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Pistolsmith Guild // Knifemakers Guild

4752 Views 26 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  Shane1911
Over the years I have owned many guns, and many knives. An avid collector of knives since the age of, well, third grade or so, at one point I had a closet full of boxes filled with knives. 7 years of "higher education", and the fact that I had no free tickets to use to pay for the same, did its best to cure me of both my lack of storage space, and the collecting habit, but the fond memories and a few select pieces still remain. My finest memories, without question, are not of the knives. Those memories are reserved for the makers. While there may have been a knife maker along the way that did not have time to talk to a teenager with far more questions than money, I can honestly say I never met him. Throughout my adult years, some truly interesting cats have done their best to enlighten me on the way of the knife, whether it be on construction, materials, or use. More than a few of these gents were members of the Knifemakers Guild. Seeing how that Guild was formed by men like Walter "Blackie" Collins, R.W. Loveless, and their peers, little wonder so many of the present day makers and Guild members are so quick with a handshake, a story or three, and high quality knives at reasonable rates.

On guns, similar story I guess. Hunted from a very young age, collected from the outset, many pieces went to pay for college.

Not all that familiar with the Pistolsmith Guild, perhaps because its members number a fraction of the Knifemakers Guild, thus making it more unlikely to bump into them at gun shows, etc.; perhaps due to the price and length of wait that accompanies many of the Pistolsmith Guild members shops...I don't know.

It seems, bluntly stated, that Pistolsmith Guild members are harder to interact with than Knifemaker Guild members. At least that is my impression, for whatever it isn't worth. I don't know if this is due to an air of "clubbiness" within the guild, or even if it is true...as I said, it is just my impression. The impression is born out of listening, watching and reading, mainly on many various internet gun forums though.

I am certain there are many fine men in the Pistolsmith Guild, and many that are just as colorful as knifemakers, I just wish they would show up on these forums once in awhile, and share their beliefs, their history, and a bit of the passion I presume they must have for their art...and customers.

It seems to me the knifemakers understand that their market IS the customer, not their product. Public relations is just that, relationships with the public. In the knife business it is knife users, gun business, gun users.

Are we gun users more critical of our gun products than are knife users? I don't think so. Go to any of the knife forums and compliment a knife...chances are the maker himself will weighin with a hearty THANK YOU! I know it has happened to me on more than one occasion. Or, be critical of some aspect of a knife, and don't be surprised to get an explanation or a 'send it back and I will fix it' from the maker. Do the same on a pistol forum, chances are you won't hear a peep from anyone related to the product...with exception of others who own it, maybe.

Before writing this I went back and read the post DD wrote about the Vickers' article. Many responded to that post, but if Vickers responded...I did not see it. I for one would love to read what Vickers, Heinie, Garthwaite, Clark, Brown, Weigand, et. al., have to say about why they do something a certain way, why this works and that won't, why they build the way they build, where the passion is in their pistols, without having to buy a magazine to read an article written by someone putting words into the makers mouth.

Maybe many of the questions on these forums don't interest Pistolsmith Guild members, I don't know. But seriously, how interesting can a professional knife maker find questions about the metal he chooses for blades, or where he got that chunck of mastadon, or which grind is better chisel or XYZ?? My guess is, they have answered those questions a million times...but by gawd go to the Blade Show and ask it again and you will be met with an answer like he has waited his whole life for the question. Or at least that has been my experience.

In my opinion, the Pistolsmith Guild has a lot to learn, and most of it could be learned by watching the Knifemakers Guild. Over the years it continues to enjoy an influx of bright talent, continues to expand and its members continue to establish new cutting egdes [no pun intended]. What is the cutting edge from the Pistolsmith Guild, in addition to waiting lists and price? What Guild members are out there answering questions and toeing the thin ice of pistol design, and enhancements? I see some of them branching out into different products, almost to the exclusion of building guns, but where is the blood in that organization that makes the buying public say WOOOOOOOOW?
Where are the cutting edge collaborations that wake people up?

The last 10 years has been a time of great wealth in America. The market has slipped some, but historically speaking we rode / ride the biggest bull ever. Successful times make it is easy to become cocky and lazy...and yes, I speak from experience. Mark Twight really nails this concept in his wonderful book "Extreme Alpinism", and tells how to fight it.

Perhaps the day of many year waiting lists for $4,000-$5,000 1911's will go on forever, but history says it won't. There is a cycle to everything human, including buisnesses of every type. What gets us through the ebb-periods is not a swankier paint job, or a flashier article, it is our relationship with our customer and the loyalty it has produced.

Knife collecting still appears to be enjoying its zenith. Will we say the same about custom pistols in 5 years, or 10?

Sorry for the length of this.
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I remember last year when there were lots of things happening on the 1911 Forum I made an effort to publically invite any of the guild members to sign on there. Couple of them did and left just as quickly I supect.

I talked to a Guild member yesterday and he made a few comments about the guild's perception and THIS list.

It was pointed out that it was many of the memeberships's perception is that any pistolsmith that posted here was attacked. By me specifically the majority of time. Richard Heinie the rare exception who I seem to avoid.

I note that Scott Mulkerin, Steve Morrison, Tom Novak, Neil Casper are here and posting on a regular basis. None of them are guild members and add to the list, I suspect, when they get a chance.

The information highway is an interesting place, quickly becoming a free way and fast track, to good info and better pistols. I suspect many of the current guild membership will eventually end up being road kill on the info highway.

This forum is about helping custom gun customers make good decisions. My suggestion is get to know the guy who will cut on your gun and spend your money wisely. Good place to look for help building your dream gun is the gentlemen who engage you here on the forum.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Dane Burns on 2001-07-18 00:51 ]</font>
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I would agree with you about knifemakers. A LOT of them seem a lot more open to questions and or criticism of their work. One only needs to visit http://www.bladeforums.com to see the evidence of this. In fact, bladeforums runs a chat room which is regularly freqented by Kit Carson, Darrel Ralph, Tim Herman and others. They are just normal guys like you and me, and are FUN to talk to. Definitely not the snobbish elite,
who can't handle the slightest critical input. They all have great senses of humor as well :smile:

Ever since the Vickers thread was posted, I haven't seen Larry post here one single time. That's really too bad IMO, it would be nice to have his input. I really don't see why the APG has the perception that this list exists to attack their members. I think they are maybe just a little too thin skinned. I haven't seen anything here that represents any type of outright personal attack against any of the major smiths.

O well, just my 3 and 1/2 cents. I'll quit rambling now :wink:

PS: I personally can't see where you have 'attacked' anyone here Dane.

" I belive in the Ten Commandments and the Constitution of the United States. If you don't, F*c& you." - Ted Nugent


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: JLM on 2001-07-17 22:55 ]</font>
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Guys, I have been in the business of making holsters going on 31 years now. I sure hope that qualifies me as a master in my field. I still very much enjoy the interaction of these forums, and the information gathering, and exchanges that go on here. I firmly believe it to be productive for my business to make my expertise, (or lack thereof) available to the people who are needing information. I will never hesitate to recommend a fellow holstermaker, or compliment that newcommer who may be working at this craft part time. We all had to start somewhere, and when I got started, I was a regular pain in the ass to people like Chic Gaylord, Don Hume, John Bianchi, Paris Theodore, and many more who came before me. I can honestly say that none of them ever treated me like an intruder, so that's how I treat the new guys who call me. I've made a lot of good friends in this business, and shared a lot of ideas, and information about "where to go", and "how to do". There is no school of leather trades to attend, so one must learn by doing, or being shown how to do...I feel I owe it to the new guys who have the talent, and determination to start a business by the seat of their pants to lend a helping hand when I can. Lord knows I owe that much back to the people who will be doing this long after I'm gone. I don't know much about the Pistolsmithing Guild, but I do know about the Knifemakers Guild. I used to talk to Loveless regularly when he would order holsters. I always asked questions about knife making because I had an interest.
He never let me down. He'd ask me questions about stitching, and leather, and I'd ask him about grinding. I told him I wanted to spend a week or two at his shop, and he told me to come on out,,but,,he said "I ain't gonna pay ya'", but you'll get and education! I sure hope the Pistolsmithing Guild runs on the same premise. I Do know Dick Heinie pretty well, and he has told me many times that he has given advice to newcommers. I would like to think most of those guys think along the same lines. Sure would be nice to hear from some of them..
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Dane, if I thought I was being "attacked" on some internet forum...I damned sure wouldn't admit it! Be afraid that my 8 year old daughter might get wind of it and then every grade school girl in the area would be looking for me after school...to kick my ass. Sounds like someone needs a little more starch in their shirt collar, eh?

I have truly enjoyed seeing the work of the gunsmiths who post here. Better yet, I enjoy interacting with them. Hope to have some of their pistols in the very near future.

CUSTOMERS like these forums, visit these forums, post on these forums. Hopefully, the guild members who understand what this means will come here. What, almost 1,000 members to this site? I have talked with probably 10-15 other folks who come here to read only and have not registered. Where else is a person in the business going to have contact with an exact market, ie., pistol nuts, numbering in the 1,000's, for free??
On 2001-07-17 21:27, Dane Burns wrote:
I talked to a Guild member yesterday and he made a few comments about the guild's perception and THIS list.
It was pointed out that it was many of the memeberships's perception is that any pistolsmith that posted here was attacked. By me specifically the majority of time.
<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Dane Burns on 2001-07-18 00:51 ]</font>
In the interest of accuracy I would think you would have to add DD to this.

geo ><>
Greetings to all. I was invited to this forum today and found this post. As the current President of the American Pistolsmiths Guild I was a bit distressed to see what was written here. Generally speaking the Guild membership is a great bunch of guys. I have been involved with the Guild for quite a few years and find the membership to be very helpful. I myself have just gotten in the door from teaching an 8-day class on pistolsmithing the 1911. I do this to spread knowledge on the 1911 because I want to see my profession continue long after I am gone. Many fellow members do the same, Jim Stroh, Ron Power, Hamilton Bowen to name a few. The Guild is doing a study on the possibility of sponsoring a Pistolsmithing school in the near future. Just because there are not more members participating in forums does not mean we are not interested in what is happening. A side note to this comment is that I have found many Guild members are not computer users as of yet but most are seeing the light. I hope this will go a little way to making the American Pistolsmiths Guild seem a little more friendly. God bless
Jack Weigand
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Welcome Mr. Weigand. Love your revolver work!
Glad to have you aboard Mr. Weigand. I too, would like to have a sample of one of your custom revolvers.
Hope you like it here enough to stick around and post. I'm sure many here would love to learn from anything you have to offer to us :smile:
I can think of several reasons why pistolsmiths are less communicative than knife makers.

One reason is the (generally) higher cost of custom pistols versus custom knives. Someone who's had a positive interaction with a maker on the Web is much more likely to part with $200 for a custom knife than with $2000 for a custom pistol. I would guess that the pistolsmiths have a higher ratio of "tire kickers" to actual customers and thus a lower rate of return on time spent interacting with the public.

Just a guess...
Welcome to the fray Jack...:wink:
Welcome, and thank you for joining us Jack. :smile:
I was fortunate to attend the first half of Jack's class and I've got to say it was an invaluable experience. I've been to a lot of career specific schools and this one packed a lot of value for the money. I've never had an encounter with another interested professional, where I failed to learn something of value, whether just a casual conversation or a class.
Jack and his assistant, Eric Keisler (also a Guild member) did a first rate job of explaining and teaching the subject matter and getting everyone through the course, regardless of skill level. Jack, being a tool and die maker, has developed and taught some excellent methods to get through the accurizing specific tasks. The techniques that I learned will help me do more uniform and consistent work in the future. I think that at some point in the future, I'd like to apply for admission to the Guild. I believe it would be of genuine benefit, rather than simply joining some elite fraternal organization. Anyway, school was great, learned a lot, Jack's a good guy. That's all I've got to say about that! :grin:
John Harrison
Precision Gunworks
Canton, GA

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: John Harrison on 2001-07-30 17:17 ]</font>
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Jack, glad to have you aboard. The post was not meant to be distressing, rather, just my opinion. It is good to see you here though, and thanks for taking the time to post.

Matt...there is much tire kicking in the knife business as well. There are also a goodly number of expensive knives sold each year. The "art" knife market seems to be alive and well, and tends to push the envelope on knives each year. It is amazing what does trickle down from the customs to the production knives.

Hopefully, we can all understand this is one big brotherhood / sisterhood, as the guns that are so very precious to us are the focus of more and more restrictions and laws with each passing year.
On 2001-07-30 13:18, Jack Weigand wrote:
I hope this will go a little way to making the American Pistolsmiths Guild seem a little more friendly. God bless
Jack Weigand
Mr. Weigand, Welcome, and please do stop back when time permits.
Thanks to all for the warm welcome. I will be by from time to time. If you get a moment please visit the American Pistolsmiths Guild web site http://www.americanpistol.com
True we do not have a large membership roster but we do have the very best to choose from. I would also like to make a statement. Just because someone is not a member does not indicate they are not capable of bulding an excellent firearm. As an example George Smith was invited by me to join the Guild on several ocassions. He is one of the top builders in the country and would easily qualify for the guild. George has chosen not to apply and I respect that. The Guild is in existance to protect the customer from the slipshot business man or woman. As a Guild we are working to be better every day. Again thank you all for the warm welcome.
God Bless
Jack Weigand
We have had gunsmiths besides Dane post here. Vickers and Heinie posted a few times. Teddy Jacobsen had a few wild threads going for awhile but however much he knows he had a definite people problem. I don't know if it is a computer problem with pistolsmiths as much as it it a communication problem. From what I have seen, a few pistolsmiths could use a good front man (or woman) to answer the phone and generally contact the public. Some of them could work on their people skills. But then again, I don't see how they can continue to meet deadlines if they are on the forums a lot of the time.
Welcome, Mr Weigand.
I look forward to seeing you around here, hopefully on a regular basis. Please, don't be a stranger. :smile:
I love the formality but my name is Jack, my Dad is Mr. Weigand, LOL! Please feel free to call me Jack, I have been called worse. Again thanks for the welcome.
God Bless
Jack Weigand

I am happy to see that you accepted my invitation to drop by our forum.

It is always good to have other professional smith join the ones that are already here helping our customers make good decisions.

Welcome aboard!
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