It’s always good to find local businesses that share a common interest, and also provide a great product/service. For me, Rainier Arms in Auburn, WA is one such business. My friend John Hwang established Rainier Arms back in 2003, and his business has since become the foremost AR-platform dealer in the Northwest, and is also one of the heavyweights in the online AR-15 space. Tim Swan (from Ultimate Reloader) and I recently went down to Rainier Arms, and I thought I would take the opportunity to show you a bit of what goes on behind the scenes and Rainier Arms, and to get the story regarding how Rainier Arms started.
The following is from a conversation with John regarding establishing and building Rainier Arms as a business:
Gavin: How did you get into the AR-15 business, and when did you open Rainier Arms?
John: Shooting is a passion which started during my college years. I started with hand guns and moved in to AR15s and other long guns in late 1990s. I hate to admit it but I was probably intrigued by black rifles with my submersion into the video game scene of my college days (especially Counter Strike). About 2003-2004, I started a company called Tactical Solutions which really took off but in 2005, I changed the name of my business to Rainier Arms (as too many other shops called themselves tactical solutions come to find out). The way I got started was I found out how easy it was to purchase at dealer pricing (buy a small number of parts and have a license). When I first started, it started out as a hobby. I bought 5, sold 4 and kept mine for free. That’s how it started but then other guys would ask, do you have this product or that product and I would say “no but I can find out if I can get it for you.”
Gavin: How much business do you do at your store compared to online?
John: About 15-20% is in store sales and everything else is online.
Gavin: What kinds of customers do you do most of your business with? (non-commercial, LEO, military, etc)
John: They are all across the board from LEO, military, enthusiasts and couch commandos. I would say the vast majority are enthusiasts who have a passion for AR15s as we run a higher end AR15 shop.
Gavin: What do you sell other than AR-15 and AR-10 rifles/equipment/accessories?
John: A few night hawk custom handguns, knives but that’s about it.
Gavin: What kind of shooting do you enjoy most?
John: Tactical shooting when I can get a way. I like to run and gun.
Gavin: Do you have a favorite AR-15 that you’ve built? Why is it your favorite?
John: It’s hard to pick one because so many stand out. The best part of owning Rainier Arms is the fact I can build whatever I can dream up. The only bad part about owning Rainier is that I’ve become so busy that I own more guns than I can shoot. It’s a shame actually.
When you talk with John, it’s clear that he’s passionate about what he does, and he shares this excitement with the customers he serves. It’s also clear that John is always looking to get involved in the latest developments on the AR platform, and is looking for ways to bring his customers innovative products, and a better value.
The rest of the staff at Rainier Arms also share a passion for what they do, and it comes across when you talk with them.
If you are in the greater Seattle area, you will want to make an effort to see John’s storefront. It’s got a huge lineup of rifles, and there’s always a buzz of activity going on inside. One of the cool things that you can see when you are there is an entire wall of AR rifles!
If you want to visit Rainier Arms online, just go to www.rainierarms.com
If you are in the area, and want to see the store in person, here’s the store info:
Rainier Arms, LLC
3802 Auburn Way N, Ste 305
Auburn, WA 98002
Phone: (253) 218-2999
Happy AR-15 shopping!