Brothers Ethan and Jonathan Collins have been interested in weaponry since they were very young. One might say obsessed, according to Ethan. As children growing up in Calhoun County, they even fashioned toy guns from items such as gate hinges and rebar they found around the farm.
As adults, the two decided to parlay their interest and knowledge of firearms into a family business called PAR Tech. It helped that both brothers earned mechanical engineering degrees from Marshall University, and thus understood physics and mechanical processes and were able to use their computer-aided-design skills to develop 3D-renderings of their ideas.
To move their innovations from concepts to market, the brothers turned to the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) at Marshall University for manufacturing assistance. They applied for and were granted early-stage funding assistance by RCBI to create and refine prototypes of their original innovation, a muzzle device to improve the performance of firearms by reducing horizontal and vertical recoil. Unlike traditional muzzle brakes, theirs work by effectively capturing the energy produced by the firing of a cartridge to push the barrel downward and forward, counteracting the resulting upward and back motion shooters experience. The device is patent pending and has performed extremely well during tests.
Brian Brown, RCBI senior manufacturing engineer and site manager at the Huntington Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center, taught the brothers to use RCBI’s computer-controlled five-axis machining center to fabricate the precision parts. RCBI completed the machining of the custom parts starting at the prototyping stage through generating inventory to fulfill initial orders. Brown and RCBI have been an integral part of manufacturing for PAR Tech, according to the brothers.
Today, the brothers have greatly expanded their product line to include slides, threaded barrels and other recoil suppression devices. They continue to lease time on RCBI equipment to produce the custom parts, which they sell across the country through their website (www.partechusa.com). PAR Tech products also can be found in local gun shops throughout the area. The brothers frequently spend time at local competitions, shows, and expos to market their product and demonstrate the capabilities.
The brothers are leveraging new technology at RCBI to develop polymer components and performance enhancing products that they are excited to bring to market in the near future.
The PAR Tech team continues working to further improve the performance of their specialty components and diversify their product line. The brothers said they believe their innovations can greatly improve the performance of weapons used by the military and law enforcement agencies.
To help PAR Tech continue to grow, RCBI has provided other business services, assisting the brothers with developing a concise document to market their capabilities and connecting them with resources such as the Regional Contracting Assistance Center and the U.S. Small Business Administration so they can take advantage of government contracting opportunities. PAR Tech recently submitted a bid to supply the U.S. Air Force with their specialized firearm accessories.
Though Ethan is employed full-time as an engineer at Alcon near Huntington, he and his brother spend a lot of time working to expand their successful family business. “It has been a challenge,” Ethan said. “Working at Alcon while also building a business takes a lot of work. But we have a lot of dreams and plans for growing the business.”
Aug. 25, 2021