A Tale of Two Fine Gunsmiths

Screen Shot 2013-02-24 at 7.45.49 AMTo follow the entire series on my custom rifle build, click here.  (The most recent will at the top of the page.)

If you have been following my custom 6XC rifle progress, you will recall that I had been lucky enough to talk to a highly respected gunsmith, Robert Gradous, several times and learned so much from the time I spent talking with him. The last time I talked to him he was as kind as ever, and in-fact is the person who brought Huber triggers to my attention. I did end up purchasing a Huber trigger based on his recommendation, after some research and after talking to John Huber about the engineering design of his trigger. Because I had talked to Mr. Gradous so many times, I was generally planning on having him build my rifle. He has a week long class where you build your own rifle, under his instruction. That class very appealing to me and who knows, maybe someday I will get to do something like that. Robert did tell me there would be a long delay, and he told me that he had a friend, Dana English, who he recommended if he could not fit me in his schedule. Also, I believe he said Dana English is more experienced in 6XC rifles. I considered this, but Dana’s shop is in Florida, and I cannot see myself delivering my parts to Florida. (Yes, I could have shipped the parts, but since I am really trying to learn from this process and really want to meet and talk to the fine gunsmiths, I did not want to ship my parts.)

When I first began researching gunsmiths, there were only two people I wanted to build my rifle, Robert Gradous or Alan Brown from AJ Brown Arms Co. Why did I call Robert first? Simply because I had written his number down before Alan’s. You can read the story of the first conversation I had with Mr. Gradous here. Like every true firearms expert I have met, Robert was so kind and generous with his time that he won me over and I didn’t immediately call Alan.

Perhaps Robert would have fit my rifle in at some point, but if I was going to change my mind and go with a different gunsmith – then it had to be for a darn good reason. As I mentioned, one of my requirements (besides reputation and expertise) was to meet the gunsmith I was trusting with my new 6mm baby. I decided the best option was to go back to my initial short list of choices and give Alan Brown a call. There are so many pros to Alan that I truly should have called him first. If I had listed the pros and cons between my initial two desired gunsmiths, I WOULD have called Alan first.

As many of you who read this blog know, I spend a lot of my time in Indiana. AJ Brown Arms is located in Indiana, just about 45 minutes from Crane. I have a few friends who work at Crane, so I always have someone to visit there. My rifle mentor, $$$, also lives in Indiana and would be able to assist me if a part had to be delivered etc. Alan had a full and successful career working at the Small Arms Division at Crane, developing rifles required for military requirements. Basically he was directly supporting the Navy and Marines, delivering critical precision firepower. As a Navy girl, how could I not love this? He spent over 25 years building precision rifles for the military and now has continued his work as a retirement career. The best part is, I could visit Alan to deliver my parts and to discuss my build in person. Yes – after I thought about it, I decided I really needed to ask Alan Brown to build my rifle, officially.

About a month ago, I called Mr. Brown and asked him if he could fit my rifle into his schedule. Again, he was just as nice as he could be, and said it would not be a problem if I wanted to bring my parts to him. He said we’d discuss the specifics when we met. At that time I knew I was going to go to Indiana in a few weeks, I was only waiting on the trigger.  I knew I had a plan!

I do have a great story to tell you. I actually met Mr. Alan Brown this week and the visit was fantastic. But, I think I am going to save that tale for another day…

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