Hook & Barrel
A Lifestyle Magazine for Modern Outdoorsmen

This Is F-1 Firearms’ Innovative Formula for High-Profile Success

Photos by Nick Noyes 

My love of gas guns has spanned over half my life. By all accounts, I’m everything Beto hates, including middle aged—what the hell happened? Honestly, I enlisted in my beloved Marine Corps in 1987, at age 17, between my junior and senior years of high school. At 18, I walked out of our front door and onto yellow footprints. I found ranks and files of brothers who have never let me down… and LMGAS: the lightweight, magazine-fed, gas-operated, air-cooled, shoulder-fired, M16-A2 Service Rifles. 

My Love for the AR Platform

Within a year, as a standard-issue Leatherneck, I was often found at the PX (The military version of a general store) gawking at Colt’s scary black semi-automatic AR-15; it even had a bayonet stud. It looked and felt like my M16, but as a semi-auto look-alike, it would never have been a consideration for our kind of work. Of course, it wasn’t a consideration for my personal work either, the price tag was over $600, and in 1989, my monthly Devil Dog salary was only $620 of our taxpayer dollars… before they took taxes from tax dollars. When I was discharged as a sergeant in 1996, things hadn’t changed much—I was still broke, an AR-15 was still a pipe dream, and they were still the same-ol’-same-ol’ black.

Putting the finishing touches on a BDRX-15 Mermaid anodized upper and lower.

What Magic is This?

Fast forward several years to when I encountered my first F-1 Firearms rifle at the 2019 Professional Outdoor Media Association conference. Things had sure changed. Nothing they exhibited throughout the event was black. In fact, in stark contrast to the black abyss of run-of-the-mill ARs, F-1 Firearms’ unapologetically American collection of rifles, receivers, and handguards were dressed in a finish quality I had never set eyes upon—and I couldn’t look away.  

Put plainly, their offerings are the results of a cry for help from shooting enthusiasts triggered to tears by same-thing-different-day rifles—a good thing since this cry is literally the root of their company name. Confused yet? It’s simple. F-1 is short for the “Function Key No. 1” on your computer keyboard. While you may not realize it, the F-1 function key located at the top left corner of your keyboard is your default help shortcut. Therein lies the magic—determination to be different and the hard-earned skillset to do so. In a nutshell, F-1 Firearms delivers hard-hitting impacts where weary black-gun owners want the most help—uniqueness and rock-solid reliability.  

An F-1 Firearms BDRX-15 Billet pistol with X7M 7.5 handguard.

68 Head-Turning Finishes

That said, I don’t think you’re going to find another firearm manufacturer anywhere in the industry with a finish array remotely comparable to F-1’s. Their catalog lists 68 premium finishes, and black isn’t even on the (printed) menu; of course, they’ll sell you black in half a heartbeat if vanilla is your flavor. For the rest of us, they list 45 stock anodized finishes, including 15 single eye-candy color options and 30 more stock anodized choices with aggressive, custom-style patterning; five custom Cerakote finishes, including my two favorites—Old Glory and Lone Star—eight anodized silhouette finishes you have to see to believe, and 10 custom finishes. They also welcome patterns from the minds of creative customers by special order requests.  

Confidential Engineering

All of the company’s finish (and machine) work is confidential and proprietary, and for good reason. Their jaw-dropping finishes won’t be found anywhere else, period, and their marble anodizing is the stuff of gun-nut dreams. Oddly enough, one of my favorite marble-anodized patterns was Mermaid, but I’ll admit I’m not man enough to rock it. Instead, my current test-rig—a BDRx-10 chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor—boasts the insanely awesome, marble-anodized Red Demon finish. Wrapping the highly polished bolt carrier group, match trigger and a stainless 22-inch match-grade barrel inside F-1’s skeletonized 7075-T6 billet aluminum BDRx chassis has resulted in some serious rubbernecking on the range.  

Left to Right: Angles Black NITRIDE, Dragon Slay-AR Black Nitride, Dragon Slay-AR Rose Gold (TiCN), Flat Face diamond-like coating (DLC).

Adding another bit of innovation, the Dragon Slayer Muzzle Brake, didn’t hurt either. The brake mitigates recoil and muzzle rise so well, testers have used them to effectively stay on target during full-auto, single-hand shooting. My personal experience with the Dragon Slayer was to engage long-range targets while consistently maintaining my field of view from trigger-break to impact, making my spotter’s job about as boring as a lifeguard at a championship swim meet.  

F-1 Firearms’ silhouette anodizing is just as impressive. From family friendly to would-my-mother-approve, their finishes scream attitude. The sum of hours their finishers pour into each weapon is equally shocking. You can try to look away… but you won’t… and, if you have the cash, you’re not likely to walk away from one of their rifles either.

An unfinished BDRX-15 upper being carefully machined out.

F-1 Firearms and A-Listers

F-1 Firearms owner Dion Podgurny and his team of conspirators sought to turn the AR industry on its end, and fortunately, succeeded. Ultimately, their vision and drive became (and continue to be) a major default-help key for a largely stagnate AR industry precisely when it is needed. They also became a decidedly popular help for a rapidly growing population of trigger fingers itching for change… and caught the attention of some pretty demanding, high-profile, pro-2A folks.  

The list of fans reads like a Hollywood event A-lister guestbook. An F-1 Firearms skeletonized rifle played a significant role in the 2018 Deathwish movie re-make with Bruce Willis. Paring down the list of other A-listers, professional poker player and Instagram king, Dan Bilzerian, has had an affinity for their rigs for quite some time and even worked with Podgurny and his entire team to assist recent victims of the severe Houston flooding during Hurricane Harvey. Other fans include Zac Brown of the Zac Brown Band, Dan Donegan and the entire band of Disturbed, and Silver Spear Security, responsible for security for Nickelback and Shinedown. Guns & Roses lead man Axl Rose is also a big-time fan and owns three custom-designed rifles.  

Colonel Allen West holding a BDR-15 pistol with the S7M 7.7” rail.

Competitive Shooter Sign-Off

While big-name fans are a great endorsement for a company’s levels of quality, performance, and customer focus, even more honorable attestations can be found within the growing list of national- and world-class competitive shooters. F-1 Firearms partnered up early on with Lena Miculek to design the M7M Miculek Handguard. The company’s competitive shooting team has an array of talent from eight-year Coast Guard veteran Grady Stieren (Shooting Team Captain), 11-year-old Alpha Addy and her seven-year-old sister Trystan, 17-year-old Brady Lawing and his 14-year-old brother Luke Lawing, as well as the always inspiring “What’s shakin’?” David, “Shakey Dave” Smith, also known as The Parkinson’s Shooter.  

David “Shakey Dave” Smith

True to his nickname, Dave was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease more than eight years ago. The first time I met him, he walked in the room and straight up to me. Although he shook rather violently, he looked me straight in the eye, smiled, and asked, “What’s shakin’?” I smiled back. His simple question was an impactful demonstration of more than just his character, it’s an inspiring testament to tenacity… to not accepting or submitting but to overcoming.  

Dave’s positivity and outlook on life are infectious. Anyone who meets him is the better for it. As Smith’s devoted sponsor, F-1 Firearms has played an active role in his “gun therapy.” With their support and a lot of hard work, Shakey Dave pushed himself out of a wheelchair and straight into Sweden for the USPSA’s 2019 World Rifle Shoot. The company continues to support Dave’s gun therapy while working with and supporting a number of other shooters, including the next generation of competitive shooters.

Bruce Willis on the set of Death Wish.

F-1 Firearms Social Media Success

Keeping in tradition with its highly revolutionary product, F-1 knew early on that it wanted and needed to be engaged and connected with its customers and grew quickly on several social media platforms, hand-in-hand with other social media influencers. Demolition Ranch was amongst F-1 Firearms’ earliest admirers. They published one of the first videos demonstrating the superior function and reliability of their skeletonized AR platform. Over the years, several other social media influencers have joined the F-1 gang, including The Man Spot, Anna Paulina Luna, Charissa Littlejohn, Black Rambo, and Liberte Austin, just to name a few.

F-1 Firearms’ Function Key

Of course, F-1’s growing reputation isn’t rooted in cool finishes alone. Their badassery was well thought-out and quite a bit deeper than good looks; in fact, before their first rifles rolled out of production in 2014, a hungry team of laser-focused, mad-science-type experts had already dedicated a full year to research and development. More than richly patented aggressive designs, F-1 is literally the founding father of skeletonized receivers. And while those ultra-cool 7075-T6 billet aluminum receivers make for lighter rifles, they most certainly aren’t any weaker. Scores of write-ups, field tests, videos, shooter testimonies, match results, and more attest to this fact.  

Lena Miculek with her American flag Cerakote BDR-15 and Miculek 15” rail.

Feedback aside, F-1 Firearms’ devotion to producing roughly 90-percent of their own components in-house while ensuring remaining parts are American made, as well as their continued devotion to R&D and precision machining, demonstrate just how serious the company is about delivering above-and-beyond quality. As a side note here, their critical devil-in-the-details machining tolerances are dialed clear down to one-thousandth of an inch, and their internal quality assurance goal is simple—zero defects and lifetime warranty on all F-1 Firearms manufactured parts.

The Crux of a Suppressor Partnership

While F-1’s reputation for producing top-shelf modern sporting rifles has led to exponentially greater demand, it has also led to a partnership with Crux Suppressors (pronounced “crow”). The partnership is fitting since Crux has earned quite a respectable reputation by offering premium titanium suppressors, and both brands are dedicated to enhancing shooting experiences through research, development, and master-craftsmanship. Crux Suppressors’ integration with F-1 Firearms’ zero-defect approach to quality, top-tier manufacturing processes, and renowned customer service also positions the noise suppression provider among the top producers in the industry, an exciting development for Crux and great attestation to F-1 Firearms’ success.

Last Shots

Since 2014, F-1 Firearms has sought to help AR enthusiasts out of their black-gun rut. Since then, shooters of all ages and skill levels have learned first-hand just how unique their rifles (and shooting experiences) can be. Additional proprietary innovations like F-1’s  BDRx billet receivers and handguards, BCGs, other small parts, and the seriously buzzworthy Dragon Slayer muzzle brake continue to enhance the quality and reliability of their production rifles while also expanding premium parts availability for DIY’ers.

For more information: f-1firearms.com

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