American Custom Gunmakers Guild Welcomes Jim Hamilton of Oklahoma as a Member

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Jim Hamilton, who has been an American Custom Gunmakers Guild associate for about 15 years, is now a full-fledged member of the Guild. The Oklahoma native, known for crafting Remington Hepburn #3 match and sporting rifles, has also appeared in a number of films, including “Far and Away” and “Tombstone,” that honor the old west and its heritage.

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Custom gunmaker Jim Hamilton hails from Oklahoma, home of the land rush. Little wonder, then, that in addition to being a fabricator of fine firearms, he is also a student of history. His elevation this year to membership in the American Custom Gunmakers Guild ( re-enforces his commitment to excellence and historical accuracy in his chosen craft.

Hamilton was born in Kingfisher, OK, a community that came in existence, literally overnight, in April 1889, when land owned by the federal government was opened to settlement in a land rush. Among those later born in that city: Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, whose birthplace is honored by a downtown statue.

Another monument that stands in Kingfisher is that of Jesse Chisholm, he of Chisholm Trail fame. Hamilton’s own fame came about as a result of his utility and skill at gun-making: He does complete restorations of antique firearms and custom guns, specializing in crafting Remington Hepburn #3 match and sporting rifles.

As fans of the #3 already know, the key to the success of that firearm was a unique falling block, patented in 1879 by Lewis L. Hepburn, that became the basis of the rifle and its various permutations: The hunter’s (or sporting) model, the short-range, the mid-range, the long-range military version, the match target rifle, the treasured long-range Creedmoor and, finally, the Walker-Hepburn Schuetzen Rifle, which some describe as “the finest target rifle ever offered by Remington,” and of which it is said only 23 were made.

Hamilton is well-aware of his responsibility to Remington’s historical significance each time he works on one these well-respected, and much sought-after, treasures.

“All labor is done with conventional machines and tools, using many of the same methods of gunmakers 100 years ago,” the veteran craftsman said, adding that he does both the wood and metal work on such items. In addition to Remingtons, he also works on single-shot Winchester High Wall, Ruger, Martini, etc.

Hamilton, who said he relies mostly on “word of mouth” and “repeat business” to keep himself busy, has been an associate of the American Custom Gunmakers Guild ( for about 15 years. This year he became a full-fledged member, having been recognized by his peers for both his metal smith and stockmaking skills. He was sponsored by ACGG members Steven Dodd Hughes, Robert Snapp and Craig Libhart.

Before he made the full-time commitment to custom gunmaking, Hamilton paid his dues, having worked in a factory developing a variety of skills, including machine working, tool and die and welding.

That said, he admits he has “always been interested in guns,” explaining that it’s been a “family tradition” he enjoyed with his father and brother. Another tradition, of sorts, is the fact Hamilton has appeared in a number of film and television productions, not surprisingly with a Western tilt. They include “Buffalo Gals” with Anjelica Huston and Reba McEntire, “Geronimo: An American Legend” with Gene Hackman and Robert Duvall,” and “Tombstone” with Kurt Russell, Sam Elliot and Val Kilmer.

One of Hamilton’s most exciting acting assignments was an appearance in Oklahoma native Ron Howard’s “Far and Away” that starred Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. The movie celebrated the Oklahoma land rush of 1893, the largest of five that took place in the late 1800s.

The land rush scene in “Far and Away,” which featured about 1,500 horses and 500 horse-drawn vehicles, was a massive undertaking. The man who sounded the bugle that started the actors out of the gate was, appropriately, Hamilton.

Though he treasures those”Hollywood moments,” its custom gunmaking that is really Hamilton’s passion – that and making his clients happy. For more about that aspect of his lifework, write to Jim Hamilton at 9651 Meadows Lane, Guthrie, OK 73044 or call him at (405) 282-3634.

Information about Hamilton and his work can also be found on the Guild Web site, on the "Find a Gunmaker" page, at Scroll down through the state listings to Oklahoma. Then click on the Jim L. Hamilton link, which will go to a page where photos of his work can be seen. Hamilton is also on the “Regular Membership List,” which is available in PDF format as a link on the "Find a Gunmaker" page.


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