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Most of you already know who my favorite smith is, but I would like to hear about other smiths and why they are your personal favorite. What is it about dealing with this particular smith that works for you? What is it that you are seeking from a good smith?

DD


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Desert Dog on 2001-03-30 16:16 ]</font>
 
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I don`t have a favorite smith but I will tell you what I want in my gunsmith.Good work at a fair price and not a super long wait.Thats about it.I also like a quote that is near what it will really cost me.
 

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Ted Yost at Gunsite. If our gun is having problems during a course, he'll give you a loaner while he fixes it.

_________________
"Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force;never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy." Churchill

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: stanmog on 2001-03-30 17:00 ]</font>
 

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Hard for me to say, since I only actually own a custom gun from one smith. So I currently pick my smiths based on reputation, photos of the guns they build, and how my interaction with them is. So far, the smiths that I would turn to first are Dane Burns (about to send him a frame for a full house gun), Larry Vickers (on his wait list), and Richard Heinie (gonna try to get on his wait list soon).
Brian Bilby was my former smith. He built an awesome Colt 1991 for me. I was supposed to receive one of his full house guns built on a Caspian platform, but sadly, he passed away before he was able to complete it.
 

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I am in the same boat as Ken, my smith was Brian. I discussed everything that I might possibly want to do with him.

What I would look for first in a smith is integrity. Second, you have to be able to communicate with your smith. You may want something they are uncomfortable in doing or you may need something extra that you did not ask for. Third, there has to be trust. I do not care how good they are, if you do not trust them, then do not deal with them. And lastly, maybe you do not need this, but it sure is nice if you do, friendship. That's the one I miss most.
 

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Pistols? Dane Burns. If you own one of his pistols, you know why. No bullshit guy, calls it like he sees it and builds it like it oughta be built: To go bang when you pull the trigger. I have no desire to own a pistol built by anyone else.

Rifles? Bill Wylde. The man who wrote the book on the AR-15, and was winning competitions with his own creations before many of us were walking. He builds the prototypes that the "big names" copy and sell to the military. His 6.5x284 rifle made me sell all my 300 win maggie stuff, outshoots the 300, with the recoil of a 243. When he dies, every other riflesmith moves up one notch. His waiting list? Counted in eons. Most honest man I know.
 

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I don't own any custom guns or have any that have been customized...yet.

But from what I've seen and heard of, and from, Dane he's gonna be the one I hassle with my wants and needs. :smile:

For neat class 2 and suppressed weapons etc. Mark Serbu rules. I have one of his "BFG-50" rifles and plan on getting a "Super Shorty" sometime in the near future as well as a "Siris"...check his stuff out at:

http://www.serbu.com

{removed pic}

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Eugene D. Goodwin on 2001-05-10 20:47 ]</font>
 
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I guess my life is missing something good. I've never had a chance to deal with any of the master 1911 smiths that we all heard from the board and the magazines. I'd be glad enough if my local smith could do the modifications according to what I want. There is one that posts something like this:

"Good Quality,
Low price,
Fast turnaround.

Pick only 2."

I guess it's all true :smile:
 

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Jim Garthwaite or Kurt Wickman. Mostly into Hipowers now.
 
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I have always believed that it comes down to the pistol smiths personal skills/strengths and styles. I have an eccentric group of "older" custom pistols that includes an original Swenson .45, one of Charlie Devel's .9mm's, an original ASP, a Woods 10mm, a Behlert .45 Win Magnum chop and channel,
a Bren Ten that was redone by Austin Behlert to work and actually feed real ammo,
a Marine Socom .45 done by Uncle Sams finest, an Ahrends high power, Wilson CQB pre- Jericho frame,and an original Les Baer.
I also have newer stuff 1990's era and I have experienced a lot of "real world" idea failures so you have to be careful.
I like them all, for me they all represent differnet periods of time and personal taste in weaponry.
 

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For 1911s, I like Jim Garthwaite. He's not only a real expert on the workings of the pistol, his finish work is like artwork. He's the most personable smith I've ever dealt with also. When I see him, he never fails to ask how the wife and kids are doing by name! The guys a real gentleman!

Revolvers, I'd go to Al Greco from Al's Custom. He is truly a master with a S&W revolver. His work is very meticulous and he's very picky (like it's his own gun). The only thing with Al is that you have to stipulate exactly what you want as far as trigger springs or they will end up a little light....at least that's my experience.

Both of these guys stand behind their work 100%.
 

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Myself, like some others here, counted Brian Bilby as my smith of choice. Luckily, I have a few firearms that saw his work and count myself a lucky man....

Currently, I have projects going on with Dane Burns who I had gotten to know by way of Brian being my close friend.

Even though I have not received any work from Dane yet I have put my trust in him from the conversation's we have had, his reputation, and Brian's opinion of him as a person and his work....

I think when you decide to deal with a custom maker personalities can have a lot to do with it. You need to have a good line of communication and not be afraid to express your opinion to let the smith know what you want. Do you get along well with the smith via phone and E-mail? Are you comfortable with the way they conduct business....

You also need to do some research on your own. Do you know anyone who has had experience with said smith, what is the feedback from various people, how long have they been in business, what's their reputation in the industry.

Something else to think about. What work are they known for? If you send your 1911 to a smith who specializes in Bullseye guns don't expect to get what you're looking for if your intention is to have an IPSC/IDPA/or personal defense piece. That doesn't mean the smith can't do it, but if you aren't clear on what you want you may get a gun made to feed target ammo and built supertight when you really wanted a carry piece that would feed everything reasonably possible and go bang in a worst case scenario....

Finally, you must be willing to be patient. You are dealing with, normally, a one person shop. If they or their family is sick the factory may be down for a week, or longer depending on what's going on. I could go on longer about this, but I would recommend going to Danes website and looking at his comments on timeliness.
 

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Had two Ruger revolvers worked on by Jack Weigand several months ago. He was very pleasant to deal with via e-mail, quick to respond to questions, and his estimated completion time for the work of six weeks was completed in three.

I've had a couple of semi-autos tuned up in the past, no full custom-builds, but Jack's customer service combined with the superb work done on those Rugers was top-notch in my book.
 

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My favorite 'smith was Brian Bilby. Built a pistol for me a couple of years ago and it was pictured on his website. Wanted a small 10mm but he was called to do other work.
 

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With handguns that I own or have owned - John Jardine (Swenson's nephew)
Dream smiths - Vickers, Burns, Garthwaithe and Jardine.
EricO

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: EricO on 2001-04-02 18:07 ]</font>
 

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The only smiths I've had experience with directly are Kings Gunworks and Jim Hoag, both of which does quality work adn will not disappoint you.

I've also had the privilege of taking that gunsmithing class with Dane and can say that he knows the 1911. No BS, builds them to work reliably and still maintain an eye towards aesthetics. Also a great guy.

As far as just seeing pistols that make me drool, Dick Heinie, Larry Vickers and Armand Swenson takes the cake.
 

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As I write this, Dane is upstairs in the guestroom sound asleep so I guess it's safe to say I think highly of him. As to my favorite, that's impossible to say because I enjoy the work of many. My short list would have to include, Garthwaite, Vickers, and SDM but I look forward to owning one from many more.
 

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I have some work with Vickers now. He has called me three times during the course of the work to tell me what he's doing, what he's found on the gun, discuss and clarify our plans, and give me estimated date of arrival. These were in addition to calls that I initiated.

Additionally, the price has stayed at what we discussed initially.

This is my first experience with a smith (other than sight adjustments and minor changes of parts done by local smiths). I don't have other experiences to relate to but I'm plenty happy with Larry.

Over the years I've learned to trust my gut on people. Almost every time that I've talked myself into working with someone that I had a "gut check" on I've regretted it. Also, Larry's reputation is superb so that checked out too.

I could tell that I could work with Larry the first time we spoke on the phone. Straight shooter. I figure a guy who does this in addition to a full time job must LOVE what he does.

BTW he called this AM to tell me that it should be done in 3 weeks. I'm like a kid at Christmas.

I have another project in the works with Dane. We'll see how that goes but I'd say he's been very accessable and ready to answer my questions in our discussions so far.
 
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Please, no one take this wrong.
I read a lot on the forums of the excellence of Larry Vickers work. Indeed, I know Larry personally, we have traded a fair amount of work and I know him to be a competent smith.

But......how many have actually seen his work?
And where?

Mebbe I read the wrong mags or travel in the wrong circles......but just how did Larry achieve the status of 'reverance' that he now enjoys?

I have no doubt that his cover gun in AH will prove his competence, but AS OF NOW,
how many here....or anywhere.....have actual
experience with his work?
 
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