Shooting Champion Matt Burkett Arrested By Federal Authorities For Fraud

According to the Phoenix New Times, Matt Burkett has been arrested for fraud related to his Scottsdale, AZ firearms manufacturing business, Predator Tactical.

Burkett made a name for himself in the shooting world in the 1990s and 2000s, winning “more than 150 state, national, and world titles,” according to a September 2010 article in He’s also known for his “Practical Shooting” series of DVDs, and has taught thousands of civilian, military, and police students as an instructor in the United States and abroad.

The “scheme” started in 2012. Burkett would promise customers in person and via advertisements that he would ship them a custom in 90 days of their order and payment. He asked for the full amount upfront.

Burkett “would misappropriate customer payments for his personal benefit without attempting to fulfill the customer’s order,” the indictment states. He also allegedly misused money from loans and investors.

The single count of fraud stems from Burkett and his company’s appearance in a vendor’s booth at the 2012 NRA convention in St. Louis.

At the April convention, a customer identified in the indictment only as “P.S.” of “Company A” met Burkett and decided a few months later to order some of his firearms. The St. Louis customer ordered five 1911 handguns and sent Predator Tactical a deposit check for $21,653 on July 11, 2012, records state. Two days later, P.S. sent another $11,488 for the balance.

Burkett met P.S. the following week in St. Louis, where they agreed that P.S.’s company would send Predator Tactical $50,000. The customer wired the money a week later and sent a list of the firearms he wanted made. Burkett agreed to deliver one handgun per month to P.S. starting February 28, 2013.

However, Burkett has not delivered any of the firearms he promised to P.S.,” records state.

Burkett requested a federal public defender as he does not have the funds to afford a private attorney. He sounds positive and glosses over the charges and thinks things will work out.

Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at


  • Malthrak

    If you’re paying over $30k for five custom 1911’s, well, while I don’t condone fraud or theft, I kinda feel you also had it coming.

    I mean…really…you’ve already volunteered to be robbed at that point, whether the guns are delivered or not is a relatively minor detail I would think XD

    • $6k each for custom open division 2011s isn’t that out of line. There are a number of smiths that want $5-6k for an open gun. A production open 2011 is $4k.

      Heck Wilson wants $5k for their top of the line regular 1911s.

      • Malthrak

        While I understand that, I stand by my point 😉

        Anyone paying that much for something that is ultimately a piece of fancy sporting equipment, on a design long obsolete for practical/duty purposes, and dramatically divorced from its historical roots as a cheap and rugged grunt’s pistol, is kinda already agreeing to be robbed to some extent…

        • So the people that drop $50k on Jeep rock crawlers are agreeing to be robbed?

          High end custom sporting equipment is expensive. Just because someone chooses to buy them doesn’t mean that they want or are agreeing to be robbed.

          • Malthrak

            Apparently putting smilies in posts doesn’t get the point across that I’m not being entirely serious…

            And sure, while lots of sporting equipment is expensive, (I just spend $700 on a new steel sparring feder longsword and gloves myself) people make do in many of these events with dramatically less expensive equipment.

          • Certainly there are less expensive options.

            You can buy a production STI DVC Open for $4k, slowly build the parts off the prize table (but you still have $2-3k in labor/machine time), or buy used for $2-3k*.

            * = Unless you live in Kali, I saw a used open gun for sale for over $5k because none are on the roster, and you an no longer use the SSE.

          • Malthrak

            Yeah I remember CA prices…

            While I miss parts of CA, I don’t miss anything gun related…or the $2400/month rent on 900 sqrtft, *that* was robbery XD

          • Ben Pottinger

            It depends on the reason for spending so much. Plenty of people spend a fortune on some high end piece of equipment because they want to look “cool” or be envied by those they play/compete with. And to be honest it often works since the people usually complaining the loudest are those who can’t afford the high end toy. Fair enough (I can’t afford them, sadly).

            But it also depends on the level of sporting event your involved in. 5k $ sounds expensive but that’s the entire “vehicle” for competing in the highest level of the sport. Try that with cars! A WRC spec rally car looks pretty similar to a 25k $ economy car but has a 30,000$ turbo and 250-300,000$ transmission! Even if you were given the car and all the spares you ever needed it would still cost hundreds of thousands to compete at that level just from support and travel costs!

            I recently got into ham radio and was once again surprised at the extreme people are willing to take a hobby (15,000$ radios, 50,000$ worth of antenna “farm” installs, etc).

          • In reality the gun is a small part of the expenses in practical shooting. For most shooters their ammo bill dwarfs their equipment purchases. And for shooters that regularly attend major matches their travel expenses will often be equal or greater than their ammo bills.

            That $6k open gun, might get $50-60k worth of ammo shot through it.

          • Ben Pottinger

            Yup, I didn’t include travel expenses in my comment because they are going to be similar for the most part regardless your sport of interest. The ammo costs don’t surprise me, the training costs alone would be a fair amount.

        • Bierstadt54

          You are substituting your personal opinion with the personal opinion of others. You don’t like fancy 1911’s, therefore fancy 1911’s cannot be worth what they cost. My eyes hurt from how much rolling they did because of your post.

          • Malthrak

            We could get into all sorts of Utility theory economic rabbit holes with just about anything. I completely understand that argument, however, as we say in that field, utility is how we ascribe rationality to irrational acts.

            Either way, it was mainly tongue in cheek posting, hence the smilies in the above post, don’t let your retinas detach themselves too hard there 😉

          • Dietrich

            Agreed, the man can spend his money any way he wishes, but is there anything a five K 1911 will do that an H and K 45 or Sig 220 won’t do just as well? I’m not knocking the 1911 as I own two of the Springfield and Colt variety.

        • coyotehunter

          Aha!…And truth will set you free!!…..Your a glock owner and just detest the 1911 platform….

    • Vitsaus

      100% agree.

    • KiwiGuy

      Interesting. Is there a $ value to you can attribute to sucker vs victim ?

    • Daniel

      I wholeheartedly agree! If you have lots of money it should be a ok to rip you off! Just don’t defraud me or my sigmas.

    • Get over it fanbois

      *facepalm* You can buy a .50 BMG rifle and two M249 semi autos for that kind of money. The phrase “A fool and his money are easily parted” rings true once again.

      • Yeah, but none of those guns allow you to complete in USPSA open division. Open division has always been extremely expensive, and $6k each for the gun is only approaching the top end, a fully speced out Akai costs $8k. The only cheap way to shoot open is to buy used, but even then you are looking at $2-3k for the gun.

        And honestly all shooting sports have top end equipment that is extremely expensive. It isn’t unusual to spend $10k on a high end sporting shotgun or precision rifle.

        • Get over it fanbois

          Rifles and shotguns are somewhat understandable. Pistols, not so much. Just buy a damn Striker pistol like the other competitive shooting teams are.

          • Why don’t the high end shotgun guys just buy a damn Remington 1100 or a Wingmaster?

            Because it wouldn’t be suited for what they want to do. Open is the race gun division you need a gun designed for racing. Those are expensive custom made guns. As I mentioned in another reply even a production Open gun goes for $4k. Heck the magazines typically are $100+, the last one I bought was $130.

            If you don’t understand that, then you don’t understand sport shooting as well as you think you do.

          • Get over it fanbois

            Sport shooting at those prices are basically rich kid toys for trust fund babies. Strikers are good enough for Kyle
            Defoor, Larry Vickers, Guabe Suarez, South Narc, Ken Hackathorn, etc. But not the trust fundies.

            Hammer pistols are dead and for those who live on notsalgia. I remember Hilton Yam calling the “1911 a crutch needed to shoot well”. Which I agree with.

            So I’m going to trust his opinion over yours. Since he is an actual pro instead of a keyboard warrior.

          • You can’t afford it, then you buy used, pick the parts off the prize table, or just shoot a division other than open. I built mine using parts that I picked up off the prize table over a period of 3 years.

            As far as your list, none of those guys compete in USPSA in Open Division. And the quote has nothing to do with the subject at hand. Open division requires a specific type of gun. It must have a frame mounted optic, it must have a comp, a magazine that is 171.25mm long that can hold 28-30 rounds of 9mm, and most of all it must have the ability to tolerate 9mm major ammo being fired through it (which is 9mm loaded way beyond +P+ typically a 115gr at 1,450fps or a 124gr at 1,370fps ). The last requirement basically eliminates all striker pistols, and a frame mounted optic is also problematic with the polymer guns.

            And if anyone is the keyboard warrior it is you. I am talking about sport shooting, not going into combat. Open guns have about as much to do with service pistol as a Baja Racer has with a Bradley IFV.

            At the same time you can thank open shooters for modern red dots. Aimpoints got much of their durability tested on open guns which cycle violently and destroyed optics. In fact the Comp M series name comes from competition, as that is what that series was first designed for. Heck I have a H-1 on my open gun.

            But hey what do I know, I’ve only been doing this for 10 years. And was a member of one of those competitive shooting teams that shot striker pistols.

          • Kjk

            Seems like open shooting has a lot of dumb rules. A 171.25mm long magazine.

          • Not really with exception of the 171.25mm magazine those requirements are about being competitive. In fact the 171.25mm magazine is one of the few hard fast rules in the division, for the most part it is anything goes. I’ve shot open with a 9mm single stack 1911, got my butt kicked but it was perfectly legal per the rules.

            The magazine size limit was selected because someone decided it would be more practical to limit magazines by size rather than capacity. IIRC it was originally just 170mm, but when USPSA split from IPSC they decided to add a tolerance of +1.25mm. Which meant everyone just built magazines to 171.25mm.

            IPSC still has the hard fast limit of 170mm, which rarely changes things, I don’t lose capacity when I switch to my IPSC base pads. They also use the older higher PF requirement which means that the bullets must be 40-45fps faster.

          • If I remember correctly, the original 170mm length was a last ditch effort to keep the single-stack .45 M1911 relevant in USPSA. The length allowed for the use of the dodgy quality 11rd .45 magazines that were once commonly available.

            Prior to this, USPSA only allowed flush flt magazines. While solid bumper pads were kosher, you could not use an an extended tube or a hollow baseplate to expand the capacity of the pistol. So the only way to increase your magazine capacity in the single-stack M1911 was to either use a Devel (pre-Shooting Star) follower and/or swap to a smaller caliber. While other shooters (Chip McCormick) and gunsmiths (Bruce Gray and Devel) had been playing with the .38 Super at Major Power Factor, its popularity really took off when Rob Leatham started campaigning a Wilson Combat-built .38 Super, winning the 1984 US Nationals.

            In response, match directors began to increase the round counts of stages to force reloads upon the insurgent .38 Super shooters, who then held a 1-3 round advantage over their .45 ACP brethren. To counter this, gamers then scrambled to find a 9x19mm high-capacity pistol that would remain together when loaded to Major PF. You had gunsmiths playing with “Major 9” in the HK P7M13 (Bruce Gray), the Browning Hi-Power (Cylinder & Slide), and the CZ75 (Don Fisher.)

            Things really came to a head when shooters sponsored by S&W and Springfield started to field hi-cap “Major 9″ pistols. A few months prior to the 1990 Nationals and World Shoot, the USPSA BOD banned the use of 9x19mm at Major PF when loaded shorter than 1.25”. The sponsored shooters quickly rechambered their pistols from 9x19mm to 9x21mm IMI. The joke was that they were using 9mm JLE (Just Long Enough). The 1990 US Nationals were the last hoorah for the single-stack .38 Super, but added a new wrinkle in the form of red dot sights. The real equipment race was sparked a month later when Doug Koenig took the 1990 World Shoot with a red-dot equipped Springfield P9 in 9x21mm.

            That is when you started to see major work at perfecting a high-capacity M1911 frame suitable for .38 Super. While Jim Boland and Otto Matyska had individually fabricated one-off high capacity M1911 frames in the 1980s, nothing was commercially available until the Para-Ordnance frame kits came on the market, However, their quality control was not always the best, nor did they have a .38 Super magazine available in the early days. About the only person trying to campaign the Para-Ord in its first few years was John Dixon. By the time that Para-Ord started to get things together for .38 Super frame kits, the Caspian and CMC (pre-STI & SV Infinity) widebody frames were ready to hit the market.

          • That is more detailed, and is probably more correct then talking done between stages.

          • Thanks!

            Extended magazines had previously been legal in the early days of IPSC, and besides the previously mentioned 11rd sticks, some folks were even trying goofy things like the Taylor drum magazines for the M1911. IPSC cracked down on that around 1979-80.

            Upon further study, it looks like there was a loophole in the magazine rule (7.05) that allowed non-flush magazines if the extended magazine was the standard equipment introduced with the pistol/frame. That is how Caspian and CMC got away with introducing their widebody frames in 1992 with extended magazines.

            The 170mm magazine rule was passed in 1992 went into effect on January 1, 1993 in both IPSC and USPSA. However, IPSC only allowed it Open Division, but not their Standard Division. In contrast, USPSA decided to allow it in Limited Division for a year. After the first year, the standard-length magazine rule was reapplied to double-stack frames, while still allowing single-stack frames to use 170mm magazines. In 1995, USPSA revisited the issue setting the maximum length to 140mm for double-stack frames in Limited.

          • As I’ve often said every rule in the rule book has a story behind it that typically starts with someone saying “There is no rule against it.”

          • Kjk

            Interesting. Thanks for the info

          • Jonathan Page

            Stop trying to be the voice of reason. They don’t want to hear sound logic, just whine that some rich people have nice guns rather than their collection of hi points and tauruses.

          • darkdrifter

            You appear to be clueless about competitive shooting, and the clear “keyboard warrior” in this thread. People like Max Michel and KC Eusebio are practical shooting professionals. None of the men you mentioned are. They largely teach self defense and tactical shooting.

    • gunsandrockets

      And how dumb was it to try and rip off someone who could so casually sign off 80 grand? Uh, allegedly rip off.

      • Malthrak

        I mean…I feel like the buyer already agreed to be ripped off in the first place at those prices…


      • OldHand241

        Only “allegedly” if there is absolutely no evidence of a purchase agreement/contract. If he received the money and didn’t deliver the merchanise _on_schedule_, then it was a rip-off. It’s people like him that make honest machinists look bad.

    • darkdrifter

      They were more than likely buying full custom open division race guns. They go north of $7,000 all the time. Like Akai, SV Infinity and some STI pistols.

  • USMC03Vet

    Apparently there is a lot of this going on in the firearm industry and it’s why you never pay upfront.

    • Madcap_Magician

      In the custom knife world, most makers and customers have a rule… Never pay a deposit unless absolutely required for rare materials or for a design or personalization that the maker wouldn’t be able to resell.

      Makers also promote this rule because they know there’s no knife harder to build than one that’s already paid for.

    • Anonymous

      Not really. Up front order deposits are standard for almost all custom gun shops, and I can’t think of any I ever had that reneged and failed to send something. Late, sure. Total failure to comply, not likely.

  • McThag

    Public defender and thinks things will work out?

    Even I know better than that!

    • Major Tom

      Sometimes it works. If the prosecution is terrible or has a weak case.

      • Sunshine_Shooter

        If he gets acquitted w/ a public defender, then there is no doubt that he really is innocent. 🙂

  • RICH

    Burkett might be a ‘good shot’ but it sounds like he’s a pretty incompetent businessman…… or has some other underlying problems ! IMHO.

  • B-Sabre

    Burkett requested a federal public defender as he does not have the funds to afford a private attorney. He sounds positive and glosses over the charges and thinks things will work out.

  • gusto

    Burkett made a name for himself in the 1990? what was he 5 years old?

  • john4637

    You never know who………and when……..!!!

  • Bill

    $33K for the first 5 custom guns and then another $50K for a “list” of guns ? THAT is a lot of money in the hands of PS and there is no money for an attorney ? Where’d it go ? I would think there should be something available for pleasing the eyes other than a shoulder shrug. Is all of the evidence being put before us ? HMMMM !!

  • Chas

    Burkett sounds like one of Barry ‘Takkiya’ Soetoro’s proverbial dreamers. Things do not bode well for him….

  • Jamie Clemons

    It’s a shame when a good shooter goes bad.