The Millett story begins with Betty and Ray Millett, who founded Millett Industries in the mid 1970s. Ray had been an engineer at Cox model Airplane Company for a number of years, working with small, injection-molded plastic engine parts. From this process Ray developed the idea for the injection-molded steel parts that would pave the way for his many advancements within the gun industry.
Millett Industries began when Ray purchased surplus cleaning equipment from an out-of-business clothing cleaner in Huntington Beach, California. He used the tanks and much of the plumbing from the equipment to develop a new process for manufacturing metal and ceramic parts. Together with a friend who was physicist, Ray perfected the process for making useable parts.
Their first parts were made for the aerospace industry, small rocket nozzles made from ceramic material that would handle the high temperatures of rocket exhaust. Millett soon became the leader in the metal injection molding process.
Tom Millett, the son of Betty and Ray, joined the company in the late 1970s. Tom was pivotal in the future of Millett—he brought a love of firearms and shooting, and new spirit to the company.
Shortly after Tom’s arrival, Millett began developing improved pistol sights, including the Mark 1 and 2, and the Dual Crimp system. The Dual Crimp system, designed by Ray, used the process of installing front sights using a rivet system. Millett showed these simple sights and mounting systems at its first SHOT Show in 1981, generating a positive interest from dealers and propelling them into their role as the source for handgun sights in the gun industry.
Tom recognized the future in optics, and in 1999 added red dot sights from Japan to the Millett line of products. Tom later went to China to develop a line of riflescopes to be sold under the Millett name. To ensure the scopes would live up to the Millett name, Tom asked his brother, Jim Millett, to develop a computer system to test the quality of the optics.
Jim Millett, a design engineer, developed an automated computerized system to test Millett scopes in a manner similar to actual firing conditions with recoil equal to a 30-06 rifle. By using this system, Millett was able ensure absolute reliability of their products. Jim Millett later improved his own design to include equipment that was energy efficient and more productive for Millett’s molding process.
Tom Millett died of a rare disease in 2005, truly a loss to Millett and all that knew him. Jim Millett became president of the company and recognized an opportunity to ensure the growth of Millett Industries. The Millett family sold their company to Bushnell, who continues to make Millett mounts, sights and other shooting items as part of the Bushnell family.