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Preview – 556 Tactical’s Deathpunch AR-15

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Photography by Straight 8

Rifles for Rockstars

Guns and rock go together like peanut butter and jelly. But guns and metal — they go together like steel and brass. Whether a Hollywood blockbuster or videos on YouTube, if there’s film of weapons at work, it’s usually set to massive sound — electric guitars, emphatic beats, and driven lyrics that reach right into your chest and motivate your blood pressure. It’s a rush in the form of sound, paired with the feeling we all get when turning money into smoke one skilled trigger press at a time … or a “quick, no one’s looking” bump fire (yes, we’ve all done that). Not all bands get involved in the gun industry, and fewer still seem to have the same passion about gun rights as Five Finger Death Punch. I’ve been a fan of the boys from the West Coast since I first heard them in 2005, but when FFDP guitarist Zoltan Bathory took to Facebook in 2013 to speak out on gun rights, his comments hit me right in the Second Amendment feels.

Zoltan wrote (in part), “Let’s talk about ‘assault’ rifles for a second. Anti-gun advocates in the media placing all the emphasis on the word ‘ASSAULT’ for a reason. It sounds menacing to those who don’t know much about weapons, and this particular word also embodies the concepts of ‘first strike’ and ‘aggression’… and the media just loooves that. The fact IS, however — a rifle is an inanimate object with no free will or intent on its own. It doesn’t plan to assault anyone … So really, this is all just playing with words … If I called my rifle a ‘defensive rifle’ — it wouldn’t throw up the red flag — and in reality THAT’S WHAT IT IS. I have it for defensive measures so that’s what it should be called. A ‘defensive rifle.’”


There has been a fair share of celebrities from film and music professing to be pro-gun and “pro-gun.” But they often ride the sporting purpose bandwagon and avoid getting into the more politically charged issue of firearms, misnamed as assault rifles, as tools for self-defense. Zoltan doesn’t appear to be concerned with toeing some political line, and neither does any other member of FFDP. They like guns for the same reasons most of us do: self-defense, practice, sport, challenge, and the passion of the pro-gun community. The band has also made sure to take their application of all guns sleek and sexy to their videos, most notably with the video for The House of the Rising Sun, an excellent cover of the classic folk song. The video features guest appearances by the Kriss Vector, Midwest Industries, Magpul, Glock, Tactical Tailor, Grey Ghost Gear, and enough Crye Precision gear to make a Zoltan action figure a viable option. All things considered, it’s hard to doubt that FFDP is pro-gun and supportive of the industry as a whole, and it’s this attitude that attracted the attention of Louisiana-based 556 Tactical.

Most unique rifles begin with a good story, and the rifles that would become known as the DEATHPUNCH rifles are no different. Colin Evans of 556 Tactical read a post on social media about FFDP passing through Louisiana. He contacted the band and invited them out for some range time. Because there is nothing more metal and American than range time, they accepted. It wasn’t long before the 556 Tactical crew and the band became regular friends, and the idea for a band rifle was born. The guys in the head shed at the ATF allow for 11 character serial numbers on firearms, which all but begged for a unique band signature to grace each of the nine rifles to be built.

556 Tactical
556 Tactical started out like so many rifle companies, whereby a passion for shooting and skill at custom builds evolved into a business. Word of mouth about the quality of the 556 Tactical rifles spread, and the company has continued to grow ever since. They build AR-15 and AR-10 rifles to order, and no reasonable customization is out of the question.  In speaking with Colin, it didn’t take long to get the vibe for the company — a group of shooters who are serious about what they build and the customer spending their hard-earned money. But they’re not really interested in taking themselves too seriously in an industry that has more “tactical” and “operator” than perhaps it really needs. They make it pretty evident that you can build custom, hard-use rifles without the usual dramatic push to have their rifles seen as the last, best hope for mankind or the first choice of elite door kickers everywhere. Not that their rifles don’t meet that standard, but in a market of MultiCam-and-magazine-dump visuals, 556 Tactical builds rifles and lets them speak for themselves.


If you’re going to make custom rifles, you have to live by the word “custom.” If the customer wants it, they get it, and when your appeal stretches from recreational shooters to the aforementioned door-kicking community, you can’t be too rigid in how an idea takes shape. So when ideas for the DEATHPUNCH rifles were being discussed, Zoltan wanted to put his personality into his rifle with a design that went beyond basic customization of the proposed limited run. Now if you don’t know Zoltan, he’s perhaps one of the most recognizable members of the entertainment industry. He drives race cars and runs a gun like a professional. So when you combine those things and try to put them on paper, you might get something that looks like, well, a rifle themed on an exotic supercar.

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