Clone Builds, PCC, and Margaritas with Bill Brasky
Position: Senior Technical Manager – American Defense Manufacturing
Year Started at American Defense MFG: 2013
Prior Service: US Army
Discipline of Choice: Pistol Caliber Carbine Competition
Grail Gun: A BAR or an HCAR from Ohio Ordnance Works
Favorite Malt Beverage: Lakefront IPA
These industry interviews have been a fairly interesting experience so far. My initial interview with Brent Books took me to Anniston, Alabama, involving a few long nights and some copious amounts of Yuengling. Halfway through writing the Todd House interview, my neighborhood was decimated by wind shear. This Jeremy Kattner interview… Let’s just say our conversation was ended abruptly by a nearby family restaurant patron who very strongly resembled the SNL characters from Will Farrell’s classic “Bill Brasky” sketch.
Jeremy Kattner and I have been good friends over the past half dozen years or so. While working at Criterion Barrels, I would often work from home on Fridays and visit OEM clients in the area. Every month or so I’d swing by the American Defense MFG (ADM) shop to visit the folks working in the office and the gun room.
Both Jeremy and I were OIF vets and resident “cloners”, so we hit it off pretty well. Jeremy spent six years as a 45B/91F small arms artillery repairman, which more or less means he was trained to service everything that goes bang, ranging from a Beretta M9 to Battalion level crew-served artillery platforms.
Prior to joining the Army Jeremy already developed a pretty strong affinity for all USGI firearms, in particular, classic designs of the M1 Garand/M14 rifle family. His first ever firearm was a Harrington & Richardson M1 purchased through the CMP right after high school, financed by his first job at McDonald’s. He spent a great deal of time working on his dad’s early model Springfield Armory M1A, a hobby that translated well into his later role as a Battalion Small Arms Repairman in the 1st Infantry Division.
Life in the Sandbox: The Army Years
Two years out of High School Jeremy enlisted in the US Army, spending two of his next six years working out of Camp Liberty in Baghdad. Working as the Battalion Small Arms Repairman has its perks. Jeremy developed a fairly extensive knowledge base regarding the design and function of a wide variety of weapon platforms. Working on platforms like the M203 provided its own set of challenges, as the internal components were produced by multiple contractors and featured a range of tolerance stacking issues. At one point Jeremy even had an opportunity to temporarily swap out his issued M4 for his beloved M14, if only for a couple days time.
For the most part, Jeremy wound up working on M2’s, M9’s, and M500’s. Soldiers had a tendency to try to install their own custom grip frames and would strip out the grip screws or loosen the trigger bar spring. He had a Lieutenant who would repeatedly break the plastic pistol lanyard loop on his M9, so Jeremy had to track down a NOS metal lanyard loop he had stashed away for a rainy day. The M500’s would typically come through the door with broken safeties (yet another plastic component), or crushed muzzles due to a series of unfortunate interactions with heavy MRAP doors.
After six years of Army life, Jeremy was ready to call it quits and head back to the civilian world. Working as an armorer on the civilian side is a bit of a niche occupation, with job opportunities proving to be somewhat scarce. While he was offered a job working in Anniston as a civilian contractor for the Army, Jeremy was ready to relocate back to Wisconsin. He tried his hand at college but soon found that wasn’t the path he wanted to follow. After submitting his resume to a few local manufacturers, American Defense MFG responded with a job offer. Jeremy had found his new home.
Working for ADM
Jeremy started working as ADM’s tech support representative in June of 2013. By this time ADM had already established itself as a well-known scope mount manufacturer in the firearm industry, but it was about six months later that they introduced their Universal Improved Carbine (UIC) line of rifles with the design and engineering support of Griffin Armament owners Evan and Austin Green.
The growth and diversification of the ADM product line is one of the greatest sources of satisfaction that Jeremy has enjoyed during his time working with the company. Operating in tandem with the design and production team, they have recently released a number of new rifle designs, including the UIC-10 (a .308 AR platform design), multiple configurations of the UIC rifle platform (in .223, .300 Blackout, .224 Valkyrie, and 6.5 Grendel), and the UIC-9 (ADM’s pistol caliber carbine design). Additional new products in the works include ADM’s titanium line of red dot mounts for the MRO and Aimpoint T1, as well as Titanium Recon and Delta must designs.
Competing in PCC
Some of Jeremy’s favorite ADM rifle models include their 8.2” .300 Blackout configuration and the 10.5” UIC Mod 2 build chambered in .223 Wylde. While Jeremy has dabbled a bit in 3-Gun (alongside co-worker Thomas Stewart), his preferred discipline of choice is Pistol Caliber Carbine competition.
Jeremy did a pretty good job summing up the reasons behind his personal preference: “With 3-Gun there’s so much thinking and stage planning involved. Shooters have to deal with a ton of different transitions and reloads to accommodate the course of fire. I just like the simplicity of PCC. Here are the targets. Here is your carbine. Just run the course of fire and shoot them as fast as you can.”
Clone Builder Extraordinaire
Outside of PCC, Jeremy’s biggest firearm-related hobby pertains to clone building. For those unfamiliar with the concept, quite often rifle builders will go to extraordinary lengths to create “clone correct” rifles build with the same components as those used on issued military firearms. With the extreme amount of diversity in parts and accessories encountered in the sandbox, the phrase “clone correct” can incorporate some significant grey areas.
“My favorite rifle is a BCM Mk18 clone, with an 11.5” barrel,” Jeremy explained, “People say it’s not clone correct because of the barrel length and manufacturer of the receiver. They might be right about the receiver, but I know for a fact that the 11.5” barrel length is “Technically Okay”, as I’ve seen guys in the country using cut down 11.5” Colt Commando barrels on their Mk-18’s. They would cut down their front sight bases and just run RIS 2’s installed over the top. We even had this guy, an MP, that had an NCStar 4-16x sitting on his M4. It was ridiculous. The mount was half sitting on the upper, half on the handguard, nearly touching the front sight base. So I guess, in its own way, even that configuration is clone correct.”
Our Content Interview Goes off the Rails
It was at this point when Bill Brasky’s buddy turned to us to kick off a non-stop ridiculous tirade of nonsensical claims and storytelling, wishing Jeremy the best of luck with his “job interview” (apparently the concept of a content interview was a bit foreign to him), and it was at that point where our discussion went off the rails.
The generous gentleman (I’m using the term gentleman a bit loosely here) bought us a round of margaritas and boisterously offered his own personal content interview. This proved to be fairly entertaining experience at first, but after a few minutes, I discovered my close proximity to our new friend the storyteller offered a similar experience as the “splash zone” seating at Sea World. Lightly dusted with a spray of booze and residual backsplash, we decided it was probably a good time to close out our tab and call it a night (at the late hour of 7:00PM).
Jeremy Kattner is a down-to-earth family man who knows his way around the guts of a rifle. If you need a solid frame of reference for what is and what isn’t clone correct, he might be a good guy to talk to. That said, his personal builds tend to fall a bit outside the realm of correctness. Jeremy has a particular affinity for 1903 sporters that have been worked over by skilled gunsmiths or hobbyists, and embraces the Fudd-ness of some modern firearm designs, including the Taurus Judge and bubba-fied Remington 700’s. He lives up to this standard through his Instagram moniker, The_Fighting_Fudd.