Watchtower Firearms, An American Gun Company!

I got to handle the sweet new hand-fitted PVD-coated double stack 1911, which was unveiled at the SHOT Show this year. It is named the APACHE in honor of the men who fought and died during Operation APACHE in Vietnam.

I recently met Jason Colosky at the 2024 SHOT Show. It was somewhat by chance. Karen Lutto Leatherwood has been after me to check out Outdoor Edge knives for quite some time. I caught her near the Watchtower Arms booth, and she told me before we headed over to see Outdoor Edge that I had to check out one of her new customers – Watchtower Arms.

By chance, Jason was free, so we went into a back room and talked for 15-20 minutes. I asked him his story. He said he was born in a swamp in Louisiana, enlisted in the Marines, and then moved to another swamp (DC) and lived there for 25 years. If you’ve ever fished in Louisiana, you know it is a fisherman’s paradise. Washington? It’s a swamp, but not a good one.

Jason has a vision to build the next great American firearms company. His mission is to build the most sought-after firearms in the world that will inspire the next generation of gun owners by creating an enduring connection between its products and its customers. MADE IN AMERICA – How do you not love that attitude?

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I’m a big-time American. As a kid, every night before bed, Dad would say our prayers with us and then tell us boys an Army story. At 19 years old, he was a B 24 (Liberator) pilot. He’d then end every night by saying that we lived in the best country in the world. Despite having YOUR President Biden as our fearful leader, I still say that we have the best country in the world. We have to retake it. But I digress back to this article.

As stated above, Jason wanted to start a high-quality American-made gun company. Of course, it’d speed up the process if he could find an existing company rather than start from the ground up. After much searching, he found the perfect match, and in May 2023, Jason and WATCHTOWER acquired F-1 Firearms. F-1 was known for its lightweight competition MSRs. But there was more to its production facility than just competition MSRs that drove WATCHTOWER towards acquiring F-1.

  1. Its precision manufacturing capability and the quality of its firearms were off the charts. Jason told me that we may not be building Ferraris and Lamborghinis, but we are building Dodge Demons and Shelby Cobras.
  2. F-1 had a massive amount of open capacity that WATCHTOWER could immediately put to work as part of WATCHTOWER’s diversification roadmap. For buyers, that part of an acquisition means there is little need for additional capital to raise, as the production capability is baked into the acquisition.
  3. The entire workforce welcomed the acquisition and the change in direction and stayed on with the new company. It may sound cliche; however, our workforce is our lifeblood, said Jason. “This team was extremely valuable, as they were already ‘on the other side of the learning curve.” When you acquire a workforce that is used to making high tolerance, precise race guns, everything else is a little easier.”

From there, WATCHTOWER rebranded the company and started running in a different direction than F-1. While F-1 relied on shock branding, that’s not what Jason or his leadership team had in mind.

However, he views returning the American firearms industry back to its preeminent place in the world as a team effort with like-minded people. You’ll find other Recon Marines, Navy SEALs, Scout Snipers, and veterans of all stripes across the company and throughout his leadership team. The name WATCHTOWER itself draws its name from the brave Americans who fought under the Southern Cross in the Pacific during the invasion of Guadalcanal, famously known as Operation WATCHTOWER.

From the company’s name to everything WATCHTOWER delivers, it is a touch point in American history.

All the non-special edition firearms are serialized with 1775, and then the serialization builds from there. Their new titanium suppressor is named the Jedburgh in honor of the OSS Commandos from World War II. The hand-fitted PVD-coated double stack 1911, which was the host 1911 at Shot Show this year, is named the APACHE in honor of the men who fought and died during Operation APACHE
in Vietnam.

From a pricing standpoint, Jason told me they are not in a race to the bottom. WATCHTOWER is positioned in the market as a top-tier manufacturer. Jason is also quick to point out that the idea behind the brand is getting competition quality firearms into American hands at a blue-collar price. They are not inexpensive, but in the world of competition and hand-fitted rifles and pistols, they come in at a very comfortable price compared to their competition.

WATCHTOWER offers a lifetime, no-nonsense warranty. If your firearm is broken, they will fix it; if they cannot, they will replace it, no questions asked. If you are a police officer who is carrying one of their rifles/pistols and is involved in an officer-related shooting, they will send you a brand-new firearm until it is released from the evidence locker. While legal counsel may not have been happy with this decision, Jason said, we are not going to build the next great American firearms company by mincing my words with legal caveat…our customers have to know we stand behind them and our products at all times.

So, what is next for WATCHTOWER? This company is on the move and won’t be stopping any time soon. A second handgun is on the way, and two hybrid precision action/hunting rifles will soon follow. I got to handle a prototype rifle at SHOT and am dying to get to hunt with it this year.


He is a 2nd generation Recon Marine. His family has served in the military since they arrived in America in 1907, and his son recently completed Marine Corps Officer Candidate School. He also spent almost a decade in corporate America, working for one of the world’s largest defense companies.

His journey into the firearms industry began with a deep frustration towards the prevailing corporate culture in America coupled with the trend of iconic American firearms brands being acquired by foreign entities only to be mismanaged or commoditized. This trend, which he saw as a deviation from the rich heritage of American firearms excellence, ignited his ambition to lead a change.

About Tom Claycomb

Tom Claycomb has been an avid hunter/fisherman throughout his life as well as an outdoor writer with outdoor columns in the magazine Hunt Alaska, Bass Pro Shops,, and freelances for numerous magazines and newspapers. “To properly skin your animal, you will need a sharp knife. I have an e-article on Amazon Kindle titled Knife Sharpening #ad for $.99 if you’re having trouble.”

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