American made: Military veteran opens firearms store, specializes in customization
PELHAM – One of Pelham’s newest businesses combines custom-built firearms with a museum featuring memorabilia from United States-involved wars and conflicts dating back to the Civil War.
The Armory opened on Pelham Parkway at the beginning of May. Not only does the business manufacture firearms for law enforcement and government entities, it also serves the public by customizing and building firearms, restoring old guns and selling ammunition, suppressors and firearm accessories.
Business owner Larry Christian, a disabled Navy veteran, said he has been in the business of manufacturing weapons for law enforcement and government agencies for years, but wanted to branch out and offer services to citizens.
“It all came together pretty quick,” he said. “I have friends in the gun business so it was just a matter of getting us all together.”
Christian’s two friends who work at the store are also military veterans. Christian said they each play a vital role in the success of the business. Scott Walter, an Army veteran, is a machinist and can make almost anything gun related. Tim Hill, an Air Force veteran, is the shop’s gun designer and gunsmith. Christian said he takes care of the paperwork and logistics of running a business.
Hill said he has always been mechanically inclined, liking to take things apart and put them back together, so making firearms was a natural progression for him.
The store is one of three businesses in the state that’s certified to apply cerakote coating on firearms. Cerakote is a ceramic finish that protects the moving parts of the gun making it more resistant to wear. It also helps protect guns form the weather so the metal does not rust or pit. Hill said The Armory offers more than 2,000 cerakoting colors.
“You can go anywhere and buy a gun, but you can’t get it cerakoted in yellow and make it your own personalized firearm,” Hill said.
But when you walk into the business, it may not be the store’s merchandise that grabs your attention first. The front of the store features a nonprofit military museum. Items that Christian and his military friends have collected over the years, as well as things that have been donated or loaned to him, are on display near the entrance of the store and inside glass display cases along the walls.
“We have items from World War II all the way up to present day,” Christian said. “We have a few items from the Civil War, World War I and Vietnam.”
On display in the store is Germany’s MG34, Russia’s Maxim 1910, Czechoslovakia’s UK59, America’s M60 and M50 and a British gun. The M50 is still in use today by the military.
The men have spent countless hours restoring and rebuilding these machine guns.
“Hours upon hours and months went into getting the German gun back working,” Hill said. “German technology was very technical and advanced for its time.”
Other items on display include scopes, military uniforms, photographs, missiles, ammunition, a military vehicle and more. Christian said the public is welcomed to stop by to visit the museum even if they aren’t purchasing a gun.
“We would never turn away anyone who wanted to just come and learn about history,” he said.
Store hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The store is located at 2639 Pelham Parkway.
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