Monday, December 12, 2011

DSArms, Inc Field Trip Review

12 of us headed out to DSArms this past Friday afternoon to take a factory tour. We met with John Krupa, head Law Enforcement trainer for DSA and director of Spartan Tactical Training Group, Mike Fowler, DSA's Sales Manager, and a few other DSA employees who showed us around the compact, efficient Lake Barrington-based manufacturing facility.

DSA handles almost all aspects of machining, assembly and distribution for a number of different rifle platforms: The FAL, the AR, and surprisingly, an RPD-based platform. I'll make an aside here: From a shooters perspective, it seems that we often get hung up on the nuances of the gear and agonize over the myriad of configurations available to us. From the manufacturer's perspective, it is like any other machining or manufacturing company, churning out what the market needs. For example, DSA's RPD-based rifles was downright baffling to me until Fowler explained that certain areas around the globe are awash with RPD's and that companies specializing in modernizing a platform (saving weight, adding rails, etc...) can win contracts. The more I thought about it, the more things clicked - I mean, sure, I'm a FAL junkie, but when is it that you saw scores of people running 'em in 3-gun competitions? Again, it is more about the fact that Brazil and Argentina have perfectly fine old rifles that may need conversion to new(er) configurations.

Krupa and Fowler walked us through the various platform, models and variations, explaining why certain design parameters were settled upon; for example, DSA FAL rail system can handle M203 grenade launchers where others can't. While they spoke, we wandered around the "goody room", looking at forbidden fruit, such as fully automatic rifles and SBR's. It was extremely difficult to get everyone torn away from there, but we moved on to see the shipping and assembly productions before moving on to the manufacturing area.

Fowler explained that the owner started the company based on his firearms' hobby/interest, mainly stockpiling FAL and other parts kits. As demand for products grew, DSA started manufacturing receivers and necessary parts in-house. While in the manufacturing area, we were asked not to take pictures, but I'll state that it was amazing to see blocks of metal being machined to what we appreciate as firearms: the rows of machines, palettes of raw materials, and largely automated process gave me confidence in my own equipment (Did I already say I'm a FAL junkie?). Some of the folks with better understanding of machining processes asked insightful questions - I just drooled and watched like a kid in a candy shop!

Originally, I wanted to start WIILSHOOT as a simple calendar service for the area, but the reality is that the firearms community is so rich, the competitive events are just a tip of the iceberg. Hope you enjoy the pictures!