It looks like there is a storm brewing in one corner of the firearms industry. Let me explain…
I was sitting outside the main hall at the 2012 NASGW Expo working on an article when I was approached by a man asking if I was in the media. When I said â€œyes,â€ the man introduced himself as Jim Bruchas, the director of sales for Heizer Defense. The next few minutes reminded me that even in such a friendly industry as the gun business, feelings can get hurt and egos bruised.
For those not already familiar, Heizer Defense was, until recently, associated with DoubleTap Firearms, the developers of the DoubleTap two-shot pistol. DoubleTap Firearms issued a press release in October announcing a parting of ways between the two companies, stating that Heizerâ€™s â€œâ€¦inability to manufacture the DoubleTap pistolâ€¦â€ prompted the split. After the split, DoubleTap Firearms changed names to DoubleTap Defense and partnered with Azimuth Technology to make the DoubleTap pistol.
Bruchas handed me a press release (click here to read it) and sat down. Bruchas then began to tell me the â€œinsiderâ€ details of the split, plus a little bit about what Heizer Defense is planning in the firearms industry.
According to Bruchas, Heizer Defense refused to let the DoubleTap pistol go into production due to a variety of design problems. Among them were an unspecified safety issue and an extremely uncomfortable grip design. Bruchas intimated that the team from DoubleTap wanted to go into production even with the safety concerns unresolved and without any changes to the grip design.
Reading over the press release, I saw that Heizerâ€™s official position included several references to safety.
Bruchas went on to say that the most recent DoubleTap pistol designs were all made by Heizer Defense, and that Heizer Defense has patent applications on all of the relevant aspects of the gun. Bruchas said Heizer Defense is going forward with the production of the DoubleTap pistol, or something very similar, albeit with new modifications to make the pistol safe, reliable and more comfortable to shoot.
Wondering if there was any truth to Bruchasâ€™ statements, I contacted Laura Burgess, whose company represents DoubleTap Defense. In a phone conversation, Burgess denied all of Bruchasâ€™ assertions that the DoubleTap pistol showed any signs of having safety or reliability issues.
â€œTo the contrary of Bruchasâ€™ statement, Ray Kohoutâ€™sÂ design is one of the safest and most simplistic firearm products on the market,â€ Burgess said. Â Kohout is the founder of DoubleTap Defense.
Burgess went on to say the DoubleTap handgun has been through rigorous testing, and that the pistol will be submitted to all US states that require additional safety testing for sales in their respective states and to several independent labs for certification. The gun will not be sold until it passes certification said Burgess.
Burgess repeatedly emphasized that Bruchasâ€™ suggestions that the DoubleTap design is unsafe were patently false.
The ties between Kohout and the Heizer family go back some 40 years said Burgess. When Kohout wanted to produce the DoubleTap pistol, he approached Heizer Defense with the desire that they manufacture the gun.
However, things did not go well. Burgess said the company took about $6 million in pre-orders for the guns at the 2012 SHOT Show, with the intent of delivering in the first quarter of the year. However, as the year dragged on, the guns did not seem to be any closer to production.
Burgess said Kohout tried to get Heizer Defense to focus on putting the pistols into production, but by October they did not seem to be any closer to manufacturing than they had been at the SHOT Show. Kohout decided to cut ties with Heizer and find another manufacturer with which to partner. Kohout quickly picked Azimuth Technology, a precision manufacturing company with experience in the defense, aerospace and oil/gas industries. Â (Click here for the press release.)
Burgess said the decision to split from Heizer Defense was a difficult one for Kohout due to his long-standing personal relationship with the Heizer family.
Heizer holds no patents on any part of the DoubleTap design according to Burgess. She stated the original patent was obtained in 2010, with a follow up patent on the pistol in 2011.
Burgess told me the DoubleTap pistol is set to go into production soon. The guns will be made in a new manufacturing facility located in Naples, FL. When the guns start to ship, we will let you know.
If Heizer Defense and DoubleTap Defense both bring similar pistols to market, it could prove to be an interesting SHOT Show.