Jack First: The “first name” in gun parts

In 1954, less than a decade after World War II veteran Jack First returned home from deadly fighting on the Pacific island of Iwo Jima, he opened a small gun store in Lancaster. , in California. Like many returning GIs, First decided to make a name for himself in the booming sports markets that would define the post-war era. In his case, it came after he identified a need for faster customer service to supply gunsmiths with parts. First started by carrying new factory parts. When he needed it for himself, he would order an extra to keep it in stock. Soon it became known as a faster source than the factories themselves. In the 1980s, he realized that factories couldn’t supply obsolete parts, so he started keeping samples and disassembling guns to save parts as models. Over time he amassed around 14,000 pieces which were meticulously cataloged and stored to make duplicates which were produced in-house. First, he managed to make a name for himself by shortening the time it took for gunsmiths to repair customers’ rifles, shotguns and handguns.

screw detailsAfter four decades of success in California, First and his wife, Phyllis, moved the business to Rapid City, SD, where it still provides prompt service to professional gunsmiths and average DIYers today. Of course, some things have changed – the three volumes, 9 books. The paper catalog the company sent out in the mail has given way to a USB drive, but personalized customer service is still provided by four ladies in the sales department whose collective 150 years of experience allow them to respond to technical inquiries. and ordering customers by phone and by pack and ship orders. Additionally, five machinists bring a combined 130 years of experience manufacturing today’s massive inventory of firearm parts using vertical CNC machining centers, a Swiss screw machine, lathes Hardinge and South Bend CNC and manuals, Bridgeport vertical milling machines, a manual spring coiler, a wire EDM machine and other equipment. Parts are heat-treated and blued in-house to standards that often exceed those of originals, and examples of components manufactured by the company include: the internal extractor for pre-1962 Browning High Power pistols; the Beaumont Dutch bolt-action rifle extractor and ejector; the slide stop for the Hungarian Femaru .32 ACP and .380 ACP pistols; the Frommer Stop extractor for the .32 ACP and .380 ACP models; and a front sight for the .32 ACP and .380 ACP Colt Model “M” pistols.

Jack First worked part-time in the current store until his death in 2017 at the age of 95. Today his daughter, Nancy; grandson, Brian; and great-grandson – the fourth generation of First named, you guessed it, Jack – continue to keep the family business on track. To learn more, please visit jackfirstinc.com.

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