Iraq War veteran and Hobson resident Travis Pollok has so far lived his life devoted to the way of the gun and has much experience in the different uses of a rifle - hunting, sport/recreation shooting, and warfare.
Pollok, 32, grew up in Falls City and was given his first .22 rifle at 10-years-old, and has maintained his passion for firearms ever since. His deep interest in gun weaponry led to a desire to serve in the military in a time of war.
Pollok joined the Marine Corps in 2002 and served two tours of duty in Iraq as an infantry rifleman. During his second combat tour in November of 2004, Pollok was seriously wounded by enemy gunfire during the fierce fighting of the Second Battle of Fallujah.
After extensive surgeries and physical rehabilitation, Pollok recovered from his wounds and eventually used his VA benefits to attend gunsmithing school at the Colorado School of Trades, in order to further his knowledge in the details of modern firearms.
Upon graduating from the trade school in December of 2009, Pollok obtained his federal firearms license from the ATF and eventually started his Texas Custom Rifles business in Hobson.
“I’ve always loved building things with my hands,” said Pollok. “I’m kind of a perfectionist so if something isn’t just right I’ll do my best to make it better or I’ll start over. When it’s something I’ve built for someone else, I want it to be absolutely perfect.”
Texas Custom Rifles specializes in making custom bolt-action rifles to a customer’s specifications. Pollok takes pride in his rifle craftsmanship and creating a finished product that will excel in what it is designed for.
“I do custom builds. Everything I do is specific to what a customer wants,” Pollok explains. “Right now I’m working with bolt-action type of rifles. I’ve built some for long-range hunting, long-range target shooting, varmint hunting…My favorites are the more long-range rifles - heavy barrel, big stocks; big, powerful scopes.”
Inside the shop of Texas Custom Rifles are the tools and machinery of the trade. Simple and sophisticated equipment and measuring devices are used to give the specific details of the types of rifles made.
“I do two different styles of custom rifle. I do a full custom build which is a match-grade action, using a match-grade barrel; and then I do a semi-custom, which is a Remington 700 action, which is a factory available action, and I true it up. I true the receiver face and I lap the lugs which makes all the surfaces perpendicular to each other.
“I take what’s called a ‘barrel blank’. It basically has the shape and contour of the barrel itself, but I have to thread it and chamber it for a specific round.”
Pollok explains the benefits and virtues of a custom rifle over a factory made rifle, and the benefits of greater performance a custom rifle gives.
“Those (production guns) are made on an assembly line, dozens or hundreds at a time, and the attention to detail just isn’t there,” he said “I work in increments of one-thousandth of an inch. When I measure something I use a micrometer or caliper to measure within a thousandth of an inch. When you get that precise, the precision of the gun is that much better; it shoots better, it shoots tighter groups, which makes you able to shoot at longer ranges. You can have confidence of being able to shoot a custom-built gun at a longer range because you know it shoots tighter than something you buy off the shelf.”
In recent months, guns have become an emotional and controversial issue in the nation. In the present national debate on gun control and the current proposals on gun bans by certain politicians, Pollok expresses his belief on the rights of Americans to keep and bear arms.
“I think a lot of people that don’t think we should have guns don’t know guns; they don’t have an understanding of guns; they don’t have someone that taught them how to use guns. So there’s fear, because a lot of politicians spread fear. They say, ‘Oh this gun is going to kill you’…like it’s an animated object that is going to jump up on its own and shoot you. It’s the people using guns the wrong way, not the gun itself.”
The personal and civil responsibilities of gun owners, and protecting expanding the rights of those law-abiding gun owners, is what needs to be the focus of the gun debate, according to Pollok. Pollok believes the real issue lies in the evil condition of the heart of certain people, not the gun itself.
“Outlawing guns isn’t going to solve crimes,” he said. “People murdered and killed each other over stuff way before guns were around. They did it with rocks, swords, bows and arrows…it’s not the gun that’s the problem, it’s evil people.”
As a Marine and a citizen, Pollok believes in the importance in preserving and protecting the Constitution and taking its Second Amendment at face value.
“It was a right,” said Pollok of the Second Amendment. “It’s not like a driver’s license or some other privilege that the state gives you. It’s written in the Constitution when they founded this country. It is our right, a right to bear arms to protect ourselves from all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
Prices for Texas custom rifles typically range between $2,500 and $3,500, sometimes higher depending on the detail involved. For more information and inquiries on Travis Pollok’s custom built bolt-action rifles, contact Texas Custom Rifles at 830-391-3993 or visit www.texascustomrifles.com.