Darrell Kress, SD Tactical Arms – Weapons4Warriors
SD Tactical Arms is a veteran-owned family business. They make some serious custom weaponry for a program they call “Weapons4Warriors.” But let’s start at the beginning and find out about the background of the owner, Darrell Kress.
Mechanically minded from the beginning
Darrell told us that when he was 8 years old, his mom found an old riding lawnmower that was in not-so-good shape. He was able to put it back together. When he went hunting, he spent more time disassembling his weapons than looking for the animals. He likes to know how things work.
He says he “wasn’t very good in school” but studied ballistics to the point that he could tell you the statistics of what grain bullet would travel how far. Who needs Algebra, when your inherent math skills are that good?
After high school, Darrell joined the Air Force in their Aerospace division. He served 4 years active duty as a mechanic. When he got out, he decided to join the Army. But as soon as he signed the papers, the USAF wanted him back, and were able to get him out of the contract.
Darrell became a weapons instructor after attending a Combat Arms School in Texas.
After once again getting out of the Air Force, Darrell began working at a power company. He had no intention of starting a business or making firearms. But a neighbor who had been a sniper in Afghanistan suggested they go into business together to do just that. Darrell went through the paperwork, and intense ATF interview process for creating the weapons business. He already had an FFL previously so he could buy guns.
Then…the neighbor dropped out and began contracting for the government. It left Darrell with the entire business. Even though the neighbor returned a year later, he left again to re-up his contract work. By then, Darrell simply enlisted the aid of his family.
“There was one point that I had a $60,000 machine sitting in my shop that I had no idea how to turn on. My wife was very supportive, as we had emptied our bank accounts to buy it.”
Darrell is a fast learner. Soon he was able to machine a solid block of aluminum into a weapon. Then he taught his sons how to do it. Working on multi-million dollar aircraft gave him the confidence and expertise to learn quickly.
He finally quit the power company and SD Tactical Arms is now an official gun manufacturer in the state of Arizona. Their custom made weapons are exceptional, hand fitted guns.
Darrell, his wife Amy (the manager), his oldest son Cody (the machinist), and his youngest son Nathan (the painter), are the movers and shakers behind the enterprise. His middle son Drew is currently deployed in Afghanistan with the 25th Infantry.
Darrel Kress came up with some goals: 1st to make his father in law – a 36 year US Navy veteran – proud of him, which we think was more than likely accomplished before the veteran passed on. And 2nd to make enough money to be able to give back to the veteran community. And that is what the Kress family has been doing.
The Chris Kyle connection
Darrell read Chris Kyle’s book, ‘American Sniper’ and was struck with a sort of guilt that he didn’t “give all he had” during his service. He began thinking, “I gotta do something.” So he decided to create a special rifle for him.
At an event, he met Kyle and presented the special gun.
“He was a really nice, really humble guy.”
Two weeks after receiving the gun, Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield were murdered at a gun range. Chris was using Darrell’s gun that day.
An email from a woman after Chris’s death gave Darrell the inspiration to make more custom weapons for others. She told him that Chris was amazed that anyone would give him something, let alone a special rifle, because people normally “took from him rather than gave to him.” Chris spent time on the way home that day showing everyone the new rifle, and how encouraged he was in what Darrell describes as a “small gesture.”
And that’s how “Weapons4Warriors” began, and Darrell’s dream of being able to “pay it forward” was realized. He now carefully searches for deserving veterans to receive his specialty guns, in addition to creating custom masterpieces for paying customers.
Stay tuned for a special giveaway from SD Tactical arms for Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children followers!
Featured photo provided by Darrell Kress. Left to right- Nathan, Drew, Amy, Darrell, Cody.