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A question for the professionals in the crowd. What separates work bearing your mark, from other work?

I presume it is a given that the quality you put in to anything you do, even if its something realtively simple like installing new sights, is the same. By the same token, doing something that simple hardly warrants putting your mark on the gun. In fact doing so looks bad from two persectives: (1) people think you are "claiming" work you didn't do (here's your Swenson back, the new recoil spring is in place just like you asked - hope you don't mind that I carved my initials in the slide), or (2) people see the mark, and blame you for work you didn't do (Heinie sights on a Norinco don't make a Heinie gun).

So where does the smith draw that line?
 

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I am pretty specific about my mark, the Scottish thistle.

The gun owner has to describe the work he wants and justify to me that the gun will be finished "as is" when it leaves my shop. If I agree it is a "finished gun" to my satisfaction I will mark the slide with a thistle. Package guns like the standard HP, FED, or GG get a "Burns Custom" on the barrel hood. But any of those guns can be up graded to a "best grade" and mark accordingly.

Full house, best grade guns get a "thistle" on the slide. Best grade is something I am very specific about and it literally has to be the best I produce, parts and labor with no compromise.

Bottom line is I have to be extremely proud of the end product on a BG gun and the customer had to be willing to purchase the best in parts and a healthy amount of my labor.

I have customers in government service or LE who don't want anyone's name or maker's mark on their guns. I am happy to oblidge them. You don't want a maker's mark, fine with me. I would prefer not to have one on my own guns actually.

From a collector stand point of course I want the custom makers to mark the guns I own. Tough decision. The guns I'll use will be fairly clean. The guns I collect will be what the maker wants to put on them.

The value and honor to me (as a pistolsmith)is that the customer chooses to USE the gun I build. Not the name on it.

The thistle is part of my personal heritage and fits me as a person, some might say. It avoids having my name on your gun.
It is small enough to ignore and tasteful enough to add to the gun IMO.

The truth? I'd rather mine say Colt and leave it at that.
 

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Many if not most of the pistols I build/work on do not have my mark - I have to be reasonably sure that the pistol is 'complete' - That the owner/user will not have some local guy do something to it that is below my standards and yet since my name is on it, I get the blame for it.

I have no problem leaving my mark off but to be honest I find the opposite to be the case - most all my customers want my name on it. It's like buying a Holland & Holland but it doesn't say it anywhere on the gun - no one would accept that and that's the way it is with my guns. The hard part is when I have to tell some people 'NO' because the gun is not complete.

I can't blame them - If I was in there shoes I would want it on there.
 

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Interesting post. I had the same choice to make back when I was making my express rifles in the late 80's and early 90's.

Wasn't so hard a decision for me though. No one knew me then and no one knows me now. I chose not to mark the guns and let them stand on their quality alone. I knew I would never make enough of them to get known, so there wouldn't be any collectors interest beyond the quality I put into them. I did however let the engravers sign their work if the gun got that treatment.

On the other hand, when you guys get known, it pretty much goes for granted that when someone buys your best he gets your mark, for current and future collector interest. Seems logical to me.
 

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Interesting..I have a few customers in Larry's line of work and none of them want a mark on their guns.

The flip side is the guy who spends $200 and wants his gun marked.

You start talking H&H, Rigby and Westley Richards and then think about the Army and Navy guns sold through the "exchange" and realize the differences in prices which are substantial.

Now that the facts are known about who was making the A&N guns the prices have skyrocketed.

Quality will always demand a premium, no matter the name or the maker's mark. History has a way of doing that.

I can give you several examples of the reverse, great name, terrible quality.
 

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Classic is the "African" Kimber's. All cosmetics compared to a Rigby. I remember Ross Seyfried saying they were the new "Rigby"! BS!

No where close except in a once over quick look. Not in fit, finish or function, let alone durtability.

Another is a Storm Lake barrel and a dovetail front in a standard Springfield loaded model and sold for a rediculous price because of the maker's mark.

Quality is always more than skin deep.

Another example is the now famous BBQ gun I built for a match several years ago. Checkered, flat top serrated, Heinie's, a beavertail and nice grips. Everything else was stock. It was a "give away gun" for me. Looked nice, made great pictures but was no where close to a "finished" gun from me. But then again I didn't mark it either :grin:

I had expected the gun to come back to be finished. But it stood on it's own for what it was.

Hope that helps.
 

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... the thistle ... is small enough to ignore and tasteful enough to add to the gun IMO.
Dane,

For the record, I very much like this approach. I find your mark discreet, unobtrusive, and not so very different from those interesting proof marks we're all accustomed to seeing on HKs, Walthers, and other fine arms of European origin.

Frankly, I've been "put off" a bit by the industry trend to add more and more superfluous text to slides, frames, grips, etc. Less really is more, IMO.

Understated elegance. A very nice touch.

Chuck
 
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