From a Ranch Near Butte, to a $50 Million Investment in Helena
One of my favorite highlights of this year's SHOT Show in Las Vegas is getting to meet Olympus Arms founder and CEO Michael Merino and his wife.
What a POWERFUL and incredible story about how a kid who grew up on a ranch south of Butte, and STILL serves in the US military, started a company now launching this $50 million investment in Helena, Montana.
As I rolled into the Olympus Arms booth, a crew from DEVCOM- the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command- was on station.
Michael Merino: We've sold them three of our rifles. They've tested them. The results are just off the charts. Quite literally, it didn't register on the chart how low the recoil was. They talked to us about what we're doing next. We're building a grenade launcher for the Army- a 30 millimeter semi automatic rifle- it's just incredible. So much fun. We also submitted to SOCOM to build them an extreme long range sniper rifle- recoilless- in .375 CheyTac and a new caliber we haven't unveiled yet. So we just have all kinds of opportunities in the future.
Merino grew up on a ranch south of Butte, Montana. He started as a sniper on 6 years of active duty in the Army and continues to serve in the Montana Army National Guard. He's now manufacturing the gun that was "best in show" at last year's SHOT Show in Helena, Montana with a $50 million investment.
Michael Merino: I wish it was all a happy story, but I want to be honest with you- the last 10 years and even 15 years since I came up with this idea,that hasn't been easy. That's been the walk through the desert with an empty canteen, and just scraping together funds, working all night long. We're now coming out of the woods and now we're getting investors. You know, people say that we bootstrapped it. We shoe-stringed it. I mean, we just drug ourselves through this thing and made it and I owe it to my entire team, my co inventor, my wife- she's the one that's raised our kids while I'm working downstairs, you know, trying to get this thing to work. So I love being on the on the top of the hill. But man, we can't forget the valley.
When did he first get the idea for his "Vulcan high-caliber recoilless rifle?"
Michael Merino: I was actually at sniper school, and I shot the M24 and I shot the Barrett side-by-side, and the Barrett had less recoil than the M24. And right then I said- wait a second, we're doing this wrong. I said, make me a recoilless rifle in 30 caliber, and give it to me as my battle rifle. And they said it cannot be done. It's impossible. And I said, crap. I mean, there's no way if I can do it with a 50, I've got to be able to do it with a 30.
And he made it happen. He turned his idea into reality. Below is the full audio with Olympus Arms CEO Michael Merino. (By the way- all 3 days of radio coverage from the SHOT Show in Vegas can be found by clicking here.)
SHOT Show- Montana to Las Vegas
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