Fairfax, Missouri, native Caleb Morris competes in a Precision Rifle Series (PRS) event. Morris lives about 10 miles north of Mound City in Holt County with his wife, Ashton, a Mound City native, and their three children. (Submitted photo)
Alpha & Omega Precision Rifles owner Caleb Morris uses a lathe to work on a barrel for one of his rifles.
(Dennis Sharkey photo)
By Mound City News
Editor Dennis Sharkey
A Holt County man’s enthusiasm for high precision rifles along with a desire to compete have led to an opportunity to put food on the table and at the same time get to see his kids grow up.
Caleb Morris and his wife Ashton live about 10 miles north of Mound City in rural Holt County with their two daughters and the youngest, a boy. Morris had a good union job as a boilermaker but the time he spent away from home wasn’t worth it.
“I quit when my middle daughter didn’t really know who I was when I was home off the road,” Morris said.
Morris, who also farms with his father-in-law, was able to quit because a little side job in a small room on the family farm was starting to bring in some money.
Whatever free time Morris had when he was home, outside of family time, was spent shooting top of the line rifles from long distance. Eventually he began competing in the Precision Rifle Series (PRS) and worked up to the 23rd ranking in Missouri. Other competitors started noticing Morris’ gun and began asking where he got it.
Morris, a machinist by trade, had built his own gun; then he was asked if he could build a gun for someone else. He built the gun for his fellow competitor; and then he built another one, and another one.
“It was just kind of a word of mouth monsoon,” Morris said. “It was a domino effect after that.”
So much of a domino effect that Morris invested in some equipment and began focusing more time on the new business, Alpha & Omega Rifle & Tool, LLC. Over time Morris has gotten much more efficient at producing rifles. From start to finish he can complete a rifle in about a day and half.
“Once you do enough of them you can do it pretty fast,” Morris said.
When he first began putting rifles together a short job took him about 45 minutes. Now Morris has a machine that runs off a computer that he programs with the specifications.
“The same job takes about five to 10 minutes now,” Morris said.
Morris also spends a lot of time just making barrels for gun owners. Last year, in addition to making about 50 custom rifles, he shipped out about 300 barrels too.
“I have rifles from coast to coast, border to border,” Morris said.
Morris has gotten to this point by networking, fostering partnerships and making friends. He got his start in making guns by taking classes from gun smith Gordy Gritters.
“He’s kind of been my mentor in this whole deal,” Morris said.
The partnerships Morris has formed all have a local tie to him like his stocks he purchases from Tom Manners of North Kansas City. He also gets parts from Nebraska.
“A lot of the stuff I need I can just drive to get it,” Morris said.
Morris has plans to keep expanding his business and get a bigger shop. He has also started building hunting rifles. His wife helps him keep his books in order; something he mentions when asked about what he’s learned.
“Your paperwork is very important,” Morris said laughing.
Morris hopes his business grows so well he can afford to hire someone to help him.
“Hopefully one day it will kind of take its place here in Holt County and just keep going with it,” Morris said.
He practically needs an employee now. The first part of his day isn’t spent on a machine crafting a gun. He answers e-mails and keeps ATF records in order.
“I don’t get anything done until about 10 to noon,” Morris said. “Nothing happens real fast.”
Over the past couple of years Morris has learned what works and what doesn’t when it comes to marketing his products. He doesn’t have a website but one is in the works. For now he relies on Facebook to communicate his brand.
Morris tried a gun show once and that’s probably the last time he’ll go. He said a typical gun show goer isn’t interested in high precision rifles.
“It’s not my thing,” Morris said about the gun show. “There’s a certain group of people that know what a precision rifle is and what it costs. When you take it to a gun show, they think who’s going to pay that for a gun?”
The guns are not cheap. Morris said it typically costs anywhere between $3,500 and $4,200 for a fully built gun. The guns are expensive because there’s a lot of precision that goes into making a gun that can shoot within an inch at 500 yards.
“Everything has to be down to a zero one-thousandth of an inch when you’re making all your parts,” Morris said. “They have to be built like that to be competitive.”
Morris now spends his marketing time at the competitions themselves rather than at gun shows. He still competes but not as much as he used to because of time. Considering the time he gets to spend with his family at home it’s a trade-off this competitor is more than willing to make.
“Yeah I’m fine with that,” Morris said laughing when asked if he was cool with just watching at competitions. “It’s great.”