The "Honor Roll" of Quality Companies


While I still work as a private investigator in the Detroit area, I no longer do surveillance, just investigative work. This is by choice, as while surveillance can be interesting, it is grueling. I did surveillance for the better part of twelve years, though, which meant that not only did I have to drive a certain type of vehicle, it couldn't have any distinguishing characteristics. So, no matter how many Honor Roll bumper stickers my sons earned, indicating they were so much smarter than their classmates, it was a crime on the order of magnitude of Stephen Hawking being forced to sit next to the Kardashians at the DMV. I couldn't put the bumper stickers on my vehicle without risking the chance of being noticed while following someone.

That is no longer the case, and I am free to put whatever stickers I want on my post-surveillance-era vehicle, which by itself sticks out in a crowd. I am not a big bumper sticker guy (I don't have tattoos either), so if I put a sticker on my car, it has earned a right to be there. I consider the small number of stickers I have on the back of my vehicle my own sort of Honor Roll.

Some gun magazines, and gun writers, have earned reputations for never meeting a gun they didn't like, and slavishly worshiping at the feet of advertisers. You want to know the truth about what products a gun writer likes, and trusts? Look at the back of his car.

The first sticker that went on my back window was one for the National Rifle Association. I've been a Life Member of the NRA for about twenty years. As the premier gun right advocacy organization, the NRA has taken a lot of slings and arrows over the years. While their actions haven't been perfect, you can tell how effective a conservative organization is by how many liberals hate it. It is not the only gun rights advocacy group I belong to, but everyone knows who the NRA is, which is why I have their sticker on my vehicle.

The next sticker that went on the back window is for the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA). I have been a member of the USPSA since 1993. The U.S. arm of the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC), practical shooting has had more of an impact on shooting, law enforcement and military training, and weapon design than most people would believe. If it wasn't for the competitive shooters of the USPSA, modern handguns wouldn't look (or perform) the way they do, and combat optics would be completely different. Every time I learn of a new uber-sexy tactical (sextical?) pistol technique that Delta Force is using, I realize it is something Jerry Barnhart (USPSA/IPSC multiple World and National Champion) taught them twenty years ago. I'm not kidding. Competition shooting does not teach tactics, but the competitive practical shooter is on the cutting edge when it comes to tools and techniques to deliver hits on target as fast as possible in an ever-changing, high-stress environment.

The remaining stickers on my vehicle aren't in any particular order. In very little time Magpul went from a small company making a little doohickey that made it easier to pull AR-15 magazines out of mag pouches to a very successful company making state of the art AR stocks and grips that have become the standard against which all others are judged. Their products are now original equipment on several variations of S&W M&P 15s, and S&W is now making cross-branded S&W/Magpul rifles--that should say something about the quality of their products. They've also produced a number of excellent training films that have made a big splash.

Not only does Trijicon make excellent combat scopes and sights that have saved the lives of our soldiers by enabling them to see (and hit) the enemy before he sees them, they're a local company for me. It's weird to think of an internationally-renowned company being located nearby, but the Trijicon facility is 45 minutes from my house, and I've been lucky enough to have been given a tour. I recently reviewed the Trijicon HD pistols sights in this blog (and for the magazine), for no other reason than they are excellent.

Speaking of local, and excellent combat sights, EOTech is 45 minutes from my house as well. The reticle of their holosight is the standard against which all other red-dot reticles should be judged, and the only reason I don't have one of their stickers on the back of my vehicle is I've never found one.

On the side of my vehicle near the back are two small stickers. The BCMGunfighter sticker comes from Bravo Company USA, a one-stop-shop for all things AR-15. From complete rifles (from their sister company, Bravo Company Manufacturing-BCM) to the smallest parts to the latest accessory, they have it all. Not only do they make good stuff, or sell other people's stuff for good prices, they have excellent customer service. The rifle I keep loaded for home defense is a BCM—that should tell you all you need to know.

Last but not least is the Fueled By Hornady sticker. Anyone who has picked up a gun magazine in the last forty years should be very familiar with Hornady. I find it hard to describe them—they're a big company, and yet they are so nimble and responsive and produce such good stuff it's like dealing with a small custom shop. Steve Hornady is the nicest guy you'd ever want to meet, and it was his love of all things zombie that resulted in the Hornady Z-Max line of ammunition.

These aren't the only companies whose products I love and trust. I carry a Glock every day, keep a few S&Ws loaded nearby just in case, and Black Hills Ammunition kicks serious butt—but I've never stumbled across any stickers from them.

I don't go out of my way to clutter up the back window of my car, so if a company is on there, I believe in it.

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