I’ve had an AAC 762-SDN-6 silencer since shortly after my first visit to AAC HQ. It was the first silencer I ever bought, and over the last three years I’ve been sticking that thing on every gun I can find. I have probably put more wear and tear on that can in three years than most owners will in a lifetime, and as a result it was in pretty rough shape. The paint on the outside had turned from a flat black to a shiny bronze due to overheating during a 500 round rapid fire stress test. There were some scratches and dings from a certain motor vehicle accident. And while the internal elements were probably starting to see some damage as well, the worst was an external component: the ratchet latch had broken. That posed a unique problem . . .
The ratchet for the 762-SDN-6 can is what’s called a “blind” pin. There’s a hole for the pin to be inserted, but there’s no corresponding pin on the other end to hammer it back out and replace whatever part needs to be replaced. I wanted to try removing the pin myself to replace the latch, but I was talking with another former AAC employee recently and they said the only way to remove the pin was to EDM it out. I don’t have the kind of cash for a wire EDM machine just to replace the pin on a $1k can.
The only option was to send it back to AAC for repair. When the latch started to wear I had asked John Hollister about it, and he said that the batch my can was from had an issue with the toughness on the latch and replacement with a newer better latch would be 100% covered under warranty and completely free — all I would need to do was send it in to AAC for the swap. I should have done it right then but I procrastinated, and it got the the point where sending it back seemed impossible.
See, Mike Smith hates me. Mike is the current head honcho at AAC, and not only had he recently ejected me from their booth at SHOT Show but he had written an official post on AAC’s blog calling me a “mouth-breathing oaf” and our fair publication the “douche about guns.” I have confirmation from multiple sources that Mike has a Photoshopped picture of me in his office with the words “you’re fired.” To be fair, following how AAC is being run into the ground in excruciating detail probably hasn’t gained me many brownie points, but that’s what we do.
With Mike at the helm, I was convinced that sending my silencer in for repair wold be the last I would ever see of it. I wasn’t willing to take that chance so I relegated it to the back of the safe, updated the 762-SDN-6 review to reflect the fact that the latch had worn out and that future buyers should be aware of that possibility, and purchased a new .308 caliber silencer. Two, actually.
A couple days later, Mike Smith himself posted a comment under that review.
Given that you’ve been talking about your worn latch for the better part of a year and never bothered to send it in for repair, I can’t help but think this is just another instance of your bias against AAC. You have as much right as any customer to the lifetime warranty on your silencer. We are still operating in Lawrenceville, and will be for some time to come. If you want to have your latch replaced by Lwarenceville [sic] personnel, send it in. It’s that simple. If you want to hang onto a silencer with a worn latch and use it as a prop for your hit pieces, that’s simple too. All you have to do is call or send an e-mail. If you want to wait until after the move, that is fine as well. The personnel in Huntsville will be more than capable of, and happy to, replace your latch.
To be clear, the latch had been working perfectly through September of last year, so saying I’ve been griping about it “for the better part of a year” isn’t 100% accurate, but I’ll let it slide.
I found it interesting that even though Mike isn’t my biggest fan, he’s so committed to the brand and to making good on AAC’s promises to their customers that he put his personal feelings aside and offered to fix the can anyway. I sent him an email, arranged for an RMA, and mailed off my silencer to be fixed. About a week later, she returned.
Nick (one of their employees) emailed me a quick note after I had gotten the can back to explain what they had done.
I just wanted to let you know, we were going to replace the latch, but we found that the silencer was on the high side of our run out spec, it seemed the bearing surface was a bit worn. So we just went ahead and replaced everything but the tube. By now you probably have already seen the silencer, but I just wanted to follow up and let you know what was done.
So, not only did they replace the latch, but they actually EDM’ed out the entire core of the silencer and replaced it. That’s a metric ton of work — not an easy task whatsoever — but they did it anyway and didn’t charge me a single cent.
I have to say, I’m impressed. AAC has taken a bit of a beating over the last few years both from competitors and their own management, and as a result their market share in the silencer world has slipped significantly. But despite the hard times, they are continuing to honor their commitments to their customers and stand behind their products. Even when that means fixing a silencer that belongs to a mouth-breathing oaf who you can’t stand because that’s the right thing to do for the customer.
Mike says that, even after the move to Huntsville, the employees will continue to provide this level of service to their customers. We heard those same claims from Marlin when they similarly moved and, well, that didn’t have a happy ending. They’ve since gotten back on their feet, but not before suffering a couple years of terrible production quality.
Moments like this make me realize that despite all that there are still people manning the machines at AAC who care about their customers, and are doing the right thing. I hope that in the move to Huntsville they don’t lose that spark and enthusiasm, because that’s the only thing that could bring AAC back to prominence.