The Grumpy Duck Co Origin Story
My name is Brett, and I’m a born tinkerer, rarely satisfied with the way things are.
I get it from spending thousands of hours in my dad's shop. He’s a machinist that’s dedicated to precise tolerances. We’ve spent countless hours tinkering together in his shop in Belleville, Pennsylvania, improvising tons of gadgets to help with machining, mechanics, and hunting. We’ve experimented with handloading our ammo, building chokes, and other custom accessories. I’ve spent years dialing in rifle rounds for myself and my friends. I love the process of improving things – even if only making them one percent better.
I’m also a gearhead. Truth be told, I have more hunting gear than I’ll ever need. And my love of shotguns flirts with being a tad unhealthy. I’ve disassembled and reassembled more shotguns than I can even track. I’ve shot even more. There’s something about bringing a shotgun to shoulder that I’ll always love.
And I’m a waterfowler. I hunt ducks and geese in the small Central Pennsylvania valley where I grew up. Even though I don’t often hunt the major flyways, I’ve been lucky enough to kill banded ducks. Like most waterfowl hunters, I crimped them onto my call lanyard. But I wanted to do something different with my bands. So, in 2019, I started tinkering and looking for a new way to display them. I had a thought; what if I put them on a bolt handle? Then all of my obsessions came together.
I took a band and my factory handles to the shop and explained to Dad what I wanted.
He took measurements; then he machined the first prototype out of steel to fit my Benelli M2 20ga. But it was way too heavy. We couldn’t make the handle smaller, so we changed metals – opting for titanium. It was the best thing we could have done. Titanium is just as strong as steel but as light as aluminum. And it doesn’t rust. Not only were our handles badass, but they were also high quality.
I thought our titanium bolt handles were awesome. But I wasn’t sure what other Benelli owners would think. By November 2020, we had five titanium banded handle prototypes. My dad and I took one each. I handed out the others to some close friends, one being Billy Hardesty, avid waterfowler and owner of Fowl Creations in Delaware.
Billy changed out his factory handle for the banded handle and went hunting. Some of his hunting buddies saw the handle and loved it. Those buddies asked Bill to call me and put in an order. They wanted the banded handle in their guns.
Around the same time, I posted a picture of the banded handle in the BOSS Shotshells Facebook forum. A bunch of guys reached out, wanting a handle for their gun. That was after making only one post.
I learned that I wasn’t alone in thinking that our handles were awesome. All of the positive feedback motivated me to officially start Grumpy Duck Co in February 2020. The name came from one of my favorite comedy series, Grumpy Old Men, and, well, my general demeanor. My friends and family have called me grumpy since I was a boy. (But don’t let the name fool you. I’m happy to work with you and make sure everything fits and works correctly in your gun.)
My dad and brother machine the parts in their small shop just down the street from my house. I run Grumpy Duck as a one-man operation from my garage. There’s no factory. There’s no marketing machine pumping out content and running ads. Grumpy Duck Co is as small a business as exists.
Over the past almost three years we’ve added new handles to the lineup. Along with the OG banded handle, there’s now the standard (which you can get with a turkey or duck track engraved on the end) and the waxed thread. I’m also planning on opening up a custom handle shop soon.
While we love Benelli, we couldn’t stick with making handles only for their shotguns. We’ve expanded to make handles for Browning, Beretta, Remington, Retay, Stoeger, TriStar, Weatherby, Mossberg, and Winchester. I can’t stop tinkering, so the list of handles and shotgun makes/models will expand over time.
I’m honored by and grateful for all of the support since Grumpy Duck Co started shipping handles across the country in February 2020. Because of people like you, I feed my family and warm my home by doing work I love. Thank you.
I’m also looking forward to offering you more in the future, giving you more ways to customize your shotgun and make it look as badass as possible. Life’s too short to hunt with an ugly gun. I’m here to make sure you don’t have to.
P.S. Remember Burgess Meredith’s character from Grumpy Old Men, Grandpa Gustafson? For years I’ve planned to get a Grandpa Gustafson tattoo. I’m still working on my wife to make it happen. I’ll keep you updated.