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I don't post here much- mostly I'm here to learn from people way more knowledgeable than I am, and to drool over y'alls guns. However, I thought some of you might be interested in my experience with Freddie Blish and the closing/restructuring of Robar Guns. Full disclosure- I don't know a whole lot about the circumstances at Robar that led to the closure, only my own experience as a customer.

Back in May, after months of research, saving, and selling, I commissioned a a full custom build from Robar. It was (and still is) my first custom gun, to be built from the ground up with Caspian frame and slide, and mostly Wilson parts. Tyler in Robar's Customer Service dept. stayed on the ball with helping me out and answering questions. I paid my deposit and started waiting. Tyler was really cool about responding to questions as I waited, but I tried not to be a pest. My estimated delivery date was 20 weeks from my order, so I figured sometime in October I might be shooting my new 1911.

Sometime in late July or early August I stopped hearing from Tyler, but every time I called whoever I spoke with found my order info quickly and was very helpful.
And then I saw where a letter from Robar was posted and threads started appearing about work being returned. Robar was, apparently, closing. I saw the posts late on a Friday night and didn't sleep all weekend. That sucked.

The next week I called Robar and it was confirmed. The rep I spoke with promised that they would return my full deposit and any parts that had come in, and that I should expect a personal call from Freddie Blish, the owner of Robar. With considerably less excitement now, I started researching- again- where to get my gun built. One of the most well-known semi-custom shops never called me back.

One evening a few days later, Mr. Blish called and we had a great conversation. I understood that: 1) Robar's gunsmithing business just wasn't making enough profit to be sustainable, 2) a planned sale of the business to a new owner fell through at a late stage, and 3) rather than keep digging a hole for his employees and customers to get stuck in, Mr. Blish began to shut down operations, returning work and deposits. He was apologetic and very gracious, and I was impressed with how concerned he was with making sure his employees had a place to land, and his customers weren't left holding the bill. That conversation left me convinced that, even though businesses sometimes do shut down, the integrity of the owner makes a world of difference in HOW it goes down.

I mentioned that I was having some difficulty finding a shop to complete the work, and how heartbroken I was to start The Wait all over again. See, I sold my only other 1911s (both Rugers) to finance the build. Freddie said he had already spoken with his former head gunsmith, Marty Enloe, and Jim Gritus, another Robar 'smith who had started his own shop (with his wife, Jodi- the Hi-power Princess). Marty and Gritus Precision had already agreed to finish the build, if I was inclined to let them.

Fast forward a couple of weeks. Gritus Precision has my Caspian frame and slide, and my deposit check from Robar was returned in full as promised, minus the cost of my frame and slide. That check was immediately sent to Jim at GP so that remaining parts could be ordered and work could begin.
Jim Gritus and Marty Enloe have been incredible at answering questions and keeping in touch. Based on our contact so far, I have full confidence and am looking forward to a great gun.

All told, my first experience with a custom 1911 build has been a little unusual. I'm really sorry that Robar- a gunsmithing company with a 35-year history- is no longer in business. I feel for all the employees who had to find a new way to support families. I certainly understand that stuff happens, and I can't fault anyone. But as a custom-gun client (at probably the most unfortunate time ever to put in an order), I have to say that Freddie Blish and the folks at Robar have done more than I could have asked to make everything right. I am impressed with the integrity I have seen, and I wish Mr. Blish and everyone the best. Thank you.

As for Jim and Marty at Gritus Precision- I am as excited as ever about this build, and have enjoyed working with them so far. I think it's gonna turn out great, and I can't wait to be carrying and shooting it. I imagine I'll have some cool things to post in due time. Keep watching.

-Charlie
 

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Student of the Columbian Exchange
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Extraordinary report for the Interweb, balanced and great reporting on an awkward situation you found yourself in, thanks for the post. It clearly illustrates what a stand up outfit Robar is/was and the folks there, it also shows what a class act you are. Thanks again. No whining, just laying out facts. Good on you sir!
 

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There's a right way and a wrong way to do anything including going out of business. There are so many companies that hurt customers and vendors on their way out it's nice to see one who did it the right way. Kudos to Mr. Freddie Blish (Robar). Nice post thanks OP.
 

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Outstanding report, and thanks for sharing it with us. I probably won’t ever be in a position to buy a custom gun. But gun, or no gun, it’s nice to know that there are still people out there who treat others as they would like to be treated. Especially when things are going sideways. That says a lot.


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It's unfortunate Robar shut down mid-build. We understand your disappointment and frustration.
It is fortunate That Mr. Blish is a standup guy in a world where many would have just disappeared. Or moved to Florida.
We want full, up to date reports, correctly typed with generous margins under a suitable letterhead submitted in a timely manner. Oh, and pictures, don't neglect to send pictures.
 
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I have always wanted to send a couple Sig slides to get the NP3 finish over the years but never got around to. Sorry to hear about the closing of Robar.

Good luck with the build UncleCharlie and please post a review when she comes in.
 

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Thanks for sharing
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Update-

Jim had sent me a couple of in-progress pictures of work being done on my 1911. Not going to post them because they are still in basic fit stage with lots of filing and blending going on, and it's not really representative of the finished work.

But I did want to let y'all know that Jim and Marty at Gritus Precision are absolutely stepping the game up in regards to responding to questions and emails, and in sending regular updates. VERY, very happy with the customer service, and so excited about my gun that I can't dammit sleep at night.

-Charlie
 
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