image via Rifle Dynamics
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"This is an American tradition and we want to uphold that heritage and respect."
Jim Fuller is a retired electrician. He spent years wiring, welding and learning the high art of attention to detail in his craft. But for years he dreamed of a different line of work; he wanted to open up a company to build and sell reliable firearms. And in 2007, he and his wife Karen did just that.
"In my lifetime, we've gone from seeing people have large, nice walnut cases where they displayed their firearms; it was a status symbol," Fuller, the president of Rifle Dynamics, told TheBlaze. "Nowadays people have to hide them in a locked case under the bed."
Fuller has a passion for weapons, but he especially longs to see people learn to care for and develop a personal connection with their firearms. So in addition to teaching classes on rifle safety and familiarity in Las Vegas, he decided to offer classes where people can learn to build their own weapons.
"It is absolutely legal and possible to buy all the items you need to build your own rifle at home," Fuller said. He's right, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives states on its website, "per provisions of the Gun Control Act (GCA) of 1968, 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44, an unlicensed individual may make a “firearm” as defined in the GCA for his own personal use, but not for sale or distribution."
Granted, you could look it all up online, order the parts yourself and take on the task of building a rifle in your basement. But if you want to build an AK-47 that will actually operate safely and reliably, you may want to hire a professional.
"We specialize in the Kalishnakov, and I've been working with these weapons for more than 30 years," Fuller said. "Some people can be intimidated by the idea of building their own weapon, but we carefully walk through the entire process and inspect everything."
Fuller said he and Karen take careful steps to ensure everything is done legally and above board.
"It is a hefty process to get the permits to be able to distribute weapons," he said. But they "really believe" in making sure gun owners have reliable products to use when needed.
But Fuller also said his dream job is about much more than just building operational firearms. It's about honoring a nearly lost art form.
"These weapons are 1940s technology, and the the construction method for the AK was stamp sheet metal instead of milled parts ... this is the right way to build it," he said. "Over the years people have tried to build them different ways but it doesn't really capture what the weapon is famous for, especially the reliability and work in nearly any environment, going nearly 300,000 rounds and still going strong."
Fuller even developed a rear sight modification to the AK because so many people have complained that the sights were too small. He got creative and consulted with his optometrist — also an avid shooter — to developed the new sights.
"By widening the rear sight notch and rounding the corners it makes the eye naturally align with the sight notch, allowing a much improved sight picture," the Rifle Dynamics site explains. "The meter marking and battle zero are still to spec, it’s a HUGE improvement using the stock sights."
"To me it's all about the Second Amendment," the 58-year-old licensed gunsmith said."This is an American tradition and we want to uphold that heritage and respect. We started this business out of our garage and grew it from there, and now all of our build classes are sold out for this year already."
"This is my dream job," Fuller said. "If I could have started doing this 30 years ago, I would have."
Fuller said he meets amazing people in his line of work, especially special operators who often favor their hand-built AK-47s even to their military-issued weapons. "We know plenty of guys who switch over to their personal weapons when the fighting gets really tough, because they know they want them to work," he said.
Rifle Dynamics hosts build classes in cities around the nation, and Fuller said they are already selling into classes for 2015.
Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter.
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