We recently sat down with Michael Earnest of Dirty Bird Industries to talk about the company, who is currently offering quality AR components at affordable prices. We’ve used Dirty Bird components in a few of our builds, including their two-stage trigger and their ambi lower with great success.
Editor’s note: In the interest of full disclosure, Dirty Bird Industries is a sister company of AR15Discounts.com, which helped launch, and both owns and operates ARBuildJunkie.com.
Q: Michael, can we get a bit of information on how Dirty Bird Industries came about?
Michael Earnest – Dirty Bird Industries – Dirty Bird Industries started in 2015 out of owner Jay Pitcher’s garage. He and his brother Dustin Pitcher decided to join forces as one was doing Cerakote and assembling, and the other was doing an online retail business, so they came together, and it blew up from there. In the last five years, it’s already expanded several times.
When I started in 2018, it was only one other employee and me. Now, we’re up to fifty employees… it’s grown tremendously since I’ve been here. When I started, I was mainly doing customer service, but now I do all the marketing, product development, product research, things like that.
Q: Can you talk about the price/quality balance you’ve been able to reach with your products. We have a few of your lowers, complete rifles, and your PCC and have been thoroughly impressed with them for years now.
Michael Earnest – Dirty Bird Industries – We’ve gone to a lot of the same manufacturers that a lot of top-of-the-line companies use. We use the same manufacturers that several other very respected companies do for our different offerings under the Dirty Bird Industries banner. We had to put in a lot of effort and money to get bigger order quantities up so that we can compete with the same quality, but not the same price point. So today, you’ll find that we have a lower price point than a lot of other places.
Q: Can you talk a bit about some of the things Dirty Bird Industries is best known for?
Michael Earnest – Dirty Bird Industries – We’re certainly known for our Dirty Bird handguards. Our V1 handguard that came out a few years ago was similar to some other popular handguards in the industry in that it had a shaved top rail but still had some Picatinny at the 12-o’clock position and had integral QD mounts.
Just last year, we came out with our V2 and our V3 Dirty Bird Industries handguard. The V2 handguard is essentially the same as our V1 handguard. However, it uses a different locking method, and we removed the QD mount. We did include an MLOK QD mount so that they could put it wherever they want on the handguard.
We also included a barrel nut wrench with that handguard as well. Neither the V2 or V3 require a proprietary wrench, but we felt as if it’s something our customers would appreciate us including. We started with the builder’s aspect in mind, and we know what it is like when you begin to feel nickel and dimed by someone. It’s something we never want our customers to feel.
Once they get our box delivered to them, we want them to have everything they need to get started. A big part of our philosophy is getting the customer what they need for a reasonable price that does not, in any way, sacrifice quality.We follow this industry as close as anyone you can imagine. One thing we know that is occurring right now is a struggle with quality control.
Dirty Bird AR-15 SMRS Handguard – Slim M-LOK Rail System V2
While we want to make sure that what we offer is affordable, the main focus is always going to be on quality. When you look at a company like ours, how we are going to succeed is by going above and beyond with our customer service and our attention to detail and making sure that each and every component we put our brand name on is something the customer can depend on.
Yes, there are bigger names, but I think we are in that sweet spot where we can offer quality, and a level of quality control that is sometimes lacking. You’ll see online discussions about buying parts and building ARs often the tone is that the buyer needs to be very careful, as many companies are pumping things out as fast as they can, and quality control is falling by the wayside.
We are not in that position. As more and more customers turn to Dirty Bird Industries, I think our careful approach combined with not overcharging will set us up for success for the long term, well beyond this insane run the industry currently finds itself in. For our company, it’s an opportunity, and it’s one we take very seriously.
Q: I know that Dirty Bird Industries has a lot of experience on the retail side, as you are affiliated with one of this site’s founder and major sponsors, AR15Discounts.com. How does that experience on the retail side inform what you do with Dirty Bird Industries?
Michael Earnest – Dirty Bird Industries – As anyone who is on the retail side of the business knows, it can be pretty brutal out there, as consumers are more than willing to share their honest opinions on the products they purchase. I think that should be celebrated and taken in by companies. I think you have to embrace that sort of feedback, and as you work on products of your own, you can take that knowledge and use it to inform what you create. The end result is learning from other’s mistakes so that you don’t make the same ones.
Running a retail business like AR15Discounts.com, we can, for instance, see the reviews on a wide variety of handguards and use that to inform what we want to feature as a part of the Dirty Bird brand. The same approach applies to the Dirty Bird triggers, and upper and lower receivers that we offer.
We are in a unique position where we can take it all in and decide what features we want and don’t want. The result for the customer is that when they purchase a Dirty Bird Industries product, what they hold in their hands is informed by an incredible amount of feedback. I think that’s a valuable thing, especially for someone who might be new to the world of building an AR.
Not everyone can afford to buy and experiment with different parts to see which is best. Nor is it always easy to determine what’s just marketing and hype, versus what works. When you buy something from us, I think you can put a lot of that worry aside, as we’ve done that work for our customers on the front end, pulling from what works and eliminating things that ultimately do not. We take a look at what works and what is the most well-received, take it from there, and put our own spin and enhancements on it that are practical while not breaking the bank.
Dirty Bird 16″ RECCE V2 5.56 M-LOK Upper Assembly
Another reason that I think we’ve been successful is because as a small, family-owned business, we try to keep the lines of communication open with the customers. Our mandate here is to treat each of our customers like family, which means talking with them on social media, following up after purchases, and evaluating how our products perform. We want customers to feel like their voices are always heard. We take in that information in and use it to create future products and/or product revisions. It goes beyond just products though, everyone throughout the company is focused on customer feedback so that we can improve our performance moving forward.
Q: In my last few builds, I’ve used the Dirty Bird Two-Stage trigger because the trigger I intended to install was backordered by 10 weeks or more. It’s a fantastic trigger…
Michael Earnest – Dirty Bird Industries – In 2019, we started out with the Dirty Bird nickel Teflon trigger. That was our first offering in the trigger world. We looked at several of our favorite triggers from Centurion, Giessele, and LaRue. We explored what we wanted in a trigger without breaking the bank. We wanted good quality stuff that does not cost our customer’s an arm and a leg. We were able to find a manufacturer that could do what we wanted to our specifications, and the result was a simple single-stage trigger that we were very confident in putting out to the market.
Our second was the Dirty Bird two-stage trigger that you’re referencing. It’s a trigger that has taken off, and we get a tremendous amount of positive feedback about it. It’s made of S7 tool steel so that it is very strong. Our starting point for it was really looking at what LaRue and Geissele were doing and figure out how we could do something similar. We reached out to the same manufacturer who did our single-stage trigger and they came up with something fantastic.
Dirty Bird 2-Stage Trigger Group
We combined what they did with a spring from a company that produces our Dirty Bird flat wire spring, and they came up with a Dirty Bird reduced power trigger spring for us. We also had them create a Dirty Bird enhanced power two-stage trigger spring. We really liked the Dirty Bird two-stage trigger’s pull weight, but we know that some people like to have a heavier first pull than you see in Geissele and LaRue triggers. The trigger comes with this extra spring that makes that first trigger pull slightly stiffer so that you feel like you have a bit more control.
Q: You mention a flat-wire buffer spring; can you explain what that is exactly?
Michael Earnest – Dirty Bird Industries – We have a flat wire spring that is a part of our Dirty Bird Enhanced Buffer kits that are super popular right now. The spring can work in carbine, rifle, and A5 buffer systems. The kit also comes with an H1 buffer, and its probably one of the smoothest shooting experiences that we’ve had with a buffer kit without breaking the bank, like with some of the more expensive kits that are out there. It also helps eliminate bolt bounce as well.
A kit like this is an example of us not trying to overcharge people for simply the sake of a name. We really are trying to get the highest quality products out there for the cheapest that we can reasonably price them at. I think a lot of customers out there can appreciate that, and the feedback we get is that a lot of folks are learning that we are on the same par as these other companies, without necessarily paying a “name tax.”
Q: Your ambi lower is one of my favorite lowers. Can you talk a bit about it and how it came about?
Michael Earnest – Dirty Bird Industries – The Dirty Bird ambi lower has been incredibly popular for us and I think it’s one of the best-kept secrets in the industry right now. To be completely transparent, MVB Industries makes the lower for us. MVB is well known for their own lowers, as well as making the ARC PDW stock.
When we were looking for someone to make our lowers for us, it was critical that we went with someone who focused on quality and accuracy. We also wanted something different. I think there are many ambi lowers that do the same thing, except for some of the more popular ones like the Radian ADAC lower. We wanted something that would be different, yet offer some of the same ideas. When we looked at MVB, we liked that they were using Cerro forgings…we liked that it was forged instead of billet, like many ambi lowers are.
The release mechanism, made of nitrited S7 tool steel, can both release and actuate the bolt catch automatically. So, if you already have your bolt in battery, it’s going to raise the bolt catch and let you lock the bolt back. But if you already have the bolt locked back, it’s going to release the bolt. The mechanism is very durable, but if it were to get somehow damaged, you can still use the standard bolt catch, which functions totally independently. It’s a tremendous lower, and we cover it with the Dirty Bird lifetime warranty.
Dirty Bird AR-15 MCF-A Ambidextrous Complete Lower Receiver Configurator
Q: Anything else you’d like to cover?
It’s been a busy time for us, but we know it is also a tremendous opportunity. If you look around, all too often, many of the more popular brands out there are hard to get ahold of or are quickly out of stock. That is not always the case with the Dirty Bird Industries products. This has been a blessing for us, as we’re getting a chance to get in front of more people. We are getting the chance to be more highlighted as they are more available.
We want customers to know that we are not sparing any expense when it comes to these parts and they will work, right out of the box. When you get a Dirty Bird Industries product, you can trust that the quality control is there and that it will work. Customers are starting to find this out, and via word of mouth, I think more and more people will realize that what we offer is an incredible value.
We’re putting everything into this… we’re putting our reputation on the line, and I want people to know that we are legit. It’s not some one-off thing where we are trying to make a dollar. We’re moving carefully and thoughtfully so that everything that is offered under the Dirty Bird Industries umbrella is something that an AR builder can trust implicitly and without question.
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