Born in Aurora, Made in Alaska - RAZCO Gear
An Iraqi War Vet From Juneau Has Big Goals in the Firearm Industry
by Justin Rasmussen and Brian Weed / Photography by Brian Weed
Below is the story of Justin Rasmussen, owner and founder of Razco Gear, a new line of firearm holsters and other weapons gear that is made in Alaska. I was born in Aurora, Nebraska, in 1983, and pretty much grew up in my swim trunks at the local pool and city park. I used to hunt pigeons and robins in the park with my super soaker water gun. I caught my very first cottontail rabbit by setting a trap with an old box propped up with a stick and a carrot as bait. Well, it sort of worked. The box headed out across the yard, rabbit and all. I should have weighted the box I suppose. [caption id="attachment_8336" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] RAZCO Gear - chest rifle holster[/caption] I was always tinkering and building things or taking apart perfectly working vacuum cleaners just to see how they worked. I’ve been told I used to make my G.I. Joes backpacks and create other little ways to carry their weapons and tools. My family moved to Alaska when I was 15. Boy, what an adventure that was! I had never been on a commercial jet before. My first week in Alaska I caught a bunch of dog salmon, which were way bigger than anything I’d caught in Nebraska. I’m not sure whether it was me or the salmon that were “hooked.” It rained for three months straight after those first few weeks and we were seriously thinking, what in the heck have we got ourselves into? We experienced a bit of culture shock as well. The local weather man back home was a very neat and tidy proper looking man in a suit and tie, which was not the case here. I think the first time we turned on the TV the fella had on a tie dye shirt. I caught my first king salmon and halibut the following summer and went trapping and blacktail hunting that fall. I was in heaven.
[caption id="attachment_8335" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] RAZCO Gear - chest rifle holster[/caption] Years later, I still live in Alaska, now with my wife and dog. A man with a good woman and a good dog is about as rich as one could ever hope. I’ve got both. My wife, for some unknown reason, never doubts me when I come up with some scheme or plan. She just supports me unwaveringly and that gives me immense confidence that I can succeed. I spent eight years in the US Army as an Infantryman and was deployed to Iraq twice. I served with the 10th Mountain from ‘06 to ‘09, 4th Infantry Division from ‘09 to ‘11, and EXFOR from ‘11 to ’13. I currently work at Greens Creek Mine as a heavy equipment operator. That job literally saved my life. I went through a pretty dark time trying to figure out who I was and what I was doing after the Army—similar to lots of newly separated veterans. Landing a job at Greens Creek gave me the opportunity to provide a comfortable life for my wife and plenty of time off to pursue my personal growth, fulfill my hunting addiction, and build Razco. I’ve taken that to heart and will therefore include ample personal time to my company structure.
[caption id="attachment_8334" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] RAZCO Gear - knife holster[/caption] The idea of Razco started as I was transitioning out of the Army. I was on the hunt for something I could put my skills to use in and be my own boss. Eight years of constantly being told what to do, how to act, and what to look like had made my mind up that I wanted to do my own thing. I was conducting lots of research online looking for firearms-related jobs as that is what I knew, was interested in, and enjoyed. I found a gunsmith school I was interested in, however, the wait list to get in was quite long and I’d have to live in Arizona again. I wasn’t really looking to live in a hot climate after two tours in a desert and a southern duty station on top of that. Further looking found two options, Cerakote (a firearm coating company) and Kydex (the maker of a type of thermoplastic that can be used to make firearm holsters). Both were newer trends catching on rapidly in the firearm industry and internet searches showed few if any competition back home in Alaska where I planned to return.
[caption id="attachment_8333" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] RAZCO Gear - chest holster[/caption] YouTube and a company called Philster taught me how to make a basic holster. My first one turned out pretty decent so I thought, well, let’s give this Kydex thing a try. Many holsters, mag carriers, and sheaths later and I feel I’m ready to go to market on a large scale. Going forward Razco will focus on hunting and outdoor-use holsters and eventually venture into other gear. Hunting is my true passion in life and I’d like to contribute some quality gear to the industry. I have always hated spending hard earned money on gear to find out it wasn’t very good. So, a promise I will make to my customers is that I will build the highest quality, best functioning gear I can so your money will not be wasted. I have pretty lofty goals in Razco. I will build a company where customers and coworkers alike are treated with respect. Employees will have ample time off to pursue their outdoor passions, and plenty of freedom of innovation as to have an impact on the success of the company. Customers, vendors, and employees will feel like a trusted friend. Razco will be a household name like Leupold, Cabelas, or Remington.
[caption id="attachment_8332" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] RAZCO Gear - hip holster[/caption] Another huge reason I’m driven to make Razco a success is to donate a large amount of resources to The Fallen Outdoors. They are an all-veteran nonprofit with the goal of connecting military personnel, past and present, with outdoor related opportunities. They donate hunting and fishing trips to hundreds of service members and vets every year. The healing power of the woods and water when you come home from combat, a grueling training cycle, or overseas assignment is nothing short of inspiring, and I want to help them help vets in a big way. - by Justin Rasmussen
"Justin Rasmussen “Raz” is always up for new ideas. Not only does Justin make pistol holsters, he makes knife sheaths, and magazine holders. He has an amazing new product I’d like to share with you. I talked to him about creating a holster that could hold my Marlin 45-70 on my chest. He laughed and asked if a product already existed, so we spent the next week searching for images of a rifle chest holster, and found nothing. Over the next month Justin made several prototypes, testing each one out in the field. He fixed problems, made it more streamlined, and faster on the draw. After several months the “Rifle Chest Holster” is complete. It is a new type of holster that can help protect Alaskans while they work and play in the wilderness. Currently he is producing the chest holster to work with lever action rifles. I have also seen a shotgun holster prototype in his workshop—duck hunters are going to love it! Alaskans are amazing people, we work hard, and play hard. We want equipment that will last, we want RAZCO." - by Brian Weed
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