Cutting-edge technology, innovative design and premium materials combine to help ATI produce some of the highest-quality gunstocks and accessories, as Stan Piecha finds out.
Judging by ATI’s ever-increasing worldwide sales, and what seems like a never-ending range of ground-breaking products – from the production of leading-edge rifle stocks, shotgun stocks and accessories for a wide variety of firearms – it appears to be living up to its proud boasts and its simple philosophy of being the best.
This Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based company was founded more than 20 years ago by Mike Davis but it only started making a big impact on the industry five years ago when John Chvala and Eric Pfleger stepped in and bought the concern.
The dynamic duo were both high fliers in the automotive industry – as well as keen shooters – and could instantly see that if they applied their skills to their new venture the company could be vastly improved.
In fact, the impact they had was so great that the high quality, greater efficiency and newfound innovative style they brought with them saw ATI soar to global prominence. The sudden turnaround is one rarely seen in any industry – especially the gun trade.
These days ATI has two factories – one in Milwaukee and the other 10 miles away in Cedarburg – covering a total of 100,000 square feet for office and manufacturing.
Its highly skilled workforce mans a series of specialist units – ranging from the state-of-the-art CNC department, plastic-mould-injection facilities and the engineering and design department.
Combine that with the assembly, packaging, tooling, marketing, sales and graphic design departments and it is easy to see why it has total control over all the products it manufactures and can keep a keen eye on guaranteeing all its goods are of the highest quality.
ATI currently offers more than 600 products for 25 manufacturers and, while much of the sales come from the American market, its global exports are more than healthy, with some 33 countries ordering its goods.
Jon Shaffer, ATI’s director of business development, told Gun Trade World: “We are extremely proud at the way our products are regarded throughout the world.
“We have some competitors but they only compete with a small percentage of our product line. No-one covers as many platforms as ATI. What makes our stocks different from others in the industry is our innovation and we can honestly say that no-one has brought more game-changing products to the industry over the past five years than ATI.
“Our stocks provide many different benefits from adjustability to ergonomics and aesthetics. Many people buy our stocks to help them add extra accessories to their firearms. There are also many firearms out there that have stocks on them well past their prime.
“Another reason why people go for our range is the ‘cool factor’ because we take a lot of pride in how our products are engineered and designed so they improve and enhance the look of the existing firearm. But we don’t just stop at stocks. We have a vast range of other accessories such as heat shields, mag extensions and shot-shell holders.”
ATI will never be accused of sitting back and taking its foot off the gas. It is clear it is never fully satisfied with present-day technology so constantly pushes today’s science even further in a bid to apply the latest advancements to the products.
It feels that its ETC – easy to customise – approach has helped shooters increase the value and quality of their firearms.
The global economic uncertainty has also helped ATI’s sales because, when money is tight, the company has found that shooters are more likely to modify their existing weapons instead of buying new ones and, because they provide so many stocks and accessories, customers are easily able to make an old stock look new.
While ATI’s products are well known to collectors and hunting enthusiasts, it is also a recognised leader in synthetic and aluminium accessories and gun stocks for the armed services and law enforcement units worldwide because the products are so easy to install, upgrade and customise.
It uses military-grade glass-filled nylon in its stocks as well as T6 6061 aluminium.
ATI’s in-house design and engineering department – headed by John – has almost 20 years of product releases mapped out and the list will continue to expand as new ideas are formulated.
Three of this year’s revolutionary new products are the Halo Side Saddle System for the Mossberg 500 and 590 platforms, the ATI Raven for the Benelli M4 and its first line of accessories for the VEPR platform.
The Halo Side Saddle System is the first in the industry to mount to the top of the receiver using the existing screw holes. It also features the Add-a-shell, an individual shotgun-shell holder system that mounts to the side saddle in any arrangement the customer wants.
The innovative design of the Halo allows the user to add as many as nine shotgun shells in any desired configuration for whatever task is at hand.
Jon added: “The Raven goes far beyond just being the first adjustable six-position stock for a semi-automatic shotgun. The infinitely adjustable cheek rest and the buffer tube-tension mechanism, which provides the perfect amount of drag when adjusting the stock’s length of pull, are just the beginning of new innovations that ATI will bring to the gun-accessory market.
“The VEPR Strikeforce Elite Stock and six-sided forend package are the first aftermarket accessories available for the VEPR firearm platform. It comes with an 8in aluminium optic rail system that suspends over the gas tube for effortless optics mounting on a natural sight path.
“What is surprising is the overall balance once the accessories are installed. We focused on keeping the system’s weight down and, at a mere 17oz, we feel that has been achieved extremely well.”
Schiltz claims to be the “beer that made Milwaukee famous” but ATI seem to be doing a pretty good job of putting the city on the map when it comes to stocks and accessories.