One On One With The Briley Bunch
This company continues to carry the founder’s genius and wizardry to new heights
by Morris Gresham

As NSSA Executive Director Don Snyder said, “Jess Briley has been from garage to stardom.” The journey started when Briley was born in Abilene, Texas back in 1927. He is proud of his West Texas heritage that continued when his parents later moved to Kerrville, Texas. Briley attended high school there and then the Schreiner Institute before moving on to the University of Texas. He started off studying chemical engineering but, he says, he never got there. He was sidetracked by a natural love for metals and metalworking.

“I got started in the machine shop in the Chemistry Building there at U.T.,” Briley related. “At the time a little crippled fellow took an interest in me and taught me how to do things in a machine shop. Then, in the summers I’d go out and work for his father. Do you remember the old cartoon ‘Out Our Way’? The Bull of the Woods? Well, the guy was bull of the woods at Tip’s Engine Works. They built cotton gin engines. He was a hell of a blacksmith and that’s where I kinda learned to do things. Actually, we had a blacksmith shop in back of one of the shops where I worked. I never was much of a blacksmith, but the old man made me do some of it.

“One of the shops that I worked in when I was a kiddo had the old belt-drive equipment in it,” he remembered. “The only chucking equipment those old lathes had was some old, beat-up, four-jaw chucks. You learned to use chalk to line things up and then get the indicator because that was the only way you were going to get it true. I just formed the habit of using a dial indicator if there was ever any question of concentricity. That’s what we do. We don’t depend on the machines to control all the dimensions and concentricity. We learned to check and be sure … start with something you can verify. Of course, the CNC equipment that we’re running now makes it so much easier to hold dimensions and finishes. But I had the advantage of learning to do everything the old ways.”

Briley soon moved into the oilfield, working several years as a roughneck on offshore rigs before moving back to machine shop work. “I developed an interest in metallurgy in the oilfield,” he said. “You become aware of materials in the oil field because it had better not break. It gets expensive when it does. I’m not a people person necessarily and I got promoted beyond my competence here a good many years ago. I was the manager of manufacturing at Dover and you’re in the middle of all the bad news there. You have to deal with the guys in the shop and then you have to deal with upper management. It was driving me out of my mind. Those people were eating me alive.

“If I hadn’t discovered skeet, I’d have died of stress somewhere up and down the line,” Briley laughed. “But I was looking through the paper one day and in the sports page, they had a picture of the old Whitewing Gun Club over in Pasadena. I went over there, but they weren’t open and told me to come back the next week. So, I did. They had some 101 shotguns there and I got one of them and went out and shot a little bit. It took off from there.”

You didn’t know at that point that it would become your life.

“No, I had no idea,” he admitted. “I just put some tools in my garage at home and started making gun stuff for my skeet shooting. I knew Claude Purbaugh who was doing all-aluminum tubes out in California. I said, ‘There’s got to be a better way than this.’ That’s when I started making tubes with stainless or high strength material for chambers. I hadn’t made too many of those when some friends said, ‘Hey, that works pretty good. How about making some of them for me?’ So, I did, and first thing you know, I had about 100 guns at home that I was supposed to be tubing.”

Just a few years earlier, one of Jess’ daughters had brought home her college roommate’s brother for a holiday dinner. After a couple of years, she married the young man and Cliff Moller became part of the Briley family. Young Moller had an interesting background that had much to do with his success at multitasking. He was born to missionaries in Mexico and learned Spanish as his native language. Then when he came to college in Texas, he had difficulty speaking English and passing his English courses.

“They desperately searched for somewhere in America to place me and teach me English,” Moller laughed. “So I went to live with these friends of my parents in Iowa. It started out as a summer job on the farm … a lot of soybeans and hogs and corn, typical Iowa stuff. I stayed with them and worked with them in the summers throughout college.

“About the time I got out of college, I had two offers that I was considering,” he remembered. “One was to work for my Iowa friends who were buying another farm and they needed somebody to farm it. At that time Jess was considering leaving his job and taking up his hobby full time. He said, ‘Why don’t you come and play with me?’

“My first obligation was to these people who had been very kind to me and paid for my college education,” he said. “They were absolutely the finest people in the world, so I went to look at the farm. The corn was probably knee-high on the Fourth of July when it should have been over my head. They had a horrible drought in that part of Minnesota, which was close to South Dakota. It’s just not as consistent there, weather-wise, as it is in Iowa. Despite feeling that I really should farm the land for my friends, at the last moment, I decided, ‘This is not really what I want to do with my life.’ So I told them I was going back to school to do some graduate work.

“While I was in school, I kinda got the feeling that I was out of sync with the world,” he said. “All of my friends were gone and had taken on their careers. I was really tired of school when Jess says, ‘Hey, I’m fixing to leave my job and make these things. Why don’t you come over here and play with me?’ I thought, ‘I’m a pretty good mechanic after living on a farm in Iowa where you learn how to do anything and everything with a welder and some bailing wire. So, why not?’ That’s how it started.

“We started out in a garage and stayed there for about three years,” Moller stated. “The garage is still there; it’s my mother-in-law’s house. We’d get up at 6:00 o’clock in the morning and work until 6:00 o’clock at night. Somebody always had to be there to guard the house because we had no insurance for the guns and we were afraid of being robbed. So we couldn’t go out to eat together and somebody always had to be there on the weekends. A physical presence always had to be there, either my wife and I or Jess and Dorothy.”

“When the old house would creak in the middle of the night,” Briley laughed, “I’d think, ‘Oh, my God! They’ve come to steal all these guns!’ We had guns under the bed; we had guns in the closet; we had guns everywhere! We were just a couple of old knotheaded boys; we didn’t know any better. We’d eat breakfast and be in that shop early in the morning and shut down in time for supper, but we loved it, both of us. We just had a wonderful time!

“We had pretty much filled up the garage with tools of one kind or another,” he continued. “We were in a fairly nice neighborhood so we never opened the doors. Our neighbors didn’t have any idea what was going on. So when we got big enough that we decided to move out of the garage, we dropped a big trailer float out in the street. We were hauling those machines out on that float and, well, everybody in the neighborhood was out there ahhing and ohhing and talking and asking, ‘What in the hell is going on?’”

“We moved to a little strip center into one little 1,500-sq. ft. building and before you knew it, we had half of the strip center rented,” Moller said. “At that point we decided it was time for us to buy some property. That was a good time to buy because it was right in the middle of the period when all of the savings and loans went broke. There was a tremendous number of bargains out there and we were able to find this location. And that’s where we are.”

Although Briley is generally recognized as the man who perfected screw-in chokes, he didn’t invent them. “In this industry, everybody always builds on somebody else’s work,” Moller explained. “Ennio Mattarelli had the first modern day patent for choke tubes. He was one of the three founders of Perazzi and, of course, we now market his traps. In 1950-something he got a patent in Europe for his screw-chokes, but the idea, conceptually, goes way, way back before that. Of course, Winchoke had their stuff out and Stan Baker was the first one who did it as an after-market that I’m aware of. Stan would flare out the barrels and install the Winchester chokes. So, you had to have separated barrels; you couldn’t do it on most thin-walled guns.

“At that time Rottweil was a very popular gun,” Moller continued, “and one of the chief representatives of Rottweil said to Jess, ‘Boy it would be nice if we could put some chokes in this.’ And he started thinking about how to do it and how to make the installation on a thin-walled gun. With the thicker-walled barrels, you can get away with more error; on a thin-walled barrel, you can’t. Jess used some of the things he learned in the oil tool business to fixture the barrel so that you know you’re dead nuts on. Then it was a matter of seeing if the thin-walled chokes worked. And they did! That’s how our screw chokes business got started.

“When we started with tube sets, the only full length tube set manufacturer in those days was Claude Purbaugh,” Moller remembered. “It was an all-aluminum tube set that didn’t have ejectors. The first commercial tube set with integral ejector was the ‘Savage 410’ers’ These were short tube sets which had crude single legged ejectors that barely worked. Jess liked the concept and perfected that design which went through a couple of evolutions ending up in the modern day ejector. This ejector system has become the standard of the industry used by everyone in the business. I own the number 2 tube set and the gun (Rem. 3200) that we built. It belonged to Deke Holcombe. It weighs almost two-pounds; it’s ejectors are 2-1/2 inches long. It’s an interesting thing to look at. The male threads used to be on the aluminum part and the female thread used to be on the stainless chamber.”

Briley was having so much fun making tubes and chokes that he didn’t recall any hard times. They weren’t as prosperous then as they are now, of course, but they got by. “The first ten years after we got out of the garage, we were constantly on the verge of going broke,” Moller remembered. “The season was from about March to August. It was seasonal and skeet tubes were our only product. We would rush to hire people, train them, and about the time you got them trained, the World Shoot was over. You had maybe four or five weeks of work and you starved for three or four months after that. We couldn’t afford to keep people employed during the off season, so it got down to Jess and myself or one other guy”.

“Consistency in product was a big problem in those days, because we couldn’t keep our people employed,” Moller said. “One of the best things that happened to us was the extended skeet season. Then we started producing other products as well and good things happened. But I can remember multiple times living on my wife’s schoolteacher salary for three or four months because there was no money coming in.”

Bob Brister, a Houston outdoor writer who is possibly the world’s top authority on shotguns, remembers those early days. “I have known Jess since the beginning because we both shot at the Greater Houston Gun Club,” Brister said. “We had a bar in the club and after we finished shooting, we’d all go back for a drink or a beer. I have very vivid memories of the guys giving Jess a tough time about working on these chokes. They’d kinda joke about it behind his back, and say, ‘Well, that can’t work. Those things are too thin and nobody is going to put those things in his gun.’

“Jess was already building ‘em in his garage and shooting ‘em,” he remembered. “I was one of the first ones to put ‘em in a fine guns. I had a pair of SO3 EELL Berettas that I shot pigeons with and I put ‘em in mine. Of course, there were a lot of people knockin’ the chokes. The gun industry didn’t like it, for example. There were other people making chokes. One of them was Stan Baker in Seattle. Without calling anyone by name, Stan spoke out against it. He said, ‘Thin is thin; too thin is too thin.’ Stan put chokes in guns all right, but he was expanding the barrel and then making screw-in chokes. The problem that some of those chokes had with that system was getting the chokes to shoot to the point of impact. I know because I had a set that didn’t.

“Jess figured out very quickly a way to do that,” Brister insisted. “He can get those barrels tapped for those chokes absolutely perfectly concentric to bore every time. Jess made tools for the oil patch and he reads everything. He is very much into science and he loves metals. I asked him recently if he was a master machinist. He said, ‘Well, I don’t know, but I’ve been at it for 60 years and I just love it. I would prefer to call myself a machine shop bum.’

“In those days there were very few steels used in either choke or barrel manufacturing that were really good,” Brister related, “but Jess knew a hell of a lot about high tech steels. He can tell you where they came from and their backgrounds. Some were developed for the Manhattan Project and some were developed to hold engines on World War II airplanes. Jess got into these high-quality steels … very high quality steel. He knew not only about the hardness of it, but the yield strength factor. He is, in a way, a genius at what he’s interested in. Jess can tell you a little bit about anything you want to discuss … physics, anything. He’s read up on everything and he knows pretty much what’s going on.”

Briley still knows what’s going on and he shows up at the Lumpkin facility every day when he’s not off shooting somewhere. But he turned the everyday operation over to Moller some time ago. “As for the future I’ve already got a man groomed and ready to go and he’s doing his own dance,” Moller said. “Chuck Webb, our the General Manager, is actually the Chief Operating Officer. He’s ten or 11 years younger than I am and he’s perfect for the job. He’s real good at what he does. What this means is that I get to sleep at night as opposed to waking up at 2:00 o’clock in the morning and thinking, ‘OK, how am I going to do this and how is this going to work?’

“My management style has been that anybody can come talk to me, bring all their problems to me and we’ll work them out,” he said. “That’s a lot of fun and real doable when you’re in your 40s, but when you’re in your 50s, it starts to rot your gut away. Of course, growth is going to depend on how much one is willing to delegate, assuming that you have good people to delegate to. I definitely believe we’ve got good people, so we must delegate or risk limiting the growth of this company.”

“I started at Briley in ’88, having known them since they started,” Webb said. “I had a shop here in Houston and did their gunsmith work for them in their early days. We’ve been friends and have had a good working relationship for all these years. Gosh, what a ride! It’s been great. We had a ten-man shop when I started working here. We’ve got about 85 now. Of course, the more employees you have, the more time you end up being a psychologist and a babysitter, but I try not to. We have a great staff with very little turnover here.

“Of course, this is primarily a machine shop, so it’s a floor manager and people who run machines all day long,” Webb continued. “It’s a two-shift operation with a night shift and a day shift, so it’s running 24 hours a day, typically five days a week. Sometimes six days, depending on the load. That’s the backbone of the company, the manufacturing. Of course, we do many different things in terms of our service orientation. We try to stay in that group of gun related items in service and in manufacturing. We also employ 16 gunsmiths here who are all specialists in one area or another. The company does attract really good people so we’re able to pick the best. And people can come here to work and have some real growth potential.

“I had a good relationship with both Jess and Cliff,” Webb said, “but it was Cliff who attracted me to the company simply for the fact that they had so much fun together and they shared the loads so that it was a whole lot easier. But from an entrepreneurial basis, I saw the beginnings of a big company, something that would grow and continue so that I could contribute to it. At that point, you’re hiring people that you need; you’re not doing any redundancies. Even to this day, we all do everything. There isn’t a person here who hasn’t had a broom in his hand at some point, or been inside a machine. I’ve worked on all of them at one point or another. That’s a very valuable thing, to have the ability to understand what we do and why … and do it the way we do it.”

“Our gunsmithing service has actually exploded in regards to the amount of work that we put through here,” Moller said. “Why would someone want to come to us with whatever brand they have as opposed to going to the original manufacturer? Simply because we do it right, get it out faster and it won’t get locked away and forgotten. Our people are really, really good and most of our customers have a warm and fuzzy feeling about doing business with us because we don’t forget the customer after the sale.”

Much of that warm and fuzzy feeling is derived, of course, from the attitudes and personalities of all Briley employees. “One of the things that make this company great is that it lets people blossom, not necessarily just me,” Webb explained. “There are many others who are tremendous individuals and great assets. It’s the way Jess runs his business. He’s not a person who gets angry very often. He lets people do what they want to do. He’ll even let them step in a hole that he warned them about … and do it without getting mad. He’s very good about letting people go their own way to develop something. One of the most beneficial factors in this company is our ability to do things that we want to do, sometimes in spite of him. Everyone has importance to the company; there are very few titles around here. Everybody is empowered to solve problems and make it right.”

The things they do right include manufacturing the chokes and tube sets that made them famous, of course, but Briley also builds accurate handguns for competition pistol shooters … in a very difficult and competitive market. They also build fine custom rifles and market a wide variety of fine shooting products such as Rudy Project shooting glasses, Baronerosso shooting wear, Askari outdoor gear and luggage, Mattarelli traps and many other shooting accessories.

“Jess’ son-in-law Cliff has had a lot to do with the aggressive nature of the expansion into other things,” Bob Brister said. “Now, how good or bad that is, I don’t know. But I know that they seem to be doing awfully well and they’ve built a beautiful new showroom. It looks like something in London. The photograph in their ads doesn’t do justice to that place. They didn’t use a lens wide-angled enough to see how big it is.”

“Our showroom is kinda nice,” Briley admitted. “I’ll have to give Chuck credit for that. We decided to put in a store because when people came in, we didn’t have any place for them, so we decided to bite the bullet and do it. I wanted to do it in walnut, but Chuck said that walnut would be too expensive. So I went over to check out some hardwood thinking we’d do it in cherry, but cherry turned out to be more expensive than walnut! So it’s all done in walnut … fine gunstock wood.

“It’s an inviting room with the fireplace and the furniture,” Briley continued. “We’ve got all kinds of crazy guns scattered around all over this place. We’ve been able to bring in a lot of guns from Australia and a lot of the guns are good enough that we don’t have to refurbish them, just sell them as is. We’ve had some really nice English guns come in from Australia. We don’t have any standard guns like Brownings or Berettas because we have too many customers that are in that business … so we’ve got to stay off their toes. We handle the fine English guns so we don’t compete with them.”

“They’re into selling fine English doubles and they have one of the finest collections of ‘em,” Brister said. “I knew Jess had made it when I saw the first Purdey with his chokes in there and the first Holland. I knew damned good and well that when he convinced people of the advantages of putting chokes in those expensive guns, that he had it made. I think I might have convinced some of ‘em by taking their money because I could put in exactly the choke that I needed for the yardage that I was shooting. And Jess even made me some eccentric chokes to shoot a little low for certain conditions. Anything that you wanted to try, Briley could do it.

“They’re doing everything in their shop,” Brister continued. “They’re building rifles; they’re building handguns; they’re turning out chokes in the tens of thousands. That building just keeps expanding. They make chokes for a lot of the big manufacturers and they are tough damned chokes! And if you have a problem, send it in and they’ll fix it. The thing that I have noticed about those chokes is that they are so tough!

“Jess also experiments,” Brister stated. “He and I went through a whole bunch of experiments together. I once had the idea for a long set of barrels that was very light and could move. Jess made me a set of 34-inch over/under barrels that would weigh what a 28-inch set weighed. I shot that at pigeons for a while and shot it at sporting clays for a while. It was a hell of a set of barrels, but finally a guy who was a collector and gun nut offered me so much for that gun and set of barrels that I sold it. The extra length for game shooting or for pigeon shooting really didn’t amount to that much, but for sporting clays, it does. Now everybody is making 34-inch barrels, but Jess was way ahead of them.”

Jess was out in front of the pack in building rimfire varmint rifles as well. This writer, for example, treasures his Ruger 10/22 Briley conversion with stainless steel bull barrel. It’s deadly accurate and trouble free. “Bobby Pitchford is our rifleman here and he’s very good at what he does,” Briley proudly declared. “He can make these rifles perform and our 10/22 really does. Have you tried one of our .17 calibers yet? The bolt action? With the old centerfire .17, you were always trying to clean the lead out of the barrel. I don’t know who came up with this rimfire .17 caliber, but he knew exactly what he was doing. It performs well with little or no leading of the barrel. Also, it’s a rimfire so it’s not prohibitively expensive to shoot. Those centerfires knock a hole in your pocketbook!

“Billy Williams has us out to where he lives in Montana to hunt prairie dogs,” Briley said. “The last time Bobby and Chuck and myself went, we ran nearly 1,000 rounds through the guns we had with us, shooting at those pesky prairie dogs. Bobby shoots so well that we quit letting him shoot at anything under 300 yards. He was killing prairie dogs at 500 yards with a .308! I haven’t had a chance to shoot at them with the little .17 rimfire, but I think that would probably be a blast. I suspect that the .17 caliber would kill them pretty well out to 150 yards.”

Williams, of course, is a Briley stalwart, as have been a number of top shooters and world champions. “Our sales force, golly, these world class shooters just gravitate this direction,” Briley chuckled. “They like to shoot and we like people that shoot, so we got us a deal. The better ones show up around here and several have been here quite a while. I had a good engraver until some lady over there in Mississippi got hold of him real good, I think. Brian (Rishel) is a nice guy and he still does some things for us. If we get lined out on this new shotgun, he’ll do quite a lot of the engraving for us.”

The new shotgun, of course, is the new Briley shotgun. “I don’t know how long he’s been working on that gun, nine years or so, I think,” Brister surmised. “It’s got to be perfect for Jess. He was having trouble designing a trigger mechanism that he liked for a while. I’ve seen nine or ten prototypes and we’ve picked them up and pointed them. They’re going to be high-dollar, high-quality guns. It is a very interesting piece of equipment.”

“I’ve been working on my own shotgun off and on, mostly on, for going on 11 years now,” Briley said. “I got down to the trigger group a year or so ago and I could not get a trigger group to work like I wanted it to. But finally I stumbled into it. You know that Cliff is completely bilingual. Well, we do our design work using the pinata principle. You know, the pinata is up there, they put a blindfold on you and you pick up that stick and you just keep whacking around until you hit something. That’s the pinata principle,” he laughed.

“We’ve got the design work pretty well completed now, and it’s really a nice looking gun,” he continued. “The next big step is a prototype run we’re working on right now … five guns for test. We’ll do a lot of testing and at the same time we’re doing that, we’ve got to decide if we can make any money doing this. We’ve got so many things going, we have to be careful that we don’t dedicate too much of our people’s time and energy to a project like this. We’ve got to keep dancing with the one that brung us, you know that.

“You know, your ego can get you in a corner if you let it,” Briley chuckled. “And I’m doing my best not to let that happen on this gun. I don’t want to get my ego involved in this thing and make the wrong decision … because I would like to make a little money with it if we ever get around to selling any of them. And I don’t want any mad buddies of mine yelling at me saying, ‘Jess, your damned trigger don’t work!’ That I can’t handle.”

You seem to have been very successful at pleasing your customers.

“Well, golly, you’ve got to look at the kind of folks I grew up with,” he said. “You learn pretty early on that there’s ways to get along with folks and that’s to do it right if there’s any way. And if you can’t get it right, then be honest. Own up to it. You know, most of us were kinda poor and everybody kinda took care of each other’s kiddos. If somebody got out of line, they’d jerk ‘em back in. I’m sure you’ve had neighbors straighten your ass up a time or two.

“Of course, there at Kerrville, I played on that river,” Briley smiled. “I had a little shop in my back yard, but boy, we were on that river day and night. I loved all that. I guess growing up in that part of the world is some of the main dimensions that would describe me. I lost my dad when he was 38 years old and my mother wouldn’t allow a gun in the house. So I came into the gun thing way late in life. I never will forget the time my brother traded around and came home with a pistol. She took the hide off of him in strips! He had traded this and that for that pistol and he had to go trade it back. Those old, long, peach limb switches that grow out of the top of the tree will straighten up a kid in a hurry.”

Briley didn’t say whether he had to use peach tree switches on his kids or not, but he can thank his daughter for his best friend. “I’ve got two grown daughters and actually, old Cliff lucked out,” Briley chuckled. The guys that find the right ones early on and stay put are, in my book, the lucky ones. I’ve been through, well, more than one marriage; let’s put it that way.”

Cliff is probably almost as close to you as your daughter.

“If anything, maybe even more so,” he admitted. “We worked together so well for so many years that I know what he’s thinking and what his reaction is going to be and he’s the same way with me. We give each other a little trouble every now and then, but not a whole lot.”
“Our partnership has been good because even when we disagreed,” Moller said, “we didn’t want to throw mud pies at each other. And often we do disagree, in a big way, but either he talks me into it or I talk him into it. Now, every partnership has its working relationship and its reward basis. We were in Guadalajara, Mexico, for a big shoot and this shooter comes up to me selling tequila anejo, which is aged tequila. It was in big old gallon jars. A friend of mine gave me a taste and it was smooth as wine! I’m not a big drinker, but I just couldn’t believe the taste. He was selling these bottles at a bargain, so I bought one.

“I told Jess that I bought a jug and he said, ‘Aw, Cliff, do you know what a pain it will be to get that across the boarder especially since we are transporting our shotguns? ‘ Don’t do this!’ I said, ‘Listen, you can walk ahead of me and pretend not to know me. This is doable.’ For days he continued to comment on this. In the end we ended up walking through together clearing customs. We both took a deep breath and Jess said, ‘Cliff, I just want to remind you that 50% of that tequila belongs to me.’ Which is our natural split.”

Briley likes to cook and he’s proud of his creations. “I’ll never forget the first time Jess decided to make cornbread out of basic materials,” Moller laughed. “And I’m not talking about buying a mix. He makes this cornbread using jalapenos and the next morning, he is so absolutely impressed with himself. He said, ‘Just taste this piece of cornbread!’ I ate it and said, ‘OK, that’s cornbread.’ He said, ‘Isn’t that the best damned cornbread you ever ate? There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that nobody else in the world knows how to make cornbread.’

“That’s the kind of mentality that I envy the most about Jess,” Moller revealed, “and this is his strength as well as his weakness. You must have that kind of confidence to be a pioneer and start a business. Jess is one of the most confident men I ever met and what makes him even more amazing is that he has no fear of failure. He is as fearless as a teenager. When one is so totally confident that one is right it can also get you in trouble; that is where I come in for a reality check. This works well unless we are both sold on the same illusion … and when we are both wrong, we count on Chuck and Randy (financial advisor) to knock some sense in our heads. Jess and I balance each other. He encourages me to be confident as we push the envelope. Likewise, whenever I see him flaring off, I drag him back to reality. That’s been our relationship forever. We complement each other very well.”

“Jess is fascinating to be around and to talk with,” Brister said. “He’s pretty much set in his ideas. Although his wizardry in machining had a lot to do with his success, it’s his mind, his willingness to experiment with all those metals and different and better ways of doing things that have made him what he is. He’s a genius.”

Briley recognized early in his career that happy, satisfied shooters were crucial to his success and he was determined to reward them for their support. “Briley Manufacturing and Jess Briley in particular have been great supporters of the National Skeet Shooting Association and the National Sporting Clays Association,” Don Snyder said. “Their products are nonpareil. They have been innovative in their designs, not only in their chokes, but also in their tube systems. They’re one of the leaders in the industry … basically one of only two in the industry. Of course, both Briley and Kolar are great supporters of our associations.

“Briley has been instrumental, especially in the state of Texas, in supporting a lot of shoots and promoting the game of skeet shooting and also the game of sporting clays,” Snyder stated. “They have been very helpful to the shooters, not only with their products, but with their benevolence … in developing shoots and shooters. They’re giving it back. In fact, Jess was presented with a nice award at one of the Texas State Shoots for his contributions to the sport. And he’s fun to shoot with!”

“We’re heavily into the trap business with our Mattarelli line as well as sporting and
5-stand rentals,” Briley said. “I’ve have a grandson, Austin Moller, that’s very much involved in that. Jason Menke, an amazing trap mechanic, heads that department and is responsible for turning Austin into a hell of a fine hand. I used to accuse Austin of looking for a hole to step in, he was that kind of a kiddo. But all of a sudden he took an interest in what’s going on around here and he does a good job. We get a lot of good feedback about him from the gun clubs, so we’ll take this another generation, if possible. We figured that we took this thing to where it is now and I moved over for Cliff. Now, Cliff is pretty much moving over for the young bucks around here. Let them take that torch and run with it. Let’s see what they can do.”

The smart money says they’ll continue to build on their rich heritage.

(Gresham is an outdoor writer/editor who lives in Ovilla, Texas. Address comments, good or bad, to