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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The side bar in the recent AH named Krebs, Yaneck, Garthwaite, Hoag, Kelsey, Swenson, Nastoff, Heinie, Liebenberg and Vickers as the most deisred 1911s.

Nice list. Of that list I am guessing, Garthwaite, Hoag, Heinie, Vickers are the only ones currently building. Nastoff is a maybe until he gets his shop set up again, and the new job. Krebs is production only unless some one knows other wise? Kelsey and Liebenberg? Swenson of course is dead.

So who is still building and what is your list of wants?
 

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Not long ago Walt Rauch was asked, "who is the next Heinie?" and he named a few smiths including Dane.
Now on the Top Ten list Dane wasn't even mentioned!
It is interesting how politics influence the judgment of "gun magazines" and "desirability" of certain smiths.
Luckily for me I have had the chance to shoot some of the Top ten smiths guns and choose for myself with who I spend my hard earned cash.
 

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3 pistols on my wish list: A 9x23 hicap by Burns, a rock 'em sock 'em 10mm that will handle the hot stuff by whoever is building them to last, no excuses on this one :smile:, and, a full house let-all-the-dogs-loose Browning HP by Kurt Wickmann, blued to perfection and carrying stag grips.

From the list in AH, I would buy a Vickers...if I could find one on the secondary market. The $6k tag rumored here for his new stuff, for what I do with guns, is beyond what I will pay.

Right now, I am shooting a beat-up BCP special...if there is a better pistol out there someone is gonna have to prove it to me :grin:
 

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On 2001-05-25 19:29, Shay wrote:
Not long ago Walt Rauch was asked, "who is the next Heinie?" and he named a few smiths including Dane.
Now on the Top Ten list Dane wasn't even mentioned!
It is interesting how politics influence the judgment of "gun magazines" and "desirability" of certain smiths.
Dane ticks everyone off with equal enthusiasm !!! Sheesh, if he's not bashing secret service guys, he's makin' fun of the gun scribes!!! I doubt he's on anyone's TOP **100** LIST !!!!! :wink:
The good guys know that Dane's #1 however. :smile:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Nice guys and I appreciate the comments. No question Walter isn't going to ever recognise me again other than to do bodily harm after I besmerked his charater as a USSSA. As they say, "my bad".

OK, since you sissys won't give me some ideas up for me let me give you my list:)

Here is my must have and why they are and what they are.

Colt Pre War National Match fix sights. Simply the best gun Colt built by hand in a time when men took pride in what they did.

Swenson 5". The start of "our" generation of guns. Not as nice as you might have thought but good working pieces. The legend lives on. Buy it to look at, not shoot. They'll cut you bad!

Hoag. A Swenson contemporary. Still working and building good guns in a timely manner. A blend of old and new from a guy who shot at Big Bear and knows what a gun is meant for.

Heinie. The new kid on the block. (yes, he is MUCH older than me) Needs no introduction. THE guy to bring the quality and high PRICES to the public's attention. Like Hoag he got national attention via mass media. TV for Heinie, Hoag in the movies. It helped to build an exceptional gun all along.

Wetstein. Who? Craig Wetstein. He was hired out of gunsmithing school, trained by Pachmeyer and Dornhaus and built the majority of the Pachmeyer Combat Specials and all the Auto Shop guns in the late 70s and early 80s.

I'll give honorable mention to Nastoff because he built to Heinie's level for a good period of time. Enough that they could have traded crowns IMO, while they both were active building guns. But like Westein he is no longer building full time. Krebs has to get another honorable mention for his incredible machine work and eye to detail. He is the only guy I thought surpassed Heinie in a magazine photo. The "Snake Skin" gun was a master piece I have not seen rivaled. But then I have only seen one. How long did Kregs build best grade guns? Is he still doing it? I know Heinie has an order in for one but that isn't the normal "off the street" customer so I suspect Dick gets soem special treatment :grin:

There is no one yet that has surpassed Wetstein IMO. Several are close to his equal but not many and none have surpassed him IMO on a 5" gun, having seen most of the current makers the the gun press has celebrated.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Dane Burns on 2001-05-26 01:01 ]</font>
 

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Ok, I will throw one out there that ive mentioned before, and will again.

Dave Stagg. I dont currently have a pistol by him, but that will be cured shortly.

The guy really knows the 1911, all aspects, and his finish metal work, bluing is second to no one. I just like the looks of a super clean 1911, and in his "basic" metal work job he removes all macnine marks, straightens any uneven or "squigly" lines, corrects any lettering/emblem discrepencies, takes the flats (by hand) to what finish the customer request etc... Also cleans up the line at the trigger guard/frame root.

Any how, I would also quickly add Chuck Rogers. Cant wait to send him one as well.

Ive yet to see Danes work in the flesh, but am looking forward to it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
How about the contact info for Dave Stagg, Matt?

I was thinking BENCHMARK guns that have stood the test of time . I know nothing of Stagg. Fill us in? I have seen that many think his metal prep and finish work is exceptional.

How about his guns?

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Dane Burns on 2001-05-26 00:55 ]</font>
 

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Dane,

I talked with John Yanek last weekend at the NRA convention.He is still building guns.His time frame was in the 2.5 year zone:(

You mentioned Krebs Dragon gun.Neil Kellar had one at the show with the reptilian scale treatment.The front strap and mainspring housing.The slide was flattened and bordered with the scales on the top.He had also removed the cocking serrations on the slide and cut the matching scales onto that area as well.
It was very well done.He quoted me approximate 6 month wait for a basic frame up carry gun with 30 lpi front strap.
 

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John Yanek is absolutely still building guns. His wait is long, because he only builds part time and has a rather demanding and time consuming full time job.

I loved that Krebs snakeskin gun! I guess he doesn't do custom work any more?

Kelsey is apparently into a new venture making bullets of some sort.
 

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OK, I want to throw out the name of someone who used to do good work years ago - Steve Woods. I saw some of his work YEARS ago, and I was duly impressed then. I have heard that he stopped building some time back, and I don't even know if he is still kicking.
 

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Dane, Dave Stagg is out of Port Byron, IL. I dont have his # here at work, but he is listed on the APG list.

Ive spent alot of time on the phone with him, and he is a very sharing kind of smith, always willing to tell you how he does things and why etc...

Ive had some conversations about detail metal finish work and blueing with 2 'smiths that are on that original "top 10" list, they BOTH said Dave was a master at that tedios job.

Hes done quite a few restorations and is noted for such.
 

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When I went to my first Single Stack at Milan, Illinois in 1997 Dave Stagg had a table there. Very easy guy to talk to, personable, and his revamping's of original guns was AWESOME!! You could not tell he had refinished them or that they had been worked on, they looked like they had just come out of the shop and were ready to ship to customers(like he had gone back in time and snatched them up, immediately bringing them back). Lettering and lines were clean, that old style blue you just don't see today, etc. He would be the guy I'd talk to to clean up an old warhorse or piece of history......!!
 

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I had a 5" carry comp built by George Huening in Indiana, early 90's, that was one one of the best fit and 100% reliable 1911's that I have had the pleasure to examine and shoot. Alas, in a moment of weakness I sold it and have kicked myself ever since. Unfortunately for 1911 fans, George is back into automobile racing and has no desire to build guns.

John

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: John Nelson on 2001-05-28 10:08 ]</font>
 

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John, was your carry comp like the one that was pictured in one of the AH annuals? in 45ACP. What did you think of it. I thought it looked pretty cool, and have heard good things about his approach to building guns. It is too bad he left the gun world, but from what I hear he is great with cars too.
 
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Ok,
I want to add a few to the list as these are my favorites:
1. 1980's Ed Brown 5" 10mm, excellent gun.
2. Dick Heinie 1990 10mm, truly a great gun.
3. John Yanek 1994 .45acp SS, easily a favorite.
4. Jim Garthwaite highpower I picked up this year, really nice.
5. Steve Woods full house 10mm SS.
6. Austin Behlert custom .45Win Mag carrycomp cutdown to 5"
1911 slide/frame size.
7. Miki Danzis BUL 9x23 highcap custom, polymer I know but a really great gun.
8. 1991 Bill Wilson custom heavy barrel Tactical Elite, built on a Springfield frame.

_________________
Think, Plan, Train, Be Safe.
Thanks,
David

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David DiFabio on 2001-05-28 10:46 ]</font>
 

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The most desireable or sought-after 1911, as defined in AH was an interesting read.

Having seen a few Pachmayr combat specials, I am surprised that Dane would select Wetstein as being a member of that select list.
I for one would much rather own a gun that he built that is marked "Pachmayr", since that name is legendary and the name Wetstein is not.

I would like to know what Wetstein did to that gun of yours Dane that makes him superior to all the other makers you referenced?


I have discovered that there are some AWESOME craftsmen working/lurking in near-anonymity or within the confines of a larger shop.

Jim Wilson at Wilson Combat is renowned for being as good as anyone alive on a full-blown gun, he would just prefer to work for a corporation rather than on his own it seems.

Gary Kimball of Colorado built awesome custom pistols in the early 90's, yet he has left the gunsmithing business for the most part and now owns a Baskin-Robbins Franchise. His work was exceptional, as it should be, his father is/was a great riflesmith in Texas and trained the also-exceptional riflemaker Jim Brockman. Gary grew up working along side his Dad.

Art Leckie built most of the Behlert guns. Another no-name who does world-class work that was overshadowed by a bigger name.

Dave Pegram of NC built some great tactical guns as well. Unfortunately. I haven't seen any in years.

Original Ed Brown guns were extremely well crafted. I had the pleasure of owning one when Ed was a one-man shop. Great gun, lousy attitude. I sold it, even though it was a nice piece. Ed was unpleasant. I truly believe in Gun-Karma and try to buy guns built by "Nice Guys".

This also reminds me that makers should "Mark" their guns, if for no other reason to aid identification at resale, but for the more important reason-to sign their canvas for all eternity.
The guys on that AH list were/are very good at Marketing, in addition to delivering exceptional products.
 

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David-
Great List.

re: Steve Woods, I know where there are a matched pair of Woods guns. They are gorgeous in every respect. Truly "Best Grade". Steve is apparently out of the pistolsmithing business, It is my undertsanding he was a psychologist by trade and returned to that profession. I may call my old buddy and see if he is interested in selling :smile:

Original "Small-shop" Wilson guns are very, very nice.
Exceptional checkering.

Jim Garthwaite is my current "Custom" 1911 smith.
I have 2 of Jim's guns and getting another built. They look good, work well, and have all the right touches. When you take into account price, delivery time, and styling I think he is the best tactical 1911 smith on the market. He is at NTI this week, honing his non-gunsmithing skills.

For semi-custom, Wilson Combat hands down beats Brown, Nowlin, Baer, et al. Their guns run out of the box, and are built for tactical shooting. I would go to them first for any "semi-custom" 1911.

A couple of other "No-Names" who do or did great work.

Jack Green of Houston, TX.
Richard Zapperoli of Dallas, TX
Fred Craig
Terry Tussey
Leonard Baity
 
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