First off, I was a bit "star struck" at finding a "gunsmith" in my area who would work on my Kimbers. I could not afford to send my guns off for work and what work I thought that I was getting would have cost an arm and a leg from a well known gunsmith. Also, all I had to use as payment for the work was my P-38 (I was happy to get rid of it as it was the gun my dad killed himself with and I had sold it to him many years before).
I wasn't specific enough about what work I wanted done, but he wasn't forth coming about what work he was going to do. We really never had a meeting-of-the-minds on just what work was to be done. I'm as much a victim of my own excitement and naivety as I am of his deception. I should have known better and I should have headed the warning signs that I noticed. So in a way, I was asking to be ripped off. But I have learned from this set of mistakes and there has been some positive come out of it all. I learned to do a lot of work on my guns that I never would ever have attempted had I not had this experience. Yes. He's a fraud. But I was had my eyes closed and made some bad decisions. I kept going back to him in the hope that he would make things right. But he never did.
As far as the FFL goes, well he side steps that by working inside an established gun shop. The shop owner lets him use his FFL. A loophole in the law.
As far as "fixing" his work goes, I did not take any photos of what he had done because I didn't think to do so or that I needed to. And a law suit? Simply out of the question on so many levels. The BBB? All he has to do is answer the complaint and it's considered "resolved" Aside from maybe writing about my experience with him and warning people, there is not much I can do. And anything I write about him while mentioning his name must be the absolute provable truth or he could sue me for slander!
But in a small way I got some revenge. At one time I had a tax number so I was a "dealer" in the eyes of Brownell's. Their motto, "once a dealer, always a dealer". Plus they have the best guarantee in the world. If for any reason at any time regardless of the items condition, if a customer is not satisfied with the item, then it can be returned for the full purchase price (at time of purchase) as credit towards anything else Brownell's sales. So I was able to return the 2 "drop in"beavertails he had purchased as credit towards 2 different grip safeties. Apparently he either didn't know about Brownell's return policy or he just didn't want to be bothered about it.
The worst thing to come out of all of this is strictly my fault. I'm not proud of what happened, I sort of ashamed and certainly regretful that I did it. The only thing that I can say in my defense is that I was in a state of utter desperation and despair. I did not have any money to buy 2 new, correct fitting beavertails and I wanted so much to have my guns fitted with the correct parts, so that they looked good and felt good. So I brought out my Dremel toll and went to "work" on not only the beavertail, but to the frame of one of the guns as well! I (stupidly) rounded off the tangs on the back of the frame! I have sought many different (low cost) ways of rectifying this but to no avail. Short of reframing the gun, my Pro Carry HD II will always have those rounded tangs.
But even this has a silver lining. If you follow this link
, you'll se my 2 Kimbers. If you look at Domino (the HD II) you'll notice 2 black "things" on the grip safety. More about those in a minute. I bought a "Standard narrow Colt style grip safety for this gun, but eventually over worked it and ruined it. Then a couple of real (master) gunsmiths, new to the area, gave ne an old Wilson Combat (or so they guessed) grip safety similar to the one I'd ruined, only better in many ways. Someone had left it at the shop and id was so tarnished that it was yellow in color, not stainless. While it fit internally perfectly it did need sow work on the outside.
Well it had a short tang to begin with but it ended up too short and hurt my hand. It also did not have a palm swell. I need a grip safety with a palm swell, I found out, in order to actuate the Series II safety fully without putting a death grip on the gun. So as I surveyed the lack of a palm swell problem an idea creped into my brain. With a little polymer clay, (black in color) and a bit of work I was able to fashion a palm swell. It's attaché with super glue. My success with the palm swell gave me the idea to make a short, wide extension to the tang on the grip safety. It works. It feels different than a beavertail or a standard, but it works. The clay has held up well under daily carry in my holster, (homemade inside the pants).
The design of the grip safety has made me think that maybe there is a market for a grip safety of this type and shape (to fit unaltered frames) An alternative to both beavertail and standard style safeties. What do you all think?
Edit - I have it on good authority from a real, licensed, certified Master Gunsmith that the guy is just a machinist. But there are some clues that I should have heeded. One, he does not do hand checkering because he does not know how. Two, he called a sear spring by another name. Three he seemed lost in the Brownell's catalog. He didn't appear to be able to look parts up on the Brownell's web site. Four, he did not know or seem to understand that Kimbers have a .250" radius on the tangs, not .220" as others do (it took me less than 30 minutes and a couple of phone calls to learn the radius of the Kimber tangs). Five, he insisted that the fact that the 1/2" gap between the end of the tang and the curve of the beavertail was what you get for a "drop in" fit (!). Seven, he packed the guns full of GREASE which masked symptoms like creep! Eight, he did not log my guns into a bound log book. Nine, he did not give me a receipt for my guns (then why in the h*** di I leave them with him? Good question, no good answer). Ten, when I took my guns to him there were no gouge marks on them. When I got them back the HD II had a big one on the right side of the sight, untouched! When I returned them for another reason I played dumb and mentioned the sight gouge as if in passing. When I got them back the gouge looked as if a half a**** attempt had been made to cover the gouge up. He said nothing to me about the gouge. A reputable man would have owned up about the damage to the sight and offered to mitigate the damage somehow.
So, I have at least 10 good reasons to believe that the man is not a gunsmith, has not gone to a gunsmith trade school and has no certificate form said school of trade nor do I believe that he has his own FFL. He does business under a business name however he works in an established gun shop with his best friend. The best friend being the owner of the gun shop has, of course, an FFL. The machinist works under the umbrella of the shop owners FFL. So he's covered from a legal standpoint.
I am no longer allowed to set foot in the said gun shop so I can not go back in and ask a barrage of questions (which probably would get me thrown out of the shop if I could/did) and I don't have any friends who would do it for me. I would be very interesting to find out how he answers pointed questions like, "What trade school did you attend?", "Did you graduate?", "Can I see your certificate?", "Can I have a copy of your FFL to send to another gunsmith so he can send you a gun that I bought from them?", "Do you guarantee your work in writing?", "If so, for how long?", well you get the picture. A reputable licensed gunsmith would have no problem answering these questions, I doubt if this man can.
Bottom line is that I will never ever have the man work on my guns again. I will not go out of my way to mention his name to anyone, but if ask my opinion, I will certainly answer with the facts. I have learned my lessen and have found 2 great guys who are Master Gunsmiths and they will get any future work that needs to be done on my guns.