Will Hayden is the founding force behind Red Jacket Firearms. A native of the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area, his early exposure to guns came from his family — "country people with a shotgun" — who occasionally hunted. Will was a curious kid, and read everything he could get his hands on about history and warfare. This led him to start tinkering with guns, and by age 17 Will learned that building weapons was actually a good way to stay out of trouble. As Will says: "I wanted stuff I couldn't afford" so he found a way to afford them — he made them.
After a six-year stint in the Marine Corps in the early 1980s, Will realized he needed to be his own boss and release his inner entrepreneur. He started a small construction and commercial refrigeration company, but guns were never far from his mind. Will decided to remodel the front of the building and open a side business: an Army Surplus and Firearms Store. That sideline quickly became a full time operation, and Red Jacket Firearms was born.
Red Jacket officially opened in 1999, when his first big order was a build of 20 AK-47s for an Arizona distributor. In exchange for a cut rate on the price, Will requested that his builds be listed as "Proudly Manufactured by Red Jacket" in advertisements. That banner caught the attention of Atlantic Firearms, a highly regarded dealer and distributor, and business boomed. Will's daughter Stephanie came on as a business manager and partner in the operation in 2003. The partnership has lead to Red Jacket's continued success as "the nation's most unique weapons business".
Ever the history nut, Will has been active in the reenactment community for 20 years. For him, the power of a weapon is about "holding a piece of history". Will claims he is a "frustrated artist" and that "weapons-grade steel" is his preferred medium. When he's not in front of the Sons of Guns cameras, he likes to take his team on road trips and his daughter back country hiking and elk hunting.
Most people identify Will as building military style “black” guns, but muzzle loading black powder guns are his secret passion. He is happiest carving intricate designs in walnut stocks and hunting wild boar with a .50 caliber muzzle loading long rifle. History and heritage.
are the cornerstones of Will’s life. He is passionate about the guns and legends of the American pioneers and passionate about his Native American heritage and close-knit family ties.