- FALaholic #
- Jan 6, 2002
There are multiple custom gunsmiths out there whose wait times are measured in years, not months. Some very reputable smiths have simply closed their books and are not accepting orders. I know Mark stopped building anything except FAL's years ago and once closed his order book because he had too much of a lead time. Sometimes, delays occur because of circumstances outside of your control. I once contracted to build a rifle for a customer, accepted the kit and expected to get on with it in short order. Unfortunately, we had ordered a custom serial number receiver from Coonan which we were damn lucky to eventually get but it took many months longer than initially anticipated.Except in the most unusual case, any business that takes 6 months or more to finish a task that takes hours is poorly run.
There is nothing wrong with having work in queue. But the queue should never exceed a few multiples of the time required to complete the task. There are two easy ways to solve this problem. Hire help. Raise prices.
The fact is that if your project sits on the shelf for six months, the person you've hired is completing tasks and expending their effort towards things that are higher priority to them than what they've promised to do for you. Your project doesn't move up the priority list until you complain, and the craftsman risks his reputation by not fulfilling the promise. He gets to it because he has no choice. Or maybe not at all. People who run businesses like this often go belly up leaving a bunch of customers in a lurch.
Having said all that, a good, full time smith should be able to tell you with some degree of certainty when your kit will come up on rotation. Again, I know of other smith's who put your name down on a list and will call or email you when it's time to send it.
Hiring help is a significant pain in the ass for most custom smiths. Finding the right guy or gal, with the right attitude, work ethic, degrees of honesty, reliability and aptitude is a huge issue these days. A good friend of mine is best friends with Ron Power of Power Custom/Red Star Arms. When Ron was actively building PPC guns, if he found out someone was charging more money than him for the same kind of build, Ron increased his prices. He remained busy until he effectively retired. Many decent smiths are too afraid to increase prices lest it push it past what the market will bear or direct business to others who will do it for less. It's a difficult balance to achieve at times.