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Help the Gunsmith's

1311 Views 5 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  strider
Hi To All

I have seen and had the good fortune to speak with several Gunsmith's that frequent the boards here.
I am aware of about 22 custom Pistolsmith's that have gone out of business in the last 4 years. (guys that ran adds in magazines, some pretty prominent names)

I wondered if some of the other Gunsmith's could share some things with the Customer that would make life easier and more profitable?

The first one for our shop would be,
Please include a readable list of what you want done.

We have pans with pages and pages of work and changes in work wile the guy is waiting his turn. One overseas gun had 23 emails before the gun was finished.

If at the top of the Note that Hopefully comes in with the gun you list cleanly the
work, and after that you explain special things about each. Time is one thing that we do not have a Ton of. this would help!

Hope some of your guys join in
geo ><>
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· Registered
1,331 Posts
The most precious thing in any industry-- information, specifications, clear instructions-- is like other precious things, I guess: precious because the supply is short. Many, many times in the plastic injection mold business, I have had customers try to get me to build, say, an $80,000+ mold for a part that they could not clearly define. Then of course they were hoping to get 1/4 million parts a year-- but they weren't quite sure just exactly what it was to look like. Information age, right. In the case of automotive customers, they usually compensated for this by pounding their little fists on the table and shaking their little fingers in someone's (mine, often) face. Glad to be done with all that.

My gun customers are usually more knowledgeable about their hobby than the average $80K/year Big Three engineer is about his or her profession, and if they are not, then generally at least they are more tractable and willing to listen to reason and (hopefully) good advice. My volume is not at all like yours though, George.... all I can say is what I learned from working with the above-mentioned customers. I gave up trying to train them and basically made a good living giving them my best filling in of the blanks and interpretation of what I thought they were thinking when they designed their part. I would put it all in text, sketches, CAD format, get it back to them and not ask "Is this what you want", I would say, "This is how we've interpreted your design and if we don't hear otherwise within 48 hours, that will constitute an approval to proceed". Had to do that since it was usually hard to get a response and that could hold things up while they still considered the clock to be ticking. Anyway, I guess the bottom line is, whether they realized it or not, they were paying for my time spent in cleaning up the specs.

On the other end, in both my plastics-related and gun-related careers, I often find my own carefully-written, detailed, logical instructions.... wasted! But I never stop trying, because clear instructions are the only hope of getting what I want when I'm the customer. And as the provider, they are the only hope of doing right by the customer.

· Premium Member
2,057 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Ned
Good point. After reading here a bunch this may be ill placed. Most of the guys here know there stuff, and probably can say what they want clearly. I suspect in no small part because of the forum.

Any thing you can pass on to your customers that would improve the relationship with them?

geo ><> .

· Premium Member
7,293 Posts
Most commonly,
I find e-mail discussions to be clouded and generally infirm.
In the 1st place, I never know for sure, if the communication has been sucessfully transmitted or received......
Secondly, there is nothing as useful as identical, printed, mailed, confirmed, quoted,
hard-copied work orders when discussing changes via telephone.
I think most of us as custom 'smiths, enjoy the more educated, advanced customers, over the newbies. I'm thinkin' of customers that know what they want, rather than require an hour of our time discussing ambi's over non-ambis.
Then of course, is the appreciation of our detail. I like a customer that can appreciate a 'truly crisp' trigger or a near seamless grip safety fit.
In my short time here as a contributing member, I have had my 'tires kicked', via the internet,
more than a 1972 Buick Electra 225 on a PHX used car lot.
It's a lot easier to deal with a potential customer via telephone, than e-mails. The internet fosters far more spurious, non-productive conversations, than the more intimate phone call.
Just my late night feelings, no offense to anyone.

· Registered
1,331 Posts
I sort of agree, P'wrench, at least for initial contacts-- face to face is best and phone is a close second; you can get to know a person fairly well. You can by Email too, but it takes a hell of a lot longer. Your comparison of experienced customers to fresh faces is valid and understandable. I find here another parallel to my previous life, that has carried over-- I too enjoy working with the experienced guy who knows what he wants and how to get it across, but I also get a lot of satisfaction working with a person still climbing the learning curve, helping them along in terms of separating the real stuff from what the gunstore experts told them. Of course, this assumes it is a personality that is willing to admit to himself that he may not know it all yet!

Advice for customers, though, on how to help us help them (which was the original request and I see now that I missed it completely).... I would ask them to educate themselves as much as possible by doing things like attending matches, if competition is an interest, and asking lots of questions. Read some magazines and take everything with about 437 grains of salt. Don't try to know it all at once, as there is an awful lot to learn.... come to the gunsmith with a basic idea of what you want, listen to his suggestions, go with them as much as you can, stand back and see how it comes out. If you're going to get into this big-time, you will be in a somewhat constant state of upgrade anyway, until the day you die.

[This message has been edited by Ned Christiansen (edited 05-23-2001).]

· Registered
394 Posts
Well said Pistolwrench! I would much prefer to deal with someone in real time than exchanging emails back and forth.

My suggestion would be: Automatically double the time the pistolsmith quotes you, and be patient.

In my experience, gunsmiths in general and pistolsmiths in particular are their own worst enemies regarding time frames. They try to be conservative, but it seems like it always takes longer than expected, often times through no fault of their own.

Somewhat related to this is that if you order a full house gun with a lot of metalwork, be even more patient. There are only so many hours in the day during which a craftsman can produce his best work. It varies from day to day, some days have a lot of good hours, others none at all.
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