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Lauren Young is different.

Image is everything. You know the phrase, even if you didn’t know it came from a camera ad in the late 1980s. And the slogan certainly seems to have become a big part of life in the 21st century. We live in a world obsessed with social media and Insta-fame. You can’t run from it.

But when you do find the genuine article—something that looks good and actually is good through and through—it just feels right. Like you finally cut through all of the BS seemingly everywhere today.

Which brings us to gun porn. Sex sells, and pairing hot girls with sexy weapons sells even better. Ballistic could be a magazine devoted solely to image, to guns that look cool in studio lighting and do X, Y and Z until they actually hit the range. Every photo could potentially be an attractive somebody holding such a wonder weapon. These magazines exist, and believe us, they do really well on newsstands and online. Even Instagram has become cluttered with models holding new firearms and racking up likes and followers.

But as we said, Young is different. She isn’t what’s become known as a “gun bunny.” Far from it. She’s the real McCoy, and that’s why we at Ballistic knew we had to bring her to your attention.

Sure, Young is a knockout, but she can also knock you out. She’s a veteran who served in Afghanistan and has tested dozens of firearms. She loves guns, our country and those who put their lives on the line for our freedom. Yes, she has a huge Instagram following (141,000 and counting), but that’s only because people are in awe of her lifestyle.

We recently caught up with Lauren on a trip to Seekins Precision in Idaho, where she was invited to test some new firepower, including the 5.56mm NX15, the 6.5 Creedmoor SP10 and the company’s first bolt-action rifle, the HAVAK, also in 6.5 Creedmoor.

If you could only carry one gun for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

That’s a very difficult question to answer! I suppose it would depend on where it is that I’d be carrying it, but if you’re talking about EDC, I would have to say my Glock 19, due largely to the fact that I feel the most confident when I am shooting it. It feels comfortable in my hands, and it’s always been reliable.

What’s your favorite gun you’ve ever fired?

I would have to say the .50-caliber Barrett or the M240B. Both of those are fine pieces of machinery with a hell of a lot of power. There’s nothing quite like blowing through high-caliber ammunition at a high rate of speed!

What gun have you always wanted to shoot, but haven’t gotten to yet?

The Army has afforded me the opportunity to shoot many weapons, including an automatic grenade launcher, so it’s hard to think of a favorite I haven’t shot. But I would have to say it is the Accuracy International AWM sniper rifle. I’ve heard nothing but good things and hope to get my hands on one someday soon.

While serving in war-torn countries, what was your worst SHTF moment?

Well, working in a detention facility, I was given the lovely opportunity of babysitting terrorists and training the Afghan National Army. If you know anything about the year of 2012 in Afghanistan, you probably heard about the Quran burnings. That happened at our camp. After that, everyone was on high alert, and many weeks were spent dealing with much more aggressive detainees—and much more aggressive ANA troops.

If you had to share a foxhole with only one person, anyone, who would it be?

Chuck Norris, except I don’t think I’d need one with him. Otherwise, General James Mattis. I think that would be time well spent.

What’s your all-time favorite war movie?

“Saving Private Ryan” was the first that came to mind, probably because I have watched it so many times. However, my all-time-favorite military-related film would have to be “The Civil War.” It’s a PBS miniseries that Ken Burns made back in 1990, and I highly recommend it. I’m a war history buff by trade, so I can assure you that I know a good war documentary when I watch one.

Who’s your biggest personal hero?

That would have to be my brother. He’s much smarter than I am, and he has overcome some incredible obstacles in his life. I’ve felt that I have always been resilient, but it pales in comparison to his level of resiliency, and I hope to maintain my forward momentum as well as he can in the future.

You’re pretty popular on Instagram. What’s the nicest compliment or message you’ve ever received from a fan?

This could go two ways. My first favorite compliment came from a guy who saw me in person and asked if I was “Miss Lauren from Instagram.” I said yes I am, and he said, “It’s so nice to meet you—you’re way better looking in person!” He looked a little stunned that he said that out loud, and I laughed and said, “Thank you! I think that’s the greatest compliment I’ve ever gotten!”

The next one would absolutely be from the moms and dads with daughters who say that I am a positive influence for their kids. They appreciate that I am able to be a cool chick that’s also feminine but doesn’t need to exploit myself to get attention. To me, that is the best thing anyone could ever say.

To counter that, there must be a few stalkers in the mix. What’s the creepiest compliment or message you’ve ever received?

I have been offered money to marry someone as well as have their children. That’s by far the weirdest message I’ve ever received. Also, the ones from guys who are pissed at me because they thought they were talking to me when they were actually talking to a fake profile.

Outside of your own, what’s your favorite Instagram account and why?

My favorite Instagram account is probably X Products (@xproducts). I love seeing the builds they post with their drum magazines. It helps get my creative juices flowing for something I’d like to build next.

A lot of your posts have some incredible scenery. What’s your favorite photo shoot of all time and why?

My favorite photo shoot was probably with Clayton Haugen, when I got to train with him and Dillon Aero on the minigun in Arizona. The pilots and trainers were great guys, all vets, and of course working with Clayton is always an event in itself.

What’s your favorite vacation spot?

It’s actually a place I haven’t been to yet, but I’m dying to go to Pig Beach in the Bahamas. Only the people closest to me know that I have wanted a pet pig for about seven years and have yet to get one. I think pigs are cute as hell, so that is my number one destination as of right now. Don’t judge me!

You hit the gym. You’re fit. What’s your go-to song or album to listen to while lifting?

Oh, anyone who has seen my Instagram knows that I love me some random karaoke jams. My favorite artists to listen to while lifting would have to be either Metallica or CCR. They never fail me.

To counter that healthy and active lifestyle, what would you say your biggest guilty pleasure is in terms of food?

Pizza! Pizza and Sour Patch Kids, definitely. And a lot of Jameson.

What do you think of the Seekins SP10 in 6.5 Creedmoor?

For starters, the recoil on it is like nothing I’ve experienced before with a 7.62mm round—it barely exists. She’s a big girl, and that’s why I like her. She’s reliable and accurate as hell. Long-range shooting has always been my favorite kind, and the 6.5 Creedmoor never fails to hit steel.

How did you come to be one of the models for the 2017 Seekins catalog?

By complete and total accident, and that’s no lie. A local Reno photographer and I did some photos inspired by the video game “The Division.” Being the gaming nerd that I am, he asked me if I’d be interested in the concept, and of course I said, “Hell yeah, let’s do it!”

It was just for fun and to have some cool pictures. I didn’t think anything would actually come of it. But the pictures blew up online. Seekins Precision reached out to me, and
the rest is history.

What was it like in the military as a woman? Be brutally honest.

I could give you a nice and sweet PR-person-wet-dream anecdote about the military, or I can be brutally honest. Since you asked for the latter, here you go.

You typically run into two types of people while you’re serving as a female (maybe not all females have had this experience, but I can speak for some).

The first sees you as an easy target: Pretty girl, junior enlisted, probably naïve. I can easily turn this into a quid pro quo situation.

The second and most common is the person who sees the pretty girl and thinks, “Oh, she’s had a privileged life, she’s always been pretty, everything always has been easy for her, so I am going to make it my own personal responsibility to make things 10x as hard to prove a point and teach her a valuable life lesson.” Little does that person know that I’ve met 100 people before them with exactly that philosophy.

Don’t get me wrong; I loved serving my country, and I would do it again if asked. But I have met the greatest people I have ever known and also the absolute worst in the military. It comes with very few gray areas of human character.

You didn’t grow up around guns, but it seems today you’ve been unleashed.

Poor people don’t have hobbies. That’s just a fact, especially when you grow up in a suburban area and the need for guns or hunting or the like is nil. My mom, sweet lady, absolutely hates guns. They terrify her, and my mom terrified my dad, so he never made a fuss about never owning one. As I got older, and post Army enlistment, I began to realize the importance of hobbies in general. Yes, they are expensive, but they also teach someone a lot about something, and a lot about themselves.

I honestly believe hobbies give people confidence; you can understand something forwards and backwards and can speak on it. Firearms, hunting, archery, etc., are important hobbies to have, as they serve a dual purpose in allowing you to defend yourself and feed yourself—basic human necessities. I never thought of these two necessities in depth until after I joined the military, and those two things were vital to the mission. In reality, they should be vital to everyone. Going from living in a household with none of these things to being surrounded by them, I have learned to appreciate the value in hobbies such as these, and it has motivated me to want to learn more, inevitably developing a passion and a respect that I intend on passing onto my future children to do the same.

Do you have any political aspirations?

President Lauren Young 2028! Vote for me! Yeah, right. But honestly, I had thought about politics after law school. If I were to hold any position, I would like to be a Supreme Court justice. Being a judge would be rewarding and challenging, but the real differences are made in the Supreme Court. If I were to be a politician, I would like to sit in a seat where I can make the positive differences that I seek, and to maintain the precedents that hold the utmost importance for the people and the Constitution.

What’s life like for you now, compared to being in the military?

If someone would have told E3 Private First Class Young that people would be reading about her in a magazine one day as she sat on the dirt and dust in El Paso, Texas, during pre-mob, she would probably choke on her pork rib MRE and laugh in your face. It’s astonishing to see the contrast of my life now compared to then—or even pre-Army, which wasn’t glamorous, either. I have much more confidence in who I am. I like who I am even if other people don’t, which wasn’t a feeling I was familiar with.

During that time, I always felt I had a deficiency in my ability to be what my leadership was looking for until I found good leadership in my last two years. My last two years in the Army, I was surrounded by the most intellectual and high-speed leaders I’d ever known; they restored my faith in the Army and, as cliché as it might seem, faith in myself. Sometimes we listen to stupid people more often than we should simply because they outrank us. Now, I can be my own boss.

How did your military experience shape who you are today?

I went hard-charging into the military because I believed I could do it, because I wanted to do it so badly. To be part of that “something bigger” you always read or heard about it, and it certainly didn’t disappoint in that aspect. I believe the military nurtured good parts of me, but it also took parts away that I am trying to get back. The biggest influence comes in terms of the people I have surrounded myself with; most of my friends and my boyfriend are all military! The people you choose to keep in your life are the ones who really shape you, so obviously the Army played a significant role.

Do you outshoot your boyfriend regularly?

Oh lord. Here you have two Type A personalities whose competitiveness will come first. We know this about one another. We’ve flirted with competing against one another, and it got ugly before it even began! For the sake of our relationship, we choose not to compete with one another. Ever. Call it lame, call it unhealthy, call it whatever the hell you want, but he and I always choose to be a team, even in the seemingly meaningless aspects of day-to-day life. We choose to remain a team and proceed to crush other people that try to compete with us so we can revel in our victory with a glass of Jameson at the end of the day. To me, that’s healthy.

To wrap up, leave our readers with some Lauren Young words of wisdom. Something to live by.

Staying humble is important but also don’t lose sight of how far you’ve come. I’ve struggled for a long time with being insanely hard on myself. This has at times translated into fear, which held me back. Go into everything you do with the utmost confidence, even if you have to fake it. You’ll always pleasantly surprise yourself.

This article is from the winter 2018 issue of Ballistic Magazine. Grab a copy at OutdoorGroupStore.com.

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