By SAR Staff
Gemtech (Gemini Technologies, Inc.) was formed in May, 1993 in Boise, Idaho by the merger of Automatic Weapons Company (AWC) and JR Customs. JR Customs was the creation of Jim Ryan and Mark Weiss with primary emphasis on custom riflesmithing. Dr. Philip H. Dater, who was one of the early pioneers in suppressor design, founded Automatic Weapons Company in Albuquerque, NM in 1976. Dater’s AWC was moved from New Mexico to Boise in 1991 concurrent with Dater’s retirement from the practice of medicine to pursue full time suppressor design. In early 1994, Gregory Latka joined Gemtech. Latka had 30 years machining experience and was an innovative suppressor designer with several patents related to suppressor baffles and couplers. Latka’s facility in Michigan, where the majority of Gemtech parts are manufactured, is a major aerospace subcontractor and meets the requirements for MIL-I-45208-A. Ryan and Weiss left Gemtech in 1998 to form their own company, Tac-Ord. In 2001, Kel Whelan joined Gemtech at the Boise headquarters to direct the sales and marketing division.
The Boise facilities are relatively small with several employees. Gemtech has sales offices in four states with the main manufacturing facility in Michigan. Gemtech employs a number of consultants, a few of whom are primarily responsible for some of the designs utilized. The design process at Gemtech is, and always has been, a joint effort of the entire team (including consultants) with each contributing in his area of expertise. No design is strictly attributable to a single individual.
Gemtech is known for innovation in suppressor design, and some of its early designs remain popular and in demand to this day. In late 1995, Latka developed an early version of his now well-known Bi-Lock mount for center fire rifle suppressors based on his coupler patent for the MP5. In early 1996, there were rumors of a pending solicitation by the NSWC (Crane) for a new quick detach suppressor for the M4 carbine. The official solicitation was received at Gemtech on March 30, 1996 with the requirement that 10 units be delivered no later than May 10.
In those six weeks, Gemtech developed, tested, modified, and built the required prototypes of their now famous M4-96D suppressor as Latka finalized the mount. Latka and Dater developed and fine-tuned the baffle stack with innovative jetting and spacing adjustment and conducted abusive testing at the Boise range facility. A few minor modifications were made based on the testing results, and Latka manufactured the final version for submission. Concurrently, Ryan and Weiss, at their Washington state location, prepared the reams of paperwork necessary for the submission.
The M4-96D suppressor met all the requirements set forth by NSWC. Gemtech, a dark horse in the race, was one of two manufacturers who successfully completed the rigorous testing. The other was Knight Armament Corp. (KAC). Although the M4-96D was definitely the quieter of the two (NSWC measured the reduction at 32.7 dB), the KAC unit was slightly smaller and had a minimal price advantage in 10,000 unit lots.
In their testing, NSWC found no degradation in accuracy with no significant change in group size. Further, point of impact shift was determined to be between 1.2 and 2 minutes of angle at 100 yards between suppressed and non-suppressed with consistent repeatability.
The M4-96D suppressor has been marketed to the civilian and law enforcement community and has achieved wide acceptance both domestically and internationally. It has been adopted by a number of US Army Special Forces units, who have found it to be a serious adjunct to training of new shooters as well as a solid performer in the harsh environment of the Mid-East conflict. Many operators prefer the M4-96D to suppressors they have available through their normal supply channels.
In 2003, an improvement was made to the Bi-Lock mount in the suppressor to reduce carbon build-up, make dismounting easier, and decrease mount maintenance requirements. A new suppressor, the HALO, was introduced in 2004 utilizing the proven M4-96D baffle stack but incorporating a simpler no-tools mounting system. The HALO mount, licensed from Law Enforcement International in the UK, will mount on any NATO specification 22mm flash hider.
In spite of being an 8+ year-old design, the M4-96D remains Gemtech’s flagship suppressor and continues in demand in not only the civilian and law enforcement community, but also in a number of the special operations groups in the United States Military.
Today, Gemtech manufactures a wide range of suppressors to meet almost every need. Gemtech pioneered the high efficiency, highly affordable Outback .22LR suppressor, and in late 2003 offered the improved version, the Outback-II at the same price. The Outback-II competes favorably price-wise with any other rimfire suppressor and has the best overall performance with the lowest first round accentuation. Gemtech has pioneered the modern 9mm suppressor with interchangeable mounts for versatility, and in February 2005 introduced their suppressor for the .50 caliber Barrett rifles.
Unlike some manufacturers who base all their designs on one baffle configuration, Gemtech designs baffle stacks specifically for each application. While many have attempted to clone Gemtech designs, none have enjoyed the same level of success and performance.
More information is available on-line at www.gem-tech.com or by calling Gemtech at (208) 939-7222.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V8N6 (March 2005)|