Guild’s Goal Is to Introduce a New Generation to the Artistry of Custom Firearms

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For nearly 30 years the American Custom Gunmakers Guild has promoted the artistry of fine custom firearms. This year the non-profit organization launched a campaign entitled “Plan Your Perfect Custom Gun” to introduce a new generation to the experience of owning a one-of-kind firearm. Details about the Guild and its mission can be found at http://www.ACGG.org.

In 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space, President Ronald Reagan announced that the Global Positioning System (GPS) would be made available for civilian use and the Red Hot Chili Peppers introduced their first album.

That same year, the American Custom Gunmakers Guild (http://www.ACGG.org) came into existence at the National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Phoenix, AZ. Starting with 76 charter members, Guild membership now numbers about 450.

In an effort to help introduce a new generation to the experience of planning and owning a custom firearm, the Guild earlier this year launched a nationwide campaign entitled “Plan Your Perfect Custom Gun.”

Perhaps the best place to start that journey is http://www.ACGG.org/find which features a link to the Guild’s “Regular Membership List,” where members are categorized by their expertise, including Stockmaker, Metalsmith, Engraver, Metalfinisher, Checkering Specialist and Casemaker.

Among those listed are David H. Christman, Jr., of Delhi, LA, and Reto Buehler of Medford, OR. Both are accomplished gunmakers, but each found a different path to success.

Christman, a Vietnam era Air Force veteran, wanted a custom gun when he got out of the service, but had no money to buy one. So, in the fall of 1971, he began “tinkering” with guns in his spare time.

In 1997, after honing his skills for more than a quarter-century, he opened David Christman – Gunmaker, Inc., a 2,100-square-foot facility, where he crafts a variety of custom hunting rifles for his clients from across the country, including New York, Michigan, Illinois as well as his native state of Louisiana. Christman joined ACGG in the early 1990s and notes that, “The Guild is a sterling organization.”

Guild member Reto Buehler took a different path to becoming a professional gunmaker. Born in Switzerland, Buehler, 39, began his career as an apprentice with the Swiss gun shop Felder Waffen at age 16.

After completing his apprenticeship program and passing a practical and theoretical test by a committee of experts, he stayed on with Felder Wassen as a gunmaker.

In 2005, he moved to Oregon and started his own business, Buehler Custom Sporting Arms. He is also an authorized agent for W. J. Jeffery of London. Buehler describes his work as “A marriage between purpose and beauty,” adding that, “My heart and soul is with pre-war guns.”

While Buehler and Christman have different specialties, both agree that the personal chemistry between client and gunmaker is the key to success.

Christman put it this way: “Try to make them comfortable with the process,” he said of clients, “And comfortable with you.” That way, “What they want, they’re going to get.”

To help facilitate the relationship between its membership and potential clients, the Guild offers a variety of “Custom Gunmaking Resources” at http://www.ACGG.org/learn. Visitors will find useful information, whether they are hoping to duplicate a favorite firearm from their youth or design one from scratch.

The resources include “Introduction to Custom Guns,” a detailed step-by-step video narrated by metalsmith Jack Belk that focuses on the various parts and components involved in crafting a custom gun.

Another valuable asset is “Realizing Your Dream,” a comprehensive 60-page workbook that helps gun enthusiasts focus on planning and designing just the right firearm — whether it’s a single shot or double rifle; a muzzleloader or a shotgun.

For more information about the Guild, its members and the quality of work they produce, visit http://www.ACGG.org, call (307) 587-4297 or send a fax to (307) 587-4297.

About ACGG: The American Custom Gunmakers Guild (ACGG) advances the art of custom gunmaking by increasing public awareness and appreciation for quality custom firearms and promoting custom gunmaking as an art form.

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