Michael Johnson holds one of the machine guns he built.

Red Star Surplus creating nationwide business with ‘unusual’ firearms

 CRESCO - What do you get when you love computers and love guns? You get Michael Johnson and Red Star Surplus!
It was approximately a decade ago when Johnson decided to go into the firearms business and started working on a website, creating “Red Star Nation.”  He wanted to “do something different” and what he created was a site dedicated to selling handguns, rifles and shotguns with most of them imported from countries like Israel, Germany, Italy, Serbia and Yugoslavia, among others.
Since creating that website and working out of his home in shipping the many firearms, he has since moved his ‘gun display’ to his Computer business, located at 325 2nd Ave SW on Hwy. 9 in Cresco and is part of Johnson Accounting and Computers.  His firearm’s showroom offers plenty of handguns, rifles, shotguns and more, and can be completely locked down “tight” at night.
“We operate very differently than your normal gun shop,” stated Johnson, who truly loves the firearm business and what it offers. “When I started this, I wanted a very strong website, I wanted items amazingly priced and I wanted something that would attract most every firearm customer.”
Johnson stated this was a hobby of his and that the money was not the objective in making this happen, but more on making his hobby something everyone could love. He also wanted to make buying a firearm “somewhat easy” and his website does exactly that. 
The website is called “redstarnation.co” and it’s the sole creation of Johnson and him “tweaking” the site and making it better and better for the past 10 years. 
“Everything that is in our store is on the website,” added Johnson. “Plus, we have a special area on the site with thousands of firearms that are the same price or better as anywhere else online. All include free shipping to the store and no transfer fees.”  
Johnson stated that with his computer background he has created a “very sophisticated” site.
“Granted, some firearm websites are similar, but what makes mine different is that everything is actually in stock,” said Johnson. “When the item is out, the firearm will disappear on the site. So when you order an item, it will be available and ready to pick-up or ship out.”
Currently Red Star will sell seven to 20 firearms per day, shipping out many of the items but also selling several locally.  
“We offer many of the unusual, hard-to-get firearms due to working directly with multiple importers and exporters, who handle getting guns from the many different countries overseas,” stated Johnson, who said  ‘certain firearms’ can disappear off his site in a matter of just a few minutes once displayed. “We tend to stock the more unusual stuff.” 
Johnson added that the “best day” of his business is when crate surplus arrives.  There are usually 10 to 20 rifles or up to 300 pistols per crate.
“I really don’t have a clue until I open that crate,” chuckled Johnson. “Sometimes it’s liquid gold, and sometimes it could be better. But that’s what makes this business what it is, exciting and interesting.”
He stated that sometimes the guns will be covered in Cosmoline, which can make extra work for him in cleaning the items.  
“You just never know as the guns may have been sitting somewhere for years in a warehouse,” said the gun shop owner, who noted Cosmoline is used as a protectant by the military to stop rust and corrosion. “No matter, we go through, clean and inspect every piece that comes to the store.  I’m also a licenced manufacturer and can build firearms and serialize them.”
In his store he has numerous machine guns, suppressors and more. One of his specialties is building ARs and AKs, and just last weekend he built a machine gun.  

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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