Employment at one of the limited production makers - Pistolsmith

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Old 02-07-2005, 03:13 PM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28
Employment at one of the limited production makers

I have noticed that some of the builders have an employment tab on their website. I was wondering if anyone knows how difficult it is to obtain a job with someone like Baer or Wilson and what qualifications they want? Nearly 30 years ago I left the Colorado School of Trades to take a job in the same factory that my father worked at in order to make a living for my family. Well, pretty soon our youngest goes off to college and I think that it is time to do something that I want to do instead of doing what I have to. I have not done any smithing in years, but on the other hand, I have spent the last 27 years turning forgings and barstock into chips.
If anyone has any insght, I'd sure like to hear it.
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Old 02-07-2005, 06:01 PM   #2
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 951

From talkin' to people that have worked for the "Limited Production Makers" . . I don't think they pay very good. Usually half what a journeyman lathe hand or good welder gets.

You've got 27 years machinin' . . . I'd buy AGI videos- Kuhnhousin books 1 and 2- a few thousand dollars worth of parts- (frames, barrels, slides, so on, so forth) and start buildin' pistols, if you're gonna work for 1/2 the money . . might as well work for yourself.

Nothin' about buildin' a 1911 is any harder than buildin' a small block Chevy engine.

Bill Caldwell
Wild Bill Caldwell Custom Weaponry
Old 02-08-2005, 11:22 AM   #3
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 131
You want to be REAL careful seeking employment with some. If it is at all possible, speak to former smith's. Mr. Caldwell is right on the pay. With some it's ALL about production. Some do pay well when they get someone that works out well. Just beware. If you do decide to look at that seriously, KNOW what you are getting into. He's also right. Work for your self if you can. I have seen some get excited, move across the country, and in 8-12 months wonder why in hell they did what they did and have to move back if they have money to do so or be stuck. I have seen more than just some.
Old 02-08-2005, 06:27 PM   #4
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28
Chris and Bill, thanks for the info. Yeah, that kind of attitude is what I want to get away from, I wouldn't want to leave a good paying job and find that the new one is just as bad, but pays less. I had heard that some companies do an assembly line thing, I couldn't hack that, no money and no satisfaction either.
I was planning on updating my tool box anyway, so maybe I can use the next couple of years to get my skills polished up building guns for myself and the kids and then see what develops. I've got time to research my options anyway.

Bill, by chance are you the Wild Bill who was at CST in the 70's, when Ralph Bone was teaching?

Thanks for taking the time to answer.
Old 02-09-2005, 02:54 PM   #5
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 199
Think about the reality of what's being said. I realize that this is probably the reality of the gun business as it is in all business but keep in mind that we praise "" So and so " semi custom as doing this and that regarding fitting or whatever and then we also advise against working for anyone. I also believe in being your own boss, but I hope that there are some makers out there that can make a profit while still paying a livable wage to the craftsmen that build their guns and business in the process.
Old 02-10-2005, 04:51 PM   #6
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28
I guess I will start building up my skills and see what develops. I have some idea what style I want to build, and I don't see anybody else doing anything like it, so I will either sell some guns, or not have to buy Christmas presents for a loooong time.
Old 02-27-2005, 01:20 PM   #7
Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 446
working for someone else

Take it from me. I hired and trained many guys to become smiths and paid them more than they were worth. In a year or so they think they knoww it all and go on there own and make out. Some of the guys I trained didnt know which end the bullet came out but wanted to learn and they sure did. I had one guy who on salary did very little but when I put him on percentage trippled his pay the second week. The learning process can also be expencive in that the newbie fouls up a job and you have to do it over again. It all depends on the sincerity of the fellow applying for the job. Austin
Old 02-27-2005, 05:52 PM   #8
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28
Sir, thank you for your reply. I am looking forward to starting my first build this spring. I have worked on and swapped parts in .45s, but I want to see how I do starting with a box of new parts, hand tools and a copy of Mullin's American Beauty. In all honesty, I have a lot of confidence that I can build .45s that I can be proud of, but I have a lot to learn about running a business.

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