What is a "master gunsmith"?

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by dashootist, Jul 17, 2012.

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  1. dashootist

    dashootist Member

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    Hi. What exactly does the title "Master gunsmith" means? Did the person take an exam? Go thru some kind of apprentice program? Etc...

    I am looking at a Norinco 1911. Seller claims it has new trigger parts by a certain "master gunsmith". I searched this gunsmith's name on gun forums but couldn't find anyhing about him. He does have a very professional website. Anyway, just curious if work done by "master gunsmith" should justify a higher mark up price. Anyway the 1911 is $500.
     
  2. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    In the USA it is strictly an advertising term of art. There is no certification, apprentice-journeyman program, or anything you have to go through to call yourself a master gunsmith.

    It doesn't mean that he can't do good work, but $500 for a popular Chinese gun with "trigger parts" says he didn't do MUCH work on it.

    Is his name a secret? If it isn't, somebody here might know or know of him.
     
  3. RogersPrecision

    RogersPrecision Member

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    "Master gunsmith" is usually a title that a marginally competent individual
    bequeaths on himself.
    I simply would not use anyone that self-annointed.
     
  4. dirtyjim

    dirtyjim Member

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    for some strange reason norico 1911's have always sold for a lot more than they should and all of them i've seen have been around $500+

    if he's a master smith ask around on some of the competition forums and they should know of him.
     
  5. Kruzr

    Kruzr Member

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    You could just ask if anyone has had any work done by "Name goes here."
     
  6. tekarra

    tekarra Member

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    Went for a haircut last weekend, looked at the price list, then the barber said he wanted $2 more as he was a master barber! And no, I did not pay the additional $2. Sounds the same as a master bunsmith.
     
  7. .44 Associate

    .44 Associate Member

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    When I want guaranteed competence I go to a name on the American Pistolsmith Guild list. I don't know any other way to know for a fact that the guy really knows what he's about.
     
  8. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    If I may...

    There have been military armorers who were some of the best I've ever seen at their trade. Many of them did their time...left the service...and never touched another gun.

    I knew a man who I'd consider to be a master gunsmith. He didn't specialize. He could work on anything and his work was world-class. From stocks to finishing to Bullseye pistols to PPC revolvers to hunting and benchrest rifles. He could do it all, and there weren't many guns produced from near the end of the 19th century until he died in 2007 that he hadn't had his hands in at least once.

    If he couldn't get a part for a particular gun, he made it. He also made springs and pins for long discontinued guns. I've seen him literally make a silk purse out of a rancid sow's ear...and he did a lot of it just to see if he could. Much of his work was pro bono...a favor for an old friend or some such. He made some of the prettiest curly maple rifle and shotgun stocks I've ever seen.

    If you didn't live in or around Winston-Salem, NC and frequent the various gun shops in the area that he dropped into regularly, you've never heard of him.

    John Tucci was a master gunsmith in my book.
     
  9. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Same here.

    Some of the most "Master" gunsmiths I trained with in the 60's Army AMU retired and took up drinking full time, or rental house management, last I heard of them 40 years ago.

    The old Master gunsmith who first took me under his wing and teached me a few things when I was 19 years old was a man named Tom Kincaid, here in town.

    He invented, made, and installed the Kincaid Release Trigger for the Model 12 Winchester trap gun.
    If you shot a release trigger at trap and won in the 50's & 60's, you shot a Kincaid trigger.

    Another old friend years ago that taught me a few things was a man named Jack Colyer.

    He patented the Colyer hi-cap magazine for the Remington pump & semi-auto rifles.
    Goggle "Colyer Remington magazine" and see what pops up.

    Either Tom or Jack would whack you up side the head with a steel bench block if you accused them of being a "Master Gunsmith"!

    They both could fix, make, or build anything that walked in the door someone wanted fixed or built.

    But they both would readily admit they were not master gunsmiths under the old world definition.

    Sadly, Tom was robbed in his shop by a punk who smashed both his hands with a shotgun butt while he was trying to hand over the money.
    He never could work another day, and died later a broken man.

    Jack died of natural causes as I recall, if you consider running a whiskey distillery in your liver natural. That happened while I ws away in the service, so it could be true, or not.

    Anyway, Tom was one I would consider a master gunsmith, and true gentelmen who would befriend a 19 year old kid out of high-school, and let me look over his shoulder at the milling machine, lathe, or bench block while he did his magic.

    Reflecting on it, I never met a really good gunsmith who said he was a master at anything, so I don't know what it would take to make one.

    I do know that once you think you think you master anything, you will soon find out the hard way you haven't really mastered anything at all.

    rc
     
  10. Howard Roark

    Howard Roark Member

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    Hey RC, Did you know Jack Maples? He was a fine pistolsmith from the USAMU.

    The only gunsmith I ever heard refer to himself as a "master" was a plumber for the AMU. A magazine did an article on him and refered to him as a master. From then on master gunsmith it was.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2012
  11. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    No,
    Jack Maple (not Maples) I think?, was about 10 years before my time.


    I heard of him, because we where still using some of the tools and methods he had developed in the 50's and early 60's to build National Match 1911's.


    Anyway, he was already long gone at Army AMU at Ft. Benning GA before I was at 5th. Army AMU at Ft. Riley KS in 1968 - 69.

    rc
     
  12. Kruzr

    Kruzr Member

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    By my criteria, one could only be a "master gunsmith" in one or two types of specific guns. He may know other guns of all sorts but like a doctor, one can't be a specialist of too many things.

    A "master gunsmith" would be a specialist who not only fixes and makes things pretty but also can innovate to improve functional operations of the gun by developing new parts or new ways of doing things. The work would speak for itself.
     
  13. Old Dog Man

    Old Dog Man Member

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    Master Gunsmith

    Gota agree with RC, I only knew one smith that wore a patch on his shoulder that said Master Gunsmith, I think he ordered it from some book or other because he was not a master of anything. I also worked with and learned a lot from smiths and machinist over my career ( 1960-2012) retired July 1st and never considered knowing everything there was to know about working on guns. Al
     
  14. crossrhodes

    crossrhodes Member

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    Humble

    I have to agree 100% with RC. There is a guy with a Master Gunsmith Certificate from Penn State in the town over from me and he's always calling or bring over firearms for me to "help" with. Hey RC do you know Hurbert Jermin?
     
  15. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Hurbert Jermin doesn't ring any bells.

    rc
     
  16. dashootist

    dashootist Member

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    Ken Crowley
     
  17. Kruzr

    Kruzr Member

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    Titles aside, Ken Crawley is known in the 1911 world and well known in Texas. I've read lots of comments by happy customers over the years and can't recall anything negative, ever.
     
  18. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    There is a guy that we around here would call a Master Gunsmith for sure. His name is Bill Morrison. I feel that the title belongs to an individual that can repair/rebuild/make/improve anything gun related and has forgotten more than any 10 average smiths will ever learn in their lifetime. Most of the guys will humbly say " I don't know if I can fix it, here, let me see it for a bit." and they can just know with a touch and working the action what most problems are. I equate it to zen the way they work.:cool: If you have ever seen one of these guys in action you will know it immediately.:) I should someday be so lucky as to have someone think that I am one.:D
     
  19. pat701

    pat701 member

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    Probably around $30 an hour more for a "master Gun Smith"
     
  20. gpb

    gpb Member

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    What is a "Master Gunsmith"?

    1. Someone who takes twice as long to perform the work.

    2. Charges twice as much to do the work.

    3. Only messes the gun up half as much when doing the work.
     
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