I am fortunate that my real job takes me all across this great country. Recently, I found myself in the Southwest Dallas area, which made a trip to Granbury Texas less of an epic adventure. The trip to Bond Arms facility was both fun and educational. I met the owner, Gordon Bond, many of his staff, and of course his robots… yes, robots.
The first order of business is to actually find the Bond Arms facility, which is a task in itself. Gordon loves his customers but his secure facility is not equipped to handle visitors. In fact, a security fence with electronic gate surrounds the facility, and a giant thick steel gate with Bond Arms handgun handles also secures the entry.
Once pulling open the massive door, Gordon greeted me and pulled me into his office to talk about the background of Bond Arms and describe, and walk through the idea of how his handguns are produced. You will notice I keep saying Bond Arms handguns and not Bond Arms derringers. Gordon noted that the derringer name has been really tainted as a cheap/junk gun, which in some cases, lacks the durability to safely shoot the round it was intended for. Bond Arms handguns are a different class altogether. From my perspective, Gordon is not blowing smoke on that claim; Bond Arms’ handguns are among the finest derringer-style handguns ever made and some of the most highest craftsmanship handguns of any type.
Part of that quality is due to Gordon’s brother, the original founder, taking a derringer design and completely redesigning nearly every aspect of the firearm. The Bond frame is not a cheap alloy or inexpensive carbon steel. Each Bond handgun is made from wax loss stainless casings. This delivers a superior frame to any other double barrel handgun on the market. The safety was also redesigned to move from left to right—versus the other way around—to allow the safety to be kicked off with the right hand thumb.
The safety detent can be tightened or even locked out if the user chooses to “lock the safety off.” This is useful for those with a hammer down carry preference. The hammer was widened to ease and speed cocking, and a completely new rebounding hammer design was created to deliver the safest and fastest double barrel handgun on the market. The Bond Arms hammer transfer bar auto-indexes to the next barrel, so all you need to do is shoot-cock-shoot versus worrying about kicking a switch to another barrel. Additionally, the hammer will not hit either top or bottom firing pin without the trigger being fully depressed. A removable trigger guard was added for those that wanted an extra margin of safety.
The extraction system was redesigned, and the action itself was designed to lock more securely, deliver a more ergonomic opening, and offer barrel interchangeability. One of the features of the Bond Arms handguns is that any barrel length and caliber offered by Bond Arms can be swapped out with any Bond Arms frame. Gordon went a step further and created various grips and grip sizes that can also be swapped between the frames.
Technically, all the Bond Arms frames are the same; some models feature different finishes or a removable trigger guard. So, if you have a Bond barrel, it will fit on any Bond lower receiver and vice versa. This firearm interchangeability is one reason Bond owners keep coming back for more barrels, more handguns, and more accessories.
Bond’s accessories are impressive as well. I cannot think of any other firearms manufacturer who has put so much thought and care into its accessory line. In fact, I doubt any other manufacturer has an accessory line as comprehensive. Bond Arms features a huge array of gun barrel options ranging from .22 LR to .410/.45 Colt in many different lengths; grips that range in size, shape, material, and color; knives, leather, handcrafted CCW purses; high quality holsters that include CCW, Nylon apparel; the Bond Girl accessory line, and display boxes. Bond has everything you need to accessorize, carry, load, and show off your defensive handgun.
Wait, a Minute… A Two-Shot Handgun as a Defense Gun?
Without jumping into another article topic, the short answer is this. The Bond Arms offering is a double-barreled handgun that is a viable defensive handgun with substantial stopping power in the larger range of calibers. One of Bond Arms customers used a .410/.45 Colt chambered version to instantly incapacitate an attacker with one shot. Moments later, the attacker died. The .410 Buckshot load has proven to be a devastating man stopper beyond that one attack.
Statistically, 99+% of attacks only involve 1.25 shots from the defender; which indicates that almost no attacker likes to get shot twice. Personally, if I knew something was about to happen, I would rather have hard-plate armor, a Glock G20 10mm, and a .308 AR platform at low ready. However, sometimes concealment, rational judgment, or convenience dictates just a Glock 26, a slim Walther PPK, or in this case, an extremely-concealable double-barreled handgun slipped in a front pocket. I generally prefer to have my Glock 19 on my side, however there are times where that does not work with my wardrobe and I feel well armed with a Bond Arms handgun.
I like them so much; I have two handguns with barrels in .45ACP, .410/.45 Colt, 9mm, .22LR, and .357 Magnum. Shoot them once and you will be smitten. The configuration is great. On a hike or hunt, you might like having a .22LR barrel or even .410 with birdshot just for snakes is really nice and super effective.
Back to the Factory Tour
After the production overview, we headed out to meet his staff, see the production process in action, and say hello to his robots.
The raw wax lost casings come in and are precision CNC milled to exacting dimensions. After that, they are handed off to the yellow robot twins. Gordon wanted to employ robotics to deliver about 60% of the frame and barrel’s precision grinding, finishing, and polishing. The main drive to robotics for Bond Arms was that it would take nearly a year training for a person to reach the level of speed, precision, and accuracy that the robot can achieve on this extremely critical, high-skill finishing step. A major issue Bond Arms was able to overcome with robotics was removing the potential for sickness, personal schedules, vacations, turnover, and personnel issues to impact this critical production step, which was previously halting and backing up the entire production process.
Gordon has been working for over four years with a robotics team to create this use of robotics. To my knowledge, this was an industry first. That effort, coupled with increases in production capacity and operational efficiency, has allowed the set of robots to pay for themselves in just over a year. Watching them, I was certainly fascinated—the robots deliver plenty of entertainment value as well as production. Gordon’s granddaughter also loves to sit and watch “Yellow 1” and “Yellow 2” as she has named them, for hours according to Gordon.
After that step, the frames are handed over to skilled finishers who perform the final 40% of finishing and polishing before the firing control and grips are installed. The barrels follow a similar CNC milling and finishing process, but they begin as billet stainless steel, versus cast wax loss forming. The barrels are CNC machined bored, rifled, chambered, and finished via the robots, before being passed to final assembly. The barrel and receiver meet are then paired based on customer and dealer orders. Although Bond Arms has established quality control steps along the production process, they perform one last complete inspection along with functionally test firing each handgun at their in-house test range.
Of note, Bond Arms attempts to reuse and recycle almost everything. Packing is reused and even the massive crates from the robotics were recycled to create portions of the shooting range and the range table. They specifically added the indoor test range to cut down on the drive time required to test fire the guns at a local range. Bond Arms is cutting edge from many aspects and even a bit green as well.
It’s a funny thing to be out in Granbury, Texas and meet two robots. In fact, what Gordon Bond is doing is nothing short of amazing, as I could find no other reference to automotive robotics being used in the firearms industry. He was actually told by over a half-dozen robotics firms that it could not be done. However, one company shared his vision, and now Bond Arms could be the most technically advanced manufacturing firearms company anywhere because of it.
Bringing a firearm to market is tough, however Bonds Arms has continued to grow since it was founded in 1995. Part of that recipe has been the quality and service it continues to offer at a premium level, plus a drive to continue innovation far beyond the norm of even very large firearms industry giants. Really… the titans of the firearms industry should be touring Bond’s facility. Pick up a Bond Arms handgun, and you will immediately be impressed with the quality of the firearm. Bond Arms have delivered 13 SASS – Single Action Shooting Society world championships, so there must be something to these firearms—beyond just showpieces.
Look for an upcoming review on these great high quality handguns. The factory tour left me impressed to say the least.
Bond Arms offerings are extremely popular with Cowboy Action Shooters and self-defense enthusiasts. Have you tried one? What was your impression? Share your answers in the comment section.
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