplier.  They are the backbone to keeping the shooting industry humming along.  As progressive political activists like George Soros attempt to buy up American gun manufacturers to strategically end the supply of guns in America to private residence, it is the many years of commitment to building a client base of gunsmiths all across the United States that will ensure that shooting never dies out in the only free nation on earth—at least free in principle.  So long as there is a Brownells, there is a gunsmith somewhere who can build a gun from scratch.  Gun manufacturers are not necessarily needed.  But gunsmiths are—and because of Brownells, there are still a healthy number of them around who can keep the sport alive.

It’s easy to forget what America was always supposed to be when you watch the nightly news and read from its newspapers—particularly those from New York and Los Angeles.  But America is quite alive and well in the stores of Bass Pro and the pages of Brownells.  Of that later, Brownells is in a class by itself, and if you are a shooter, it would be a good idea to know who and what they are.  They are a tremendous resource for the modern American shooter—which is a unique company specific to the United States.  You won’t find an equivalent company anywhere else in the world.  Sweden can make tables and chairs for their IKEA stores, Germans can make their cars, France can breed women with unshaved armpits, and the Chinese can continue to make the stuff that Americans want to buy at Wal-Mart but there is nothing like a Brownells in Mexico, Brazil or Australia.  They are specific to the culture of Americana that we all know and love and are the backbone of our lifestyle of freedom.

My return back to my roots is the awareness that strategically progressive activists have sought to end businesses like Brownells and its customer base.  After what I’ve learned in all the other aspects of my life which has filled these pages with so much color and candor is that the best way to defeat that strategy is with an unapologetic embrace of the American art of shooting and caring for our guns.  And when it comes to caring for guns, Brownells as a company are the experts.  A look through their catalogue is enough to make a grown man weep.  There has never been a better collection of tools and gadgets anywhere between the covers of a big catalog.  Brownells does everything right and are a treasure from my past that I am happy to see just as strong today as they were then.  Brownells is the blood behind the body of the shooting profession.  They are what helps keep an interest in the NRA and other shooting organizations so robust, because Brownells keeps guns working and passed down from one generation to another constantly building a client base that has not be snuffed out by activists hell-bent on making America into a restricted nation like Europe.  Brownells keeps the gunsmithing profession alive and is the best source out there for keeping those family treasures functioning and robust.  And if you didn’t know about them dear reader, well, now you do.

Rich Hoffman


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