Are You Worthy of a Custom Gun?

The answer is ‘yes’
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A couple of Mag-na-port customs by Ken Kelly.

The biggest factor to overcome when going the custom gun route is asking yourself, “Am I worthy of owning one?” At least it was my way of thinking not so long ago. Going hand in hand with this “worthiness” is being able to afford a custom gun. Cost is the limiting factor, and I’m not telling you it’s okay to empty your children’s college fund, but there are ways of getting a custom gun without a lot of cash.

Laser engraving/plating by Precision Custom Guns with mastodon
ivory stocks by SK Stocks can really spruce up anyone’s shooter.

DIY Route

While being a cop my adult life allowed me to pay the bills, there wasn’t a lot of extra cash left over. But it didn’t stop me from having customized guns. I simply did as much as I could to the guns I already had. I spent my waking hours looking for “bargains” in all the usual places. My long-term plan was to eventually spruce these guns up with DIY stocks, action jobs, aftermarket sights and other minor gunsmithing, making the guns look and shoot better.

Anyone can buy a Belt Mountain base pin for your single-action shooter. The oversized pin will tighten your cylinder while adding a classic look to your gun with custom offerings like their #5 base pin. Next, I’d look at sixgun stocks. Nothing changes the appearance more than a nice set of stocks. You can do them yourself, with minimal skill. Just take your time and you’ll have the added self-satisfaction of doing them yourself.

I’ve also polished out undersized cylinder throats with basic tools and it did wonders for accuracy. Doing it yourself is economical and fulfilling. As time goes on, you’ll get better or you may seek a professional’s services. I’ve got guns I’ve stocked myself, and while not perfect, they carry a special charm I appreciate.

The top gun was the first Tank worked over by honing cylinder throats,
replacing a base-pin and trigger job. Middle gun is a simply perfect
John Linebaugh custom; bottom, a Ken Kelly of Mag-na-port custom.

The Introduction

About six years ago, I met Bobby Tyler of Tyler Gun Works. I think most of you have heard of him. He had a plan to make nice, ornamental custom guns affordable to the average working man. A hard worker himself, he knows the value of the dollar. By using young, or newer people in the industry, Bobby provided custom work giving people the chance to hone their skills in the craft they practice. It was a win-win-win situation for everyone involved. I managed to buy an engraved gun through Bobby and it seems his plan is working, judging by how busy he is.

Over time, your kids graduate college, move out and there’s more money available for your interests. Now, instead of working over one of your guns, you can afford a full-blown custom job.

A pair of Tyler Gun Works full-blown customs.

Function Or Fancy?

Custom guns don’t need to be prissy. I have several guns worked over purely for performance. They had trigger and action jobs, along with accuracy packages where cylinder throats were honed, barrel crowned and timing executed for upmost accuracy. A John Linebaugh custom is plain as day, until you examine it closely, recognizing the precision involved in making it.

The same goes for factory guns from their respective custom shops. The Magnum Research BFR comes to mind here. Also, Freedom Arms, maybe the most precisely built single action ever made. Their accuracy, durability and tolerances are legendary.

Alan Harton converted Tank’s .357 3-screw to .44 Special, ala’ Skeeter Skelton-style.

Refurbished

Getting a dog of a gun and giving it a second chance is also a fun, worthwhile project. Guys like Ken Kelly of Mag-na-port come to mind here. Known for their Detroit Muscle Car look, Kelly can buff, hone, polish, jewel and blue with the best of them, and his action work on vintage S&W revolvers is legendary. I’d put his action work against anyone’s.

Guys like Doug Turnbull and Hamilton Bowen can perform magic to any tired gun you may have. The only limiting factor is how much you want to spend, or more importantly, how much you can afford to spend. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. Don’t dig yourself in a hole doing it. Start slow, maybe doing some of the things yourself. Heck, I have some friends who are totally satisfied doing just that.

Buy some easy replacement parts to upgrade your shooter. Stocks, base pins, ejector rods and housings, and of course sights. Check out Fermin Garza’s smorgasbord of front sights available to jazz up and improve accuracy of your shooter.

Yes … You Are!

To answer the question titled in this article, yes, you are worthy of a custom gun — or at least a customized gun. There are several different paths for you to take. Remember, it’s not a race, or contest. Take it slow and enjoy the journey to customized sixgunnery.

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