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Joined: Jul 2005
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SDH-MT Offline OP
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Check out these hour long interviews with professional British and American Gunmakers hosted by Swiss born and trained Gunmaker Reto Buehler and his son Alex Buehler. Great for long drives or workshop entertainment. Presented on Spotify (no membership required)
https://open.spotify.com/show/08i5aFjWnKACOG3bWCcJXD

Last edited by SDH-MT; 12/24/23 04:10 AM.
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I’ve listened to a few of these and they are very well done! Thanks for the tip Steven.

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Thanks for the link. Listened to Duane Wiebe, brought back a number of memories from the 1980's and 1990's concerning the custom gun business.

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Listened to the Wiebe and Tucker yesterday. Reto did a great job, really enjoyed them. You will probably be next Steven.

John

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I listened to the Wiebe segment yesterday, and to the Hughes and Hodgins episodes this afternoon during a marathon dishwashing session. All three were wonderful. This is a commendable and marvellously-executed (especially considering the interviewer isn't a trained journalist) oral history project.

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Originally Posted by Fudd
.....especially considering the interviewer isn't a trained journalist......
Given the world we live in I would give that a plus one.
They are good interviews and enjoyable. However I have so far noted a resignation that the custom gun business is dying or maybe dead in reality.
As for me I will keep moving forward and when I am gone I am gone.

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Originally Posted by LRF
Given the world we live in I would give that a plus one.

Hah! I think I know what you mean. It'd take a really curious, open-minded journalist-interviewer with no prior knowledge of the firearms market, never mind the bespoke firearms market, and a team of cocaine-fuelled researchers to ask such good and trenchant questions, and to provoke such frank replies. I was really complimenting the interviewer on his technique, though.

What struck me about all those interviewees is how introspective and articulate they are. No wonder they're respected and seen to be at the tops of their respective heaps, craft-wise.

Originally Posted by LRF
...I have so far noted a resignation that the custom gun business is dying or maybe dead in reality...

Yes. I've listened to the whole series now, and that's the prevailing mood. One thing sticks out... One interviewee, pretty sure it was D'Arcy Echols (mon dieu, what a wonderfully plain-spoken character), said something arguably wistful about custom pistolsmiths being ahead of the curve in some aspects- I think it was in regard to surface finishes. I'm still grinding those coffee beans, very finely.

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I would not say custom gunmaking is dead but much easier ways to keep the lights on and the dog fed sure do exist. I love what I do but it can be challenging at times. The gun trade has changed dramatically in the last 25 years with the vast majority of the public embracing stainless and composite guns. Lovers of walnut and blued steel still exist, they are in the minority though. There are fewer and fewer gunmakers that focus on traditional styles and finishes , hence the long backlogs and cost of good work. Most successful gunmakers have a niche, Weibe builds bolt guns, mostly dangerous game guns but not exclusively. I do mostly restoration, a bit of restocking and a fair amount of custom metal work. Like LRF, I'll just keep on keeping on.


http://www.bertramandco.com/
Booking African hunts, firearms import services

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Originally Posted by SKB
I would not say custom gunmaking is dead but much easier ways to keep the lights on and the dog fed sure do exist. I love what I do but it can be challenging at times. The gun trade has changed dramatically in the last 25 years with the vast majority of the public embracing stainless and composite guns. Lovers of walnut and blued steel still exist, they are in the minority though. There are fewer and fewer gunmakers that focus on traditional styles and finishes , hence the long backlogs and cost of good work. Most successful gunmakers have a niche, Weibe builds bolt guns, mostly dangerous game guns but not exclusively. I do mostly restoration, a bit of restocking and a fair amount of custom metal work. Like LRF, I'll just keep on keeping on.

And thank you SKB for what you do and your oblivious apparent passion for "custom gunmaking".

To clarify, my comment was "custom gun business", I think custom gunmaking is still alive but not well. I found it interesting that Weibe, in his interview, mentions "part time gunmakers" or something like that. There was an injurious argument between the makers back in the late 80's. A friend of mine who was trying to make a living at CGun making was talked down to about the fact that he had a full time job bluing guns for a metal finishing company and not exclusively building guns. At an NRA convention where he was displaying he put up a sign that said (and I am paraphrasing) "Full time gunmaker make $30K a year, part time gunmaker make $60K a year." My friend left the gun making business to become a very successful pattern maker, however luckily his legacy lives on today. That squabble damaged the business and had lasting consequences. Times change and things change, I just thank Reto for making these interviews possible.

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I'm glad you fellows are enjoying the podcasts, I'll pass this on to Reto. Personally, I enjoyed being included and the experience of the interview. Reto stayed with a same basic questions for much and the different, or similar answers point to some of the nuances of the trade. The fact that all of these guys are fulltime, what I call career gunmakers reflects on the attitude of many in the trade. Having spent much of my career attempting to document the guns, gunmakers and procedures I find this medium and its content to be a wonderful avenue for preserving information about this era of American Custom gunmakers.

As for part-time makers and pensioned retirees, if they do good work and charge living wage prices most of us wouldn't have any issues. Some, mainly stockmakers have made it very difficult for others as they chronically undercut prices. Some doing very high quality work at 1/2 or 2/3s what a career guy has to charge to stay in business. I heard about one fellow who bragged when retiring a while back that he had never raised his prices in the last half of his production. He had a very well paying straight job with a healthy pension waiting at the end. As for survival of the trade, I believe there will always be guys who are compelled to create fine firearms. What I say about myself is that when I found out a guy could actually create a custom gun there was nothing else in the world that I wanted to do.
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