The Wolf Conquering The Sheep’s World.
Just shy of a year ago, I was introduced to Agency Arms, a new contender on the custom pistol market that has been taking the firearms industry by storm over the past several months. Through networking with them, I was introduced to Chris Naganuma; veteran, competitive shooter, and CEO of S3F Solutions, a boutique barrel company that manufactures drop-in pistol barrels.
I have recently upgraded my personal Agency Arms G17 Field Edition with a S3F Solutions barrel, and I’m very interested to see how it performs vs. stock. Although there are other accuracy tests published out there already, I’m saving up for a ransom rest to get some shot groups of my own recorded.
I recently had a chance to converse with Chris, and learned more about S3F Solutions, what they do, and why they are quite relevant in the firearm accessory world.
Chris Tran: Can you tell me about how S3F Solutions got started? What is your company’s overall design philosophy and mission?
Chris Naganuma: I started S3F Solutions just about the same time I shot my first national 3gun nation match. My then boss who ran LAX firing range told me I would never make it in competitive shooting or amount to anything in the firearms industry. Thus, I quit the next day and started S3F Solutions and left to go shoot my match and pursue a career in competitive shooting. Originally S3F was going to be an ammunition company and retail sales. But after my first failed partnership, I started to take the company in a different direction. I had met my current business partner (Rick Smith); we merged his then-company with S3F and we have been going 110% forward ever since.
CT: How did you get involved with S3F Solutions, where do you want to see the company go? Can you tell readers about your background and how you got into the industry?
CN: I am the founding member of S3F Solutions and the current CEO. I would have to say we are pretty focused on expanding the barrel line in the next 5 years. Expanding it though the Glock line and in to other models such as the MP and 1911/2011 has been our focus. We are also partnered closely with Agency Arms and provide the barrels for their builds.
My background started when I went in to the Army in 2003. I spent all of my time at Fort Lewis with the Stryker brigades. I deployed to Mosul Iraq in 2004 through 2005 with 25th ID 3/21 CCO 2PLT as a SAW gunner. I left the military in 2008 after a training accident that medically dropped me from service. Once I left the military I did what many of us combat vets do. Drink, and become lost in our own thoughts trying to find a path for a wolf to fit in a sheep’s world. It wasn’t until 2012 when my then-girlfriend recommended I take a job at a local range to put some of my shooting skills to good use. While I was working for the shooting range I started to compete in 3GunNation events and USPSA matches focusing on becoming a better shooter and competitor. S3F Solutions was formed in May of 2013 as I was looking to leave the range and focus on a shooting career full time.
CT: Being a relatively young company, what factors do you think contributed to your rapid ascension as a known name in the industry?
CN: Well, we are actually coming up on being a 3-year old company as we started in may of 2013. The first year S3F Solutions really didn’t do much besides go through a failed business partnership due to not seeing eye to eye in the direction I wanted to take the company. S3F was mainly selling retail products for companies I was shooting for, while we became a retail supplier for other companies.
By year 2, Rick and I wanted to establish ourselves as a company in this industry, not just by selling other companies products but by branding our name. We only produced 44 barrels the very first run we did and we couldn’t even afford to turn our thread protectors yet, which the first run of threaded barrels didn’t come with. It took us close to 4 weeks to sell all of the barrels, and wait and hope for a good or bad response.
Since that first run, Rick and I have taken all the funds this company has made on each run of barrels and put it all directly back in to S3F Solutions. Developing higher quality machine work, working with some of the best coaters in the business, and providing a high quality produce at a competitive pricing. Currently we are manufacturing 1000 barrels a month to keep up with demand, and trying to expand our line as quickly as possible.
I believe one of the reasons we have exploded so fast in the industry is due to the team we have behind S3F. We are a Vet and Retired LEO family ran business. We are younger shooters who are on the ground training every weekend and competing across the nation. We are extremely active on social media; responding directly with the customer base answering questions each day. We continue to associate ourselves with other like minded shooters and companies such as Agency Arms and all of their Asset shooters, Shane Coley of Team Glock, Pat McNamara of TMACS, Will Petty, and Steve Fisher just to name a few.
CT: What sets your barrels apart from the others? Can you explain the fabrication process or design elements of your barrels that stand out form the rest of the crowd?
CN: At S3F Solutions, we always say "Accuracy Matters", and we mean it. Our mission, simply stated, is to bring barrels to our customers, that are higher quality, more consistent, and cost a fraction of the price. We accomplish this by putting every barrel through a rigorous quality control process; to ensure each barrel is as close to mathematically symmetrical as possible, and meets SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute) specifications. These fully supported chambers are spec’d for shooting either factory or reloaded ammunition, and are ready to be dropped into your gun and run!
CT: Where does S3F Solutions see itself in the next 5-10 years? What projects are on the horizon?
CN: Growth is the mainly thing on our mind for the next 5 to 10 years. Currently we are moving in to a new facility with Agency Arms after 2016 Shot Show. We have a very tight relationship with Agency already, and since our CEO has taken over as the Operations Manager at Agency, it has really brought us together even closer. We will be providing match grade barrels for Agency and expanding our barrel line through Glock models and in to other platforms like the 1911/2011, and the MP.
Keep a steady eye on S3F Solutions for the foreseeable future; solid products are on the horizon. As usual, I will circle back around with more feedback and comments on S3F Solutions as evaluation time goes by.
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