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Life is journey full of choices and decisions. Some play it safe. And then there are those who seek out adventure. Taking risks is their DNA. MeatEater’s Ben O’Brien is one of those individuals. Adventure is in his blood, and his mentality has taken him on a wild ride in the outdoor industry.
“I got lucky and stumbled into a job with the NRA right out of college,” O’Brien says. “Right around my graduation, I ran into a buddy, Pete Angle, at a bar. Pete was leaving the NRA and taking a job with Under Armour. He told me to put in for his job at American Hunter. I didn’t get that job, but a short time later, a digital editor position opened, and they reached out. I was the first digital guy on the American Hunter staff and only 22 years old. I started going on hunting trips and went West for the first time. It was an awesome three years. I learned about the industry and learned that I never wanted to leave it.”
Ben had developed a solid reputation while at American Hunter. His enthusiastic nature was contagious, and it was only a matter of time before other opportunities came calling.
“On a turkey hunt, I met the great Mike Schoby,” he says. “We had a few beers and spent some time in the woods. It wasn’t long after that, my journey changed.”
A short time later, Schoby offered O’Brien a job at InterMedia Outdoors. “It was a big deal,” he says. “I was the online editor-in-chief in charge of all the digital websites in the hunting space. They had a lot of platforms and it was a lot of work, but it was exciting. I assembled a team; rebuilt websites and the list goes on. Traffic started to pick up and things started moving in the right direction out of the gate.
“After about two years, I wanted to move into print and work for Schoby directly. I was able to become his number two, but things were changing quickly within the company. I had a hell of a year-and-a-half there in that position.”
When Yeti tracked down O’Brien, he actually didn’t know what the brand was.
“I think I had a cup or something,” he laughs, “but really, I had no clue what Yeti was. At the time, they were still a very small company. However, once I talked to a recruiter and they explained the kind of content they were looking for and the direction they wanted to go, I was on a plane to Austin, Texas.”
Once O’Brien got there, his entire attitude had changed. “I was immediately begging for a job. The company was growing, and I wanted to grow with it. So, just like that, I made a move to Austin, and became Yeti’s first-ever hunting marketing manager.
O’Brien admits that he was about as happy as a guy can be at Yeti, but a phone call quickly changed his direction once again.
“Steve Rinella called and told me he had something cooking called MeatEater, Inc.,” O’Brien recalled. “Steve and I had known each other for some time, and he’s always been someone I’ve really admired. He convinced me that moving to Bozeman, Montana, and starting a career with MeatEater was a good thing. I didn’t disagree. I brought my podcast, ‘The Hunting Collective,’ along with me, and here we are.
“I love what MeatEater represents, and I love doing my podcast. I get to meet so many interesting people, and that’s the coolest part for me.”
O’Brien has been shooting Federal Ammunition for as long as he can remember, and when MeatEater decided to partner with the brand, he was thrilled.
“I love Federal Ammunition, of course,” O’Brien says. “However, I love its mission more. I love the fact that it’s invested in growing our sport. They give so much back to the outdoors and the shooting sports. It’s really impressive, and it’s an honor to partner with them.”
If there’s one thing to learn from O’Brien’s story, it’s this: Work hard in everything you do, and when a door opens, don’t be afraid to run through it.