So there are a metric ton of AR and AK accessory manufacturers out there. Some of them are awesome and churn out great stuff regularly, and some of them are straight crap. There are all sorts of little companies here and there that are super niche and other large guys that do it all. However, up in the Granite State there is a company that has been doing some really cool stuff for a while and has no intent of stopping anytime soon.
Samson Manufacturing was started by an engineer named (strangely enough) Scott Samson. Scott got his start in the industry with Hardigg and Pelican Cases working on and designing all sorts of lovely things built to keep our gear safe and secure. He was a firearms enthusiast and decided that he should get into weapons parts and accessories as well. He worked with some big name companies and was moving up in the world. He helped to develop some of the things that are standard today on many of the rifles that you have at home now. With some hard work and luck he landed a few government contracts in the early days of the Global War on Terror to provide thousands of upgrades to rifles being deployed around the world. Samson produced picatinny sections to affix to standard M4 handguards so service members could mount accessories to their weapons. Early in the War, there was a huge shortage of RAS systems being provided to the military. So, Samson stepped up and QRped up their operation to be able to fill the needs of deploying Soldiers. Now, Samson is still supplying amazing quality gear to military and law enforcement guys and gals around the world.
Samson is doing it, and doing it well. They manufacture and provide some of the highest quality stuff to many of the largest companies out there. Their Samson branded items are available from almost every large retailer. They offer sights, sling mounts, foregrips, rails, and handguards. They do what a lot of other companies do, but they do it better and with more attention to detail.
As stated, Samson got where they are because of hard work and luck. Awesome. You made it. Now how are you going to stay there? Well, you can produce tons of products at a super low price so everyone buys it. You could use a lot of crazy marketing techniques to make me think that my rifle won’t even work properly without “Product X.” Or, you could make some awesome stuff and stand behind it because you realize that in the end, we are all in this together.
This isn’t an industry that everyone and their brother rely on. We as enthusiasts, law enforcement, sportsman, and military personnel sometimes like to think that it is and glamorize it, but a fairly small amount of the populace invest as much time and money (not to mention effort) into anything as much as firearms consumers do. Samson recognizes this and embraces and loves us for it. That’s correct. You are loved; now go put a “peace” sticker on your car. Samson has a set of values that is akin to a “code,” and the focus of that code is their customer service.
About 10 years ago I was deployed with some Dutch guys from their country’s equivalent of the 101 AIRBORNE. One of the things that I will always remember about the Dutch Air Assault dudes is that they would never say anything about “going to work.” They would say that they were “going to serve.” They felt that it was a privilege for them to be performing their duties for their country. Samson is sort of the same way. They employ people that are genuinely passionate about what they are doing. That doesn’t mean that every person running a CNC machine is also someone you are going to see on 3Gun Nation, but it does mean that they care about the product that you are investing in. It means that even though the Quality Control Manager that hand checked your BUIS might not know what MOA means or why it matters, he or she does their best and cares because it matters to you.
Samson’s quality control process is amazing. Each and every item that comes off of their CNC machines is hand inspected, anodized, re-inspected, and then hand assembled. If an item does not meet their stringent requirements, it does not ship. Samson does not have a quality control quota; they have a dedication to quality control. So if an items is poop it goes back to that magical place where unloved toys and stray cats live, the trash.
Any company that stands behind their products is deserving of praise, but one of the things that set Samson above many of the other fine companies in the industry is that their company is taking a multi-directional approach to conducting business in the firearms and shooting sports industry. Not only do they manufacture products based on trends within the shooting sports environment, they also do not create solutions to problems that don’t exist. They take end-user feedback and apply it at the design level. If the suggestion or request was about a product already in use, they “fix” that product.
An example of this is their awesome Evolution series of rails. Like their other rails, the evolution series uses a standard barrel nut. On top of the standard barrel nut is a thermal bushing which takes heat generated during sustained fire and directs it away from the user’s hand. It’s a great design as it is, but Samson took it a step further, and with feedback from the consumer they incorporated a small set screw into where the handguard attaches to the rifle. They did this because of feedback from folks using larger cartridges (.50 Beowulf and .458 SOCOM) because of a concern about the handguard sliding forward as a result of greater recoil. Samson and other manufacturers in the industry tried to replicate the phenomena but could not. They went ahead and added the screw anyway. As a further precaution, they added two set screws on their .308 pattern Evo just to be sure. Not a huge change, but we asked for it and they gave it to us. To go along with the Evolution handguard, they developed a comprehensive line of accessories designed to specifically interface with the evolution’s smooth surface based on the needs and wants of us, the end-user. A few of the specific Evolution accessories that are incredibly well thought out and designed are the handstop, the QD swivel socket, and the vertical grip.
Everyone loves handstops. This handstop is the reason why. It is the handstop that you were looking for and didn’t even know it. It weighs next to nothing; it looks rad, and its bidirectional. One way it keeps you from shooting your fingers off and acts like a rest for a barricade firing position, the other way it gives you a great reference point.
The QD socket and vertical grip get to be talked about together. The reason is that the mounting point for the foregrip is a modified QD socket. The socket is super low profile and smooth looking. It fits the lines of the handguard perfectly and can be placed pretty much anywhere you need it. The QD socket works like every other one on the market, accept it was designed specifically for the Evo. The foregrip fits into the adapted QD socket by use of a helicoil helical inset. Instead of a threaded steel rod tearing and pulling on a soft aluminum mount, they made it stronger than you will ever be. So you see, before KeyMod was cool Samson had you hooked up on accessories that would mount seamlessly to the forearm of your rifle.
Speaking of KeyMod, Samson does that too. And what’s crazy is that they love you enough as a consumer not make all of your old stuff worthless and obsolete. They took KeyMod and made it better. They’ve taken their already awesome Evolution line of handguards and placed KeyMod cutouts at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock all the way down the forearm. They also made it better by making KeyMod work on a surface that doesn’t feel “flat.” The Evo KeyMod handguards still maintain the tubular feel as opposed to the square feeling you get with many other handguards. Even better, you can still use many of your Evolution accessories with the new Evo KeyMods, and you get the quick change modularity of the KeyMod interface as well.
For those of you not in-the-know, KeyMod came out a few years ago as a desire to move away from the MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny interface. The thought was that there had to be a more ergonomic, repeatable, and modular way to affix your stuff to your rifle, all without getting your hands and equipment chewed up by the rails on the front of your banger. Ta-da! KeyMod. One of the other driving forces behind KeyMod was a way to quickly be able to change your setup to meet whatever mission or event you are facing. KeyMod is pretty good at that as is, but Samson is gonna make it better. They have it in the works to make KeyMod more mod. Look for Samson to make some modifications to their KeyMod setups that make it more stable, and more user friendly in the field.
Another great example of Samson applying feedback to their products is their sights. They offer a set of folding sights that are not spring actuated and that lock in the deployed position. This came at the request of users that didn’t want sights that would open or close under recoil or standard use. Taking the extra step in manufacturing, design, and production shows again how Samson is sticking to their values of providing a product of outstanding quality at a damn good price.
Great product at a great price comes with great design. Easy to say yet difficult to do at this point in the rifle add-on game, but Samson has something that is just about amazing. How about a repeatable zero mount? Seen that? Yeah me too. How about a quick-release one? I’ve got a bunch too. How about a quick-release and repeatable mount that fits over-spec, in-spec, and under-spec rails? A mount that uses the science that makes a screw-on mount more stable and less damaging than a throw-lever. One that is quicker, more positive, and bears more force than a throw-lever, or a screw-on for that matter? Want one? I want 12. Go ahead and sell some stock; Samson’s shipping their QR.
The QR is one of the smallest and over-built optic mounts ever envisioned. It is engineering at its finest; straight-up. This mounting system takes the best of what’s out there, combines it, and then reinvents it. This mount allows a completely positive lock-up. It doesn’t need you to screw it on and worry about over torque. It doesn’t need you to continually fool with micro-adjustments. It’s close out of the box because Samson built it to fit all rails. It doesn’t need a tool to fine tune, because your finger is good enough. It’s beautiful and ready for war as soon as you torque down the screws to the optic. This is the little optics mount that could.
The QR gets its tech from way above its pay grade. It uses a multi-start screw as the basis for its operation. The multi-start is like a normal screw, with six other screws wrapped around it. It IS the mechanical advantage in optics mounts. It’s stronger and more adjustable than any other screw-based mounting system out there. But, it’s not just a screw based mount. It includes a lever. Because of the multi-start screw, the QR is more-or-less a dial-able lever. The lever of the QR also rotates the multi-start screw independent of the coarse adjustment. This makes the QR a lever actuated mount that works on a fine and coarse adjustment system. It gives a perfect fit. A perfect fit is good, but a perfect product is better. Samson continues to push it toward that point with their innovative offerings. If you want to see what I mean, check out their youtube channel for videos of an Aimpoint T-1 in the QR mount being taken on and off a rifle tons of times and maintaining its zero. Keep watching to see the same T-1/ QR set up being beaten about with a 2×4 section of wood like a baseball. The end result? The T-1/ QR combo held its zero. The test was conducted at 100 yards with a 4 MOA dot. Throughout the test the combo held its point of impact to within the size of the dot on the T-1.
Even though the KeyMod and QR should be enough, Samson keeps feeding us new gear. Now, they’ve got their own magnifier. Yep, you might have seen it at SHOT Show, but I’ve shot with it; it’s awesome. The thing is bright, clear, and big. The magnifier is so bright and clear because it is SO big. Because being able to definitively define and engage your target is important, Samson decided to offer their first magnifier with a 35mm tube.
They did this because of the way that our eyes/ brain interpret light. More light = more bright. It isn’t just because the glass is super clear (it is), it’s science at work. Samson knows that their magnifier is bigger than some, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t paying attention. Samson monitors trends and all of that stuff. They know that others are making their magnifiers smaller. Samson also understands what we want. WE want gear that does the job. Got that. Luckily, we get the gear that works, and does it very well. With the QR mounting system. For an MSRP of $389.
Samson is sort of like my mother. My mom used to tell me that even though I didn’t like certain things, that didn’t mean that they weren’t good for me. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, math, and other crap like that were all things that I was occasionally force fed. Samson does the mom thing by telling you that even though you like your accessories in olive drab and flat dark earth, you ain’t getting it from them. I know that dark earth, foliage, olive drab, zombie green, and fuchsia are the bee’s knees. The problem is they’re weak. Paint sucks on a bare aluminum part. It isn’t strong and it will flake away, leaving the aluminum beneath open to an attack. The hard coat anodizing Samson uses is actually harder than the aluminum that it covers. Samson anodizes all of their stuff. The great news is that you can get it in any color that you want, as long as it is black. If you want another color, buy some paint.
One of the things that Samson is very well known for is the emphasis that they place on 3Gun shooting. They are a huge supplier and supporter of modern shooting sports. They have an awesome pro 3Gun team. They are so established in the sport that they presented the $25,000 prize check to the ladies winner of the 3Gun Nation final, Rumble at the Range, at this year’s Shot Show. They are a 3Gun Nation Commercial Sponsor. They know that they are a huge part of the 3Gun world and continue to develop it.
Shooting Sports are continuing to grow, and Samson wants to help keep it that way. They Like the exposure that 3Gun is getting in the commercial market and want to make it more user friendly, that’s why they are doing some webisodes. As you are reading this, Samson should be well into their season of webisodes that take you inside what the 3Gun life is like. People know that there are 3Gun matches all over the country, but that might be it. Samson’s pros are trying to take you with them to some of their matches. They want you to see it all and understand it all. Gear selection, the travel between matches and how to travel with firearms, and stage set-up are all subjects that the Samson team is going to cover with you during the webisodes for multiple 3Gun Outlaw matches.
Along with education via the internet, Samson is looking at bringing the 3Gun option closer to home. They’re planning on offering 3Gun training at their Keene, NH facility to educate locals on the benefits and enjoyment that can come from 3Gun. Hopefully the 3Gun instruction and education will lead to local matches and continue to garner more interest.
Another thing that is pushing Samson forward is their incredibly realistic approach to firearms in modern America and their understanding of the feelings that firearms invoke. You are more than likely a firearm owner. You read this blog because you care about the content on here. You are passionate about your hobby/ way of life/ profession. You probably have some very strong beliefs about your rights. Samson knows this. There is also another group of people in America that have just as powerful beliefs about guns, but their views might be the opposite of yours. Samson knows this. Samson also knows that the thing that brings both sides of the same argument together (hopefully) is education.
Because education about firearms is so incredibly important right now, Samson is spending a lot of their time and money on developing a section of their property into a training area. They are running and planning courses as you read this. They are partnering with organizations and companies from around the United States to bring you quality instruction. This isn’t just instruction in high-speed SF and 3Gun shooting (they are doing that though); their training center is also offering firearms education as well. They have it in the works to be able to provide New Englanders with very current and relevant training to match any level of proficiency that you may bring to their facility in Keene, NH, even if that level is someone that just wants to understand how firearms work and the practical application of them.
Something that Samson is focusing on that many other training centers are ignoring is women shooters. They are offering woman’s specific courses for varying skill levels and interests. Most people are astute enough to know that the majority of enthusiasts in this industry are male. However, there are a lot of female shooters already and that number is growing. Samson is embracing the women and trying to bring them closer into the fold by offering classes just for the ladies, and even instructed by the ladies. It’s like Curves Fitness, but with guns.
Along with their training center and courses, Samson has also recently opened a full service shop on their site. The shop and the training center makes up Samson Pro. Samson pro isn’t just another gun store. It also isn’t another section of forested backyard to watch training DVDs and try to replicate what you just saw. Samson Pro is a 360 degree approach to outfitting, equipping, and instructing military, law enforcement, enthusiasts, and competitors alike. They understand that competent firearms owners are like a building. No matter how much technology goes into the building or how well made it is, it is going to fall down is the foundation is weak. If your gear sucks, your skill and knowledge base sucks, and your ability sucks, then you’re going to fail no matter how cool you look. Build the basics, properly, and then focus on getting all of the gear.
So whenever you realize that you need a great New England vacation and the skiing just isn’t cutting it head over to Keene, NH and talk to Samson. Schedule a few classes, bring your rifle and pimp it out, and pick up some nice schwag to keep you looking good at their shop. Be sure to bring your humble hat and get educated about all sorts of TTPs and everything that goes into the building of our favorite obsession. And if for some reason you don’t feel like going to a state that’s motto is “Live Free or Die” (what’s wrong with you?) order their gear and check them out all over the interwebs and 3Gun Nation.
One last sweet Samson setup. 11″ Evo, stubby VFG, handstop, and fixed sights. (photo by Primer)