Gunsmiths Wanted


November 2, 2013, 08:09 PM
Hello, please follow the link and comment if you are a gunsmith who is interested in a job to develop a prototype revolver. Thanks

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November 4, 2013, 06:34 PM
I'm a mechanical design engineer for a major aerospace company, and also own a machine shop.

I've read your thread, good luck with your project!

Are you looking for design and/or machining rate quotes? Be warned, the cost of designing/machining the thing is going to make the cost of your patent look cheap.

November 4, 2013, 08:27 PM

I am curious about the hypothetical costs; however, my plan was to pay an initial fee and strike an agreement, with the prototype maker, for a maximum amount of profit that would be larger than the said hypothetical cost to be payed to them should the product be successful. This would give incentive to do it and to it it right. Also, I wasn't looking for a team of engineers or professionals to devote their life to this considering it is a relatively small project. I only wanted a couple of experienced gunsmiths with the required capital to do this with me. With that said, what are your professional projections?

November 4, 2013, 09:31 PM
considering it is a relatively small project.I think you are badly underestimating how complicated designing and tooling a new revolver prototype design is.

The best gunsmiths in the country would have hundreds if not thousands of hours in the first working prototype by the time they handmade all the parts, and got them to work together in unison in a reliable fashion.

Then redesigning every part so they could be economically manufactured on production line machinery.

I wouldn't touch it with your 10' pole!

Even if I had a million dollar machine shop and hundreds of non-paid hours to work on it.
Which I don't.

I do have 50 years of gunsmith experience.
Enough to know your first gun, or 25th. gun, is not going to be made in someone's spare time, for nothing.
Based on imaginary profits somewhere down the road years from now.
Even if the gun does become successful.
Which I seriously doubt it will.

You are not the first person in the last 200 years to think of this.

None of the others were successful either.


Jim Watson
November 4, 2013, 10:12 PM
Cheaper to equip a shop and take machine tool classes, then buy some beat up guns to study than to pay somebody to turn your vague idea into a working prototype.

Jim K
November 5, 2013, 01:29 AM
No gunsmith in his right mind* is going to devote months of his time and labor to make something based on a promise of payment if the product maybe sells at some indefinite time in the future. And further to make that "thing" using only a crude sketch of an idea, meaning he would have to design the gun, not just make it. Strange as it may seem, gunsmiths like to eat and provide a reasonable living for their families.

Now if you have the design worked out, with a full package of engineering drawings, then maybe a specialist machine shop would be willing to take on the job but only on a cash for work basis, not on a "blue sky" promise.

Or maybe some established company would see a potential in your ideas and your design and be willing to pay you a royalty, but you would need a working gun first. (Browning took guns to Colt and Winchester and FN, not vague ideas.)

*OK, it can be argued that anyone in his right mind wouldn't be a gunsmith in the first place.


November 5, 2013, 10:37 AM
I am curious about the hypothetical costs; however, my plan was to pay an initial fee and strike an agreement, with the prototype maker, for a maximum amount of profit that would be larger than the said hypothetical cost to be payed to them should the product be successful.

What do you expect out of your "prototype maker"?

If you're NOT going to copy some existing lockwork (I don't believe you can with your concept) then someone has to put in the hours designing the entire firing mechanism before you even think about making parts. Do you expect your "prototype maker" to do that?

I would expect a custom prototype lockwork design, borrowing existing concepts from Ruger, S&W, Taurus, Colt, etc, where appropriate, to take a minimum of a couple of weeks of full-time design effort (80 hours). That's not making prototype parts, that's just design time by one person. Don't expect the prototype to work very well (or at all) without some significant re-design and modification once it's built.

Let's start with one simple part, a hammer for instance.

Here's a standard S&W hammer, trigger, and double action sear:

Someone has to specify all of the dimensions of the holes, curves, clearances, etc, before you even think about starting to machine your prototype. Even if you copy S&W lockwork it'll take someone a couple of hours per part just to make the drawing/cad model.

Once you have your hammer designed and drawn, figure it's going to take a couple of hours minimum of machine time to make it.

So where we're at is that even to copy an existing S&W hammer (ignoring material hardness, heat treat requirements, finish, etc for a prototype), you're looking at a couple of hours of design work followed by a couple of hours of machine work before you're holding an actual hammer in your hand.

A simple revolver has about 60 parts:

Even figuring that half of them are simple stuff like screws, coil springs, pins, etc, that leaves about 30 parts that will take significant resources to design and build. A few of them, like the frame, and cylinder, will take weeks.

A rough guess would be that you're asking someone to put in a minimum of a month of full-time design and a month of full-time machining on your prototype.

If you go out into the real world looking for quotes, engineering design time will run you about $100/hour, and machining will run about $80/hour.

4 weeks x 40 hours x $100/hour = $16,000 design
4 weeks x 40 hours x $80/hour = $12,800 machining

My guess is that you'd be asking someone to risk between $25,000 - $30,000 of their resources on your project. What proportion of that risk as an "initial fee" are you proposing?

Let's say you do all the design/drafting yourself, and present a gunsmith/machinist with a package of drawings they could work with to actually make a gun like these drawings of a 1911:

Pay special attention to the firing mechanism parts like the hammer, sear, and disconnector. See all of those little tolerances that are in the .001, .002, .003 range? A human hair is .003 (three thousandths). Since you're not building special jigs and tooling dedicated to making each part, each of those little tolerances represent a SIGNIFICANT amount of set-up time and very careful indexing and machining for each cut. Those will take several days each to machine. Expect to have to make several revisions of each part before you get the mechanism to function correctly.

Don't be surprised when each piece of your lockwork (firing mechanism and cylinder rotating/locking mechanism) is similar.

A 1911 has about 50 parts. Optimistically, figure that half the parts will take a couple of hours each to custom machine. That's 50 hours. The frame and slide would take a week each to custom machine. Now you have 130 hours at $80 for a total of $10,400 machine time in your 1911. Makes a Wilson Combat look cheap.

However, if you want to make a whole bunch of them and invest several million dollars up front into special tooling, jigs, etc, then you can get the cost down to around $200 each (this whole concept of "mass production" rather than "expensive one-off production" is pretty much the key to the industrial revolution :)).

This would give incentive to do it and to it it right.

The "incentive to do it and do it right" comes in the form of guaranteed payment when the job is done unless you can find someone who believes in your concept enough to risk their capital on it. I personally believe that the recoil difference when alternately firing two barrels with such different bore height axis's would make rapid follow-up shots atrociously difficult. In addition to the gun being unbelievably heavy, I believe that the only way to get consistent recoil performance would be to run the entire outer ring first then entire inner ring. That'll make for some complicated and delicate (expensive) lockwork.

Maybe you could try it as a "Kickstarter Project" and see if you can find anyone else who believes in it enough to actually put up some money.

Good Luck!

November 5, 2013, 01:34 PM
Some pretty brutal responses...but also brutally honest and accurate. Handgun design has been pretty well nailed for the last century, and anything that comes along will be essentially spun off from what is already there.

Another way:

You'll have to build a much better mousetrap in order to gain a foothold in the mousetrap market.

One radical departure was the Chiappa Rhino...and that one didn't exactly set any fires in the sales department. It's not that its low bore axis didn't work as intended. It's partly that the thing is so insufferably ugly and partly because of the way it "hefts" when raised to eye level. It just feels awkward.

The one that I fired didn't "sing" to me the way a K-Frame Smith does. I fired three full compliments of ammunition through it...mainly in the interest of giving it a fair chance...but it just didn't gel. It was interesting, but for my own uses, you couldn't throw one at me.

It's one thing to embark on a new design when a lucrative contract is in the offing. Jumping in up to your neck on speculation is another bowl of fish. It would help to have a pocketful of money that you can gamble, my salty old grandpappy told me: "Never bet more than you can afford to lose."

Good luck.

November 5, 2013, 02:52 PM
Story has it that Samuel Colt designed and built his first prototype revolver from wood while at sea on a ship.

There's lots of wood and wood working tools around.

Jim Watson
November 5, 2013, 07:13 PM
3D printer?

Jim K
November 8, 2013, 06:04 PM
Modelling in wood is a good idea and has been used in many areas. Maybe they use computers now, but automobile desingners used to start with balsa wood then work up to a full size clay model before even thinking about calling in the die makers.

Hi, 45 Auto,

I note that the pic of the S&W lockwork doesn't even mention the secondary cam that gives the S&W its non-stacking DA trigger pull. I am always astonished by how many gunsmiths and serious gun folks don't understand it or even know that it is there.


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