Who's really in the top 10? - Pistolsmith

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Old 06-15-2002, 11:03 PM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Olympia, Washington
Posts: 71
After reading the latest in the gun rags, one of the authors had a "Top 10 List" for 1911 guys, right after an article about Larry Vickers. All of the 'smiths on the list deserve recognition. While I don't necessarily have the same prejudices as the author, I was surprised at who made the list, who didn't, and what order they came in.
Anyone care to re-write it?
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Old 06-16-2002, 05:04 AM   #2
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There is really only one way to know the real answer, and it is kind of impractical. You'd need to get at least 1 gun made recently by each pistolsmith, but just made for a normal paying customer. Each pistol would then have to be subjected to independent scrutiny and a long-term shooting test to make sure they actually work and perform. Otherwise, making that kind of list is just meaningless.
Old 06-16-2002, 06:52 AM   #3
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im not worried about anyones top 10, as its generally as much speculation and name gaming as anything else.

what i am worried about is keeping the few smiths i will deal with happy.
Old 06-16-2002, 10:53 AM   #4
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Of the original AH list of 10, one is dead, (Swenson), one works part time (Vickers), and two more don't build for the public (Kelsy, Nastoff) And one does not do full house work for the public (Krebs) is my limited understanding.

That leaves 5 working.

Any list of masters at their craft would start with adding Ned Christianson, who has equaled and surpassed any on the original AH list.

Then giving credit where it is due add Jardine, Morris, Mulkerin, Dawson, Single, Tibbets and CT Brian, Brown (if a production gun can count) as the cream of the current crop, actually producing pistols. So make it a dozen :grin:

Take a look around and the list is rather short actually. Ted Yost, Capone's @ Kings, Cladio @ Briley, Novak's, Keller, EGW, Kurt Wickman, Terry Tussey, C&S, Dave Luack @ D&L, Ten Ring, Action Works. There are others, but not many if you are talking 1911 specific and doing exceptional work, full time. I am sure I have forgotten someone, but not many I suspect. Take a look at the APG list and filter out the gun writers, revolver guys, grip makers, finish folks and the list gets really short.

Until the forums I had not heard of Mulkerin, Tibbits, Teddy, Dave Sample, the "other" Novak :smile:, Wild Bill, and others who are here on the forum and by the looks of it building very nice guns. It pays to look around before you decide on who you want building for you.

Taking the bull by the horns here is my list of the top ten 1911s I want to own :grin: Which of course is what I called it...my list of most desired 1911 guns by maker which has changed over time after seeing other work and knowing the makers.

All full house guns in the maker's signature style on the new, Colt, Series 70 guns.

Liebenberg "Pachmyer Combat Special"
Hoag, "Theif" 5"
Garthwaite 5"
Mulkerin 5"
Ned's "carry comp" 5"
BCP (call it personal bias :smile:

Not probable but possible of course:
Krebs "Snake skin"
Nastoff 5"

and these two:
Colt pre War NM
Swenson 5"

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Dane Burns on 2002-06-18 13:04 ]</font>
Old 06-16-2002, 11:22 AM   #5
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Ive seen/shot guns by most listed on the AH list as well as Danes list.

I would add that Dave Staggs metal work is better than most of them, equal to ANY. Hes not a machinist as you would find in Neds & Petes work etc. But his hand work to my taste is unequaled. Dont get me wrong, he can do his sight cuts, ramped barrel cuts etc... but his "forte" is good ole hand bench work using files, stones and sand paper.

So, as far as "classic" Colt work, hes the man in my book.

Hamilton Bowen is another that is worthy of mentioning. NO he doesnt build 1911's, but the skill and work he puts into his revolvers is far beyond what most 'smiths will ever realize.
Old 06-16-2002, 11:49 AM   #6
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"Hamilton Bowen is another that is worthy of mentioning. NO he doesnt build 1911's, but the skill and work he puts into his revolvers is far beyond what most 'smiths will ever realize."

Well said! Stagg and Doug Turnbull are two well worth mentioning. Kinda getting off the subject though with the exception of Stagg's work.

There are guys on this forum who own or have owned most of the makers mentioned. Be interesting to see some other lists based on personal experinece.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Dane Burns on 2002-06-16 12:56 ]</font>
Old 06-16-2002, 07:08 PM   #7
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I "got into guns" mid-way thru 1999 (Y2K bandwagon). I started reading every gun rag there was (lot of wasted money). After a while they all started to look the same - different gun same story. Then you notice: story of product, advertisement of product/company. Last year I bought a mustang (auto) and started reading magazines - same crap different hobby. If you want the truth (99%) go to the forums and ask for it. Nelson
Old 06-16-2002, 07:23 PM   #8
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The magazines do direct the gun "economy" for better or worse. I am still buried under a back log created by one, small, AH article two years ago.

I still advertise there because I think it good exposure.

Some of the forums are indeed helpful, but the useful information often has to be dug out of the trash.
Old 06-16-2002, 08:29 PM   #9
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I really like the work of Chuck Rogers. Very talented in both hand-smithing and machining, Chuck has what it takes. Under-rated and most deserving, IMO! And yes, Terry Tussey also builds quite a nice gun!
Old 06-22-2002, 01:52 AM   #10
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BullsEye shooting

One that can be added to the list is mainly for those that shoot 2700 Bullseye matches. Jim Clark always guaranteed his group sizes and provided a target shot with the pistol that he built for you. His Long Slide was/is guaranteed to shoot a 10 shot group with a maximum spread of 1 1/2 inches at 50 yards, consistantly.

Even though Jim Sr. died a couple of years ago, Jim Jr. or Jimbo is an accomplished pistolsmith also. He has been working as a pistolsmith since he was a kid basically and now he's somewhere between 45 and 50 years old. The man who builds Jims 1911 target conversions still works at the gunshop and has worked there for over 40 years. A little known name unless you needed technical help with a converted 1911 bullseye gun and his name is Archie Anderson. Archie is known for his hand stippling also that can draw blood...if you want it to!

Jimbo's brother in law is also an accomplished pistolsmith who works at the gunshop when he's not on the road shooting. His name is Jerry Miculek. The only time I've ever heard a S&W Model 65 sound like a submachine gun at a shooting match it was in Jerrys hand. I think Jerry has a few conversions that Hamilton Bowen made for him that coverted a 6 shooter to a 7 or 8 shooter and now S & W has made it a production gun based on the Bowen/Miculek design.

I'm a hardsell on custom guns but I have seen and shot these guys weapons and they converted me. I now own guns that I will never be a able to shoot to their potential so when I miss something it's me and not the firearm! :-?

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