Issue 11 Preview – Zeroed In – Jesse James Iain Harrison Join the Conversation Print Version Subscriptions:WTF Back Issues (digital only): Click Here Click Here Digital Version iTunes for iPad: NOOK: Click Here Click Here Kindle: Google Play: Click Here Click Here Zinio for computers, Android, RIM, iPad and other devices: Click Here Photography by Kenda Lenseigne He’s Apparently One of America’s Most Hated Men. He Also Started a Firearms Company. Haters Gonna Hate. Jesse James is one of those guys who, according to the wretched hive of scum and villainy that comprise the supermarket tabloids, should have been stoned to death for marital infidelity. Which is an interesting perspective coming from people whose lifetime achievements amount to…well, what exactly? In no position to cast the first stone, we sat down with him at his home workshop near Austin, Texas, to find out about his fascination with firearms, his new manufacturing venture, and life after Hollywood. In talking with him, you get the impression that he’s drawn a line under the excesses of the L.A. scene and living under the constant scrutiny of paparazzi. His current existence is tame by comparison, based in rural Texas Hill County and revolving around his three kids and wife, Alexis DeJoria. “Tame,” however, is a relative term. If your idea of a tranquil family routine includes being married to an heiress who races 200-mph Funny Cars on the NHRA circuit, then you can probably relate. Despite the GT40 and gullwing Mercedes in the garage, the Desmosedici in the living room, and the safe full of machineguns, he’s one of the most down-to-earth guys you’ll meet. Egotistical? Sure, but he’s got enough achievements under his belt to justify it. After growing West Coast Choppers from a one-man operation in his mom’s garage to a 200-person, 70,000-square-foot market leader in one of the least business-friendly states in the union, he left it all behind and moved to Texas in 2011, following his much-publicized breakup with third wife Sandra Bullock. Since then, he’s largely dropped off the radar and gone back to his roots, making custom bikes and hot rods by hand, one at a time. RECOIL: How did you get started in the bike business? Jesse James: I worked at a wheel and tire shop called Performance Machine when Hot Bike ran a “how-to” article on installing a fat tire on a Softail in ’92 or ’93. They asked me to make a fender for it. The only wide fenders at the time were crappy fiberglass, so I took two Harley fenders and cut them so the left and right sides had an offset, welded them together and finished it. Next thing I knew, other guys were asking me for fenders. I made a bunch in the evenings and weekends. So when my daughter Chandler was 6 years old, we loaded up the Astro van and took it to Laughlin and sold everything I’d made for, like, 800 bucks a piece. Then a distributor came up to me and said, “We’ll take every one of these you can make.” My whole goal was to build bikes, but having a product that I could sell so that I could buy CNC machines and a polishing shop and buildings — well, all that comes down to the fenders. You’re coming to market with an AR when, according to everything we’re seeing right now, the market bubble has popped. Does this concern you? Notice: We Found Ammo In Stock: (Check our Current Deals page for more ammo deals - including bulk ammo) 9mm 150gr FMJ 50ct $26.99 Optics Planet9mm 115gr JHP 50ct $54.99 Palmetto State Armory 5.56 62gr LAP 20ct $15.99 Palmetto State Armory.223 REM 75gr HPBT 200ct $194.95 Creedmoor SportsGet 5% off all Creedmoor brand ammo with code CREEDMOOR5 Disclosure: These links are affiliate links. Caribou Media Group earns a commission from qualifying purchases. Thank you! JJ: I think that the market for low-end stuff, like $1,000 ARs, is definitely maxed out. The problem I’m seeing with the market is that it’s like where the bike scene was in the mid ’90s, where everyone was doing stretched fatbobs on a Daytech frame and suddenly, “Hey, we’re Joe’s Customs.” In the AR scene everyone’s using forgings from one of a couple of places, then getting creative with their logos, but that’s about it. Companies like Christensen and Warsport are forward thinking, and I just think there’s always going to be a market for nicer stuff. If you’re going to be an also-ran and the only thing different is your logo, then, sure, everyone is going to buy the version that’s five bucks cheaper. I think it’s important for us to do great work, but I’m not getting into this business with the same attitude I had when I opened West Coast Choppers. Back then, I was out to crush my competition. Now, I just want to offer another option — a rising tide floats all boats right? You’ve got a successful brand with West Coast Choppers, a business building custom hot rods, and a highly visible TV career. Why do you want to get into the gun industry? JJ: Motorcycles will always be my No. 1 passion, but I’m at the stage in my career where I’m only entertaining myself. I can build a bike and make everything by hand including the transmission and wheels and bodywork. But I’d be doing it only to prove I could do it, rather than being able to sell a hundred of those. Part of what motivates me is being patted on the back and coming up with stuff that’s crazy and out there and far ahead. I don’t really do stuff like that for money, but for the challenge. So I guess that’s what it is, a new challenge. For the rest of this article, subscribe here: RECOIL Issue 11 Explore RECOILweb:Szanto: Vintage Timekeepers with modern reliabilitySavage Unveils New Accufit Guns for 2019Trump Administration Publishes Proposed Rule to Remove a Variety of Firearms from ITAR3 EDC Loadouts for Your Monday Morning Carry Budget AR-15s In Stock: PSA PA-15 5.56 $699.99 Palmetto State Armory PSA 7.5" Pistol Length 300AAC $769 Palmetto State Armory Sig Tread M400 5.56 $799 Rainier Arms F-1 FDR-15 5.56 $819 Rainier Arms Bulk Handgun Ammo in Stock 9mm Magtech 115gr FMJ 1000ct $689 True Shot 40 S&W FMJ 1000ct $549 Rainier Arms Disclosure: These links are affiliate links. Caribou Media Group earns a commission from qualifying purchases. Thank you! NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOILFor years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. 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