1911 Hobby Woes

Discussion in 'General 1911 talk' started by SHOKDU, Jan 2, 2019.


    SHOKDU Well-Known Member

    Jan 3, 2013
    Just because I’m curious, has anybody here basically had their passion for the 1911 ruined due to bad dealings in the custom world? It is disheartening for me to admit, but due to a few really bad interactions and having large amounts of money (and a couple guns) being taken “hostage” with the smith(s) being unresponsive I find myself not even caring about the platform as I once did. Went from darn near eating/breathing 1911’s to just...blah.

    Furthermore, at one point I wanted to get into custom smithing so much so that i sent off portfolios of ideas that got a lot of positive feedback, now I find that dream ruined.

    Am I being overly sensitive about stuff or has anybody else experienced this?
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2019
    william adams and ZoidMeister like this.
  2. Babboonbobo

    Babboonbobo Avatar is back to my favorite things!

    Nov 18, 2014
    I find hiring anyone to do any job very rarely meets my expectations! I’m a patient person but just can not stand for stupidity or lack of pride in the persons work. I have not commissioned a 1911 but feel I would be hesitant to do a full custom. I’m not that picky about features and from what I find I am very happy with my semi customs from the big guys! You know Wilson, Nighthawk, Les Baer, Guncrafter and I’m just wanting to add an Ed Brown but I think that’s as far as I’ll go into the custom world.
    I hope you find peace with your builds and builders and that they work out for you.

  3. WWB

    WWB Administrator Staff Member Admin Moderator Supporting Addict

    Apr 11, 2015
    I have not had any unhappy dealings with the smiths I have dealt with. All work has been done to my expectations. Semi Customs on the other had are a different story. I have only had 2-3 that I havent sent back for issues of some kind..
  4. Integrity Arms

    Integrity Arms 1911 Pistol Smith

    Mar 20, 2017
    Guns being taken hostage? Can you elaborate on this, not sure I understand your post.. You wanted to be a gunsmith? Maybe I am losing something in the translation?
  5. Rana

    Rana Well-Known Member

    Jan 21, 2012
    A wise man once summed the custom 1911 experience up with the following:


    Pick any 2.

    WTBS really good custom built 1911’s are far and few between. The current list of notable builders is short and will only get shorter. Getting a build to your spec blaster isn’t even really in the cards if you find yourself entering the world of custom 1911’s today. At least not from those on my short list.

    The best most could hope for is a completed build showing up by one of the masters on the secondary market. And no one really haggles when a genuinely desireable build hits the streets.

    It helps me to also spread my interest over a variety of guns. Black Rifles, and modern out of the box service pistols also occupy the void.

    The custom gun world isn’t cheap, but I take solace in the fact it is a lot less money than if I was into “hookers and blow.”
  6. Raylan Givens

    Raylan Givens Never Forget

    Aug 18, 2015
    Well stated. Though, I am into hookers and blow. And have been thinking of custom guns to save some money. Happy New Year, Rana.
    simonp, Lou1, Mike Meints and 9 others like this.
  7. boatdoc

    boatdoc Well-Known Member

    Aug 3, 2015
    my experience with Joe Chambers was memorable and wonderful.
    Geoff and Joni Lynn like this.
  8. switchback

    switchback Well-Known Member

    Jun 2, 2014
    I feel your pain, I personally haven't experienced what you describe but know its always a possibility. Being active here as long as I have, I know a bit about all the customs you've owned and always been impressed with your attention to quality. Can't comment on being over sensitive or not.
    I do sincerely hope the fire isn't extinguished and the bad taste leaves. They are , after all, only tools. I sold most all my higher end pistols. Keeping only a stock Baer. Also have a couple stock Colts, and a LW 9mm. I'm satisfied. Hopefully you can come to terms with whatever has happened and move on.
    Happy New Year to you & yours.
    Old Sea Dragon likes this.
  9. rmac

    rmac Well-Known Member Supporting Addict

    Jan 26, 2016
    There are some really good Smith's out there that most 1911 lovers have not heard of because they do not need to advertise. Keep asking and you will find one. One of the major Smith's, who also posts here, stated that he had never built a gun that did not have some type of flaw.
    To give an example, my everyday carry is a custom Commander size: everything is exactly to my specifications and liking. Living close to the Smith I fired several thousand rounds through the gun before it was given it's final finish and several things were changed and/or reshaped to suit me. It was as near perfect as could be made. During final test fire I wanted an area on the grip safety reshaped. When reblending that area the right side of the grip safety was polished too much leaving a gap of .0025" ( measured) that really bothered the Smith. My reply was leave it alone, most people would not know 2 1/2 thou if they saw it. Several times in the past few years he's mentioned 'thickness of smoke' for it; my reply is "When I need a new barrel".
    Have several from our top tier Smith's and they all have some minor flaw. Each Smith pointed it out to me.
    Sometimes new owners demand perfection without thinking about human limitations.
    Most mistakes/shoddy work happens when a gun is sent out for a specific type finish that can not be done in house. Some of my builds have been horror stories from some outside finishers. Now I mainly stay with finishes that can be done in house.
    This has been overly long but just pointing out that to get a build you want find a Smith that you can interact with, tell him what you want and let him use his skill to blend your desires into a functional and esthetically pleasing creation.
  10. pistolwretch

    pistolwretch Dremel jockey Supporting Addict

    Aug 26, 2011
    Without naming names, I'd like to hear the Cliff Notes accounts of the bad experiences.
    This would help me to improve my customer relations.
    simonp, boatdoc, Razer and 9 others like this.
  11. cgff

    cgff Well-Known Member

    Aug 24, 2015
    To sum it up,it sounds you may be just a tad soured, or burnt out on the course of imperfect transactions,
    Just a matter of looking towards a different Smith,


    My first semi custom build, on A colt Seris 70 from a small shop lacked paperwork
    No invoice, no receipt, no build sheet. After a course of a year and contacting the shop a few times (3) via phone conversation, and followed up E mails (I even provided copies of my CC receipt and cancelled checks with an e mail copy of build spec) I cut my losses. And never spent money with them again.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2019
    Steve Owens likes this.
  12. Slapshot

    Slapshot Well-Known Member

    Sep 6, 2017
    I can relate but my experience was with a car not a 1911. Bought my 1st Mercedes and I love the car but the dealership has turned me off completely to ever buying another MB. I have a customer who just built his dream house, a reward for all the hard work he's put into his business, and is so distraught over the quality of the final product that he's putting it up for sale. In this day and age when companies go out of business overnight I'm not interested in waiting years for something to get completed. I'm getting ready to put some guns on consignment and even that has me a little nervous. I'd feel OK about it if I had a really good relationship with the smith but other than that I'm going to stick with something I can put my hands on and walk out the door with. Hope it work out for you OP.
    Babboonbobo likes this.
  13. Busa Dave

    Busa Dave Well-Known Member

    Mar 3, 2018
    Will say that it has 100% to do with which "smith" that you choose. It is also important to have the correct expectations and know what you want to do. Much better to spend your time doing the upfront work before you send money or a firearm or both. Sound obvious but it works.
  14. wrmiller

    wrmiller The Tinker

    Oct 29, 2016
    I won't go into any details, but my 'experiences' with a few gun/pistol smiths are the main reason I got into doing all my own work.

    I find the building of my own stuff is much more satisfying than buying a bunch of parts and shipping them off to someone, only to wait years for them to come back as a finished firearm.

    And this is just my personal opinion, and in no way reflects on anyone here who does this stuff for a living. As I've said before, I'm not a 'people person' so I would likely not do well trying to make a living building pistols for people. For those who are able to do this, I take my hat off to you folks. :)
    simonp likes this.
  15. july19

    july19 Womb? Weary? He rests. He has travelled. Supporting Addict

    Sep 16, 2013
    I’ve had a build and work done by one smith that currently displays his work here - all was well and good.
    I had work done by two others without problems and the work was top-notch; the same as the smith listed above.
    I’ve bought two “semi-customs” from a manufacturer and one from another. I’ve had a small problem with one that I sent back for a correction, on my nickel.
    I don’t have any other complaints or problems to list.
    boatdoc likes this.
  16. deadguy

    deadguy Eddie Van Halen Supporting Addict

    Sep 7, 2011
    100% pleased with my 3 builds. Expectations were exceeded in all 3 cases.

    Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
    Steve Owens and limbkiller like this.
  17. BigJimP

    BigJimP Well-Known Member

    Mar 12, 2018
    I have not had an issue with semi-custom builders like Wilson Combat ....so no, I don't understand your perspective.

    True custom work is different ...and I have limited experience with those smiths -- mostly because I don't see any value in what they can give me over Wilson Combat...

    If you are done with 1911's ......ok, that's up to you / there are a lot of other options out there, so if they make you happy, you should go that route...but not me, I remain a dedicated shooter of 1911's....in fact my primary carry gun is a Wilson, 5", all steel gun in 9mm...its also my primary range gun & my primary buddy shoot gun...( not that I don't have other 1911's or Sig Sauers to shoot...)...
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2019
  18. Joni Lynn

    Joni Lynn Professional Pest, NRA Patron member

    Dec 21, 2014
    I fully understand the turn off with that.
    Back in 1990/91 My first build was done so poorly that my only course of action was to sell it off for the value of a couple parts used in the build. There was little recourse in the matter at the time.
    Best wishes for a satisfactory resolution.
    simonp likes this.
  19. ZoidMeister

    ZoidMeister Consider my signature line before replying . . . .

    Dec 4, 2014
    Of course if the build goes south, I've got no one to blame but myself . . . . . .

    You could always hang out in my neighborhood and save money on all of the above . . . . . where the snow is yellow, the hoes are tan, the gat-du-jour is a High Point, and the high rollers wield Glocks . . . . . .

  20. rjinaz85308

    rjinaz85308 North Central AZ Grasslands Supporting Addict

    Jul 27, 2012
    a few years back I had a full custom built by one of the big names. After waiting over 2 years everything that was done was excellent, but it was not what I asked for. Four items that were on the written order were done differently that was spec'd. Since the gun was not what I wanted I listed it for sale and recouped my money, but it sure left a bad taste in my mouth.

You need 3 posts to add links to your posts! This is used to prevent spam.

Draft saved Draft deleted