Mike Marinos’ favorite, personal rifle is hanging on the shelf.
“I just got this thing dialed in,” says Marinos, taking down the lightweight, khaki-colored ARAK carbine.
Used by the U.S. military for tight, close-quarters work, the short-barreled semi-automatic is accurate to 200 yards and is the envy of his staff.
Marinos, who opened Bigg Dogg Firearms July 17 at 111 W. North Bend Way, loves the excitement, skill and legacy of firearms.
“With American history, guns tell a story,” says Marinos. This veteran of military service and consultant work in places like Iraq and Afghanistan treasures target shooting with his buddies in the wild. “It’s being able to exercise your second amendment rights.”
His North Bend shop is an evolution from a home-based business that he started in 2012. Marinos, an Issaquah resident, says he chose North Bend because it wasn’t Issaquah. The market for firearms was already full to the west, but North Bend seemed like a place that was welcoming and had a need.
“This is why we are doing more than just firearms,” says Marinos. “We wanted to offer something for everyone, and provide the customer service that people would expect from a veteran-owned small business.”
In sales for years, Marinos was ready for a change. He certainly found one after being introduced to the world of international consulting in war-torn countries.
“I love our troops,” says Marinos, an ex-Navy serviceman who found himself working in Iraq and Afghanistan in procurement and contracts management for several years.
Marinos also worked briefly in the Congo, a beautiful country racked by conflict, along with UN peacekeepers.
“I’ve been in some wild places,” says Marinos. For him, it was time to come home, stop working for somebody else, and pursue his passion—firearms and survival gear.
The gun shop idea coalesced during his international work. At home for some rest in January, he attended a major Las Vegas gun show where friendly reps and wholesalers showed him the ropes.
Contacts made, he came home from his final stint in Afghanistan in March to focus on his passion, firearms and outdoor survival.
“I’m just trying to do something I enjoy,” he says.
As a gun enthusiast, Marinos says it’s important to promote the shooting sport by getting more people involved, educating them about the second amendment to the U.S. Constitution and providing direction for learning about firearms.
Besides firearms, he sells bows and archery equipment, camping and survival gear, and offers gunsmithing and bowsmithing services.
“Anybody who’s heading to the top of Mount Si knows you can get caught in a blizzard—in August,” says Marinos. He stocks tents, clothing, and emergency gear as “relatively inexpensive insurance.”
At Bigg Dogg, first aid kits and water packs share shelf space with a kit for performing surgery in the wild.
“A lot of it may be over the top in some people’s eyes,” says Marinos. But if you’re caught miles from nowhere and need medical attention, such a kit may save a life or a limb. There’s a large supply of dried food, good for decades. Hanging nearby are heavy fleece coats. “I’ve got one of those I took through a couple Afghan winters,” says Marinos.
One semi-automatic pistol under the counter catches the eye. It’s pink. Women, Marinos says, are a huge market for firearms. “Shooting sports is just not male driven,” he explains. “My wife has her CPL (concealed pistol license). The lady down the street’s got hers. Why not?”
Long term plans include getting a warehouse space to teach close-quarter combat.
“You can read about it, watch videos, but if you can’t put it into practical application, you’re gonna lose it,” Marinos says.
Customers need to be 21 and older to buy a firearm. If a customer has a concealed firearm permit, they can buy a gun and leave with it that day.
If a customer doesn’t have that permit, they have to go through a five-day waiting period, as per the 1983 ‘Brady Bill.’
Typical cost of one of Marinos’ semi-automatic rifles ranges from $950 to $1,500.
Following several deadly school shootings, debate has aired in the United States about banning military-style rifles.
Asked how he refers to these weapons, Marinos says, “I call them an AR-15.”
The rifles are controversial, he says, because of the way they look. “That’s the thing. They’re all semi-automatic.” The .22 hunting rifle on the near wall “is the exact same thing” as the .223 AR-15. “Every time I squeeze the trigger, one round goes downrange.” Magazine size, he adds, doesn’t matter when a weapon is in the hands of a skilled marksman.
Marinos says he and his shop got a warm reception at the block party. “It’s about time,” he was told, for a shop.
“We know there are people out there who don’t approve,” he said. “That’s fine—that’s what makes America great.
“They’re as entitled to their first amendment (rights) as I’m entitled to my second,” he added. “Don’t try to infringe on mine because I’m certainly not going to infringe on yours.”
• Bigg Dogg Firearms is located at 111 W. North Bend Way. Call the shop at (206) 390-75555 or visit www.biggdoggfirearms.com.