At 5 years old Heizer Defense may be a relative newcomer to the gun industry, but the engineer owners/senior staff are drawing on decades of experience in the aerospace industry to design and produce innovative firearms with a rugged appeal converting many brand-loyal shooters.
You may have taken note of the firm’s PAR1Pocket AR Pistol or its PKO 45, which we included in our list of new guns for 2016. The young company has made serious inroads with enthusiasts in a short time, and there’s good reason. Founder Charlie Heizer has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, a master’s in internal combustion engines and for 55 years has headed production and design at Heizer Aerospace. The other company princpals—Thomas Heizer and Hedy Jane Heizer -Gahn—have degrees in mechanical engineering.
That kind of knowledge doesn’t guarantee success, though, so I asked Eric Polkis, vice president of sales and marketing, why enthusiasts are attracted to the firm’s lineup. “All-metal construction, using aerospace-grade metals, built to aerospace standards,” he said. “New and revolutionary designs…Definite ‘out of the box’ thinking.”
The company’s most popular model to date has been that PKO 45 semi-auto, a .45 ACP semi-auto designed for concealed carry (seen above). The firm started with five staff members and now employs more than 75. As for the future, Polkis said they were going to remain focused on their primary mission. “We want to stay in our niche of the growing concealed-carry market with the metal designs, as some consumers want to stay away from plastics,” he said. “We also look at trends like the growing suppressor area,” he teased. “We have solid three- and five-year plans of introducing new and exciting products.”
With a thriving Heizer Aerospace business that’s collected clients like include Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop, why branch out into the gun industry? “Due to the ups-and-downs of the aerospace industry and the family’s love of firearms, we decided to diversify into the firearms market,” Polkis said. “Plus, our founder, Charlie Heizer [a life member of the NRA]—who was raised in Hungary during World War II—saw the effects of firearm confiscation under German and Soviet occupation.”
Despite that knowledge—in the both the science and freedoms ensured by the Second Amendment—it hasn’t been easy according to Polkis. “It’s a tough industry to break into and we are finally established. If you think about it, there have only been a few pistol companies to break through, like Kahr, Diamondback and Kimber, and most recently, SCCY Arms.”