Meet Our Gunsmiths
With over 35 years of gunsmithing experience, the Tyler Texas native, Bear Burson, is The Range at Austin’s lead gunsmith and head of all gunsmithing operations. Under Bear’s guidance, The Range at Austin has become a staple for gunsmithing services in the central Texas area. He manages each of the gunsmiths and serves both as a leader and a mentor to the entire shop.
Bear began his career as a certified gunsmithing after graduating from the Colorado School of Trades in 1983. His experience includes employment under Ed and Doug Shilen of Shilen Rifles from 1985 to 1991 making custom rifles, and later for Mikeh Shilen from 2006 until 2008. He has also been a gunsmith for Claudio Sacasso at Briley Manufacturing in the pistol division from 1991 to 1999 and for STI International from 2001 to 2005. Before joining The Range at Austin, Bear worked under Virgil Tripp of Tripp Research from 2011 until 2017. In addition to this experience, Bear has owned and operated Bear’s Custom Guns and Gunsmithing from 1983 until 2008.
Within his experience, Bear has become familiar with and adept as a precision machinist working with several companies inside and outside of gunsmithing. He has decades of experience in creating custom guns and customizing various firearms. Bear has met the firearms needs of various professionals ranging from law enforcement officers to professional competitive shooters.
Jorge Sandoval made his start in the United States Army as a Heavy Equipment Operator with the 510th Clearance Company, 20th Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade both at Fort Hood and overseas. Jorge became a certified gunsmith through the Sonoran Desert Institute. He first joined the Range in January of 2017 and has been the face of The Range at Austin’s Gunsmiths ever since.
Jorge’s interests include precision rifle shooting and perfecting polymer frame handguns.
Matt Sandy’s primary experience comes from the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. Matt served as a Sniper Team Leader within US special operations giving him a solid base as a precision marksman. He graduated from the Yavapai College gunsmithing program with a 4.0 GPA. He is proficient with machining and is well versed in material construction.
Practical and focused, Matt enjoys shooting USPSA and his current, primary focus is in competitive pistol shooting.
From Dripping Springs, Texas, Vernon Saunders spent over five years as an active duty US Marine. After leaving the Marine Corps, Vernon attended the Sonoran Desert Institute with a certification as an advanced gunsmith. Vernon spent several years working in several gunsmithing shops under Andy Rusk and Louie Rodden, including Stripper Clip Gunsmithing. He is very familiar with many types of firearms coatings and finishes.
Vernon enjoys long range and competitive precision rifle shooting as well as scuba diving and keeping salt water reef tanks.
Marcus grew up in San Antonio and began his career in the Air Force Security Forces. Marcus deployed twice to Iraq under the 822nd SFS, then left the Air Force to pursue a career in law enforcement. He became a certified Texas Peace Officer within Travis County Corrections, then transferred after several years to the San Marcos Police Department where he served a municipal police officer for over ten years. Marcus is the head of the gunsmith’s administration and inventory. Marcus serves as the primary customer service member of the gunsmith office and oversees the tracking of projects.
Marcus’s interests include cars, motorcycles, and tactical shooting.
Austin native and Texas State University alumni, Austin Mellon oversees most firearms maintenance for the Gunsmiths at the Range at Austin. Austin’s employment with The Range dates back to its initial opening, and he has been a familiar face to members and patrons of The Range for several years. He has a background in the US military and Texas law enforcement as a state and municipal police officer. He is currently assigned as a light reconnaissance team leader in the Texas National Guard.
Outside of work, Austin enjoys competitive CrossFit, scuba diving, competitive ruck marches, and tactical and competition shooting.