American Rifleman - July 2011 - 51

based in Knoxville, Tenn. The group was looking for
a gun shop to take part in a television series for a
"major cable network." We had to fill out a form and
send in a video describing what went on around here,
so we used range videos like the ones we posted on
the Internet and some stuff from the birthday bash."
The short clips sparked the producers' interest and,
as the next step in the audition process, Will was asked
to put together a two-minute video further describing
the shop and the people who made up his crew.
The video featured 28-year-old Kris Ford, who was
brought on as an apprentice after he met Stephanie at
a party. Ford swept floors and, under Will's tutelage,
was contributing to gun builds. Next was Michigan
native and gunsmith Vince Buckles. The 2004 graduate
of the Pennsylvania Gunsmith School added another
pair of skilled hands to the Red Jacket team. "When I
came on it was just like a family," Ford said. "I was just
excited to have a job and be with these great people."
But even with powerful personalities, the selection
process didn't move fast. It dragged on for almost two
years. Finally, in 2009, Hayden received an offer from
Discovery, and work began on the show.
The eight-month filming process was fraught with
challenges, misconceptions and spent cartridge
cases. The Red Jacket crew had to become familiar
with television production, and the producers had to
become comfortable around guns very quickly. It was
a work in progress.
"We had very few gun people at the beginning of
production," Buckles pointed out. "But a lot of them are
gun people now. When they came here we had a lot of
people that had never held a gun, heard a gun or seen
one fired before."
But on January 26, around three years from the time
that Red Jacket mailed in its initial video, Discovery's
"Sons of Guns" made its debut. The show hit the air
with a bang, and the Red Jacket motto, "If you can
dream it, we can build it," was put to the test.
In the 16-episode lineup in season one viewers
saw the making of some of the most innovative (and
unusual) firearms on the market for civilians, contractors and law enforcement officers. The Red Jacket
crew refurbished a World War II flamethrower and

Discovery Channel photo

built an internal suppressor for the AK-47 platform, a
suppressor for the Saiga 12 shotgun, a twin M16 gun
mount that could fire hundreds of rounds per minute,
a 15-tube rocket launcher to combat pirates overseas,
and a remote-controlled machine gun.
Along the way, millions of viewers became hooked
on Red Jacket's brand of business. The show was a runaway success, dominating the Wednesday night time
slot for Discovery.
But there were some initial criticisms of the show's
failure to accurately depict the extensive process
required for a customer to purchase certain firearms
under the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934. Some
of the NFA or "class III" guns sold at Red Jacket are the
most heavily regulated firearms in the country.
"Paperwork doesn't make good TV," Hayden said.
"But people need to understand this show is about my
family and the people gathered around me. We run
a business here, and we run it the proper, legal way."
Next season will feature more explanation of NFA rules.
Despite the reactionary blend of criticism and
praise heaped upon the show at the outset, "Sons of
Guns" has had a tangible effect on how firearms and
firearm owners are portrayed.
"Honestly, we are just everyday people," Hayden
said. "We are your neighbors. We are family types. We
work, we go home, we take care of our kids, and this is
what we do. And we like to show that to the non-gunowning world."
In the six months since the show made its debut,
the RTS-ZK-SD integrally suppressed AK-47 in
7.62x39 mm and the RTS-ZK-S/S-12 suppressed shotgun have been among Red Jacket's best sellers.
Season two of "Sons of Guns" is scheduled to air in
July, but no matter how long "Sons of Guns" stays on
the air, one fact will remain: It all centers on the boss.
Take the pulse of RJF and you'll find it beats with the
heart of its founder.
With a new season of "Sons of Guns" slated to begin
airing in July, fans look forward to how the Red Jacket
crew can top last year's topics that included rebuilding a World War II flamethrower for a veteran and the
firm's integrally suppressed AK rifle (below).

July 2011 American Rifleman

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American Rifleman - July 2011

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Rifleman - July 2011

American Rifleman - July 2011 - 1
American Rifleman - July 2011 - 2
American Rifleman - July 2011 - 3
American Rifleman - July 2011 - 4
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