Getting the first sample set of 50 fire-controls was a major milestone because at this point all of the components built were either 3D printed, manually milled, or was machined on a CNC using simple setups. The first 50 provide a platform to test our design in a more statistical approach. They enable us to better examine overall function, repeatability, manufacturability, and most importantly get initial feedback from real-world testing applications.
At this stage, we are wanting to really put the fire-control through its paces. So, we load it into our automatic trigger testing equipment. We want to know what breaks and when. A couple of triggers are run to over 100,000 cycles examining the parts periodically, tracking failures if they happen, and replacing the broken component. A couple more triggers get to run through 10,000 live-fire situations. Several other triggers are sent to be tested in a more natural way through training exercises and general daily duties.
We established a couple of requirements for the trigger to pass before it is considered ready for pre-production prototype build. The first was that it must pass 100,000 dry-firing cycles. To this end Casey built a really cool cycling test rig. Cycling at around 1 per second the trigger operated for a little over 27 hours. With no failures!
Then came the live fire test. We decide that the trigger must operate for 10,000 rounds without hiccups. This was during the height of the ammo shortage so insuring we had 10,000 rounds to shoot was not easy. Fortunately, we had a stash of 5.56 in stripper clips set aside just for that day. The plan was to go out to our range and, between Brodie, Casey and I, knock out the test in an afternoon. No sweat.
We have routinely shot 30,000 in a day doing Minigun testing. How hard can it be? Well it turns out it is very difficult. And painful. Step one: load 334 magazines. Not all at once of course. We had ten mags that we loaded over and over. Even with stripper clips this got old fast. Then we still had to shoot them.
We started by doing drills so as not to just blow the ammo. By the first hour and first thousand rounds we were pretty much over that. So, it became a contest of just how fast we could dump mags. At this point the gun gets too hot to shoot without gloves. Then it was too hot to shoot with gloves. Finally, it was too much. We loaded a fresh mag, chambered a round, and bang! The gun cooked off almost immediately.
I think at that point we were about 2000 rounds into the 10k test. Clearly, we needed to slow it down a bit. The whole process ended up taking the weekend. But it was a good time all in all. Best part was that the trigger performed flawlessly.
With 100,000 dry fires and 10,000 live shots on one trigger in the books it was time to run the first pre-production prototypes.
From the outset, we wanted to create a trigger that provided improved the inherent safety for a standard issue trigger. From Brodie’s story, the question that needed to be addressed was: “How do we reduce the chances of an accidental discharge?” We had several discussions around the topic. Some of which were more extensive, such as building a dedicated new lower receiver.
We finally settled the fact that the any changes would have to work with existing platforms and couldn’t require a significant change in the user’s muscle memory and training procedures. Now we had work to do.
We had to examine what was “standard” and the variations that many manufacturers thought were “standard”. Needless to say, no lower receiver is the same as the next, even if they say “MIL-STD”. Luckily, they all do follow some form of standard in the fire-control mechanism interface. We proceeded to examine different methods to make a better and safer trigger Some ideas were quite far-fetched, but it was part of the idea creation process.
Feasible ideas were manually milled or 3D printed to get a proof of concept. What once looked good on paper ended up not working in real-life, which happens more often than any designing company would like to admit. As the design and calculations started to take shape and through several iterations, we finally settled on the OPAR as you see it today.
In an inadvertent manner we also designed a trigger that lends itself well to training the user to build muscle memory through the Area-of-Engagement design. This requires the user to develop behaviors in their trigger pull that will enhance their precision through repeated consistency in trigger finger placement and pulling operations.
Stay tuned next week to see learn more about the story of the development of our OPAR trigger.
Our first mechanical product is a trigger. It is a pretty cool trigger but really there are only so many ways you can make a trigger. However, the inspiration behind the OPAR is meaningful. It was born from experience hard won during trying times.
Brodie’s Story | Where the Idea Came From
My name is Brodie Renner and I retired from the U.S. Navy in early 2017. I was raised in a small ski town in Colorado, and took advantage of the freedom my parents allowed me. I enjoyed being outside, going hiking, skiing, rock climbing, mountaineering and I did it all over the southwest and Yosemite. After graduating from high school in ‘97, I joined the Navy and immediately after boot camp I began my 20-year Naval Special Warfare career.
Upon being assigned to the East Coast teams, I became a point man, NSW sniper, and lead climber in all environments, deepening my passion for the outdoors. I was part of countless “No Fail” missions conducted across the globe and garnered experience that no amount of money can buy.
After retirement, I went to work for my friend, Chris Dillon, the president of Dillon Aero, where I was tasked with managing our Non-standard Weapons Division. Chris and I would often discuss my time in the Navy and my numerous deployments. These discussions often focused on what worked or didn’t work as far as gear was concerned and the lessons that were inevitably learned from those 17 deployments. We did not know it at the time, but we were helping to lay the groundwork for a new venture now called “Dillon Rifle Company.”
One topic we were particularly interested in was the M4 safety lever. Over my 20 years of experience I’ve noticed a recurring issue with the mil-spec trigger and selector lever of the AR. The M4’s safety is simple. A throw of the thumb and the rifle can be switched from “safe” to “fire” and back to “safe” in an instant. Simple, but not fool-proof.
One account I’ll share occurred one night in Iraq during a helicopter insertion into an objective. I was going over our mission in my head. Where would I enter the compound, the last known location of the insurgents, where the secondary objective was, how and so on. A routine I had practiced a hundred times.
Suddenly I heard a gunshot and felt heat between my legs. I immediately thought we were taking fire–again. My good friend, fellow sniper, and one of the best operators our nation has to offer just had an accidental discharge because he changed his seating position on
Somehow during the 30 min flight his selector switched from “safe” to “fire” and when he adjusted his position his trigger got snagged on a button and fired the weapon. Because of the way we were packed in there the muzzle flash went off right between my legs and if I was a bigger man I would not have a second kid today.
Fortunately, no real damage was done to either myself or the helicopter. We continued toward the objective and completed the mission with no EAGLEs wounded or killed. That night could have gone very differently. Even among the ranks of the most elite operators using the best equipment available, mistakes can be made and accidents will occur.
It didn’t matter if we were patrolling the mountains of Kosovo, climbing over walls in Iraq, or carrying wounded teammates in Afghanistan there were too many times the selector switch moved to the “fire” position without the operator knowing. Due to our high level of training there was very rarely an accidental discharge but the possibility was always there. Even an act as simple as sitting in a cramped vehicle could result in a life altering situation. The Gods of bad luck and lousy timing do not care how good you are.
I’m incredibly honored to be part of this new company and to help develop the next generation of firearms and accessories. Our first product, the On Patrol AR or OPAR trigger, will make every soldier, operator, police officer, hunter, competition and recreational shooter safer.
The OPAR trigger can greatly decrease the chance of accidental or negligent discharges in the AR platform with minimal cost and without the need for additional training. This will add a level of safety that this platform has never experienced.
The OPAR trigger operates as a secondary safety within the firing sequence. Inside the trigger body is a set of features that prevent the trigger from being engaged without deliberate, straight rearward pressure. With the Dillon Rifle Company OPAR trigger, accidental discharges and the potential resulting casualties are reduced,
making all operators better.
Brodie Renner | DRC Business Development
“Long Live The Brotherhood”
Welcome to the Dillon Rifle Company. You may not have heard of us before now. I would like to change that. While our better-known sister company, Dillon Aero, has been steadily developing a new .50 caliber Gatling gun, we have been toiling away in obscurity working on our own project, Dillon Rifle Company.
The goal of DRC is to create a whole new generation of semiautomatic rifles. We believe that the products that have been produced in our community have become a bit repetitive over the past few years. Nothing exceptionally new or dramatically different has been developed. We are going to try and change that. I will not go into any details right now. But I will say that we have been working on this project for a couple of years and I think we will have something out in the next year or so. We are pretty excited.
While Dillon Rifle Company benefits from the decades of experience of its older siblings, Dillon Aero and Dillon Precision, it is a new company staffed by a wonderful group of highly talented people. Over the past two years they have come together as a team and built this business. Anyone who has started a business or been in a startup can tell you it is not easy. Soon we plan on releasing an entirely new series of rifles and related products. That will be a big task.
To help us get ready for that day we decided to develop a product that we could release in advance, the OPAR trigger. From a complexity standpoint the trigger is simpler in terms of design, manufacturing, fielding, & support.
However, it demands the same high standards in all these categories as will our future products. Tackling this project will help prepare us for the challenges that lie ahead. We are genuinely excited to be doing this work. We hope that will show not only in the products we make but how we make and present those products. We believe in well-thought-out designs, creativity, art, beauty and thinking outside the box. We just want to produce products that not only function amazingly but look good too.
I sincerely hope you enjoy what we do. And if you decide to purchase our products, know that I personally guarantee your satisfaction. If ever there is a problem, we will fix it or give you your money back. It’s like my dad often said, “Always treat others the way you would want to be treated.”
“A Growing Excited Company”