Damon Howell / Photo
Moss Firearms owner Brannen Moss discusses the difference between the bolt-action rifles similar to the ones used by the Pickens DAV Honor Guard (top) and the AR-15s (bottom) similar to the ones he is raising money to purchase for the local chapter.
When Brannen Moss attended the funeral of his best friend’s grandfather – a retired Navy man - one of the Pickens County Chapter DAV rifles being used during the Honor Guard ceremony misfired.
“That’s not what you want to happen at a funeral when you are trying to perform your Honor Guard duties,” said Moss, gunsmith and owner of Moss Firearms in Jasper. “It’s embarrassing.”
When Moss first became acquainted with the local chapter of the DAV all the members were using Mausers, a bolt-action German rifle the U.S. mimicked with the M1903 Springfield they used during WWI and WWII.
“They’re all surplus,” Moss said, “and they don’t function well. They misfire and the bolt has even dislodged in one. ”
Moss said the Pickens DAV’s Mausers have been re-chambered to accommodate American .30-06 blanks for use during ceremonies and funerals, but he says this creates problems with an already subpar weapon.
“And those firearms have never been used by our military,” Moss said. “We want to get them in something that has been in use. They were also made in Germany, which is ironic since now we’re shooting them over the heads of our fallen heroes.”
Apparently a few members of the Pickens DAV have purchased Remington 770s as replacements, but Moss said these rifles are low end and also pose problems for the Honor Guard.
The local gunsmith said he has been repairing the DAV’s rifles for the three years now, when on the day of his friend’s grandfather’s funeral he made the decision to raise money and buy new firearms for the entire chapter.
“I met with them and we talked about what they wanted,” said Moss, who was certified at Pennsylvania Gunsmith Academy. “They have about 2,000 rounds of .223 blanks someone donated, so they decided they wanted to get the AR-15 rifles.” Moss said this was good news for him because parts for AR-15’s are readily available. Instead of ordering pre-assembled guns, he will order the parts and assemble them himself – which will save between $400 to $500 per weapon.
Moss will also purchase leather slings and a blank fire adapter that will fit on the end of the gun to signify to bystanders that the guns are safe.
Moss pointed out that the M-16 – the designation under which the AR-15 was adopted by the U.S. military - was put into service in 1964 and was used during the Vietnam War.
“You’ve got more and more Honor Guards moving to the AR-15’s,” he said. “These are what they requested so that’s what we’re working towards getting for them.”
Moss needs to raise enough for seven firearms. To make a donation visit Moss Firearms, Appalachian Gun & Pawn, Jasper Pawn, Mary Ann’s restaurant or the Jasper Old Fashioned Barber Shop.
Moss Firearms is located at 1987 Highway 53 West, Jasper, Ga. They can be reached at 706-692-6672.