By Kip Staton

One of the unique things about the firearms and outdoors consumer industry is that we don’t really need a lot of this stuff. Once your 2A-defense-of-the-homeland/civilization-meltdown gear is squared away, a ninth or tenth AR-15 just doesn’t quite fall into the same budget category as new crowns at the dentist, does it?

No, for the most part, we buy these things because we want to. And that implies a bit of choice in selection. For me, some brands definitely rise to the top.

These companies probably don’t carry everything I might ever need (or want, for that matter), but they do happen to be the places that I look first when it’s time to buy something. In no particular order:

1. Aimpoint

If there’s one optics brand that I trust above all others, it’s Aimpoint. I owned an old Comp M2 for years prior to selling it. I ended up regretting that decision and eventually wound up with a Patrol Rifle Optic from them. Lesson learned.

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Aimpoint PRO

Many well-known subject matter experts universally laud Aimpoint’s durability and quality. Aimpoint just makes good optics.

They’re so good, I would be comfortable using my PRO without back up irons. It has that kind of reputation. I mean, the batteries last for multiple years without the sight shutting down. I figure that the dot is pretty much always there… just like the irons.

Both of my Aimpoints were and are ridiculously rugged. They’re probably more durable than the irons which are (supposed to be) backing them up.

I still keep a MaTech rear on the gun for longer shots, because it sharpens up the dot for my astigmatism-cursed eyes. But I could get along without BUIS just fine.

For a red dot, I don’t have any reason to look anywhere other than Aimpoint.

2. Dillon Precision

My reason for never using any major reloading equipment but Dillon can be summed up nicely: Their No B.S. Warranty and dedication to the customer. Their warranty is exactly what it sounds like. If you have an issue, they fix it. And that’s a big “if” on having issues.

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Dillon 550 Reloader

Once, I broke the e-clip on the decapping die of a .45 ACP carbide die set. I called Dillon Precision to order a replacement, and they wouldn’t accept payment. Two days later, a set of five clips showed up in my mailbox.

My father dreamed of owning a tricked out XL650 for the better part of two decades. On his way home from a lengthy period stationed on the west coast, he stopped by the Arizona Dillon headquarters to buy one in person.

The guy running the place that evening (who turned out to be Mike Dillon’s son) gave Dad the VIP treatment. This included a tour of several “behind the scenes” rooms and personal guidance spec’ing out his Dillon machine.

And all of this right before and immediately after closing time, to a random soldier that they didn’t know from Adam.

I like their approach to customer service.

If this insane dedication wasn’t enough to win me over for life, their incredibly well designed machines are. I’ve loaded thousands and thousands of rounds on both Dad’s XL650 and my RL 550B, and the ease of adjustment and use is simply incredible.

Dillon reloading equipment isn’t the most affordable option out there. And I can’t promise they’ll roll out the red carpet if you stop by. But I can promise you’ll love their machines and their outstanding customer service.

3. Magpul

I’ve got a pile of mags, stocks, grips, a sling or two and experience enough with their products to know that I’ll keep coming back for more.

The company doesn’t just “innovate” like so many others do these days. They come up with cool, game-changing things for gun people. Like the M-LOK system, which took the negative-space mounting concept to a new level on many levels.

I also appreciate Magpul’s dedication to their core values. They’re true-blue enough to uproot the entire operation and move out of their home state because of idiotic, arbitrary magazine capacity laws. That gets my attention.

As a professional marketer, I can appreciate how they run things on multiple levels. Magpul is just a class act, from their values to their gear.

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BCM and Magpul Carbine

4. Bravo Company USA

For a variety of reasons, I own only one AR-15. The brand of the upper receiver? Bravo Company USA.

Their uppers aren’t the most affordable on the market, but they certainly aren’t the most expensive. The peace of mind knowing that they build their guns directly to the Technical Data Package (TDP) without any shortcuts is enough to make me think twice before looking elsewhere.

My rifle is too important to me to wonder if it’s going to work. I know that BCM won’t cut corners, based on testimonials from respected subject matter experts. ‘Nuff said.

5. Maxpedition

For carrying gear, you need bags. I really can’t say enough good things about the Maxpedition bags that I own. Their Pygmy Falcon II has been my go-to travel pack for nearly five years running. It’s a workhorse, in every sense of the word.

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Maxpedition Gear

Typical of Maxpedition, everything on this pack is exceptionally well laid out and well designed. It expands from a small pack to be able to fit all but the largest of loads. Despite the near-constant use, it remains in excellent shape.

This quality of construction is reflected in their Fatboy Versipack. Much like the Pygmy Falcon II, my Fatboy has had a rough, but drama free, life.

I use the Fatboy to keep the bare essentials on hand when out and about shooting things. It’s the perfect size for a rangefinder, tourniquet and associated first aid gear, plus a couple of spare 20 round magazines and some snackage. It’s a very well designed piece of kit.

There’s just no drama with Maxpedition soft gear. It simply works, and that’s why I like it.

Final Thoughts

What about you?

If it sounds like I’m an unabashed fanboy of the above brands, that’s because it’s true. Their products function just as advertised, and they stand behind them.

Have any manufacturers gone above and beyond in taking care of you, thus earning your long-term loyalty? Let us know in the comments below!