Engraved Guns = Addicting


August 2, 2009, 10:07 AM
I have all the guns I need or want (yeah, right...we've all said that before!) and I've found over the past few years that, instead of buying another gun, I've been getting the ones I already have engraved.

I know that engraving is very subjective and there are those who don't like it at all. But I grew up (born in '65) appreciating fine blueing or nickel plating and excellent wood to metal fit and finish.

My tastes run to 75% coverage instead of more (100% seems too much to my eye) or less (25% is not enough). All the styles are appealing to me, but American Scroll really calls to me.

While there are many engravers out there with amazing artistic talents, I found Michael Gouse in Montana by searching around the internet and chose him for my first engraved gun. I was so pleased that I keep going back. And back. And back. I can't stop myself. I'm starting to think about selling other guns so I can afford to have some more engraved. Yep, addicting.

The first gun I had Gouse engrave is an 1883 1st Model S&W .32 Safety Hammerless breaktop. The gun was in horrible condition on the outside, but mechanically sound. The big draw for me was the set of perfect, old, original S&W medallion mother of pearl handles I had that fit on it. The gun wasn't worth much as it was and I felt the pearl handles deserved better. Since the bore was good and so was the action, I decided to "bring it back."

Here is the result of having the flaking and rusted nickel plating removed, polished, reblued in an old world blue, and engraved with 75% coverage American Scroll. I made a cigar box into a presentation case for it too:


I was so pleased with Gouse's work (and his turn around time and pricing) that I sent him my S&W 624 and had it made into a Skeeter Skelton tribute gun. I had the 4" .44 Special for years with a set of birdseye maple Skelton style handles from Bear Hug Grips. I had Gouse engrave it with 75% coverage American Scroll and add Skeeter's cattle brand to the backstrap:




I decided to save on shipping and sent two guns to Gouse on my next "go around." My 1988 Interarms Walther PPK had served me well for the last 20 years but I bought a new Ruger LCP to replace it as a carry gun. I figured I would reward my trusted PPK with a little "enhancement." Yep, you guessed it - 75% coverage American Scroll. I was tempted to try Gouse's German Acorns & Oak Leaves, but since the guns is marked "Made in the USA" I decided to stick with American Scroll. I liked how my Camillus Robo Heat knife looked with my PPK and the way they matched with their stainless/black plastic combo so I had Gouse add a little scroll to the knife as well:


A co-worker had given me a Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless .32 made in 1916 for free. It was in terrible condition and I had to buy a new barrel for it because the original was so rusted and pitted as to be unsafe. I had the gun re-blued locally and it turned out so well that I sent it along with my PPK to have Gouse apply...well, you know what I had him do!

Here's the Colt when I first got it (the grips are a perfect old set my dad had in his gun box, the originals that came with the gun were all broken up):


Here's how it looked after I had it re-blued (and added a set of bonded ivory handles to it):


Here it is today (with the bonded ivory handles):


And with my dad's old originals on it:


Many years ago, I found a great deal on a Marlin 1894 .44 Magnum. My dad cut the barrel down to 16" by hand (hacksaw and hand files to re-crown the barrel and recut the dovetail for the front side and barrel band) for me. I like a short lever action. I refinished the wood with Linspeed and removed the white spacer in the buttstock. My best friend made a few custom John Wayne big loop levers for his Marlin, mine, and my dad's. He even had our initials added to the bottom of the custom lever after it was blued to match Marlin's blue. I added a saddle ring and had a great little woods saddle ring carbine. But after my addiction started, I decided this neat Marlin needed some engraving. Gouse engraved the barrel band and forearm band along with top of the barrel, 2" from the frame. After the rifle was engraved, I put a Lever Gunleather buttstock cover on it (holds extra rounds on the right side) tooled with a Mountain Lion:



When I ordered the buttstock covers, I got one from my Marlin 336 .35, one for my best friend who made the custom big loop lever (his last name starts with a "Z"), and the Mountain Lion cover for my engraved 1894:


In addition to my Gouse engraved guns, I also have a Jeff Flannery engraved Ruger Single Six with elephant ivory handles:


And I also have a factory engraved Colt SAA .45 150th Anniversary Engraved Sampler:


I called Gouse the other day and "got in line" to have another gun engraved. I bought one of the new Ruger Blackhawk .44 Special Lipsey's Exclusive revolvers. I ordered a set of birdseye maple handles for it and I'm going to have it engraved to match my S&W 624 as another Skeeter Skelton tribute gun (cattle brand and all). I think I'll have to make a custom presentation box for both the Ruger and the S&W to go in. (So much for not buying any more guns, eh?)

Here's the Ruger...it looks so plain without engraving!


So who else has the engraved gun addiction? Let's see some pics!


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August 2, 2009, 10:44 AM
Looks like you are putting Gouse's kids through college. I still think that Colt auto pistol is one of the most beautiful guns I have seen.

I only have the one engraved pistol and it was also done by Gouse. His work is good and his prices are excellent. A good value. I have thought about sending him the slide from my oldest 1911 for some work. Not sure if I feel good about letting the whole gun go with a shipper as it was stolen once and I was lucky to get it back.


Here's the before shot.


August 2, 2009, 05:02 PM
I like quality engraved guns too. I have a dozen or so. I like a finely blued gun just as well or even a gun with a well worn finish. I can't find any beauty in a plastic pistol or a composite rifle or shotgun stock, but I can appreciate the functionality. So there is a place for all of them.

August 2, 2009, 07:06 PM
Here is the one I wanted and missed by a couple of days.


Uberti 1862 replica

August 2, 2009, 07:23 PM
mm6, that S&W 624 is beautiful!

That's a really cool look, I like it a lot. How much does something like this cost? I'm sure it varies by gun, style, etc etc

August 2, 2009, 08:32 PM
Those are really lovely, I hadnt really looked at his work before. I have a couple of factory engraved Brownings, this is a model 1910/71 Renaissance grade. I need to take some better pics of it one day.


Larry Ashcraft
August 2, 2009, 09:46 PM
As an engraver, I'm not usually a fan of engraved guns.

But those are some fine pieces. Enjoy, You won't find any finer.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
August 2, 2009, 10:01 PM
Dayum! That's pretty; oh, so pretty!

August 2, 2009, 10:45 PM
.....So who else has the engraved gun addiction? Let's see some pics!

I've always had a appreciation for art, studying engraving styles and how detailed they are gives one a respect for the talent and skill these craftsmen possess.


August 3, 2009, 02:21 PM
Beautiful firearms. This style really interests me and i am considering getting work done on my stainless 1911. How much would an engraving job cost and where are some sites that i can research this? thank you for your time.

August 3, 2009, 04:00 PM
Really nice stuff. Thanks for the pics.

I have only one engraved gun, a Model 15 I inherited.


August 3, 2009, 04:05 PM
Beautiful guns. I am not a collector, but do have one engraved (1961 Colt) and would appreciate any opinion of the engraving. also, How would I get in touch with Mr Grouse for future work.

August 3, 2009, 04:18 PM
If you are near Houston, TX, Collectors Firearms has got a bunch on display (and for sale). It seems they got an estate a few years back that was loaded with engraved guns. The ones that surprised me were the polymer framed guns (like a glock) that got done. Not real sure I like the engraving on non metal framed guns, but some might.

Here are a couple of examples of what I am talking about:




This is a link to the search I did to find these, bunch more on there along with the prices.


M2 Carbine
August 3, 2009, 06:01 PM
There's some good looking guns there.:)

A couple weeks ago I happened into a new "Second Amendment Tribute", S&W 500, 1 of 200.

I haven't been able to take a good full size picture because some part or other comes out too shiny.
But here's a shot of some of the engraving.



August 3, 2009, 06:32 PM
Those are absolutely beautiful! I'm going to say my favorite is the 1883 1st Model S&W - looks perfect in that box.

I've considered getting one or two of my pistols done, but $$$ is the issue right now.

Going to check out Michael Gouse's website now...

August 3, 2009, 07:03 PM
I love engraving on revolvers and shotguns. I once saw in a magazine a picture of a hunting scene with the Greek god Artemis. It was stunning!

August 3, 2009, 08:09 PM
Oh wow. Some of these are REAL time BBQ guns!

Ohio Gun Guy
August 3, 2009, 08:50 PM
WOW those are great!

I looked at his web site. 300 - 500 each +

Really not that bad, IMO. That would be a great gift for someone who likes guns if you are spending that much!

August 3, 2009, 08:55 PM
Gouse's website is www.mtart.com

My S&W 624 was $600. The S&W breaktop, Walther, and Colt were all $350. The Marlin was $650. I think Gouse does great work and his turnaround time is very good after you send in your gun. He'll put you "in line" and then call or email to let you when it's time to send your gun.

August 4, 2009, 09:51 AM
I have never thought much about engraved guns either for or agin.

It occurs to me that I have one semi-collectable firearm that would look very fine with engraving. This leads to two questions:

1. Do those of you with engraved guns regularly shoot them? That is, does it affect your decision to take a gun to the range?

2. What effect does it have on the price of the gun? In your experience, can it lower the value? Mind you I am not into doing things according to others perceptions of value - I wouldn't drive standard transmission exclusively if I did.

August 4, 2009, 10:03 AM
....Do those of you with engraved guns regularly shoot them?....What effect does it have on the price of the gun?

Yes, I shoot engraved handgun several times a year, engraved shotguns get used almost weekly. They weren't NIB when I bought them, as long as there is no obvious abuse the price won't be affected that much.

August 4, 2009, 10:24 AM
Those are some mighty fine irons.
I think the proper term is artisan; not artist. There is a distinction.

August 4, 2009, 09:52 PM
I shoot all of my engraved guns.

The S&W breaktop and the Colt Pocket Hammerless .32 were almost worthless when I got them. So I only have the money I put into the engraving in them. Those two are worth more with the engraving. None of them are original so the engraving only enhances their value if a future buyer (but I'm not selling them anytime soon, they're just for my personal enjoyment) also likes their style.

The 624 and the Walther PPK are nice guns that are becoming slightly collectible, but there are bunches of them around. Again, the engraving does not increase they're value. Let's say I bought a 624 new in the box for $800 and then spent $600 on the engraving. So I'd have $1400 in it. I don't think it could be sold right away for $2000.

I would never take an original 25% finished Colt SAA made in the late 1870's and have it restored and/or engraved. Super collectibles in shooting condition are usually much more valuable in original (even if not very good) condition.

My Colt 150th Anniversary Engraved Sampler is another story. As a factory engraved collectible, shooting it definitely hurt its value. Ah well. I had fun shooting it and still do.

I'm not into any of my guns for a profit. Someday I'll sell most of them, but it won't be for a profit, it'll be to people who appreciate them, pay a fair price for them, and promise to take good care of them (which includes shooting them) well after I'm gone.

August 5, 2009, 01:23 PM
Wow. Even that Glock looks good (yeah, I said it). Keep em coming, guys.

Ian Sean
August 5, 2009, 01:40 PM
Wow, very nice work!

Very nice maple grips on the S&W. Some real artwork here.:D

August 5, 2009, 06:27 PM
Engraved plastic is indeed strange to me. But that old school 'steel canvas' style of engraving or factory samples are light years from what a weekend warrior with an electro-pencil can produce. mm6 has some really nice stuff!

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