Turnbull Restoration & Manufacturing Blog

1911 Coverage A,B,C along wood log

Did I pay too much for my Model 1911

When buying a 1911 pistol, the biggest question people have is, did I spend too much for it or did I get a good value?  There are a few things you need to pay attention to when pricing out your Model 1911 Pistol; first, were all the parts machine fit or hand fit?  Second, are the parts made overseas or made in America?  And third, what kind of finish and polish has been applied to the gun? gov heritage with brown leather background  

Were all the parts machine fit or hand fit?

The biggest cost variable is whether or not a gun’s parts were machine fit or fit by a skilled Gunsmith.  The cheaper the gun, the more likely all the parts were machine fit.  In a lot of cases, machine fit parts have a tendency to be put together poorly and be out of tolerance.  Parts that are out of tolerance can cause the gun to wear down more quickly.  When this happens, parts may touch or wear in places that they were never intended to, potentially shortening the life and performance of the gun.  With hand fit parts, a Gunsmith will measure, calibrate and fit each part to ensure that they fit and function properly.  The Gunsmith will know what imperfections to pay attention to when building the gun, and knows how each part should function to reach its optimal performance.  The extra attention paid to the each step, makes assembling the gun much more time consuming, thus driving the cost up.  You can always buy the 1911 cheap and fix all the parts yourself, however, it takes strong knowledge and experience, as well as time to get all the parts fitting properly.  One of the biggest issues people have is they tend to shave too much metal off the parts, to get them to fit properly, and they compromise the integrity of the gun.  A hand fit 1911 will be a high performing and aesthetically pleasing gun, is what you want to look for when buying a 1911 pistol.Standard 1911 angled with light tan leather background LS 2

Were the parts made overseas or made in America?

Where the parts of a gun are made can certainly influence the price of the gun.  As a whole, anything made in the USA tends to be more expensive, for a variety of different reasons (mostly political), and this certainly applies to gun parts.  The difference between American made and non-American made parts has been hotly debated over the years, but it is largely based on your personal preference (similar to the car industry).  When I am buying a gun, my personal preference is to have all the parts made in the USA as I like to boast that my gun is 100% American made.  Typically, guns that are made from American made parts tend to also be hand fit instead of machine fit.  In this writer’s opinion, there is nothing like a classic American Colt Model 1911 WWI style gun made in all American parts, nothing says AMERICA, better than that.

What kind of finish and polish has been applied to the gun?

When looking to buy a quality made Model 1911, you want to make sure the colors are kept to their authentic, age appropriate finishes.  If the 1911 has been blued, you want to make sure that it is colored to the age period specific tone, so it maintains its historic look.  The closer the match, the more expensive the gun will, or should be.  Some companies have almost perfected the technique of matching the finish of the gun to it’s original age period finish, and thus they charge a premium for it.  The process is time consuming and the better the match, the longer the process will take.  Another important detail that many people overlook is the direction on which the polish was applied.  Each model of gun is made differently and that includes the direction to which the gun polish is applied.  If the polish is not applied in the correct direction, it may make the gun look odd and, to an experienced gun enthusiast, will not look age period appropriate.  It is also important to ask if it was machine polished or hand polished.  The machine polishing process does not produce a gun that looks age appropriate.  By hand polishing it, the gunsmith is able to work the polish so it comes out as close to the authentic look as possible, this hand process is an art form.  Anytime a craftsman manufactures something by hand, the quality and attention to detail are usually top notch, and this is no different when it comes to 1911’s and the polish that is on them.

It is important that any 1911 you buy meets these standards.  If a gun manufacturer cuts corners on any of these standards, they may also have cut other corners during other stages of production.  It is always important to ask your gun shop a lot of questions, like these, to make sure you are buying a quality item that will retain its value and become a family heirloom.

To learn more about how guns are manufactured, please feel free to visit us at www.turnbullmfg.com.

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Turnbull would like to Thank RIMES group!!

IMG_9203Turnbull would like to say thank you to the RIMES group for coming in and touring our facility.  We would like to especially thank Don Miller, Ken Nelson and Don Allis for heading up the event.  

The tour started with a fantastic speech by our Owner and CEO Doug Turnbull, where he described how Turnbull Manufacturing made its roots and how we got to where we are today.  From there, people were able to walk through the production floor to see how each step of a restoration and gun manufacturing takes place.  Turnbull staff members, Doug Turnbull, John Gligora and Sam Chappell, explained the process that takes place at each work station and showed examples of actual work that is currently in production.  Each of the Turnbull staff members was able to field specific questions that visitors had, to better explain how and what goes on here and at each step of the process.  Many visitors were able to share their experiences and ask questions about guns they are or have built, making this a great learning opportunity for both visitors and us.  At the end of the tour, the RIMES group, led by Ken Nelson, Don Miller and Don Allis, treated the Turnbull staff to a very nice Dinner at Mickey Finns, who did a fantastic job with the event.

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As well as offering tours of our facility, Turnbull is more than happy to offer companies, or individuals, the opportunity to have a series of Turnbull Model 1911 handguns custom made, when you purchase 25 or more.  As part of the customization, we will come out and sit down with you and or your company, to help design a custom gun, just for you or your company.  Some custom options include custom engraving patterns, company logos, custom serial numbers and personalized/initialed guns.  If anyone has interest in this offer, please contact Tracy Halpin (thalpin@turnbullmfg.com) or John Gligora (jgligora@turnbullmfg.com) at 585-657-6338 for more information.

IMG_9234Pictures of this event are available, at no cost, for anyone who would like them.  For more information about the event or pictures of the event, please contact Aaron Frank (afrank@turnbullmfg.com) at 585-657-6338.

Again, thank you to everyone who attended the tour, we hope you had a great time, and hope to see everyone again real soon.

 
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New 1911 Handguns: Restoring and Manufacturing

The Colt Model 1911 Handgun was the standard issued sidearm for the U.S. military between the years of 1911 and 1985, earning the trust of soldiers who served in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.  Since then, many former serviceman and service woman have decided to dust off their old service guns and get them restored.  Designed by John Browning, this handgun has been one of the most popular make and model to be re-manufactured in the 21st Century, since being deactivated by the U.S. military around 30 years ago.    colt 1911 before      

Restoring  the Model 1911 handgun allows the owner to bring the life back to this once proud pistol.  As one of the most experienced restores of 1911’s, Turnbull knows that the keys to restoring them are, attention to detail and maintaining the historical authenticity.

 

Attention to detail is a must when restoring a 1911 pistol.  To start the restoration process, each piece of the pistol must be meticulously disassembled and labeled (for reassembly purposes).  Once disassembled, each piece will be cleaned, polished and remarked before the proper period finishes are applied.  They are then assembled and tested to ensure it is in top working condition.  This may sound relatively simple; however, this is more of an art than it is an exact science.  Some metals react differently to the finishes making it relatively difficult to accomplish the desired finished look.  When looking for a restoration service, you will want to make sure they are capable of bringing the gun back to its original luster, and experience cannot be undervalued.colt 1911 after

Maintaining the historical authenticity of the pistol can be just as important as attention to detail.  You don’t have to get the pistol restored to exact color or finish, but you do want the handgun to have its true and original markings.  Again, this may seem like a simple process, but it is anything but simple.  These roll marks need to be sized and shaped perfectly, in order to match the original markings.  They also need to be in the same position on the slide and or frame.  Without experience in this field, you may end up with an odd looking marking on your newly restored 1911.  Again, finding an experienced restoration expert cannot be overlooked.

Manufacturing new 1911 pistols has recently become a growing market.  As one of the leaders in restoring them, Turnbull has taken that knowledge and applied it to our own line of new Model 1911 Handguns.  When looking for a new model you will want to look for one that maintains the historic look of the pistol.  However, there is more room for personal preference when buying a newly made one opposed to having one restored.

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The 1911 is a classic look that people recognize and love, and buying one new allows the buyer to have more design options that are more appealing to the individual.  Opposed to restoring, you can get relatively creative when manufacturing these classic handguns.  With new model’s, you still need to pay attention to the historical authenticity, or it won’t be recognized as the iconic piece that it is.

Companies, like Turnbull, have put their own twist on these models now.  Adding different coloring to the slide and frame and applying new grips, can really make these handguns standout.  Classic engraving styles can also be added to these guns turning them into beautiful show pieces.  When looking for a company to buy a newly made 1911 from, historical authenticity and attention to detail is still the most important thing.  Hand cut engravers, experienced metal finishers and experienced restorers make the perfect shop from whom to buy from.  Whether you are looking to use these handguns for sport or for show, the Model 1911 is a perfect choice for a handgun collector.

Whether you are an experienced collector or someone who is just beginning to collect, finding an experienced company to restore or buy new from, is a must!  Without experience, you may end up with a devalued restoration or a 1911 that is not historically accurate.  Done correctly, these classic handguns will continue their storied tradition in American History.

   

BID TO WIN A TURNBULL 1911 HERITAGE EDITION AT THE 15TH ANNUAL “TASTINGS ON THE LAKE”

tastings-smheritage-donation-OCGOPTurnbull Restoration & Manufacturing is proud to support the Ontario County Republican Committee for the second year in a row, with the donation of a Turnbull Heritage 1911. The 15th annual “Tastings on the Lake” event at the Inn on the Lake will be held on March 1st, 2015 from 1:00-4:30 PM and includes Finger Lakes wineries, microbrews, distilleries, exotic teas, organic juices, gourmet cheeses, Hor D’Oevres, cheesecake samplings and huge silent and live auctions. Turnbull’s contribution is a Turnbull manufactured Heritage Edition Model 1911. The Heritage is an accurate reproduction of the iconic 1911 pistols built during WWI. The pistol is hand built, and polished prior to our signature finishes being applied, using only components made in the U.S.A. Tickets may be purchased at the door.

VDD-GNA host Turnbull Employees at Pheasant Hunt at Palmyra Hunt Club

In appreciation for their hard work and fine craftsmanship, a number of Turnbull employees were invited out on a pheasant hunt, at the Palmyra Hunt Club, in Palmyra, NY.

Sam, Ryan, Nate, Neal, Jack and Joon from Turnbull managed to whack 34 out of 40 birds put out for the day’s hunt. “We appreciate the fine craftsmanship of the customized 12 ga O/U Ruger Red Label your team put together for our 2014 Armbruster and this is our way of saying, thank you, for a job well done!” “We also look forward to the next gun Team Turnbull customizes for our 2015 Armbruster to be held in Utah and sponsored by our Wild West Chapter of the VDD-GNA” said Ron Figler of VDD-GNA.

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Restore Your Ugly Guns with Turnbull Manufacturing

From Gunsamerica.com FEBRUARY 19, 2012

Guns can be beautiful, but they can also be downright ugly. And even though a gun may have historical significance in its original condition, ugly is ugly. If you can afford it of course, some old guns are good candidates for a complete makeover restoration, back to factory original. Restoring an old gun can be a big decision.

Winchester+Model+1886_before1 Original Colts, Winchesters, 1911s from various manufacturers, and double shotguns are worth big bucks even in rough condition, so not all guns are suitable for restoration from a value standpoint. But factory new condition is possible, even if a gun is horribly pitted and the parts are not all there. There is a tradeoff between “all original” value and refinished value in these guns, and that can get a little tricky. There isn’t a lot of collector demand for really rough guns under 45%, and these are great candidates for restoration.

Turnbull Manufacturing has been the most recognized name in old firearm restorations since shortly after Doug Turnbull started out in 1983. They employ nine full-time gunsmiths, plus an engraver, and work out of a 6400 square foot building in Bloomfield, New York. Overall, Turnbull has restored and/or repaired over 25,000 firearms, and now they even have their own line of guns There is no more respected name in firearm restoration worldwide than Doug Turnbull, and if you want your old gun restored to factory new, there is no company more capable and trusted than today’s Turnbull Manufacturing.

Winchester+Model+1886_after1 You may not even know this, but guns were much prettier back in the day. From the factory, most pre-WWII guns, through the late 1930s, had what is called a “charcoal blue” finish on the barrel. It is a light blue, not the black you see today, and it glimmers and shines, unlike the black of today. The old guns also had “color case hardening,” on many of their bare metal parts, including the receivers on rifles and the frame on revolvers. Color case hardening is a multicolor design that is literally burned into the metal and shimmers with colors ranging from blues to greens, to purples to oranges, and no two guns are ever alike. Generally they also had reddish hand rubbed wood, really beautiful stuff.

If your old gun is 45-50% or better condition, and hasn’t been cut down or had major parts or wood replaced, you should take a hard look at the all-original value before deciding to restore it, according to the experts at Turnbull. Guns in less than 45% condition can generally be refurbished back to factory new, and they will and retain in re-sale value that money that you spend with Turnbull Manufacturing (and sometimes multiply several times).

Colt+1911_mfg+1912+before1 Better condition guns are always in demand by collectors and investors, but the rougher the gun, the fewer people want it. The Turnbull crew can give you a good idea in real dollars of what the effect of a high quality restoration will have on the overall resale value of the firearm, original versus refurbished. They have a 12 month wait on restorations, so they aren’t hurting for work, and you can trust their opinion as to what is best for your gun. Doug and the guys themselves buy guns to restore and sell at a profit, because though nobody wants an old grey ugly gun, everyone wants a Turnbull, if you’re a gun nut of course.

Accuracy is often even more important than beauty in an historic firearm restoration. Parker Shotguns, for instance, are known for muted colors in their case color hardening, whereas WInchester and Colt produced guns with purple and even orange highlighting. You may have heard of charcoal bluing if you are a gun nut, but did you know that the screws, trigger, basepin and some other small parts were what is called Nitre Blued in the late 19th and early 20th century? Colt, Winchester, Marlin, and many other gunmakers used this purplish, or what is sometimes called “fire bluing” on the small parts only, because it is more durable than charcoal blue. By the second world war, the black bluing we see on guns today, which is called hot, or “dulight” bluing, became the standard because it was cheaper, but prior to this most guns were charcoal blued with Nitre bluing on the wear parts.

Colt+1911_mfg+19121 Case color hardening was used on Colt frames and Winchester receivers during the entire cowboy era, as well as on many other guns, like the Sharps, Winchester Hi-Wall, and the Remington Rolling Block. Most side by side shotguns also had charcoal bluing and case coloring. Bone charcoal is the key ingredient in this unique process that Turnbull has perfected over the years. The gun is packed in it and heated in an oven, and the longer you leave it, the richer the highlights. It also hardens the steel to a 28-35 Rockwell, and the finish can’t scratch off. It is 15-20 thousandths deep into the metal.

Turnbull can bring all of these guns and more back to factory new condition, with, in most cases the original correct markings re-rolled into the metal, clean and sharp. Over the years they have accumulated a number of original dies from the original manufacturers, and it is almost scary just how “original” they can make a beat up old gun look. They will not, however, take an Italian or other replica gun and sand off the old markings to replace them with period correct markings. This would lead to a very confusing situation with possible Turnbull guns being sold as original guns, and there are also copyright issues even if they wanted to do such a thing.

lever+polish1 The guns that Turnbull Manufacturing now makes are made from purchased parts, in the white with no finish, and Turnbull works their magic on them to make them truly exceptional pieces of art. The lever gun receivers are custom CNC machined from one, consistent supplier, and the single action revolver frames come from U. S. Firearms, who make their own version of the famous Colt that is known for great quality. Turnbull does not do action jobs though, so if you want a gun that is both beautiful and competitive, you will have to also send it out to an action specialist. Just remember that rust solvents also remove traditional bluing, because it is in fact rust, so for working guns you need to be careful not to ruin them with the wrong chemical. Also keep in mind if you plan to cowboy shoot with these guns that sunlight, and UV rays, are about the only thing that damages case coloring, and it is tough to stay out of the sun cowboy shooting.

The costs involved with a Turnbull restoration may require a specific quote. They do have a price list on their website, but those are exact prices for disassembled, cleaned and polished parts. On an old grey Colt single action that has all working parts and doesn’t need anything, a typical simple bluing and case coloring, as well as grips will run you about $2,500. A working yet ugly Winchester levergun with the metal done, as well as the stock, is about $3,000. Replica guns, brand new from Uberti and others, that you want to transform to the original factory look run about $650, and leverguns about $1300. And though the 1911 was never issued with a case colored frame, the Turnbull 1911 re-furb, to case color the frame and charcoal blue the rest of the parts, very pretty, is $650. If you have a field grade L.C. Smith, Parker, Fox or other old shotgun, complete restorations are in the $3,000 range.

roll+die+machine21 The in-house engraver has an interesting variety of functions at Turnbull. They get in a lot of old higher grade shotguns, like a Parker DHE, and many of them are in terrible shape, pitted and worn from years of neglect. In these cases, where some of the guns need to be sanded a great deal to get out the pitting, their engraver can exactly replicate the engraving that was on the gun. They also have a bunch of original patterns from Colt, Winchester, Marlin and others of the factory engraving on higher grade guns. So you can upgrade your gun as part of the restoration. Custom patterns are available as well. And engraving, historically, is also something that almost always stays in the value of the gun and often multiplies in value. Not a ton of engraved guns exist in the world, and there will always be a good market for them from collectors and shooters alike.

Instant gratification is possible at Turnbull, but not with restorations, which do have that 12 month wait generally (notice that we repeated this 3 times so don’t complain in the comments when you call and are told this). They currently have some of their Ruger #1 Rifles in their own proprietary .475 Turnbull caliber. They are roughly $2,000, and are absolute things of beauty. The Ruger #1 didn’t exist in the late 1800s, so they were never a true buffalo rifle, or the first generation of African rifles, but since Ruger introduced their much loved falling block in 1967 it became an instant classic, and a favorite of American, African, and European hunters alike. The Turnbull #1 is made specifically for them by Ruger in .475 Turnbull, and the base cost is $1,100. Refinished with rich color case hardening and charcoal blue brings them up to $2,000.

assembly1 Both Hornady and RCBS make dies to reload the straight-walled Turnbull brass (probably made for them by Starline so good stuff), and they sell the unprimed brass for $175 per 100, very reasonable. Grizzly and Corbon both make loaded ammo for the gun. For bullets, Barnes makes a solid hardened copper and zinc solid for dangerous game, and a solid copper hollowpoint TSX for extreme expansion that was designed specifically for the .475 Turnbull. I found a lead bullet supplier, with gas checks and without for $30 per 100 at Montana Bullet Works, and they appear to get the gas check mold from Lead Bullet Technology (LBT). I also found a less expensive two cavity with several drive band options with no gas check at Mountain Molds. And wouldn’t you know it, there is actually a 325 grain gas check double cavity available from Lee for twenty bucks on Midway USA. They also have the gas checks available, and they have some pre-cast bullets with gas checks for sale as well. You would need the gas check for full snot loads in this powerhouse caliber, but I think that if you want to invest in one gun for a variety of purposes, this caliber could be downloaded to much less with wheel weight bullets for whitetails. We hope to get one of these Turnbull Ruger #1s in down the road to be able to get to actually shoot one.

From an investment perspective this gun is a steal. The Ruger #1 comes in and out of production and they almost always increase in value in the odd calibers. The Turnbull #1 is the kind of gun where someone just said, “this would be kinda neat,” and they actually followed through and made a bunch. Like all specialty guns, they WILL dry up, and when that happens I predict you will have to pay twice as much for one overnight, used. I’d love to see Turnbull take this caliber to some of the classic external hammer single shots, like the Sharps, Highwall and Rolling Block, but only the latter could probably handle the pressure. Getting this gun in and shooting it will be exciting. Nobody doesn’t like a #1.

engraving1 Restoring an old gun is a tough decision, but it truly becomes a legacy and family heirloom that you create yourself. And though Turnbull doesn’t encourage people to send a $100 gun in for a $2,000 restoration, to bring it back to factory new, plenty, and I mean plenty of people send them old hardware store double shotguns, .22 plinkers, and beat up old break tops to restore for children and grandchildren, A utility gun won’t retain the money you put in, but you will be passing along a family heirloom in the same condition it was originally purchased. What is the price of a legacy after all?

Classic Colts, Winchesters, Marlins and even double action pre-war Smith & Wessons and L.C. Smith or Parker shotguns will almost certainly retain the investment made in them with a Turnbull restoration, and the transformations you can see here in the pictures. Your old grey gun that your great grandfather brought home from the war, a gun you feel responsible not to get rid of, will turn into a gun you love to own, and that you will be proud to pass on to your heirs. Few things in life are a no brainer, but restoring an old grey and only marginally collectible gun with Turnbull is a no brainer. That is probably why they are backed up a year.

Right+Side_cmyk_flat1 Turnbull Manufacturing http://www.turnbullmfg.com/

Just Some of What’s Going On in the Shop at Turnbull

We receive a requests all the time through a this blog, Social Media and email asking for photos of “works in progress”. Sometimes it’s an anxious gun owner who wants to see his or her gun as it is transformed into something they can be proud of. Some of the requests come from gun enthusiasts that just love to see firearms restored to factory new condition, and then there are those “shop guys” that just love photos of anything shop/tool related. No matter which category you might fall into, here are some photos taken around the shop over the last couple of weeks, to give you a peek into the daily lives of all the craftsman here at Turnbull.