As I was in Louisiana apart of a road trip this past week, I decided to check into Red Jacket Firearms, just because they happened to be within the vicinity of where I was staying in Amite. I was curious on account of two reasons. One, I wanted to know more about what happened to them after their departure from the mainstream media because of Will Hayden’s sexual assault charges. And two, were they really all up to all the hype and talk that they have generated so much of while they were famous? The answers are varied.
To answer the first question, Red Jacket Firearms has been COMPLETELY turned around. When I say this, I mean the only thing even left of their former status in the shop, is in the form of former RJF merchandise that was left over and is being sold now (I assume). The biggest change is the name, which has been changed to Meaux Guns & Ammo. The new owner (who was a co star during Sons of Guns) Joe Meaux is heading all this up, in addition to starting another company called Akly’s Defense (same building). Joe seems like a pretty legitimate guy, even walking up to me as I was leaving the store to make sure I found everything I needed (AKS74U parts) and thanked me for coming by. For more information about the actual rebranding, a local Baton Rouge newspaper covers it pretty well here. What is interesting is that the RJF website is still up here, yet to be replaced or rebranded by the new Facebook group here. I can’t say that I was fully surprised, but more mildly shocked as I hadn’t heard a thing about them since the sexual assault incident, about the rebranding.
While I was down in Louisiana, I talked to some of the local residents about the rebranding and the incident, it was large enough to make headlines throughout the state, and important enough even for the elderly to residents to remember it being a big deal.
This is from the local article, and reveals a bit more about WIll Hayden-
Within a week of Hayden’s arrest in August, Meaux learned his former partner made a licensing deal behind the backs of him and the other partners, cutting them out of trademark royalties. A Texas car dealership contracted with Hayden, individually rather than with their licensing company, to manufacture Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Red Jacket Firearm Edition SUVs stamped with their logo. Red Jacket Licensing sued Hayden in October for breach of contract and secured a judgment last month ordering him to pay $130,000 in damages.
While the widespread bad press prompted by TV fame has hurt business, Meaux said he wouldn’t be involved in Red Jacket Firearms in the first place had it not been for the show. In the beginning, Hayden had the show deal, but when he lost his license with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Meaux, who previously worked with Hayden, said he stepped in since Hayden needed a licensed gun retail and manufacturer to continue “Sons of Guns.”
To answer the second question, are they really up to the hype and talk they receive on the internet and among gun owners? That I cannot give a direct answer to because my visit wasn’t at all extensive, just looking around the shop and talking to some of the staff on duty. I examined some of their SBR and suppressor AR builds, and honestly I can’t say that I came away truly impressed. Do they make interesting guns? It appears so. But do they make a product that outshines most other custom gunmakers in the industry? I would affirmatively say no, not from what I saw. What they’re doing with a company of their size is absolutely great, but I don’t think it shines the spotlight on them such as companies like Salient International just to give an example. I’m not saying they don’t churn out great custom firearms, I’m just saying that they’re just as good and are like any other custom gun manufacturer, no better or worse.