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Gunsmith Responsibility


Kimberkid

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I am not sure if this is the right forum for this, if not, please relocate as nessecary...

Note: No specific gunsmith names have been mentioned.

I had an open STI built by a semi local smith about a year and a half ago. Part of the deal was slide lightening to be done at a time after the gun was complete. Idea of this was that I would get to shoot the gun with a full wieght slide, and then lighten as I thought was nessecary. The last week of January 2006, I shipped the gun to him to have the slide lightening done. He told me to expect it back within 2 weeks. Before I shipped the gun to him, we talked on the phone very specifically concerning what the cuts would look like. I also took a magic marker (at his request) and drew on the slide what the cuts would look like. The only thing left for him to do was measure out the exact dimensions and make it symmetrical. The look was supposed to be similiar to an EGW cut, with a series of small, square holes in each side. (yes, I checked with EGW first and was told that it wasnt trademarked and that they didnt even have a personal problem with me attempting to duplicate it)

3 weeks ago, I got tired of waiting and called him several times (no answer, didnt return message) to find out why it has taken 6+ months to do this. After finally getting an email response from him, he tells me that the lightening cuts are all done and that he just hadnt gotten around to blending the comp to the slide. (a small touch he didnt do when the gun was origanlly built, and agreed to do now) He told me he needed a check to cover the cost of return shipping and it would be on its way back to me. Within a week, I sent him a check.

Yesterday, my gun comes back. (note: 2.5 weeks between check sent, and gun recieved. In the meantime, 4 emails unreturned)

The slide cuts are not even close to what was agreed on. Rather than a series of small square cut outs, there is 1 long rectangular cut on each side of the slide. This is not what was discussed, not what was drawn on the slide, not what was agreed upon.

What would you do?

I think he should replace the slide at his own cost and make the cuts that were agreed upon, within a predetermined about of time. If he cant do this, then he should have to pay another reputable, mutually agreed upon gunsmith, do the work in a mutually agreed upon time frame. I dont actually expect to get that, but I believe that would be fair.

Do I :

1. Consider this a life lesson learned and move on?

2. Attempt to get him to make this right and what is "right"?

3. Have any other legal recourse?

I would be interested in all opinions from people who have farmed out a lot of gunsmith work, and even more interested from any gunsmiths so that I might get an opinion from that side of the table.

Note: on the plus side, the gun is super accurate and runs 1000%. It aint super pretty, but function is great.

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I think Merlin and George both have good ideas.

Call him and discuss it gently (so as not to set the scene for a lot of animosity and drama), but if he makes any noises that remotely sound like an excuse, walk away. It won't get any better.

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I know a guy who had a well known smith do some "sepecial" cuts in the frame and slide that didn't even match up when matched up. In the end I think he was out the cost of the frame, slide, and cost of the cuts.

I think wilth complicated cuts I would go with someone who has cnc or lots of experience doing it by hand, because it isn't easy.

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"Note: on the plus side, the gun is super accurate and runs 1000%. It aint super pretty, but function is great."

Um, Ya wanna sell it?

I'll take accuracy and reliability over looks any day of the week.

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i would calmly ask him any reasons for this voice my displeasure.. you said he was local... why did you have to ship the gun.

Call me old fashioned. but NOBODY works on my guns i don't know.. either a lot of phone convo, or met in person. This is the reason I do just about all of my own gun work. It's better to build a couple of cheap ugly guns and learn to do it yourself in my opinion.

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I am not a "Gunsmith" nor do I play one on TV! I am not a "Professional Pistolsmith" either, since I never did this kind of work full time. I do have a NO BS Lifetime Warranty on my work that has hardly ever been used and it kind of seems to me that I missed making a friend here and there with warranty work. I had one guy that I had bring his gun back because I could not get a part to work right. It was a Bill Wilson SS ambi in an old Coltguard Commander. It came back about 5 PM one day, and it was ready to be picked up at 6 PM with a brand new SS Ed Brown ambi installed. At my expense, of course. It has been rock and roll for about 8 years now with no problem.

I feel your pain. There are only three smiths that I would recommend and they are all very busy and most are not taking new work. Yost /Bonitz is the only one I know that will do a great job for you at the present time. I am not sure that they are doing any of the gamer work at all. (Scopes and stuff) I know some really great smiths but I do not know them personally so I keep quiet about their work. I have seen it in gun mags and it's not up to my rigid standards, although others rave about it.

It is a tough business and fraught with mis-communication and unreasonable requests at both ends. I would do as the others have advised and try to work it out with the "Smith". I am glad you did not mention any names because that would hurt you, not help you with solving this problem. The guys I know back up what they do and always do the right thing regardless of the expense involved. I think the secret is to do it right the first time, but I realize that is an old fashioned concept now. Good Luck on getting this taken care of in which ever way you decide will work best for you!

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To fill in some holes in my story:

1. I did know him personally before all this. I had shot a number of matches squadded with him, and talked to him quite a bit previous our business relationship.

2. I dig that form follows function, but I paid a particular price for a particular product. I didnt get what I paid for. Like everything, it is a package. Would you pay Brazos price for a gun that ran 100% but looked like a turd? (I didnt pay Brazos price, and it doesnt look like a turd, but I hope ya'll get the idea)

3. As far as knowing from his initial work, this was his initial work. This was all paid for upfront. This was part of the original build. The original build took MUCH longer than was agreed upon, but by that time, he already had all my money. The slide lightening was something I had already paid for in the original price.

4. He is semi local. I hate Chicago traffic and in my truck it is about the same for gas and tolls as it is to ship it. Rather than pay for gas and tolls and kill a saturday, I opted to ship it back and forth.

I guess what I was also trying to ask is, what do you all think is appropriate for him to do? I dont want to be asking for anything outrageous as a means of righting this wrong, only what is fair. I fully expect to take the shaft on this deal, just curious as to ya'lls idea of what is fair.

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I don't mean to butt in too much in this issue, where the reputation of a colleague is at stake, (even though his name has not surfaced) but a few things are missing from this puzzle. For instance: could we see a picture of this "disfigured" gun?

Some of our top 'smiths can do miracles where reliabilty issues are concerned, but are not so great "metalsmiths". Some can be great metalsmiths, but not so great action workers. It's the nature of things human. Many shooters expect the styling of a "Ferrari" but take their work to a "Chevy" builder. Hmmm????!! IMHO, if you wanted the "EGW styling" you should have sent the gun to EGW! :rolleyes: Many "Chevy" builders can promise to deliver a "copy" of a Ferrari styling. But a copy is a copy, and if done by a Chevy builder, it is likely that it will end up looking like a Chevy. Nothing wrong with the Chevy, unless you expected a Ferrari, in which case ... ???????

Always, if possible, ask to see samples of the "versatility" in styling available from your 'smith, and remember that each one has his own "tendencies" in styling before you ask him to copy/imitate somebody elses style. Maku mozo.

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Venry,

Doesn't the "Chevy" builder have any responsibility to say that they can't reproduce "Ferrari's"???

I look to a good gunsmith to guide me through the build process as I am not the tradesman in this scenario (if you need advice on structural collapse shoring techniques, I am your guy). If in that process someone commits to a project, be it parts, fitting, function, or cosmetics, then they and only they become responsible for producing what was committed too.

In that light it seems in this case the smith might have over reached. Without personally slamming him it is on him to make it right.

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I don't mean to butt in too much in this issue, where the reputation of a colleague is at stake, (even though his name has not surfaced) but a few things are missing from this puzzle. For instance: could we see a picture of this "disfigured" gun?

Some of our top 'smiths can do miracles where reliabilty issues are concerned, but are not so great "metalsmiths". Some can be great metalsmiths, but not so great action workers. It's the nature of things human. Many shooters expect the styling of a "Ferrari" but take their work to a "Chevy" builder. Hmmm????!! IMHO, if you wanted the "EGW styling" you should have sent the gun to EGW! :rolleyes: Many "Chevy" builders can promise to deliver a "copy" of a Ferrari styling. But a copy is a copy, and if done by a Chevy builder, it is likely that it will end up looking like a Chevy. Nothing wrong with the Chevy, unless you expected a Ferrari, in which case ... ???????

Always, if possible, ask to see samples of the "versatility" in styling available from your 'smith, and remember that each one has his own "tendencies" in styling before you ask him to copy/imitate somebody elses style. Maku mozo.

I don't buy the "if you wanted the 'EGW styling' you shoud have sent the gun to EGW" line as an acceptable excuse for work that isn't even close to what was agreed upon. If the gunsmith didn't feel comfortable doing the agreed upon work, he shouldn't have accepted the job. If the slide was marked up to show where to cut and he had any question about it, the smith should've called the customer before doing the cuts. That's just basic good business practices.

At this point, I'd call the smith, ask him to either:

a) Reimburse you for the cost of the slide, the cost to fit the slide to the rest of the gun, the cost he charged for the lightening cuts and the cost to ship the slide. Then you send him the slide back.

B) Buy a replacement slide, perform the cuts as requested ASAP, fit the slide to everything else, and any shipping costs. Then you send him the slide back.

If the gunsmith refused to do either of the two choices above, I'd let everyone know exactly who it was to warn them about a gunsmith not performing work as agreed upon. Then I'd probably file suit in a small claims court.

That said, we're only getting one side of the story here and I'm a little curious to hear the other side.

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I wasn't trying to be flippant, tho' it might've come off that way now that I reread my post. Sorry, but I'm actually serious. Out here on Maui where friends have gotten burned quite a few times by mainland 'smiths, the usual recourse was to sell the gun and start over as opposed to all the hassle and back and forth and in the end you still might not have what you wanted in the first place.

Send me a pm if you're interested in selling it as a basis to get another one started by someone who'll do it right this time.

Like I said I'll take accuracy and reliability over looks any day; so far the only guns I've ever had that ran right were the ones I built myself...but they look like tu...um' well maybe toads. I dunno if I'd pay full Brazos price for a toady gun...if it got me to the top of my class, I just might.

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A couple of years ago, I had Claudio Salassa down at Briley build an STI. I had a laundry list of specifications, the first being the STI SOCOM frame (since discontinued). Claudio and I talked extensively about the gun, then built it up for me. For whatever reason, the gun came in without the SOCOM frame. I picked up the phone at the gunstore I was taking the transfer, and called Briley. Claudio offered for me to keep the gun while he made a new one. He offered up front after apologizing for the mess up. (I sent the mistake gun back to him without taking the transfer. I didn't want him to loose any more money than was necessary on the deal.)

Now I work at a small gunstore in the Dallas/Ft Worth area. We have been looking for a competent general gunsmith for years. Our current gunsmith "thinks" he can perform any task, and with a 3 day turn around. I've had to apologize to more customers, and warn a lot of customers off, pleading with them to take their gun somewhere else. One such customer brought us a Wilson Combat, and wanted the Ed Brown Bobtail mainspring housing installed, and needed us to drill the new pin holes. He was going to file down the frame, but didn't want to buy the Ed Brown jig for the new holes. Our gunsmith uses what looks like a hand held drill and butchers this guys frame. The holes were too big and not in the right place. Before I took the frame in to give to our gunsmith, I told the customer that if this were my gun, there is no way I would give it to our gunsmith. (Our recourse on this, for those who are interested, our gunsmith filled the holes and the customer took his gun to someone else. The gunsmith lost his time, but no extra money.)

Briley has the resources and the reputation, and to me, that is well worth the extra money. Moral of the story, you can pay too little for a product, but you can never pay too much.

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I would probably start off by asking the smith if there was a reason he didn't do the cuts as specified. I've got a lightened slide on my gun (EGW) and I know some other folks have tried to replicate it without the best results, cracked slides being the biggie. You're smith may have looked at the cuts you had marked and thought that they would weaken the slide too much. See if he's got a reason first. Beyond that I'd ask him to pay the price of the slide and return the cost of the fitting/lightening of the slide.

On your next gun, since you're shipping it anyway, pay the extra money to have it sent to a name smith. Some folks are happy with what the local guy can do. I was for a while. For others only the best will do. It's worth the extra money if that's the way you feel.

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Smokshwn-

Absolutely. The 'smith definetely over-reached to deliver a "copy" but couldn't exactly deliver as promised. Then again, if I read it right it was a rendition of a "tracing/marking" made/overlaid in the slide. I did not see it, nor do I know the specifics, but a couple of possible scenarios come to mind. (This is all speculation of course, as a "picture" of the gun would clear a lot of junk.) One scenario would be the aesthetic ability of the drawing/er, whether it was meant literal or to interpretation??? and the other could/would be "structural", whether it was properly laid out over possibley compromising areas??? It seems as there was also a COMMUNICATIONS problem here. Who is to blame???? Unfortunately for the 'smith, HE will be left with his reputation tarnished, regardless of his intentions, deserved or not. Even if he does restitution, which I believe he should. It is/would be a very small price to pay.

Again, beauty can be in the eye of the beholder, and expectations can vary wildly. This is the main reason why many 'smiths have developed their own style and refuse to imitate "exactly" what somebody else does, regardless of the practicality of the design. But very often the shooters do not want to hear this, stating that they are paying the bill and should get exactly what they demand. No bones here, and I agree, so long as it is mutually agreed. A good "businesslike" 'smith would just refuse to do something he does not feel confortable building rather than mislead the customer and then deliver his own idea hoping that the customer eventually will see it his way. That's a bad gamble, that most likely will backfire and bite him in his behind. Either you do it or not, but once you commit you MUST deliver, period. A disgruntled customer can be a terrible thing for business, as shown here. They say "buyer beware" ... but in truth, it is more like "builder beware", for you (the builder) can/could stand to lose more thatn just that one customer because of it. :(:huh:

MPolans-

Yes, indeed. Communications definetely suffered here, obviously. Or, at least the interpretation acquired and delivered. The customer IS always right, regardless of how outrageous the demands, once the 'smith accepted the commission and took the money, especially if the 'smith provided all the materials used in the project.

gino_aki-

Your view is likely to please the 'smith whose most likely thought was "function" rather thatn "form". Again, there are many 'smiths that are basically "armorers" and reliability "only" concerned and would/could not care any less for final looks. It is this type of 'smiths that should refrain from offering cosmetic work that they can not do or are unwilling or able to do. A Custom Pistolsmith should be able to deliver what the customer wants, after all that is what "CUSTOM" stands for, even if it would require the 'smith to have sent the gun to EGW to get the EGW work/look for his customer. I, personally like to keep a good working relationship with my colleagues in this regard, and will/would do exactly just that. If you want to buy a "Brazos" or "EGW" or "Bedell", etc. from me, you can. I will just get it from them and sell it to you. If you need/want aditional work performed in that gun, that can also be arranged. This is not a "sales pitch", just a statement of possibilities that can be reached through communication. As for "ugly turds" that perform beautifully? That sounds a lot like my first wife!!! :D:D:DB)B):wub:

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New News:

There was no communication issue. He agrees that he fully understood what I wanted, but after looking at it further he decided that the cuts we agreed on, and I drew on the slide, didnt effectively lighten the slide. So he just made cuts that took out more wieght. What I wanted was not too complicated at all, a series of 4 little square holes on each side of the top of the slide. What I got is 1 long rectangular hole on each side that extends from just behind where the barrel locks up at the muzzle to just in front of the barrel lugs. Notice it took him 6 months to make cuts that ANYONE, gunsmith or not, could do in 30 minutes including set up. They could have been done in a drill press, with very little trouble.

He did offer to order and cut a new slide, and after the new slide is cut, he would let me ship him the gun then, and fit the new slide to gun while absorbing all the costs. I am only leery to do this for the reason that he has already proven himself unreliable at best in regards to maintaining a time frame. The gun runs 100% as it is, and it doesnt look bad really, just not what I wanted. Nothing wrong with whiskey, unless you ordered beer sort of thing. I am also hesitant to change anything on a gun that works.

I have given a lot of thought to selling it. I keep thinking about shooting it a couple hundred more rounds to make sure it works right, and then get rid of it for something more to my liking.

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"Square Holes?" The only way I know to do this is with EDM. Can he do this type of machining? He should have turned down this job unless he could do what you wanted. He was in it for the money so he took it upon himself to do what he wanted, not what you wanted. My EDM guy takes forever but he does a great job so I live with the wait and don't bug him. I took him 12 slides in February and got them back in late August, but it was wirth the wait to me.

I am glad he backed it up and offered to fix it, (maybe) but I think you should just shoot it and be happy it runs! Have you asked him how he would do square holes? I also do not see the need to know who he is. This is a good place for this thread to end.

One more thing: I turned down 10 jobs for every one I did. It made life easier not to have to work for the bucks.

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The Kid thinks that I made a bad suggestion and that HE should end this thread with my questions unanswered. I wish to apologize for my suggestion and I did not realize it was "Bad Form" Sorry Kid! I am still very interested in the "Square Holes" and how a machinist would do this. Perhaps with an end mill and then a broach? Eager minds want to know!

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