True gunsmithing - dying art? - Page 2

True gunsmithing - dying art?

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Thread: True gunsmithing - dying art?

  1. #16
    Member Array Chad's Avatar
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    Oct 2005

  2. #17
    Member Array duckhunter's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
    I have had the pleasure of knowing two exceptional 'smiths.

    I met my first after a hack at Gander Mtn did a trigger job on my Colt 1911. When I picked the gun up, I did a functions test and tried out the new trigger; it had hammer follow every stinking time. I paid for parts only, and started asking around for a good smith.

    I was referred to Ron Lebrasseur, an older gentleman in Ripon, WI who specialized in 1911s and Smith wheelguns. We sat down in his kitchen over coffee and discussed what I wanted. Since it is a 75th anniversary model, I wanted to keep the option to return to stock. He fixed the trigger job, installed new hammer, sear, grip safety, bbl bushing, and controls, and polished the feed ramp and generally cleaned up the action. It turned out slicker than heck, and all for about $150. A class act, he has unfortunately passed on.

    The second was Charlie Adamson, another older gentleman in Lawton, OK. He was a retired LTC, commanded a Bn in Vietnam. He did a trigger job on my M70 Winchester, cut the stock to fit, and installed a decelerator pad. He also bedded the action after we took it apart and found that it had been moving in the stock. Turned a so-so shooter into a sub-MOA tack driver, when I do my part. Unfortunately he too has passed away.

    I count myself lucky to have been able to do business with these two gentlemen. Both were honest and fair, and truly a pleasure to watch at work. It is unfortunate that there are so few of these artists still around.
    "Speed is fine, but accuracy is final." - Bill Jordan

  3. #18
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    Array rocky's Avatar
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    Jan 2005
    yep , a dying breed. Today's society is one of disposable ,replaceable items. Also, with the tighter tolerances and lack of large machine shop access to many or the knowledge to machine parts makes smithing a dying art. I can fix and replace lots of parts myself, even machine a few, but by in large I replace parts. Cheaper and easier than trying to make from scratch.

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  5. #19
    1952 - 2006
    Array acparmed's Avatar
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    Jan 2005
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    I think there are still a lot of good smiths out there, you just can't find them locally most of the time. If you want a job done right it's going to cost you money. You are going to get what you pay for and good smiths aren't cheap or found in your local gun shop.

    Locate a good pistolsmith by going to the Pistolsmiths Guild. No they aren't cheap and you will have to wait. As my holster maker Sam Andrews says, "They aren't cheap, but they're slow."
    Heroes are people who do what has to be done, when it has to be done, regardless of the consequences

    "I like when the enemy shoots at me; then I know where the ******** are and can kill them."
    ~George Patton


  6. #20
    VIP Member Array Rob72's Avatar
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    May 2005
    Quote Originally Posted by Betty
    Considering the completely botched "gunsmithing" jobs I've seen, I agree there's a lack of good smiths around.

    Anybody catch the commercial on TV where you can get your degree in Gunsmithing by ordering the appropriate how-to's through the commercial?

    The XS Sight installation on my USPc was botched by a smith who said he didn't have right tool to install them. Well, he shouldn't have installed them, considering he ended up slightly mushing the front sight to where it's a big white oval instead of a circle.

    Engraving firearms takes some incredible skill, too.
    XS Sights don't require a tool, only a double-safe, 90 degree, file for final fitting. Which makes me wonder, hmmmm, was it someone in the Smyrna/Murfreesboro area? If so, I'd bet it's the same fellow who managed to break off a spiral-flute tap in the aluminum receiver of my 1201FP (nearly impossible to do, unless you have a serious palsy!)

    His fix: "Well, Ah couldn't shatter it (duh! It has 40% more steel than a 4-flute), so I put a dab of cold blue on the base of it, and a touch o' aluma-black where Ah gouged the rib....." I took it home and used Brownell's stainless steel epoxy and a 40 lpi file, and you couldn't tell where it was. That required real thought and care-in-effort, though.

    Get the shop manuals, get the tools, and (unless it's major machining) DIY. You'll be much happier.

  7. #21
    Member Array Larry Ashcraft's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
    I know several good gunsmiths, probably because one of the best schools in the nation is only 85 miles away, Trinidad State Junior College. They teach the full gamut of gunsmithing, including engraving.

    One of their best students ever (I've heard) is Bill Sturtevant. Bill's shop is only about two miles from my shop. The first time I was ever in his shop, he was holding a billet of steel. I asked him what it was and he said "It's a bolt action rifle". He builds bolt actions and single shots from scratch. Most of his customers are professional hunters. He also does his own bluing, case-hardening, and stock work.

    A knifemaker friend of mine once commented "I bet Bill could build a double rifle". So the next time Bill was in my shop, I asked him if he thought he could. He said: "Sure, I've built a few".

    One of the most beautiful rifles I've ever seen was a single shot Bill built. It was like a Ruger No. 1, with a color case hardened receiver, octagon barrel, and a highly figured stock. I think it was in .416 Rigby.

  8. #22
    VIP Member (Retired Staff) Array P95Carry's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
    South West PA
    Hi Larry

    My are you the lucky one - to have a grade A genuine gunsmith so close. There is one round here that ''seems'' to have a reasonable rep' but have yet to discover a real traditional top class guy.

    I reckon they are in places at least - getting as rare as hen's teeth.
    Chris - P95
    NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.

    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!." - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

  9. #23
    Member Array Larry Ashcraft's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
    Downside is, I can't afford his work. I do get to admire it though when he brings a rifle in for engraving.

    We also have a 1911 guy who builds rifles occasionally and another who builds high dollar 1000 yard benchrest guns.

    And then there's Jack, the old curmudgeon. He does hot bluing for some of the other smiths and does general repair. "All I get to do is fix broken junk."

  10. #24
    VIP Member Array maclean3's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
    Nashville, TN
    If it was that guy in Lavergne I'd really like to know. I've been planning on having him convert my Mossberg to a defensive package and would rather not have it destroyed. Also had been planning to have him replace any needed pistol sights as needed.

    I know there's a 'smith in Hendersonville too but I'd prefer not to go that route if possible. PM me if you'd prefer not to mention his name openly.

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