This happens a lot. A customer calls about a problem, and it’s the customer’s gunsmith who says “X” yet the “gunsmith” is totally wrong. The “gunsmith” is the source of the problem, or the source of the misunderstanding of the problem. Yesterday, a rep from Big Household Word High-End Optics Company came in with a Yugo M70. The wooden buttstock’s comb was too high for him, plus he had a Galil missing a detent ball for the rear sight.
Solid wooden stock with a bolt through the middle. So shave down the comb. Fit and try. Ten minutes, plus some finish sanding and some linseed oil. Nope. “Gunsmith” decided it would be a better idea to bubba some lump of weld under the rear sight leaf, to raise the sight instead, thus negating the elevation slide function entirely, and crank up the front to match.
“Gunsmith told him that a detent ball for the Galil was “hard to find”. It took google less than a second to find several sources of loose steel balls, and yet you don’t need a ball per se. It could be a short piece of rod. All it really needs to do is fit in the hole with the spring and be sort of roundish on one end.
I asked the rep; “What kind of a ‘gunsmith’ is this guy?” And this is the answer I get every time;
“Oh but he’s a really great guy. Really a great guy. Old School. He’s been at it for decades and really knows his stuff..” I have gotten that answer from a lot of people. That very same answer. In that very same kind of ‘I can’t believe what I’m hearing’ situation.
I’ve taken to using Tam’s definition of a gunsmith– one who can take an amorphous lump of steel and turn it into a fine firearm. Give the average farmer or junior high school shop teacher around here a bent, rusty nail, a hack saw, an old bastard file and a power drill, and he can make you a new detent pin for your Galil rear sight, without ever having heard of a Galil. Actually he could make do with just the file, the saw and the nail, and his bare hands, but that take a little longer. Same deal for adjusting the comb height, but you only need the file (or a pocket knife) and a chunk of sandpaper. But an “experienced gunsmith” was out of his element. It’s gotten so every time I hear the infamous words, “My gunsmith says…” I start rolling my eyes. I know there are good ones out there (some really, really good ones) but no one calls me or comes in with a problem if they have a really good gunsmith, do they? So my sample is heavily weighted. Or so I hope.
A big takeaway here is that a nice personality, I suppose, can overcome the greatest depths of incompetence, and keep you in business.