Redbird Armory Working Restoring Legion Firearm

Staff Writer

The rifles used by the American Legion in New Bremen have been getting some TLC from Redbird Armory. Owner Matt Lomakin has donated his time to clean several of the rifles used by the organization and upon doing so realized some could use a little more than a good cleaning.
“The lovely weather that we have here is not very conducive to things that are steel, especially in spring and summer,” he said. “So I initially came up with the idea of, ‘hey, let me take the crappiest one that you guys have and as Redbird Armory let me pay to have it refinished.’”
With mix-matched wood stocks and spray painted metal, the Legion delivered. Now it is on Redbird Armory, and some associates close to Lomakin, to restore the M1 Garand — the main infantry weapon issued to the military during World War II and the Korean War.
Before sending the firearm off to those who are specialized in the work that needs done, Lomakin will pull apart every piece of exposed metal and bag and wrap each pieces with instructions on where it goes on the rifle.
From there, he will send the metal piece to Orange County, California to OC Custom Coating — his former employer — who will strip the metal. They will have to soak the metal pieces in acetone baths and bake them at 350 degrees several times to remove the oil that is stuck in the porous surface.
This process, Lomakin said, will take about six or seven tries to completely remove all the oil that was being used.
Once that process is done, he said the company will then recoat the firearm with a black ceramic finish that should last a really long time as these guns are not heavily used.
A friend of Lomakins in Cridersville will complete the wood refinishing on the rifle. To keep true to the firearms original design, a walnut wood stock will be fitted to the metal pieces to make it look as authentic as possible.
Both OC Custom Coating and the gentleman in Cridersville are donating their services to get the reconstruction finished, Lomakin is covering the cost for materials and resources needed to complete the tasks.
The desire to restore the firearms, and potentially more if the Legion decides, came as Lomakin was cleaning the firearms and noticed how beat up some of them had gotten.
But looks were mostly what was wrong with the one he had pulled apart at his workstation.
A member of the legion who had given him the firearm said it was “crap,” but when Lomakin inspected it he found that functionally the rifle was fine, but could use some work on the exterior.
From his cleanings, he found many of them to be rusted, corroded and partially spray painted black. It was a fix he knew he could handle with the help of some of his connections, and the desire to help those who have served for this country made the decision even easier.
A second generation American, Lomakin’s family came to U.S. from Russia. During WWII, Lomakin grew up on stories of how his family was taken by Nazis to forced labor camps. Through some digging, and a relatives recent trip to Russia, more information about where each relative spent time during the Nazi regime became unearthed.
“Americans liberated the camp that [my grandfather] was at,” he shared. “They gave him a map of all the displaced persons camps that they had at the end of the war and he literally took a German truck and started driving camp to camp … so for me I was always raised with a huge pride for people who are willing to serve their country.
“I don’t care what era it is or anything else, if someone is willing to put on the uniform and lay down their life for you and for these awesome freedoms that we have; nothing but respect.”
While the process is not cheap — costing Lomakin $400 to $500 for the one rifle — the goal is to simply finish the one he has right now and potentially complete the other 14 if the legion decides.
Not wanting to charge the Legion to get the work done, Lomakin hopes to raise some funds with the help of the community. If that happens, Lomakin will replace the wood on each rifle — regardless if mix-matched or not — to make them appear as uniform as possible.
The current project is expected to take a few months to complete, which he said the Legion has been kind enough to offer him as much time as he needs to get it done correctly, with replacing the rest also going to take time as he needs to come up with the funds to cover the costs first.
“I just felt that it was important that people who are willing to give that much, to have something that looked nice while they are [honoring veterans],” Lomakin said.