Kenny Jarrett, right, poses with his children and business partners Jay and Rissa. More than 30 years ago Kenny set out to build a better rifle; today, a custom Jarrett Rifle can cost as much as an SUV.
Kenny Jarret isn’t a namedropper, but when you enter his office it’s hard to miss the wall of signed photos featuring some very familiar faces: Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, Chuck Yeager, Ted Turner, Chipper Jones, Hank Williams, Jr., Davey Allison, Travis Tritt and Dale Earnhardt, to name a few. All satisfied customers of one of America’s finest makers of precision hunting rifles.
Jarrett has been hunting deer around the family farm since he was old enough to carry a rifle, and his experience as a sportsman and competitive marksman led him to question the capabilities of some out-of-the-box barrels. “I believed that I could build a better one,” he says.
That was in the late 1970s. Since then, Jarrett has specialized in handcrafted rifles that surpass the most rigid standards of the industry, and command prices generally ranging from $5,400 to $11,000, though some custom-built pieces can cost as much as an SUV. Another photo on his office wall speaks to his demand for perfection: It shows Jarrett taking a saw to the barrels of rifles that didn’t meet his approval. Never mind the fact that his rejects may be more accurate than most factory-produced rifles. When something isn’t perfect, Jarrett culls it.
“I made bench rest rifles before I made hunting rifles, so I know how a gun should be put together,” says Jarrett, a member of Aiken Electric Cooperative. “When you’ve been doing this for nearly 34 years, you have a culmination of experience that is priceless.”
His family-run company is tucked away on Cowden Plantation near Jackson—10,000 acres of pines and hardwoods, planted fields and vast cypress swamps, bordered by the Savannah River—where a small team of craftsmen make every part of their product except for the rings and the trigger. And no rifle leaves the plantation without first being tested on the range.“We shoot every rifle, develop custom loads that are a perfect match, and we guarantee that you’ll like it, or you get your money back,” Jarrett said.
Jay Jarrett, Kenny’s son, is the company’s production manager and like his father, a stickler for long-range shooting accuracy. “Most people don’t realize there are a thousand different little things that go into making a rifle,” he says. “What my dad has done from the beginning is to make all those things as perfect as they can be to get that end result we’re looking for. And that’s half-inch groups of three shots at 100 yards. That, in turn, gives us the accuracy we need, out to even 1,000 yards.”
While the company produces fewer than 200 guns a year, it’s that one-gun-at-a-time philosophy that keeps long-term clients like Troy Major of Springfield, Mo., coming back. “These guns are shooters,” Major says. “They’re not ‘pretty boy’ guns. They’re made to hunt. Incredibly accurate. Incredibly dependable. Nobody makes a gun that shoots better than Kenny’s.”
To find out more about Jarrett Rifles, visit jarrettrifles.com or call Rissa Jarrett, (803) 471-3616.