Recently we had the opportunity to talk to the team at CK Tactical as they prepared for their debut at the Novi Gun Show in Novi, Michigan on the weekend of September 22nd and 23rd. We talked about what went into the design of their new product, the Ripcord Speedloader, and what it delivers to those who carry revolvers.
GGD: Well let’s just jump into it, what is CK Tactical?
CKT: CK Tactical is made up of myself, Ken Yaxley, CEO; Chason Yaxley, VP; and all who depend on the revolvers they carry. This is a Veteran-run, Made-in-America company and we just launched the Ripcord Speedloader, but only after we rejected countless prototypes, conducted hundreds of tests and re-tests, talked extensively with those who count on their revolvers, and finally produced a pre-production prototype that would meet and exceed the demands of our shooters.
GGD: Tell me a little about your new product?
CKT: The Ripcord Speedloader is an all-plastic, one-piece construction speedloader designed with the flexible compliance to fit practically every 5- and 6-shot revolver models, and it’s easy to use. It’s also a product that comes with a great value. We offer two speedloaders per package that ends up being equal in price or less than our competitors who only sell one per package. But about ours, there’s really not a lot of instructions that go along with it. Just load, insert, pull the tab and go.
GGD: Well that seems simple enough. So why hasn’t it been on the market before now?
CKT: I think it took someone with a robotics background. I was an Aviation Electrician’s Mate in the Navy until 1984, at which point I transitioned to the private sector in the robotics field—the fast-growing industry at the time. When Chason came up with the idea, it was what I knew about robotics and the handling of small materials using what’s called end-of-arm tooling that allowed us to build a certain amount of compliance into the product. Basically, when you’re talking about a few thousands-of-an-inch, your tooling has to be able to come down and grab the item, and that much precision isn’t going to be accomplished by hand. When you look at the other speedloaders out there, the push-button and turn-knob varieties, their construction is too rigid to work across the wide array of revolver cylinders on the market. With the flexible compliant nature we use, we’re able to load across a much wider variable of cylinder diameters. You still need a 5-shot loader for a 5-shot revolver and a 6-shot loader for a 6-shot revolver, but we can do with one loader what it takes others multiple loaders to accomplish.
GGD: So its universal nature is the difference?
CKT: It’s actually so much more than that. The Ripcord Speedloader was built for the revolver but it was born from the demands of those who carry revolvers. Specifically, it’s about reliability. People choose revolvers because they know that when they pull the trigger, it’s going to go bang. They don’t want parts jiggling around and they don’t want to have to deal with straight feeds, magazine releases or disengaging triggers like you’d have on a semi-automatic pistol. We made sure we were designing a product that lives up to the reliability demands our shooters already expect from their revolvers. Our speedloaders are built as reliable as the guns they’re used in.
GGD: This thing has a pretty small profile. I’m guessing that’s not on accident.
CKT: Our product may be called a speedloader but it’s really not the speed that sets it apart. I mean ours is certainly on par with the speed of anything out there currently, but the difference is that when you have ours in your pocket, it’s not going to look like you’re carrying a D-cell battery around. When I was head of our church security team, as part of an armed force you’re always carrying back-up rounds, and where do you carry that speedloader so that it’s inconspicuous? Ours really doesn’t silhouette much at all.
GGD: But it is in fact a SPEED loader. Have you done trials to see how much time yours cuts off of the loading process?
CKT: I guess I would be a little cautious with that. Everyone’s dexterity and agility is different, and because you are in fact loading a firearm, I don’t want to necessarily encourage people to see how fast they can use it. I have a certain respect for how you handle a firearm, and we don’t want people loading in haste when they don’t have to.
GGD: Understood. So tell me a scenario where someone would be glad they were carrying your speedloader?
CKT: Well I do competitive shooting and I hunt with a handgun. Typically those are revolvers. I’m confident I don’t need a lot of rounds, I just need those rounds to be reliable in a reliable system. In hunting, I carry a speedloader, not necessarily to have extra rounds, but often because I’m going into the woods where you can’t be carrying a loaded firearm before hunting hours. So what I’ll do is carry a speedloader with me and once legal, I will load. Conversely, I’ve had a .44 mag reloader where I’ve ended up dumping the rounds out into my hunting jacket, and later having to dig out six rounds out of those oversized pockets. But the speedloader is also nice to have when you just want backup rounds to the 5 or 6 that you already have loaded, and competitively, it’s a nice solve for those just getting into competitive shooting and practicing being able to load faster.
GGD: So it’s universal, quick, perfect for conceal and reliable. What makes it so reliable?
CKT: I’ve carried other speedloaders before, and though I admit it doesn’t happen often, I have had occasions with a speed strip, push-button or knob-type speedloader, where I lost rounds. In the case of the strip, just being in your pocket and moving around, rounds can come loose. And the problem with the other speedloaders is that if you lose one round you lose them all, at which point it’s no longer a speedloader, it’s just something in your way of getting the rounds out of your pocket. We’ve literally carried our products in our pockets for months on end and we still are yet to lose a round. But even if a round or two did come out, which is highly unlikely, you can still load it easily.
GGD: You’ve mentioned that you’ve gone through numerous prototypes. Was there ever a time when you were tempted to say, this one has flaws but it’s good enough?
CKT: Well we really believed we were only going to get one shot at this so we knew we had to take our best shot. With social media being so influential now, we knew that we wouldn’t be able to survive negative reviews. There’d simply be no opportunity to take time-out and hope to come back to market later with a redesign. But more than that, this is a product that people are potentially trusting their lives with, so we weren’t going to put anything out there that we wouldn’t trust our own lives with. Such seemingly trivial things such as the width of the band, the wall thickness of the design, just so many things that until you had the prototypes made, you couldn’t tell how well it was going to work. They all worked to some extent, but they didn’t meet the level we were after until the final version. Just the design of our latch that prevents lateral disengagement, that was a significant engineering issue, because the parts are small and they’re injected molded, so we had to come up with a way that we’d have a latch that would come apart when called up but not in your pocket, so there were a lot of prototypes of the latch alone.
GGD: Made in America, right?
CKT: Made in Michigan. I’m a veteran and a patriot and so I think it’s where it belongs. It may take an extra dime, but it's worth that dime. As long as I’m the CEO, it will always be made in America. And that’s one of the reasons we’re so excited to partner with Ginger at Go Gear Direct. She’s a good American and the gear she sells on her site are good American products. We just felt that our product aligned so well with the Go Gear family of products because of what her company stands for. Made In America isn’t a sticker that goes on a label, it’s a philosophy that we all respect and live by. When you can connect with the values of your customers, you’re way ahead of the game in our opinion.
GGD: What are your impressions about Go Gear Direct so far?
CKT: Well I’ve been buying from them! They sell great products and the website is very easy to use and the bundling aspect that Ginger has been able to implement is a really innovative feature. I haven’t seen that before. But yeah, great products at great pricing. It’s just refreshing to have someone out there who is outdoor and gun-enthusiast minded, and has a heart for entrepreneurs. She’s really looking at what’s new and what’s cool, and what she can introduce people to. Simple products, but knowing what we went through, I bet they endured a lot of design headaches along the way. But Ginger makes bringing these types of products to market easier for all of us. It’s very clear she wants us to succeed.
GGD: So what’s next for CK Tactical?
CKT: Right now we’re going to market with the .38 special/.357, but we will come out with additional calibers very soon. We’re considering larger calibers for hunting and smaller calibers that may require a redesign of the inner structure, but we want to support reloaders with as many revolver platforms as we can.
GGD: Thank you for your time, and good luck at the Michigan Gun Show.
CKT: Thank you. There’s going to be six-to-ten thousand people there, so we’re excited to show off our first production run. It’s going to be fun to see the faces of the people we show this product to. For those not able to attend, we hope to see you on GoGearDirect.com very soon.