Although SHOT Show is all about guns and gun-related gear it is not without its more emotional moments. One of those moments took place on Wednesday morning at Axelson Tactical’s booth during a press conference. This particular conference was held to announce the creation of a new rifle, but this wasn’t – isn’t – just any rifle. It’s a tribute rifle being made by Axelson Tactical for the late US Navy SEAL Danny Dietz.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” KJV Bible
Call it what you may, but there is an undeniable dose of masculine, testosterone-laden love in the military brotherhood. In 2005 Danny Dietz was shot 5 times and yet continued to fight for his teammates. As many service members have said, they fought not for the establishment, not even for country, but for the man fighting alongside them. Even when Marcus Luttrell attempted to drag him to a safer spot, Danny somehow kept his rifle shouldered and laid down cover fire. He refused to quit, refused to surrender, until the final round struck him in the head. Marcus Luttrell held him in his arms as he died. Danny’s tenacious refusal to stop firing his weapon – even while grievously wounded and being dragged by his teammate – was a stunning example of the steadfast love of the brotherhood. It was also a stunning example of the kind of courage and strength we all wish for but so rarely deliver.
Danny Dietz’s tribute rifle is being designed to closely resemble the gun he carried into his final battle. Of course, certain changes are being made in order to make it legal for civilians to own, but the basics remain. Visually it resembles Dietz’s rifle to a T. This similarity is due in part to the efforts of Russ Bacon, a Nevada Cerakote specialist who turns putting a customized finish on a firearm into an art form. Russ put a great deal of effort into this rifle, even talking to other pros to ensure he layered the various colors correctly to create the right effect.
Work on the tribute rifle began when Danny Dietz’s mother, Cindy Dietz, approached Jeff Axelson with her desire for a firearms memorial for her late son. Jeff Axelson is the owner and founder of Axelson Tactical and also the brother of the late Matt Axelson who was also killed during Operation Red Wings in 2005. Jeff agreed immediately and he and his team have been working hard on the new gun ever since.
The moment of the unveiling was emotional because it brought memories roaring back for many present including Cindy Dietz, Jeff Axelson, former SEAL Ron Bellan, and some of the men of Benghazi who attended the press conference to lend moral support. There will be 100 rifles made with the first two consecutive numbers staying within the family.
Specs are not yet available although I can tell you it’s chambered in 5.56 NATO and that the prototype has a flare launcher which will, of course, be rendered inoperable for compliance in certain states. The production rifles should be ready soon and I’m looking forward to some trigger time with them not only because this promises to be an interesting rifle but because the Dietz and Axelson families will be there, among others. It is always an honor to be invited to such an event. (You can be sure I’ll share full details on this gun when it’s finished.)
Visit Axelson Tactical’s website at www.axelsontactical.com