In early September, I touched base with Chris Kurzadowski, founder and owner of Battle Rifle Company of Houston, Texas. The family-owned, veteran-friendly firm makes and, most recently, performs massive rebuild projects on modern sporting rifles and pistols.
“Business is booming, and in surprising ways,” Kurzadowski told me. In an encouraging sign of the times, any reference to viruses was absent from our conversation. Instead, he’s hot on the prospect of what the 2021 SHOT Show® holds in store.
“Every year, SHOT Show is unique and adds dimension to my business,” he said. “Through the experience of it, we’ve gained traction and have had incredible expansion into international markets. SHOT Show is the only way to be in the United States and get those interactions with people around the world.”
Indeed, Battle Rifle Company is going big time, thanks to those connections. There’s been an explosion of new contracts for consulting, importing and exporting optics and parts. The company is also building firearms for military and police agencies, as well as civilian companies involved in security work. Praise for budget-friendly rebuilds done for a Texas police department, for instance, caught the eye of a foreign military, and a new contract to rebuild more than 200,000 rifles is now in the works. Such jobs are perfect matches for his personnel, some of whom are former military armorers, but now, the refurbish work expectations and components are much higher than those for mil-spec pieces. Suddenly, Kurzadowski is facing the welcome problem of needing more workshop floorspace.
“If it weren’t for SHOT Show, I’d be selling just here in south Texas and a couple areas of Louisiana, where the local law enforcement knows us. But thanks to SHOT, we expanded to have a presence across the country several years ago, and now we’re all over the world. I wouldn’t miss the show!” he said.
Battle Rifle Company has clearly benefited from having a steady presence at SHOT Show. Kurzadowski explained more, saying, “SHOT levels the playing field for everything. We are on equal footing with the big boys. The show gives boutique providers like me exposure to the client who used to have to settle for what’s out there.”
The company’s flagship and descendant products have always been unveiled at SHOT Show, which it’s attended since 2011. Those debuts are often head-turners. Its first maritime rifle and its second interpretation, for instance, were presented at the Battle Rifle Company booth with a saltwater fish tank, complete with real fish, serving as the showcase for each rifle.
The tanks represented the real-life tests each maritime AR model—in this case the B4 Spectre and the B4 Cutlass—endured when it was brand new. Kurzadowski and his stepson, a veteran and a member of the company’s production team, buried each rifle in Galveston Bay for 30 days. Afterward, the rifles were pulled from what looked like a saltwater grave, loaded, and put through their paces with hundreds of rounds per rifle.
“Of course, we did have to knock off the barnacles first,” he said, chuckling at the memory of the successful experiments. The company ran a drawing for one of the two rifles during the show, and it was won by a Las Vegas resident. “We still hear from the winner, talking about how well that rifle runs,” Kurzadowski said.
Looking toward SHOT Show 2021, Battle Rifle Company will display several new all-weather guns. The company’s consistent focus on corrosion-resistant action components, inspired in part by naval service, in part by the salty breezes of its seaport hometown, has proven to be a successful choice. Kurzadowski is pleased the marine coatings have become a big hit, with seafaring militaries and river-boarding party operators alike adopting the products as standard.
In the maritime-oriented product line is Battle Rifle Company’s new pistol-caliber carbine, the Viper. Customized for each order, these concealable 9mm submachine guns are popular, in his words “a solution for a different market.” They’re economical, enjoyable to shoot thanks to minimal recoil and tough. With choices of a folding or collapsible stock, and barrels in 4.0, 5.5, and 8.0 inches, they’ve become a top choice for vehicle escort personnel and those working in dignitary protection and other low-profile security jobs.
If Battle Rifle’s past debuts are any indication, the unveiling of these new firearms at SHOT Show 2021 will be a game-changer. I asked Kurzadowski why the tactical PCC is so popular when numerous short-barreled rifle and handgun options exist, and he responded that operators choosing his Viper are looking for a certain presence, balanced by lightweight concealability, without the need for long-range engagements. The Viper fits that niche perfectly. With the company offering a wide array of functional customizations, including pre-installed optics, busy buyers can get everything they want in a one-stop shopping experience. It’s an attractive deal, especially for companies without in-house armorers. Battle Rifle Company is prepared to both deliver and service complete carbine systems, and SHOT Show gives them time in the spotlight to emphasize that commitment to its buyers.
As with any established business, the path to success has neither been straight nor certain. “It’s been a long, hard road,” said Kurzadowski. “At one time I thought it’d be tough to make it year after year. But SHOT Show has changed that. I’ve never left SHOT without having made new gains.”
The future of Battle Rifle Company has also come into sharper focus because of the show. The company aims to be the premier supplier of cost-effective, accurate, high-quality battle rifles for professionals in law enforcement, military and related industries. That’s another reason SHOT Show is so important to Kurzadowski, as it’s one of the country’s biggest gathering of law enforcement personnel, with buyers for agencies and military bodies in solid attendance. The sincerity in Kurzadowski’s heart is evident in his voice as he explains his company values to me: Professional warriors’ rifle needs and their need to make it home at the end of each shift or deployment is the motivation for everything Battle Rifle Company sends out the door.
Chris Kurzadowski has much appreciation for the success SHOT Show has brought to his life and to Battle Rifle Company. In speaking about next January’s trip to Las Vegas, his enthusiasm for the show is palpable, even by phone. That kind of excitement and the growth of his company are reminders that, even in challenging times, great things are happening in our industry.