St. Johns Family Gives Payson A Shot


Jason Pollack and his family didn't require a whole lot of savvy business acumen to make the decision to move their five-year-old gun and gunsmith shop, Pollack Custom Works, from the tiny Arizona town of St. Johns to a brand-new log cabin storefront on Payson's Main Street.

All they needed was one simple observation.

"There's a lot more people here," Pollack said as he and his clan prepared for Monday's grand opening celebration. "St. Johns has a population of about 3,000 and is a little too small for a gun shop."

That deduction has already paid off.

"In the last two weeks," he said, "we've had a lot more people walk through the door than we did in two years in St. Johns."

Pollack Custom Works is truly a family affair. Jason builds custom rifles and pistols, and handles the shop's full line of gunsmithing; his sister, Megan, is an engraver; father Mike does stockmaking; and his mom, Marta, is the enterprise's in-house accountant.

The Pollacks got into the gun business by following Jason's lead.

"I went to gunsmithing school at Yavapai College, and as soon as I got out we opened up a gun shop," he said. "I've been fascinated with guns since I was a child. I spent most of my time growing up out at the gun range. When I got out of high school, I wanted to go straight into gunsmithing school but you have to wait until you're 21, so I went off to the Navy instead."

Asked to explain his love of guns, Jason has a fast and simple answer: "They're just a whole lot of fun. That's why I love my job. I get to sit around and play with other peoples' toys."

But according to Jason, the family that sells guns together doesn't necessarily shoot guns together.

"My dad and sister and I go out hunting quite a bit," Jason said. "Megan's the best shot. She can outshoot both of us any day of the week. My mother's not too much into guns, but she's a good accountant. We let her stick around just for that fact."

Gun parade

Of course, there are countless places in Arizona where you can buy guns. It's the gunsmithing Jason's ability to "build anything you want from the ground up" that earns this shop its distinction.

"I've built stuff that was just drawn out on a napkin," Jason said. "Most of what I build comes from sketches."

But if you walk in with a napkin, be sure to have your piggy bank with you.

The cost of such one-of-a-kind custom firearms can begin at around $20,000 and easily soar into the hundreds of thousands, Jason said.

"What we have (in the shop) mostly are hunting guns, rifles and shotguns," Jason said. "As far as our handguns go, they are mostly defense guns: concealed-carry guns and open-carry guns. We don't handle any of what they call Saturday Night Specials, which you can buy for $60 or $100. We have a bit higher-end guns than that, usually starting at about $300."

Major brand-name products available through Pollack Custom Works include Weatherby, Ruger, Remington, Springfield, Smith & Wesson, Baretta, and Glock along with ammunition and accessories, of course.

"Just about anything in the gun industry that you might need," Jason said, "we have it or we can get it."

In addition to all this, Jason can modify existing guns to its owner's specifications, and he'll buy or trade used guns, too.

Although Pollack Custom Works is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week, the shop's hours will be dictated by the seasonal needs of customers. "As soon as the hunting season gets up and going, we're going to be open before dawn so that people who forget their ammo the night before can come in and pick it up along with some coffee and donuts," Jason said.

Pollack Custom Works is located at 615 W. Main Street, right next to the Ox Bow Saloon. To learn more, call 472-7200.

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