Selling from experience: HDC gun store opens doors in Chelsea

Published 1:02 pm Friday, April 28, 2023

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer

CHELSEA – A special operations veteran in the military, Nathan Hunt has felt a passion for firearm safety since invading Iraq in 2003 with the 101st. After spending years working in the firearms distribution business, he has moved his gun store to Chelsea.

HDC has opened its doors in Chelsea and is ready to cater to local residents’ hunting, fishing and firearms needs.

HDC opened on Monday, April 24 and is located at 172 Chesser Park Drive next to Chelsea Fire and Rescue Station 31.

“We’ve been working for months to get everything ready and we are so excited to finally be open in Chelsea,” said Leigh Hunt, who runs the store with her husband Nathan.

HDC was previously located on 119 and was known as HDC HuntStore and Gunsmithing.

“This location, we’ve always felt like it was underserved since Rough & Tuff went out of business,” Nathan said. “That was one reason why we really wanted to move to Chelsea, we always thought that this was just a great locality for this category of business.”

Hunt shared what he believes HDC has to offer the citizens of Chelsea.

“One of the things that we do, better than anyone, is we try to stock really unique ammo,” Nathan said. “We are very good at our special order business. We’ll inventory somewhere between 100-200 guns here, but there’s so much variety in the industry that a lot of times customers come in and they have something specific in mind. It’s really difficult to inventory all the things a customer may want but we’re good at finding it for people.”

Nathan emphasized the quality of the business’s sales staff.

“Our sales staff is really knowledgeable,” he said. “Our guys hunt and fish, and Shane’s a 40-year retired law enforcement officer. I’m a special operations veteran, and I also work in defense electro-optic. I think our knowledge base is pretty unique.”

Nathan said HDC is there to provide important services for customers.

“We empower people,” he said. “What we’re selling is safety and security. We’ve got the knowledge to be able to not just sell firearms to somebody but also how to keep it, how should you handle firearms with children. Those are all things we are experienced with and so, when someone leaves, if they’ve got questions, we can answer those and not only are they able to protect themselves but they’re able to do it in a safe way with the knowledge we provide.”

Nathan said the second thing they sell to customers is quality time.

“A lot of people, when they reminisce about loves ones or things like that, they think about the quality time they spent,” he said. “They think about the fun at the hunting camp or the fun out on the water fishing. The mentorship that comes with an outdoor activity like that with your older relatives, that’s a really important aspect of our business.”

Nathan said his passion for firearms dates back to his time in the military as a special operations soldier.

“The military really got the love for firearms in me,” he said. “I did the invasion of Iraq in 2003 with the 101st and you have a firearm on you 24/7. You get really accustomed to that and you get an intimacy with firearms that I don’t think you get in any other way.”

Nathan said that while in the military, he went to armor school and learned how to do firearm maintenance. After some time outside of the military, he worked and eventually found himself with a building and machine tools that were perfect for a gunsmithing business.

“We always liked tinkering with guns,” he said. “We always enjoyed that and we’ve got all this equipment, ‘Let’s try a gunsmithing business.’”

It was a journey through multiple locations that eventually led the Hunts to the location in Chelsea.

“This is probably the prettiest, most accessible location we’ve ever been in,” he said. “This building has been here for decades and a lot of people here, local to Chelsea, have a lot of fond memories of the old Shop and Snack and the restaurants and everything the building has been over the years. I think one of the great things for us is everybody has been so excited to see one of the old Chelsea buildings renovated.”

Those interested in learning more about HDC may visits its official Facebook page at or on its website at