Visit to firearms manufacturer I.O. Inc.

A couple weeks ago the folks at I.O. Inc. located in Monroe, North Carolina allowed me the honor of touring their facility. Having been the previous owner of an I.O. STG-2000-C and in the market for an AK-variant, I was more than interested. 

The tour started with a door opening up and as I walked through I found myself staring at racks of AK’s. I am quite sure I mumbled the word…..”Awesome.

 I.O. manufactures and sells a variety of models at different price ranges. One of my favorites is the Sporter model pictured above (and below).

A modernized yet affordable version of the classic AK. The Sporter fires the 7.62 x 39mm cartridge and allows the attachment of a scope via the typical left-side mount system. Modernized with black synthetic stock and forearm grip – a picatinny rail sits up front for attachment of a tactical light/laser or whatever floats your boat.

Of particular interest I was shown a collapsible stock that could be adapted to their Polish Beryl “Archer” model. The Archer (below) features a hammer forged barrel and is reported to be capable of  1″ groups at 100 yards.  Holding the Archer – I thought to myself – “This thing is beautiful.” It also has a bolt hold-open feature built into the safety lever which is a unique addition. Would love to own an Archer.


Becoming more and more popular with survivalists and preppers alike is their tactical AK called the “Hellhound”. Unique to this Americanized version is the picatinny quad rail upfront allowing for attachment of lights, lasers, bi-pods, vertical grips – whatever. I was not able to get a first-hand look at the Hellhound  however I have read many positive reports in forums around the ‘net. There are also several video’s on YouTube that praise the Hellhound.


I.O. Inc. imports a variety of interesting and historic firearms from around the world including the Polish PPS43-C pistol in 7.62 x 25mm caliber. I also saw cases of imported .22LR bolt action rifles getting ready for sale as well. 

In addition to numerous AK-variants offered – I.O. Inc. also offers several AK-type pistols which make for interesting conversation and possibilities.

I.O.INC 30rd AK Magazine

In talking with the production manager I asked about a magazine I had good luck with when I had owned the STG – the Thermold 30-rd.. He told me that although that was a fine magazine – they are now offering a 30-rd polymer magazine with a Bulgarian waffle design – an improvement over the Thermold. The polymer used to manufacture the new their new magazine is much stronger and ridged. 


 As familiar as I thought I was I.O.’s lineup,  I found myself surprised that they had started manufacturing a pistol. The “Hellcat” is a small, semi-automatic .380 just perfect for concealed carry. I had an opportunity to see the Hellcat manufacturing operation as well as test fire the pistol. I found the n trigger pull to be smooth and the grip to be plenty comfortable for its purpose. The stainless steel magazine holds 6 rounds so a total of 7 rounds with one in the chamber.

In the above pictures you can see slides staged during the manufacturing process.  Each pistol is hand-assembled and inspected – then test fired. Available in several finishes including blued and nickle. I did see several parkerized versions as well. At just a little over 9 oz. combined with its compact size, the Hellcat is perfect for summer carry.

Assembled, tested, and ready for boxing.

I.O.’s  Hellcat .380 is 100% manufactured in the United States.  I like that. It – along with all other I.O. firearms are backed by a 100% Lifetime Warranty.  I like that as well.



I had a great time. I left their facility to drive home impressed with their operation. I have an appreciation for the manufacturing process as well as the multiple quality and assurance checks that each firearm goes through before leaving the factory to enter the hands of the customer. I work as a Production Manager in my regular job giving me unique insight  – especially from an efficiency and quality aspect. Bottom line  impressed. In fact – impressed enough that within the next couple weeks I will be carrying my own I.O. Inc. Hellcat .380 pistol. Soon thereafter – an AK Sporter is likely to be found inside my gun safe.

Today’s survivalist/prepper has a huge variety of firearms to choose from when building a survival battery. I.O. Inc. offers a line up which no doubt will be of interest too many. For more information – visit

A very special THANK YOU to the folks at I.O. Inc. for showing me around.

– Rourke


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10 thoughts on “Visit to firearms manufacturer I.O. Inc.”

  1. I have seen multiple advertisements for the Hellcat .380 pistols. I am not sure if they were in the NRA magazines (American Rifleman and 1ST Freedom) or another gun magazine. Anyway, they looked pretty impressive. The reminded my of the Ruger LCP or similar, concealable handguns. I should check locally to see how much they cost as compared to Ruger, Sig Sauer, Taurus, Smith & Wesson, etc. Thanks for the insight!

  2. Hi there. This piece is quite an interesting read. I’d like to ask the author and the owners of this site answer one simple question: how the production of AK at this facility, which is undoubtedly a Russian creation, corresponds to a world famous American rage against copyright violation when it comes, for example, iPhone patents supposedly used in Samsung products? Please clarify the legal ground regarding this issue. The owners of this site might find interesting to know, that having this material here equals supporting the illegal action which may (and probably will) be judged by certain state organizations accordingly.

  3. What, no range time? Oh well, somtimes a thorough fondling of the merchandise is all a guy gets on the first date.

    I’ve seen some of the LO’s at a few of the recent gunshows, but don’t know anyone who has one.

    I wonder if they have any plans to go public. For example, S&W is at $8 a share currently (up about 300% since last November). Always looking for a decent American investment – especially a small growing company with a good product and a similar political philosophy.

  4. Thank you for your visit and for your kind words! You’re more than welcome to stop by any time my friend, and I know that Mr. Wiegand would be happy to meet with you should you stop in for another visit. Again, thanks for taking the time to give us a Carolinian review of our Carolinian company!

    Best regards,
    IO Inc.

  5. Rourke, You must have felt like a kid in a candy shop !!! Thanks for the tour and photos -wow they are sure
    handsome and practical firearms. Not sure I will share those photos with my husband- grin !!! Arlene

  6. Kir,
    You need more oxygen in your diet. What you have been getting is obviously not enough to properly operate your brain cells. Patents, though ranging in value and protection from country to country, are generally regulated in accordance with the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. Terms of patents are generally 20 years, again subject to various laws and interpretations. AK-47 variant rifle was originally developed and accepted for general use in, wait for it – drum roll please, 1947. So let’s see, 2012 – 1947 = 65 years. I would venture to say that even a really good patent attorney is going to admit that Mikhail’s intellectual property rights to his firearm design are now up for grabs.

    I’m all for freedom of speech, but sometimes you could hit the delete button and save the rest of us the misery of wading through the rubbish.

  7. I already have lcp but would love to get hellcat soon just cuz i wanna support them. Cant beat price from what ive seen. Currently focusing on the hot election items if you know what i mean. Maybe that hellhound will be in my safe before november 😉

  8. I am always reading lately about theae older less expensive rifles such as the Nagant and the like. The reason i ask is i need to find.out ideas where these older less expensive rifles can be found. Me and my family of 7 are on a very tight budget and are doing our best to prep. We are in what I consider the early stages of prep. We have water medical and some food. I have a 12g and a Glock 22 but need some range/distance to be able a reach out to dinner or a tbreat. Long winded story for a simple whhere can this stuff be found and what suggestions on models and brands and caliber. I am anxious to get back some very useful info that i get from this site.


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