bio-kevin-brittingham

Kevin Brittingham, the executive behind a wide range of innovative products produced by SIG SAUER, has left the building. In an exclusive interview with TTAG, Brittingham revealed the tensions leading to his departure from the gunmaker’s U.S. division and his plans to start an entirely new firearms company. First, a little history . . .

Brittingham began his rise to the top of the U.S. firearms industry as the original founder of silencer maker Advanced Armament Corp. In 2009, The Freedom Group (now Remington Outdoor) purchased AAC to capitalize on the company’s industry leading products and commercial success.

The Freedom Group put Brittingham in golden handcuffs, but Brittingham chafed under Remington’s corporate culture, to say the least. The partnership ended in a rancorous lawsuit that left Kevin a wealthy man — with unrealized ambitions.

Roughly two years ago, Kevin signed on with SIG SAUER, bringing a team of heavy hitters with him (e.g., Ethan Lessard, Robbie Johnson, Jason Imhoff, Lindsay Bunch, John Hollister and many more). The plan: Kevin and his band would make cool stuff, positioning SIG as the go-to company for innovative firearms designs and engineering.

According to Kevin, his work got bogged down in SIG SAUER’s slower-paced more conservative corporate culture. “I offered the last two years to work for a dollar a year if I had control of my [projects],” Kevin said. Despite this difference in approach, Brittingham’s team produced and launched SIG SAUER’s silencer line at last year’s SHOT Show.

“We shipped a couple million dollars [worth of silencers],” Brittingham said. “We had close to ten million in back orders.” According to Brittingham, production lagged behind demand, as the company pursued other priorities. “The #1 complaint with SIG silencers: you can’t get ’em. We’ve shipped three of twelve silencers we developed.”

Once again, Brittingham has found it difficult to work within the constraints of a larger company. His last few months have been particularly contentious to the point where there’s some question as to whether Kevin quit or was fired. “He made it impossible for them not to fire him” one person close to the situation remarked. “He hasn’t set foot in the office in months.” Kevin admitted to TTAG that he hasn’t been physically present for some time, but claimed he’d continued to contribute from his home in Georgia and elsewhere.

Post-SIG, Brittingham’s returning to his entrepreneurial roots. “I’m going to attract the best people, I’m going to start a company and we’re going to be dedicated to being the best. I tried it with Remington and I tried with a different scenario with SIG — it all ended the same way.”

Brittingham tells TTAG that his new venture has “tens of millions of dollars” behind it, including some of his own cash. “I started AAC with nothing” he said, “this time I have millions of dollars behind me.”

Despite his exit from SIG, Brittingham has some kind words for his ex-employer. “The average worker at SIG is smarter than anyone else in the industry. Everyone I worked with on a day-to-day basis was amazing. Even the general counsel and head of compliance — normally roadblocks in a gun company — were a joy to work with. If they treat them right and invest in the future SIG could make some awesome stuff.”

We reached out to SIG SAUER for a statement about Brittingham leaving the company. SIG’s PR rep stated that they don’t comment on the circumstances surrounding a specific employee’s departure. He added that SIG SAUER will “continue to bring the highest quality firearms to the American market” and remain committed to the silencer category.

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63 Responses to Kevin Brittingham Leaves SIG SAUER to Form His Own Firearms Company

  1. I am sure that the man is a genius in his field, but that doesn’t always translate to a good team player. Remington problems I can understand, but when two separate and well established companies in a row show you the door, maybe you should rethink your strategy.

    • Yep. Visionaries can be an invaluable asset to an organization, but they should very rarely be left to run the place. Often times, a real visionary thinker has trouble fitting into the expectations of an employer, and become very frustrated when the realities of the working world can’t keep up with the pace of their vision.

      Good luck to this guy, all the same. I look forward to seeing what he churns out. If he’s wise, he’ll put someone else in charge of the front office, and stick with being the creative force behind the scenes.

      • In the article it said he only wanted control over his project, not that he wanted to run the place, which is what you seemed to imply?

    • “I am sure that the man is a genius in his field, but that doesn’t always translate to a good team player”

      This.

      But that’s a large part of what makes him successful in that field.

      I’ve been fortunate in the past to work for someone brutally bright. They’re simply wired differently than most people.

      If Brittingham has the backing to pull that off, he will succeed.

      For silencer buyers, that will be a Martha Stewart ‘Good Thing’.

  2. Some people, like Steve Jobs, cannot work effectively in a hierarchical corporate culture. Others, like Bill Gates, just need to strike out on their own.

    Were it not for entrepreneurial mavericks like Jobs, Gates and others, we’d still be using thirty year old technology at best.

    Which is better than the firearms industry, where “new” refers to the latest iteration of the M1911, and “modern” describes a rifle platform from the 1960s.

    I wish Kevin well. The industry needs some forward thinkers. We really haven’t had one since Eugene Stoner.

    • Bill Gates’ main achievements were buying someone else’s operating system and licensing it (MS-DOS), and stealing ideas for a user interface from Xerox PARC (to create Windows). Anything innovative coming out of Microsoft since then was someone else’s idea. He’s not worthy to be mentioned in the same paragraph with the likes of Jobs or Stoner.

        • I vaguely remember Linus Torvalds talking about Microsoft either suing him or claiming that Linux is using Microsoft’s ever secretive code. Torvalds denied this allegation and suggested that it should be Microsoft who should show their code to prove they’re not stealing from Linux. Apparently Microsoft refused and backed off. I’m not sure if this is all true, maybe somebody who knows better can chime in.

      • Gates bought DR-DOS from Digital Research and modified it because DR didn’t know what to do with it. Gates did.

        As far as XRX PARC goes, you got your history wrong. It was Jobs, not Gates, that obtained the GUI, networking and the mouse from PARC, where it was languishing. Jobs purchased it all with pre-IPO Apple stock. These features were then reworked at Apple to make them work and be way less expensive.

        So while neither Gates not Jobs originated the products that made them billionaires, they did something even better — they were great businessmen.

        I think it’s ironic that great businessmen are so hated in America, while brilliant failures like Nikola Tesla are so adored. It makes me wonder why Americans are so jealous of success, but it does explain the popularity of Bernie Sanders.

        • Why are great businessmen, like Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg, hated so much? Well, maybe it’s because of the way they tend to throw their money around in pursuit of their political beliefs (lest we forget Billy’s generous contribution to Washington’s I-594 referendum).

        • “….or steals.” How about,

          “Just vaporwares competitors out of the market”.

          Heck even Henry “The Hammer” Ford “vapor-wared” the “cycle car” our of existence; a small, cheap, bicycle like early car. Just had Ted Sorensen hack together something that looked like the competitors “cycle car”; parked it in downtown Detroit- sold 3 Gozillion Model T’s at full boat.

        • Jobs was a POS. I remember reading how he got a small gig back in the pre or early Apple days when he and another guy (Woz?) were scrounging for work. He sold one of the guys ideas to some corp for like 2 grand or something, and then gave him like 200 and said “here’s your half.” I’m badly mangling this but that was the gist of it.

      • Hey, I worked for Microsoft for 10 years – and I can definitively say that Bill Gates hated, “That damned paperclip.” – Clippy – just as much as the rest of us.

        • there is no torture or punishment too cruel for whomever brought “Clippy” into existence.

  3. Surprised he is sharing shipping/sales numbers. Same story, different day. I would be surprised to hear of a larger company that is light on their feet. As an entrepreneur myself I get what Kevin is saying. I don’t think a guy like that could be happy unless having the control he feel he needs to execute the vision. I certainly wish him the best and excited to see what he turns out.

    • So we can finally reject that design and do an alloy framed, hammer fired, DA/SA.

      And we need more 40MM / 37MM offerings. All out there are very good to outstanding, we just need more people to have them.

    • Low bore axis is such a minutiae thing, compared to everything else in handgun design. I can’t believe this myth still keeps kicking around, like it matters. Caleb Giddings wrote a pretty good piece on a whole bunch of gun myths that should be purged from our culture, bore axis was #2, stopping power was #1.

  4. I agree with Vhyrus, It sounds like he is a sh!tty team player. He wants his cake, he wants to eat it, and he wants to throw some at managers.

    • . . . and, if they didn’t see that coming, their not “managers”.

      DARPA works like the movie “Real Genius” sometimes they poop out some good stuff, and sometimes civilians benefit.

  5. Awww .Little Kevin didn’t get his way so he took his ball and went home….again.

    If he were smart he would open a small design house and license his stuff. Leave the business end to people who actually know about business.

  6. Development is fun. Manufacturing not so much. Best of luck to Brittingham. I hope he uses his genius to bring us lots of cool stuff.

  7. I do not know the specifics, but this does not surprise me. I have seen this in the high tech industry a lot with top performers. Corporate shirts understand neither the innovative mind nor the independent thinker. They may give it lip service because their management “how-to” books in the self-help section of B&N tell them to, but they don’t get it. The smart thing for Sig to have done here may have been to spin off a subsidiary, and let Kevin run with it. If they were worried about tarnishing the Sig Sauer brand, they could have given the subsidiary another name until it proved itself. Now, they are competitors when they could have been partners or investors.

    • After one hit and two very obvious fails, if I was asked to invest, I’d be more than a bit concerned the hit was mainly due to being at the right place at the right, silencers blew up, time; and that the man’s most enduring talent, is simply thinking a bit too highly of himself. Sufficient irrational self confidence to go all in buying lottery tickets isn’t necessarily a sign of much genius, even if one of the tickets should happen to be a winning one.

  8. If Kevin was such a bad business person, AAC would not have been the success that it was.

    Sounds like he left SIG because they weren’t bothering to manufacture his products–even those on backorder. That doesn’t make Kevin a wildcard.

  9. To be fair, I love my Sigs, but they’re really slow in releasing additional components of their gun families. Good luck finding different hand guards or barrels for an MPX, for example.

  10. I can totally understanding bailing from Team Green. As for Sig, maybe Kevin didn’t want to put out what are essentially a few products, but in different color schemes, and lean heavily on the reputation (and pricing) of the products that he produced in the past?…

  11. This is not the case of a top performer being constrained by a corporation. And this is not Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. This is a petulant child that can’t get along with team members at Sig (and previously Remington), so he stops showing up to work and then proceeds to tell us how successful he was. The common thread at both companies is Kevin.

  12. Sig silencers were announced in 2014 and are still unobtanium. But they seemed to have plenty of resources to fight BATFE for the Sig Muzzle Break and the Sig Brace.

    At this point I doubt silencers are a priority and that they will ever go into full production.

    • I’m not quite sure what you are talking about. Silencershop had QD and direct thread versions of the 556 and 762 rifle cans in stock and at pretty reasonable prices vs MSRP. I think they even had some of the titanium versions in stock at one point. Well that is up until the ATF announced their final 41P/F ruling, now a lot of stuff seems to have gone away.

  13. Will his new company require tactical skull tattoos and operator beards, to, you know, fit the lifestyle image of their products?

  14. Why did AAC sell in the first place?
    Big green destroys the best things about everything it touches these days.
    Why anyone caves to them, especially small private firms is beyond me.

  15. My oldest is entering kindergarten this year and I cant help but think of the teacher evaluation form we had to fill out. I have a feeling that the “plays well with others” box was probably checked “Strongly Disagree” on Kevin B’s form way back in the day. That is not at all intended to be a slight against him, but like others have mentioned, this is now two companies where this has happened. Again, that isn’t a bad thing. Steve Jobs (one of my personal heros/idols) was universally hated by all but a select few people, because he was a massive prick. Thats generally how being a lot smarter than just about everyone else in the room is usually received. Kevin’s take no prisoners style of being the best at everything he does (just go read some posts from SilencerTalk from when AAC was in their heyday, or just read about the Surefire lawsuit), is never going to play nice in a company boardroom, and you know what Freedom Group and Sig are worse off without someone like him. I think we are going to see good things from this new company.

  16. Bright ideas are a dime a dozen. Doing something with it is much harder. For a actual PRODUCT can either call the Chicoms/PLA and send $ OR you have to be willing to get your hands dirty, able to handle details, and figure out how to with designers, engineers, toolmakers, production (IE play well with others).

    Major problem in the US is in the last 40yrs we have be churning out thousands of “Business majors” that go with plan Chicom. Not really working out all that well.

  17. Kevin if you read this , I’m a registered nurse but have worked in mental health since 2002, I would make a great customer relations asset to your new venture.

  18. He went from owning his own company that he started from the ground up, to working for corporate America. I’m surprised it took him this long to leave and go back to doing his own thing again. Can’t wait to see the stuff he and his guys start putting out.

  19. Kevin started his company by stealing designs from Gemtech. As one of his closest friends has often said, “There’s a little Gemtech inside every AAC can”. Kevin was always a megalomaniac, and he sold out to Remington because he didn’t have the cashflow to fullfill orders, blaming the delays on “fulfilling military orders first.” The truth was that he was close to filing bankruptcy, but to save face he put the word out that AAC might be for sale for the right price. Remington just didn’t do their homework. The rest is history.

    • Stealing from Gemtech? Dater didn’t do anything all that revolutionary. Well.. maybe the K baffle.. He just recycled from Maxim. Like everyone else. I love all the new monocore milled baffles that are nothing more than fancy fender washers “fused” into one piece. There isn’t anything too revo going on. Well, one design. But you can figure that out on your own. Silverman does some interesting things…

  20. Sig has a few great products that have incredible track records in LEO and military applications. I wonder if they have lost focus chasing silencers, ammunition, optics, airguns (wtf?), and multiple firearms platforms for the civilian markets without the discipline needed to launch and sustain these products successfully. I don’t know the guy, but my bet is that after two years this is the case and Brittingham got tired of waiting for his products to get to market. The rapid prototyping to manufacturing technology today means that designs should go from idea-design-testing-production in months not years. The DMLS technology is even faster with prototyping = production.

    I was scheming to pick up a an SRD556Ti along with an MCX 10.5 to either pin/weld or SBR. Glad I didn’t. My bet is that Sig drops silencers fast. I look forward to what Brittingham comes up with though, seems like a smart dude.

  21. Kevin speak… I used other peoples money and ideas to start and run AAC. I raked it in when remington bought us. I used other peoples money again at SIG. It was exposed that my ideas are really not that innovative….Ideas can only be recycled a couple of times. I’ll do it again with millions yet my employees and suppliers will get screwed again.

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