My visit to that company with the ridiculous name


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00-Guy
March 24, 2006, 02:07 PM
Long Post Alert

OK. Not that my presense was missed, but recently business took me to Western Washington State. Since I had some downtime, I took the opportunity to visit Ljutic Industries, Inc. Thus I missed this thread http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=189929 For the record, I am the proud owner of Ljutic Mono Gun #35XX. (third owner, manufactured in 2001 and assembled in 2002. Polished, not blued receiver, fixed choke pull trigger with standard rib and wood, no engraving.) As I often say, my gun is a better shooter than I am.

I had called Nadine (aka Mrs Al Ljutic) about two weeks prior to arrange a time for the visit. Ljutic is located in a non-descript warehouse in Yakima WA. I called Sharon (the secretary) for directions and she provided the necessary details that Mapquest fails to provide. I arrived at the agreed upon time and was greeted by Nadine's granddaughter, who was filling in for a sick Sharon. Nadine was a joy to meet in person. She truly understands the appeal of their guns to shooters. We headed into the shop.

Nadine walked me through the complete process of the making of a Ljutic gun. We started with the materials. All parts are milled/machined or carved. There is no stamping, casting or preformed parts here. (OK springs and screws are the exceptions.) Most of the receivers and trigger parts are 01 tool steel. I forgot to ask which grade of stainless they used for their stainless guns. All parts are initially milled on a Fadal 3 axis CNC machine. Josef Ljutic, Nadine's oldest son, does the programming of the system. They are upgrading each of the old 3 axis systems to 4 axis to reduce the handling steps involved. Josef is also doing the re-programming. Example the receivers required 27 handling steps on a 3 axis system. With the 4 axis system it is down to 5 handling steps. (A handling step occurs when a human must reposition the part in either a jig or turning table to accommedate the next cut.) Time to produce the receiver is reduced accordingly.

Each part is measured and inspected. The parts are then sorted by size difference. Example if a receiver is off by .0005 it is mated with a trigger housing and trigger with similar difference.

Nadine explained to me that they produce parts for about 400 guns annually. Half the parts for half the guns are manufactured in the first half of the year and the other half is done in the second half of the year.

I was shown the bluing room. I got a chance to watch their gun engraver at work. Speaking of employees, they have about 17 full time employees. Some have been there for over 30 years. The newest is the lead gunsmith Jason who has only been there for 15 months. More on Jason later.

Al Ljutic was not in the shop when we started the tour. His workbench is located in the center of the shop. It should be noted that Ljutic is not only a manufacturer of trap guns, but also a custom gunmaker. He was working on an eight shot .38 cal revolver. He worked as an old patternmaker would. He had the complete wooden mockup done on one bench. He was working on the real cylinder while I was there. I mentioned to Nadine that I had seen a matched pair of Ljutic derringers for sale on GunsAmerica. She said that Jason was working on a similar one upstairs and I could look at it when we went up.

We then went on to the stock carving station. Only the butstocks are carved here as the forends are carved in the CNC machines. There was a ton of nice looking walnut and other woods with great figure and lines waiting to be carved.

She then passed me off to Jason who took me upstairs to his loft that over looks the shop. Jason, one of Ljutic's new employees, is a graduate of the Larseen College Gunsmithing School. He was hired upon graduation to be the lead gunsmith at Ljutic. (Hint: if you call with a technical question, 90% of the time you speak with Jason. Jimmy Ljutic gets the other 10% of the calls.)

Ljutic keeps great owner records. Initially Nadine pulled my file and we walked through the info that I already knew. (Who, what, when, where of my gun.) I reminded Jason that he and I had spoken over the summer when I had a problem with my gun. He pulled out his repair log and found my gun. We talked about the problem, how to check for it, and some things that I can do to prevent it from happening again. (I'm not telling except that Ljutic and Dillon have very similar warranties.) He showed me four very interesting guns that he was working on. The first was a .308 rifle based on a Space gun foundation. It was sleek and had that evil black rifle look about it. The next was the derringer that Nadine had mentioned. It was in for a pre-sales checkup by its owner. The next was a new Staineless Spacegun Jason was building up for himself from spare parts in the shop. The last and most interesting gun was a side by side semi-automatic trap gun. This was a gun that was based on Al Ljutic's designs from the late 60's. I am not a gunsmith, but I believe that this gun was shelved by Al since it did not meet his simplicity test. (Simple to operate and simple to shoot.) I believe that its action was some what similar to the Browning recoilless trap gun.

Jason then was kind enough to answer a few of my maintenance questions. My foreend is sometimes difficult to remove. He suggested lightly filing/sanding the catch to remove any burrs. I asked about trigger group cleaning. I told him that I usually drop the trigger group every 2500 shots for a cleaning. He told me that this needs to be done every time that I finish shooting. Clean with laquer thinner, blow it out with compressed air and lube with a heavy grease at three points.

I thanked Jason for his time. Before heading downstairs, I was introduced to Jimmy's dog, Selka. (Hint: it is the name of their new model Spacegun-like guns) As I was leaving, I saw that Al Ljutic was working on his pistol. I just could not bring my self to interupt him. Something about asking Michaelanglo how the statue of David was coming. I was content to watch him for a few minutes before I headed out the door.

In talking with one of the machine operators, he told me that his father used to work for Ljutic. His dad was a long time trapshooter with Ljutic Mono number 13X. He was proud to own Ljutic #24X as the original owner. He said that he really enjoyed working and shooting with Ljutic. I could see and hear it.

Ljutic attention to detail is great. The care in the building of their guns is matched by their customer service. I chose to purchase my gun based on its reputation as a quality gun. I would still buy it now for that reason, but the customer service is jusdt icing on the cake. The fact that I could call up and ask for a shop tour to me was really exciting. These truly are guns to last a lifetime.

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Dave McCracken
March 24, 2006, 03:45 PM
Thanks for posting all that. It IS pronounced Loo-tik, right?

Every one I know with one likes it.

IIRC, both Nadine and Al are in the ATA Hall Of Fame for their shooting.

ArmedBear
March 24, 2006, 05:30 PM
Yes on the pronunciation, or at least that's how the guy I shoot with who bought his from Al Ljutic in person and got the tour says it.:)

00-Guy
March 24, 2006, 05:56 PM
From the Ljutic website www.ljuticgun.com

Al Ljutic has been an ATA All American and won many Men's, Veterans and Senior Veterans Championships. In 1988 Al was the Senior Veteran Grand American, Preliminary Handicap, and High Over All Champion.

Nadine is an ATA Hall of Famer in her own right, having set many Women's World records. Al, Nadine, and son Josef were elected into the Washington State Hall of Fame in 1990. The Ljutic's were the first family, Nadine the first woman, and Josef the youngest ever inducted. Josef has been an ATA All American and PITA All Star Team member. Son Jim claims many ATA and PITA Championships

It is pronouced as you phonetically spelled it.

PITA = Pacific International Trap Association (Its relationship to the ATA is interesting. It makes the AL and NL early days (late 1890's) look like smooth sailing.)

esheato
March 24, 2006, 07:03 PM
Just like I said...Funny name, great guns. Thanks for the feedback on the tour. Sounds like a very classy organization.

Ed

TrapperReady
March 24, 2006, 08:10 PM
00-Guy - Thanks for a great post! I've been down at Kolar a few times and it's always fascinating watching the craftsmen work their magic.

Nice to see some true innovation (as opposed to simply finding ways to lower production costs).

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