Bob Faxon’s journey in the firearms industry began at his kitchen table. Using knowledge accrued within the halls of Faxon Machining, Faxon leveraged his expertise to develop Faxon Firearms’ first product, the ARAK-21. From those beginnings, he built a brand. Faxon Firearms, now known for its innovative parts, accessories and complete rifles and pistols has become a mainstay for consumers looking to improve and elevate their favorite builds; but more importantly, the company is known for its commitment to customers.
Guns.com sat down with the always jovial Faxon to talk about the company’s origin and why consumers are at the root of Faxon Firearms.
GDC: So Faxon Firearms was originally an offshoot of Faxon Machining — which has a hand in many different areas in the industrial realm. What are a few areas people would be surprised to find the Faxon name?
Faxon: Oh that’s easy. We’ve done nuclear. We’ve done aerospace. We’ve done automotive, oil and gas, renewable energy, machining tools. We’re heavily in the defense industry and of course firearms. We even had a part in the Mars Rover — the robot that went around the planet of Mars. We’ve touched most industries.
GDC: Very cool. So what caused the shift into firearms?
Faxon: I was watching the Discovery Channel with my sons and they were running down the top 10 battle rifles. The AK-47 beat the M-16. I was absolutely beside myself. I understood the evaluation process and I see the advantages the AK-47 has but I find it unacceptable that the AR-15 is number two. So I got kind of pissed off and I sat down at my kitchen with a little sketchpad. There I designed the ARAK-21. It was developed for four purposes — reliability, features, accuracy and price. It took about a year and a half to get it developed then we started selling it. There’s a very loyal, very dedicated following of people who love that platform. The ARAK-21 really gave us the concept of how we wanted to do things in terms of innovation and service.
GDC: How many times have you given that spiel?
Faxon: I’ve done that spiel 46 million times. The guys laugh at me. They ask my wife at SHOT Show: “When he goes to bed at night, does he keep saying that while he sleeps?”
GDC: I’m sure at shows where you’re constantly doing the sales and marketing bit, it gets a bit redundant.
Faxon: Yes, but there’s a variety of people coming through and I personally love it. I always make time to go because it’s the only time where I get to go talk to customers directly. I enjoy talking to the person who reaches into their pocket and pays hard-earned money to buy our product. This year at NRA was really fun because we had the big launch of our pistols, the FX-19.
GDC: That’s an interesting point you bring up about interacting with consumers. There are some manufacturers who are less than thrilled to have the average joe coming up to talk shop, but every time I passed your booth at NRA you were right out there in the middle chatting with people.
Faxon: It comes back to our consumer-driven attitude of helping our customers and making sure they’re happy. We’re not just spitting out the same designs. We’re constantly innovating all under that service banner. Our goal is the customer experience. We want our products to shoot as good or better than the guy next to you. We don’t want your buddy to razz you about paying too much for a bad product. If it doesn’t cycle properly if it doesn’t hold a group that’s very frustrating. That’s a terrible experience. So we think about the chain of events from the time the customer buys one of our products to the time he takes it out of the bag at the range.
Here’s what I want — I want our customer to go buy our product, take it to the range, then on the way home with his 15-year old kid in the pickup truck I want him to say, “You see Johnny’s gun? He spent $800 on that barrel and we outshot him twice as good.” That’s the experience I want for our consumers.
GDC: I think that shows from the levels you give the consumers. You have the parts and accessories so that consumers can build their own pistol the way they want and now you have the FX-19 which offers all that assembled. Talk to me about why you think it’s important to give your consumers an array of options when it comes to accessories, parts and complete set-ups?
Faxon: You know, it’s funny. Now my level of ability has risen so that I am excited to buy everything and put it all together, but earlier in my life, I didn’t want to put all the pieces together. My brother would’ve put the pieces together. So it’s important to represent both buyers. Again, we are talking about the consumer and what’s going to be a positive experience for them.
GDC: You keep coming back to the consumer and I can tell by the excitement in your voice that you are really passionate about those that buy your products. Do you think this has to do with having your name stamped on the product? Are you more cognizant of your brand when your brand is you?
Faxon: We take a lot of personal pride in what we make and how we make it. There’s a level of quality there because of (the name). Wearing our t-shirts with the logo and the name, you’re subject to being seen in public and people knowing you are involved in this. I think that accountability is huge. It’s not anonymous. It’s not an entity, it’s us.
I’ll tell you a funny story. I was in an airport recently wearing a Faxon Firearms shirt with one of our guys. We walk up to the TSA checkpoint and the agent asked, “Are you with Faxon Firearms?” I said I am and he said, “I’ve got one of your barrels.” I asked how it shot for him and he said that it shoots great and he loves the barrel. That’s the kind of personal exposure you’re subjected to. I think if that doesn’t do anything else it will motivate you to do your best.
GDC: Well said. Is there anything else you think our readers should know about Faxon Firearms?
Faxon: We understand that things people purchase from us are a want, not a need so we appreciate their business immensely. We are extremely excited that they choose us when they spend their money and will continue to provide a line of products that are deserving of that.