Tactical Solutions

One of the advantages of being almost famous (for loose definitions of “almost” and “famous”) is that sometimes, people recognize me in public places.  No, I don’t have paparazzi following me around taking pictures, and I do not yet need to wear dark glasses.  Nonetheless: it sometimes happens—and always with positive results.

A few weeks back, I was shopping in a hardware store in my hometown, and a woman approached me and asked, “Are you Clayton Cramer?”  It turns out that she works for a Boise firearms manufacturer, Tactical Solutions.  One thing led to another, and she arranged for me to go a tour of the plant.

I should explain that even if I was not a firearms enthusiast, I would still be interested in seeing the inside of a firearms manufacturer.  While researching my last book, Armed America, I was fascinated by what I learned about the part that firearms manufacturing played in the development of industrial America.  A series of U.S. contracts for muskets and pistols, then for rifles, played a major part in creating the system of advanced manufacturing that became known in Europe in the nineteenth century as “the American system” or “the arsenal system.”

This system includes all the parts of what we now recognize as modern industrial production: interchangeable parts; specialization of labor; mass production; modern machine tools (including what became the vertical mill); blueprints; go/no-go gauges for testing parts.  Everything that today we take for granted in mass produced, inexpensive parts is a descendant of methods originally developed between 1794 and about 1850 for U.S. government military contracts.


Not surprisingly, I love to watch modern manufacturing processes, and it does not matter too much if it is ballpoint pens or coil springs.  Yes, Science Channel’s How It’s Made can cause me to waste hours in front of the tube.  Tour a firearms manufacturer?  Where do I sign up?