COTTONWOOD -- Long a machinist, Gary Eliseo just moved his family and his machine shop from Anaheim, Calif., to Cottonwood.
Eliseo makes highly accurate, ergonomic, adaptable stocks for the competition shooting community in the company's new headquarters at 481 Airpark Way, Unit 5.
Competition Machine, Inc., does not make the hardware: the barrel, receiver or the trigger assembly. Instead, his product is considered the top end of what is commonly called a tube gun kit.
"Years ago, we had a business designing and building machines, primarily for wood and metal working. The gun-smithing was really a hobby. I made some stuff for myself and friends on weekends. They would come around and ask, 'can you make me one?' When the economy began to slide in the building industry around 2006 and 2007, we switched gears. We retooled and I started building stuff that I really love.
"The people in the shooting community know it as a tube gun kit. The easiest way to describe it is as a gun stock. It allows gun owners to take their receiver, their barrel, their trigger and install in our system. We have dealers around the world."
Eliseo said anti-gun sentiment in California was making operations difficult.
"It wasn't just the state, but also the local communities and the way we were treated. For example, I wanted to apply for my manufacturer's license and they didn't want us to have one. We are doing more work for police and law enforcement and we need to have the capability. They were treating us like they didn't want to have us around. And since we were outgrowing the Anaheim facility anyway, we needed to move."
He looked around the Western United States for two years before moving to Cottonwood. Eliseo already had a vacation home in the Village of Oak Creek for 10 years and visited here on a regular basis. He said he was also familiar with Laserlyte, which makes sights for guns.
"There is a beautiful four-seasons climate, it is not excessively cold or hot. We are outside of a busy, dirty city. But, you also have the convenience of Phoenix, so there are suppliers a couple hours away," he said of his choice to move the business to Cottonwood.
He also looked at Columbia Falls, Mont., where a number of gun makers have been moving. But the Montana town was too cold in winter and didn't have the combination of appeal like the Verde Valley.
He says a much larger maker of gun magazines and accessories, Pro-Mag, also moved out of California, recently to West Phoenix. He noted that Yavapai College has one of the best gun-smithing schools in the country.
"I think this town could be a great place for people like me that are still in California. There are still a lot of people involved in the manufacture of firearms that are looking for relief," said Eliseo.
Competition Machine, Inc., is basically a family operation, with five people on staff including himself, his wife, daughter and son.
Competition Machine shipped 300 units last year. Eliseo admits it isn't a large number, but they are high-end, custom made and involves lot of work. Because of that, they are not cheap. But, they are also running a four-month backlog at the moment.
"The large gun makers want to build a standardized product. The competitive shooters require a lot more technology, a higher level of accuracy," he said.
"There used to be the old-style wooden stock shooting rifles. And then over time, there were modifications to make them a little more adjustable. And they have grown into very ergonomic, very adaptable systems we have today."
"If you go to the national championships in Camp Perry, Ohio, this year's national champion used one of our stocks. A lot of shooting teams use our equipment including the Marine Corps team, the National Guard Team, the Remington Arms team are now using our products. If you could pick out one 'chassis' system you see the most, the single most popular is ours."
Everything he builds is bolt action.
"I designed the system to be accuracy enhancing. Everything is in a straight line and you don't have the drop of a traditional rifle stock, so the recoil is in a straight line and doesn't kick up like a traditional rifle and works against accuracy. In addition, everything is adjustable for an individual shooter."
The trade off is that the Eliseo system is slightly heavier, but not pricey like magnesium. There are some carbon fiber components, so it is not entirely aluminum.
Recently, Eliseo demonstrated a prototype rifle the U.S. Special Operations Command wanted for an urban sniper rifle. It is a custom rig that will disassemble into a briefcase or ruck sack.
He says it is a first-generation system, but that they were generally happy with it, shooting 1000 meters and making first-round hits. There were some modifications they wanted. A lighter barrel and titanium receiver will take two pounds off the rifle.
For more on Competition Machine, Inc., visit http://www.gotxring.com/
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