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Old 01-04-2002, 06:51 PM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 34
Saturday I will be attending a very large gun show and want to see if I can spot a nice old piece customized by a notable pioneer. Only problem is that other than Mr. Swenson I don't know who any of the others are. What would you experts want to find and what would you expect to pay? Additionally, if you found your treasure how would you know it was legitimate? I am particularly interested in the history of the piece you most enjoy.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
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Old 01-04-2002, 07:18 PM   #2
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 33
Sounds like a fun weekend. What I do is look ever EVERY 1911 I see. You never know what you might find. Many are junk, but there are truly treasures out there waiting to be discovered.

One old maker from here in the midwest is Bud Price. Bud was from Miami, OK, and did quite a bit of work in his time. He did a lot of S&W rear sight installations after welding the slides, and a lot of 30 LPI checkering. He marked the guns PRICE on the bottom rear of the slides on the inside.

Another maker found a lot on the west coast is Bob Chow. Possibly the most famous from California is Pachmayr. I do know a guy who purchased an old used Pachmayr Combat Special at a gun show for around $1000 last year. What a deal!

The east will frequently show a few pistols from Charles (Chuck) Devel. Chuck worked on S&W pistols as well as 1911's. He was one of the first to cut down a 9mm DA.
(correction should say Chuck Kelsay OF Devel)

Jim Clark pistols are probably the most commonly found, with his bullseye configurations the most popular. He has been doing it for over fifty years. These guns do shoot well, but are not as commonly found in the combat configuration popular today.

There's lots and lots of good makers. But other than a marking on the gun, or some type of original invoice, there is little way to tell exactly who did it.

The best way might be is to just ask yourself. Do I really like this, and is it really good work. Purchase the gun because you like it, not because someone famous did it.

One caution. Although most of this old work is very good quality, much of it will not compare with the quality we have come to expect today. I own some old pistolsmiths work that is by no means up to the standards we have today.

Good Hunting


Ed Brown Products, Inc.
P.O. Box 492
Perry, MO 63462

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Ed Brown on 2002-01-06 12:41 ]</font>
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Old 01-04-2002, 08:54 PM   #3
Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 27
I've heard of Bob Chow but haven't seen any of his work. Do you have any photos? Thanks
Old 01-04-2002, 09:24 PM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Alabama
Posts: 876
I have a Pachmayr that is tight, tight, tight. Smooth and accurate, too. One local club member has a Giles and another had (until stolen) a Shockey. Both were fine guns.
Old 01-05-2002, 03:55 AM   #5
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Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Issaquah, WA
Posts: 3,831
Add, Wetstein's "Auto Shop" guns, Hoag of course, any of Ed's early work, or Dick Heinie's, Les Baer did some guns in the mid '80s on his own, Nastoff of course, Novak, Paul Lebenberg, Bruce Gray, Ron Sharp, Jim Garthwaite. There is a lot of junk as Ed says but there are still some damn fine pistols that get over looked. Some of the mid '80s guns are very nice. The stuff earlier can be pretty rough in comparison.

Few and I do mean few, are anywhere close to the quality of guns being built today.

I just got most of my photos off back that wre lost @ Photopoint and I'll see what I can post of Price and a few others.

Old 01-05-2002, 10:43 AM   #6
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 515
I'll second Ed Brown's mention of Bud Price. Bud's business was called Western Gun Exchange and his metal work was very nice. Bud built a Government Model for me in 1980 or so and a Lightweight Commander in 1981. I've still got the Commander.

I'll also point out that the gentleman who ran the firm called Devel was Charlie Kelsey (not Devel). Charlie's firm did cut-down S&W autos and customized 1911's. My friend and mentor, Rick Miller, still shoots his Devel Government Model from time to time. Charlie pioneered the .38 Super "game gun" with his novel "Gammon" (which, I believe, both Chip McCormick and Mickey Fowler used in competition). Charlie also came up with the 8-round magazine follower design that was later purchased by Chip McCormick for use in his "Shooting Star" line of magazines.

Old 01-05-2002, 03:46 PM   #7
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 500
How about Austin Belhert? (I think I spelled it right) Isn't that where George from EGW got his training and I think his son-in-law is also building some newer guns.
Old 01-05-2002, 03:58 PM   #8
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Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Western NY
Posts: 580
Art Leckie is Behlert's Son in law & own's, operates & builds pistols from the same shop.
Old 01-05-2002, 09:22 PM   #9
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 34
Well, not much to see in the way of 1911's save for "rough" or vintage military pieces. One Pachmayar in 9mm, fair condition. One fellow had some very nice WWII pieces in excellent condition. One Baer, a few Kimbers, and even less SA's finished the list.

Superb long guns. The double shotguns and rifles were exceptional. Too many to name.This show might have cost Dane some money.

Finally, there was one dealer with an outstanding collection Of Lugers and PPK's all period and all correct. Very pricey. His best specimen was a long barrelled Luger style with shoulder stock in the original makers case. Don't remember the name on the maker's label but it would look good in a serious collection.

All in all a good show. I appreciate all who posted and hope others learned as much as I did.
Old 01-06-2002, 12:36 PM   #10
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 33
Oh yeah, Roscoe. It was Chuck KELSAY OF Devel. I knew that. He's probably rolling over laughing if he read that. I spoke with him only last year. He's down in Texas somewhere, I forgot that too.

Sorry, too many dead brain cells from the bluing salts you know.

I don't have any photos of Bob Chow's work either, but there could be some in an old Gun Digest somewhere around here.

I foolishly sold my Bud Price gun. Wish I hadn't.


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