The title of this column may lead some to believe I am going to go off on a tangent about carrying an M16 through the streets of Fallujah. Those who think that will be wrong, because I never did.
Others who read the title might think I am going to write of toting an M4 through the hills of Afghanistan, but I never had the honor of doing that either. Instead, my title is a signal that I plan to tell you about my love affair with Eugene Stoner’s greatest invention.
Growing up the youngest of five kids, I learned quick the taste of hand-me-downs, and not just in the literal sense. My father was a machinist, just like his father before him. As a result of these things, I was taught a strong work ethic, an eye for detail, and, much to my father’s credit, a degree of patience.
I have been a tinkerer as far back as I can remember yet nothing stands out like the first time I laid eyes on an AR-15. This feeling was unparalleled and the memory remained vivid in my mind. Then I had an opportunity to squeeze the trigger one of the rifles and my life was forever changed. Although I did not pursue a career in the firearms business right away, I did spend most of me free time trying to improve upon the platform.
I learned that Eugene Stoner was the man behind the AR-15 design, and I believed that a weapon as versatile and adaptable as Stoners’ would be here to stay.
I developed many interesting accessories that I was sure would change the world. Then came an expanding economy–which started one of the greatest housing booms on record in Arizona–and my focus shifted to my construction business.
In 2009 a life-changing event brought me back to what mattered in my life. We are here for an unknown amount of time and for me it was time to get busy living or get busy dying. Enter Battle Tested Equipment (BTE). My First Product was the BTE Rail Height Gas Block.
The gas block emerged from my conviction that the AR-15, though incredible in conception, could be improved in certain ways. I could not figure out why anyone would make a gas block with a Picatinny rail that was lower than the upper receiver, so I had to fix it, even if for my own selfish needs. I cut the prototype on a manual mill in my garage. The first production run was 84 pieces, the scond was 3000, and we have made over 40,000 since.
I have since put my outside-the-box thinking to good use by developing more than 120 products and 9 rifles in an effort to improve upon the best rifle ever invented.
At BTE we strive to live up to the name. We develop products that work and we test them beyond the form of failure to provide the best product money can buy (at a price both fair and honest).
To me this is freedom, 55 grains at a time.
George Urmston is the president of Battle Tested Equipment and a guest columnist for “Down Range with AWR Hawkins”