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Tactical equipment manufacturer opens custom shop

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Springfield-based Dark Ops Holdings LLC, the parent company of three tactical equipment businesses, added a retail shop Jan. 1 for custom designs of its knives, guns and accessories. Dark Ops Customs plans to be fully operational by Feb. 15 in roughly 2,000 square feet at 2235 W. Sunset St., next to Dark Ops Holdings’ 15,000-square-foot headquarters, 2231 W. Sunset St.

Dark Ops Holdings manufactures and distributes knives, optics and tactical lighting to more than 250 retail outlets worldwide, said Senior Vice President of Sales Julia Miller.

The company hired 20-year tactical-design veteran Frank Duren, a part-time police officer for the Branson West Police Department, as master gunsmith. Duren said Dark Ops Customs would customize knives, guns and tactical accessories for local law enforcement officers, servicemen and hunters, with prices ranging from $100 to $3,000.  

“Really, the sky’s the limit with what we can do,” said Duren, who through his own company, Duren Customs Inc., has been featured in several national gun and knife magazines for his custom work.

Miller said more than $15,000 was invested in custom machinery from Grizzly Industrial, one of its retail customers, to open the custom shop. The retail outlet also would serve as a showcase for Dark Ops Holdings tactical equipment, which services 50 major distributors and posted 2011 revenues of roughly $3 million, Miller said.

Dark Ops Holdings also is the parent company of Dark Operations Fighting Knives, Hell Fighter Tactical Lighting and Counter Sniper Optics. Miller said the companies manufacture and assemble tens of thousands of pieces of tactical equipment annually at its Rochester, N.Y., plant. She said it deals to largely mom-and-pop equipment and accessory supply stores through its network of U.S. and international dealers. Nearly one-third of its revenue comes from international customers, Miller said.

Miller’s father, Frank Miller, founded Dark Operations Fighting Knives LLC in 2004 after attending a trade show in Germany. After 2006, the company expanded its offerings and established its parent company.

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