Craig GunsSince 2010, I have had the privilege (through Athens Now,) of telling the stories of local folks who felt the “calling,” if you will, to look the Great Recession in the eye and do their best to defy it by starting a new business. Craig’s Guns & Tactical is one such enterprise, and few things in my business life are more fun than being able to report that not only is business booming at Craig’s, but so much so that they have had to move two doors down to a shop that is fully twice the size of the first one. I also thoroughly enjoy writing an “advertorial” from the standpoint of being a satisfied customer, and I continue to be so. Please allow me to tell you about how they have taken care of me, and then we’ll get to what’s “trending” at the new digs. Craig's GunsI am a relative newcomer to shooting, enjoy it greatly, and still need to increase my knowledge of all things connected to firearms. For people like me, who let’s just say didn’t exactly grow up with much use for the freedoms guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment, there were a lot of gaps in my education, and firearms regulations were very confusing to me. Last year Craig patiently explained to me the difference between fully automatic and semiautomatic weapons, the impact of the 1986 NFA Act on gun owners and sellers, barrel lengths, suppressors, and all that is involved in becoming a class 3 and federal firearms licensed dealer. And, just for the record, these guys go totally by the book when it comes to all the requisite background checks and other requirements for gun shop owners to follow, and they always stay on the good side of the law. Craig’s Guns & Tactical has an excellent, longstanding relationship with local law enforcement and ATF officers. They custom build guns for use by local law enforcement departments, and much of their clientele are members of our Athens area police force, the Limestone County Deputy Sheriffs and our state troopers. Craig's GunsCraig’s can custom build AR 15s, AK 47s and tactical shotguns. They carry or can order all manner of ammunition, and offer a full line of accessories, including those made by Yankee Hill, Magpul, Troy, Tapco and others. There are clips and grips, and a full line of lights and lasers. “We now have enough space to carry over 1,000 guns, and new lines previously not carried,” says Craig. One such example of a newly carried line is made by Palmetto State Armory, about which Craig says is “a good gun at a good price.” But, you have to move fast, as several lines of guns and accessories are moving so quickly that they continually hover closely to “sold out” status. Part of the reason that sales have been so good this past fall is the increase in the female market. “If you listen to women, they are scared,” says Craig. “Used to you could go a month without one sale to a woman, now it’s probably two per week,” he added. I might add that both of Craig’s daughters, Sarah and Katherine, now work at the shop, grew up hunting, have “bullets in their blood,” and Sarah can confidently assemble an AR 15. These gals will listen, help, and get you exactly what you need. Craig went on to tell me some real life scenarios that some of their female customers have encountered. “One woman was almost kidnapped from the Kroger’s parking lot,” he said. What was even more disconcerting was the tale of a woman who lived in a lovely home in a good subdivision in our area. “She pulled the car into the garage, went into the kitchen, and there he was,” Craig told me. Thankfully, the guy ran off, as she was unarmed. She, (as I was for years,) was formerly “antigun.” The reasons were the same: being afraid of guns, and the stigma attached to those who “pack,” for whatever reason. “I was far more scared of him than any gun,” she said. That was a turning point. She was expertly walked through the process of finding the right gun for her, and offered the opportunity to take classes run by Cameron Bucy, owner of Self Defense Solutions, who is the in house instructor at Craig’s. Cam’s technical title is “personal protection specialist,” and offers small classes with a lot of individual attention. Basic, advanced and tactical firearms training is available, and classes are certified by the National Rifle Association. There are also classes available for training in CCW, (Carrying a Concealed Weapon,) a rifle and shotgun course, defense awareness, personal defense, and a combative hands course. Private classes are available as well as those for groups and corporations. I have taken Cam’s classes, have loved them, recommended them, and will continue to take them. The guy has taught me to shoot upside down, clear a house of intruders, protect myself in a number of situations, and helped me select last year’s Hannukah/ Christmas gift from my husband, a sweet Glock that is just right for me. Recently when I checked in with Cam, he was giving firearms lessons to a 70 year old woman and headed to the range so she could practice. Craig's GunsThe increase in the female gun market has made waves in the firearms industry, and some gun producers have responded by producing guns that are literally pink, and/or purple. Well trained users are not to be trifled with, though. Craig’s crew will help any woman say with confidence to any would be attacker, “I’ll show you what I can do with my little pink gun.” There are also more women getting involved in hunting. Savage Brand makes the “Lady Hunter,” a long gun with a smaller stock that is designed to fit a woman’s smaller frame. As a result of the increase in sales to women and the need to follow concealed carry laws, a “fashion accessory” industry has sprung up. There have always been T shirts and baseball caps, but there are now “pistol purses” that look good, are made from leather, come in a variety of styles and colors, and have zippers accessible from both sides of the handbag that make getting to your pistol faster and easier. They have Velcro holsters within, and it is impossible to tell that the person is packing. The hand bags at Craig’s are made by Gun Totin’ Mamas, and Roma, and range in price from about $50-$100. One of the trademark slogans is “taking control in style,” and women can indeed do just that. Sarah also told me that they will have Cody brand women’s range bags in stock in the next couple of weeks. They would be the perfect gift for any woman who makes the gun range part of her “regular workout,” and can accommodate long guns and pistols. “We offer great customer service with a personal touch,” says Craig, “and our prices are some of the best in North Alabama.” They completely repaired a small .25 Astra that had been given to me years back, and found a new clip, as the other one had gotten bent. I am much fonder of my Glock than the Astra, and I appreciate all that the crew at Craig’s has done for me to help me make an educated choice, and get the firearms education that I needed to become a competent gun owner. Thankfully in the State of Alabama, our gun laws pretty much reflect what our Founders had in mind when they (thank God!) wrote the 2nd Amendment into the Constitution, and we have much more freedom than states such as New York, California, or Washington. I, for one am glad that there are shops like Craig’s, and I am looking forward to continuing my firearms education there. If you are a guy who wants to help protect your family, or help them protect themselves, Craig’s is the place to go. If you are a woman who is looking for a competent, helpful place so you can learn what you need to do to get safe,(and not feel stupid,) again, Craig’s is the place to go. They truly are there to help, and I speak with passion as a “raving fan” customer, who intends to be one so as long as the 2nd Amendment is still a part of our Constitution. By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

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