She’s long, tan, and loves left-handers. She’s a little heavier than you might expect, but that just means she can’t kick you as hard. And while those on the left would like you to believe it’s conservatives who have a “war on women,” liberals hate her.
Who is she? She’s the new custom-made AR-15 rifle from Black Rain Ordnance presented to Glenn Beck last Friday.
“Beautiful,” a wide-eyed Beck said after Black Rain Ordnance President Justin Harvel and his team presented him with the gun — a left-handed model from the company’s PG-6 line — as the sun’s rays seemed to spotlight the rifle during the late morning. Beck being left-handed, the modification is crucial.
It’s that attention to detail that made the presentation even more special.
“We were at our booth [during the 2012 NRA convention in St. Louis]. Glenn came by with his security staff on the way to his speech and I remember him holding one of our rifles up…and he was holding it up left-handed,” Harvel – who has a bushy, red beard that somewhat hides his mouth – told TheBlaze while at a local gun range.
“Well, we just introduced this left-handed model and [we thought], ‘What a great idea, let’s give him a left-handed, he’ll never believe it.’”
For Harvel and his team, seeing Beck’s reaction (which Harvel described as “awe”) was payment enough.
“Obviously he’s got money and he could go buy anything he wanted to,” he said. “But I think it was more of the meaning around it.”
You may remember the Black Rain Ordnance name from earlier this year. It was the gun-maker who built a custom AR-15 for C.J. Grisham, the Texas veteran who had his rifle confiscated while “rudely displaying” it in Texas.
“We follow his progress daily,” Harvel said. “He’s still battling through court.”
“He’s fighting for what’s right, and that’s what we believe in and that’s why we supported him,” Harvel added.
When TheBlaze first told you about the company’s gesture, Grisham was leaning toward the “pink splash” version. Harvel said that’s exactly what he chose – and he gave it to his wife “in the hopes that he would get his gun back and get her more involved in the sport.”
It’s a goal becoming tougher as politicians and gun control advocates are working hard to demonize so-called “assault rifles. Given that, what does the company think of the future of the AR-15?
“The modern sporting rifle is here to stay,” Kevin Greb, the state’s regional sales manager, told Beck while sitting in his office during the presentation. “It’s truly America’s rifle. Until legislation comes down that outright bans firearms, the AR is here to say. It’s not going anywhere.”
That’s good news for a company as rugged and hard-working as its guns. The story of Black Rain Ordnance is a quintessential “American dream.” Harvel’s dad, uncles, and grandfather were all in retail sales and introduced a young Justin to guns at a young age: “I literally had a gun in my hand before I could walk.”
“In the retail business, I had two stores at the time of my prime and I was listening to the customers as they would come in — they’re not getting what they need, as a retailer I wasn’t getting what I needed,” he said.
“It was so frustrating, because it was like the manufactures didn’t care, they weren’t producing a quality product, they were going overseas to China to import some of this stuff — they were just mass producing it and not caring about quality.”
So he decided to change that.
After working as a full-time firefighter for 10 years, he brought together a close group of family and friends in the small town of Neosho, Mo. He poured money and “sweat equity” into the business, worked 70-80 hours a week, and started living by a simple mission statement: “We’ll never produce anything we wouldn’t personally own or operate.”
Since starting as a small mom-and-pop manufacturer in January 2009, the company has grown from him as the first employee to now about 40 workers. The first year, they produced 12 rifles – this year they’re poised to build over 12,000. And after initially being turned down by big retailers, you can now find their guns in over 5,000 stores across the country, including giants such as Bass Pro Shop, Cabela’s, Gander Mountain, and Scheels All Sports.
And while Harvel and his team have worked hard to get the company to where it is today, he’s also quick not to downplay good old-fashioned “luck.”
“I’m not going to deny that,” he said while chuckling.
If you’re wondering about the name, Harvel said the symbol is the result of working at the fire department and walking past the biohazard symbol for so long. “Black rain” stemmed from a Google search of what the symbol really meant. He finally came across a news article describing nuclear warfare as “white cloud, black rain.”
“So I thought, ‘black rain,’ that’s pretty cool: black rifle that we’re making; raining bullets, raining brass. And so ‘Black Rain’ it was,” he said. “And so we took it from there.”
But there’s more to it than that. One of their slogans now is, “Today’s forecast: storms likely.” And it has a special meaning for Harvel’s law enforcement and military clients.
“I know when you leave the house and you kiss your kids goodnight for bed and you have to work that night shift, what is that storm waiting for you on the other side of that door? Are you going to be able to come home to your wife and kids?”
“So you need the best weapons, you need quality weapons, you need somebody making those weapons that cares about who you are and your family coming home to them. … By carrying the best weapons, [you know] they’re going to work, the quality, the accuracy, the precision behind them, they’re American-made.”
Just like Justin’s relatives did with him, Mercury One – Beck’s charity and philanthropic arm – is looking to get guns in the hands of America’s future generation at an early age. And its doing it in small and big ways.
After the presentation of Beck’s gun on Friday, Kerry took a slew of young employees and interns to local shooting range, Elm Fork, for a private safety and shooting session with the executives from Black Rain Ordnance. There, the young people got to fire some of the company’s “coolest” weapons, including fully automatic ones.
Besides outreach such as the range trip, on November 2 the charity is putting on a clay pigeon shoot to raise money and “build awareness for gun safety and gun awareness among children and teenagers,” Mercury One President Joe Kerry told TheBlaze as bullets popped in the background.
“We’re seeing in schools and in public settings that guns are disappearing,” Kerry, who earlier held up a massive .308 rifle, explained, “and because of that people are afraid of them.”
“One of our missions is to make sure kids aren’t afraid of guns,” he said. “If they’re used properly and are respected, there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
Watch video of Beck receiving his rifle below, as well as footage of this author shooting some of the fully automatic Black Rain Ordnance weapons (and don’t miss the promise Beck made to former SEAL Marcus Luttrell):
You can watch more exclusive footage of the gun presentation — including the moment Beck uncases the rifle — later this week on TheBlaze TV.
Those interested in the clay pigeon shoot and what Mercury One is doing for firearms education can email firstname.lastname@example.org. To see Black Rain Ordnance’s full range of AR-15s, you can visit their website.