American Patriots Unsung Magazine Issue 6 - Page 54




Just as sure as the heart of an automobile is the engine , a rifle ’ s heart ( and soul ) is its barrel . This is true whether we ’ re talking about an AR-pattern rifle , a bolt-action , a single-shot , or any other type of firearm . Most of us are satisfied with whatever barrel the factory chose to put on our rifle when it was made . Frankly , most manufacturers ’ barrels are pretty damn good these days , and most factory rifles shoot acceptably well for most applications . But there ’ s a segment among the shooting fraternity that demands more . More accuracy , more consistency , more precision ; and they ’ re willing to pay more to get those things . It ’ s that segment that aftermarket barrel makers cater to , and Black Hole Weaponry barrels deliver . We traveled to the Columbia River Arms manufacturing facility and spent the day with them . We watched a barrel being made from start to finish — which was fascinating — and we got to know Carl and his crew , including his wife and son , who are both integral to the company ’ s success .
Carl grew up in Eastern Washington , hunting something nearly every weekend . He lived to hunt and to be outdoors . When not hunting , he tinkered with guns . At age 14 he purchased a small lathe , with which he made and fixed various things . He volunteered in law enforcement for a period of time and eventually opened a shooting school for police officers , where he taught revolver to semiauto transition , among other things ( yeah , that was a while ago !). There were other twists and turns as he figured out the course his life would eventually take , but , according to Carl , “ No matter what I did , I kept getting brought back into the firearms world .”
He ’ d always been attracted to guns — which he refers to as “ marvelous mechanical devices ,” a description I have a hard time arguing with . To Carl , they ’ re “ equations to be solved .” An important part of any young person ’ s formative process is the people whose lives they intersect with , and Carl is no different . A smile slowly spreads across his face as he tells about an apprenticeship he had as a young man . The master was an old German machinist and gunsmith . He was old school before that was a thing , as Carl tells it . “ Keep your mouth shut , the floor clean , and the coffee cup full ,” the old man liked to say . “ He expected perfection ,” Carl told me , “ and more than once I ’ d work on a project for a week or two , only to have him throw it in the trashcan . At the time , I didn ’ t necessarily appreciate or understand the lesson involved . I do now .”
Times have changed since then , in more ways than one . We ’ re told to be “ kind ,” and to not offend — even by speaking the truth . Our young people learn that getting by is good enough , and that striving for excellence will only make someone else feel inadequate . The results of such nonsense are predictable and on display nearly everywhere we look , but you won ’ t find such attitudes within Columbia River Arms .
Advancements in machine tools have made it easier to make parts that are
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