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Top 20 1911 gunsmiths

Discussion in '1911 Forums' started by itsgottabeapit, Feb 19, 2010.

  1. itsgottabeapit


    Jul 23, 2005
    Houston, TX
    This is turning into a 1911 gunsmith directory, I love it, please sticky

    I don't know if this has been done before but I thought it would be neat to put together a list of the top "x" number of 1911 gunsmiths. I thought 10 wouldn't be enough and 100 would be too many so 20 it is. It would be nice if you give a gunsmiths name that you also leave some kind of contact for that smith (website, e-mail address, phone number, etc)

    I'd like to nominate

    Chuck Rogers

    His guns are the best looking I've seen. Who else should be on the list Baer? Brown? Do tell. Maybe this will be something to sticky later?

    This list so far. Of course this is just opinions, but it's fun. Obviously there is no real way to rate the top "x" number of gunsmiths, so there are no wrong answers. There are some beautiful guns to look at if you follow the links. Alphabetical order by first names..

    * ADDED, as it has been mentioned by PlasticGuy, I want it to be known that some of the top gunsmiths on this list actually have other worldclass topshelf gunsmiths that work for them and I'd like to give them all credit for the excellent work that they do that is sometimes not thought about when you think of the manufacturers.

    Top 1911 Pistol gunsmiths
    > Alex Hamilton, no contact info..made some interesting blackpowder guns with 1911 frames..
    > Bill Laughridge
    > Bill Wilson
    > Bob Hunter
    > Bob Londrigan
    > Bob Marvel
    > Bob Miller
    > Bob Rodgers
    > Chuck Rogers
    > Chuck Warner
    > Claudio Salassa
    > C.T. Brian
    > Dane Burns
    > Dave Dawson
    > Dave Erickson
    > Dave Helton
    > Dave Sams
    > Dave Severns
    > Dave Williams
    > Don Williams
    > Drake Oldham
    > Ed Brown
    > Hilton Yam - Contact Info?
    > Jim Garthwaite
    > Jim Hoag, no contact info
    > Jim Stroh
    > John Harrison
    > John Nowlin
    > Ken Crawley
    > Larry Vickers
    > Les Baer
    > Luke Volkman
    > Marc Morganti
    > Marianne Carniak
    > Mark Morris
    > Matt Davis
    > Matt Gish website currently not working.
    > Ned Christiansen
    > Neil Keller
    > Paul Liebenberg
    > Pete Single, I had no luck finding a website, but read his checkering is some of the best.
    > Rich Dettelhouser
    > Richard Heinie
    > Ron Philips
    > Ross Carter, Carter Custom Weaponry, website seems to have been taken over by someone else
    > Scott Mulkerin
    > Stan Chen
    > Steve Morrison
    > Steve Nastoff, May not be gunsmithing any longer. No contact info.
    > Ted Yost
    > Teddy Jacobsen
    > Victor Tibbets

    Top 1911 accessory manufacturers
    > Virgil Tripp Magazines
    > John VanZyck Grips

    Conclusion. It takes years of gunsmithing experience to be considered one of the best. A background in machining and tool and dye really turns out top notch smiths. It takes fine attention to detail, anyone can put all the pieces together. It takes a top notch smith to fit them and fit them right. Details like flushing the the slide lock pin with the frame, filling the cavitiy in the beavertail to get rid of that hammer play, etc. You really get an idea of who's the best by the ammount of work they have on back order and or have to turn down. The smiths that innovate new things that improve the original design in fit and function are in a class of their own and I think truely deserve to be at the top of the list. We are truely blessed to have such a large list of talented gunsmiths.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2010

  2. awpk03s


    Apr 1, 2007
  3. Quack

    Quack Rent this space

    Jan 7, 2002
    NE Ohio
  4. GJ1981

    GJ1981 Pitying Fools

    Feb 10, 2008
    Does Dave actually build anymore? I've read a few claims that he runs the show at the CS but doesn't do anything beyond final inspection.

    Anyway, I vote

    Ned Christiansen -
    Bob Miller -
    Dave Erickson
    Hilton Yam is another worthy mention.

    Yam's may not be pretty but I have no doubt about its function.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2010
  5. PlasticGuy


    Jul 10, 2000
    No vote for Larry Vickers or Mark Morris yet?

    The fact is that limiting this to 20 severely snubs about 200. There are a lot of highly talented 1911 smiths in the country right now. We really have it good.
  6. itsgottabeapit


    Jul 23, 2005
    Houston, TX
    The 20 is flexible, I really just wanted to get a contact list of sorts together. And not only that I really enjoy looking at all of the links that are being posted. There's no numeric order or anything. Just something to use as reference.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2010
  7. Rinspeed

    Rinspeed JAFO

    Feb 28, 2001
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2010
  8. PlasticGuy


    Jul 10, 2000
    I'm sorry if you took my post as a stab at your question. That wasn't my intention, and this thread is a fun thought experiment (which is probably exactly what you intended). My point was just that we have such a wealth of talented 1911 smiths out there right now that we are truly spoiled.

    Also, there is something that many of us don't think about. All of those custom shops like NightHawk, Wilson, Baer, Brown, Robar, C&S, Springfield, and all the others I didn't mention have more than one smith, and we generally don't talk about them by name. The guys who build Wilson SuperGrade 1911's might be worthy of mention, but most of us don't know their names.
  9. Quack

    Quack Rent this space

    Jan 7, 2002
    NE Ohio
    dunno, but the work from the Custom Shop is up there.
    I'm sure he can still build great 1911.

    Last edited: Feb 19, 2010
  10. Rinspeed

    Rinspeed JAFO

    Feb 28, 2001

    Vic Tibbets is Wilsons top smith I believe.
  11. itsgottabeapit


    Jul 23, 2005
    Houston, TX
    No apology necessary. I just wanted to make sure everyone understood this list is not the definative on the best "x" number of 1911 gunsmiths. I just wanted to get contact info and names of the best of the best. If it ends up being 200 that's fine.
  12. Jim in MI

    Jim in MI

    Feb 16, 2004
    West Michigan
    I think the Lawson brothers at Rock River make a nice 1911, even though they have stopped production and concentrate on ARs.

    Edit: I actually had Chuck work on a Baer I bought used. He took off the Bomars and re cut the slide and fitted Novaks, then cleaned up the trigger and re blued it.