GUIDE TO HAVING REPAIR WORK DONE-
sampling of some of the kinds of guns we regularly work
A SHOP SPECIALTY (percussion,
conversions, rifles, shotguns, cartridge
revolvers 1873's, 1878s, later DAs. 1905s, 1911s,
A SHOP SPECIALTY (lever action,
single shot, revolvers, shotguns)
- Military: (single
shot, bolt action, revolvers and semi auto rifles
and handguns of many nations)
A SHOP SPECIALTY (everything from
percussion to modern)
& Wesson A SHOP
SPECIALTY (everything from 1857 to modern
A SHOP SPECIALTY (lever actions,
bolt actions, single shots, shotguns, semi-autos)
We handle no walk-in trade, with
very few exceptions we operate on a mail order basis only. The
shop is not open to the public and we have done business this way
successfully for 35 years.
work to us:
- If you would like to send
a firearm in for an estimate, e-mail us first for a
- All work will be
quoted to you in a written estimate only after our
examination and each estimate is handled on an individual
basis. When sending a firearm in for an estimate, please
be sure to include these three items with the weapon:
- 1) include a letter (or note) stating what
kind of work you would like an estimate for, along with
your name and return shipping address, a telephone number
where you can be called during the day and please; an e-mail
address and/or a fax number if
you have one.
- 2) include a $20.00 estimate fee per weapon
(we have not raised this fee for 23 years) The estimate
fee is deducted from the cost of the job, should you
decide to have the work done.
- 3) include the basic shipping &
packing costs: check with the carrier to determine
insurance costs. These costs are:
- . . .a minimum of $35.00 each
antique hand gun / $40.00 for two guns in one box. Plus
- . . .a minimum of $40.00 each long
gun. Plus insurance costs.
- . . .a minimum of $45.00 each
modern hand gun from an individual for FedEx, or $35. if
dealer to dealer. Plus insurance costs.
- NOTE: Never send ammunition
along with the gun, it is against the law. Always ship
ammo separately using UPS or FedEx ground service only,
USPS will not ship ammunition.
- Please note: Smith & Wesson Model 3 large
frame top-break revolvers are all pre-1898 antiques,
regardless of the date of sale.
It is legal for an
individual to ship firearms (firearms, defined as being
manufactured after 1898) interstate but only if they are shipped
to a licensed dealer, manufacturer or gunsmith such as
myself. Modern handguns may not be
shipped using the US Postal Service, except between licensed
dealers, but UPS and FedEx will handle handguns. Antique firearms
are not restricted by the BATF for interstate shipment but you
will want to check into and comply with all your own state and
local laws that might pertain to shipping antique firearms.
If you have trouble shipping us a modern handgun, e-mail
us. We can usually arrange for FedEx to come to your home to pick
up the package.
- I have always tried to charge just
enough for me to make a fair living and still give the
customer a fair shake (that has always been important to
me and always will be) and in this day and age neither is
easy. Some folks think I must be making a fortune doing
this, I only know that because a few people have actually
told me that they know I am making a fortune (in
each case, the guy had "known" me for all of
ten minutes on the telephone.) I guess these folks must
be privy to a bank account that I don't know about. . .don't
you just love it when some stranger knows more about you
than you do?
- In practical terms; my plumber
charges more an hour than I do and from what I can see (having
actually worked as a plumber many years ago), although
some of it involves harder manual labor, the work he does
is really simple compared to what I do, yet, I don't hear
many folks complaining about what their plumbers charge.
Recently I was told that attorneys in some large cities
are charging $300.-500 and even more per-hour for thier
time. Wow, I suppose they must be worth it because people
pay them without griping too. I haven't got the nerve to
charge that much per hour, although I've had plenty of
people tell me I should.
- Well, I'm still stewin' on that. .
. Some sample
prices are shown below.
shown below are minimal
approximations of costs for similar work; they are not price
quotations for your gun.
- Complete, detail
cleaning and de-rusting, (includes after-treat with high
quality, moisture displacing oil for safe, long-term
- Most handguns. . .
.from. . .$100.
- Lever action
rifles. . . .from. . .$150.
- Most double guns.
. . .boxlock from. . .$200., sidelock from. . .$250.
- Browning A5. . . .from.
- Refinishing work. . .
- Hot Caustic Blue: the
modern blueing method, only with our careful hand
preparation and polishing work; this looks just like the
factory refurbishment of the 1920' & 30's that is no
longer available from the factories.
(1930's S&W Registered Magnum blue from $800.)
- Lever action rifles...................................
- Shotguns, pump, auto or
single............... " ......$400.
- We also offer brushed and
matt-bead blast blue finishes.
- Slow Rust Blue: the
old fashioned way, all hand polished and prepared
- Double barrel set.....................................
- Drillings, barrels set................................
- Lever action rifles...................................
- Single barrel, round.................................
- Single barrel, octagon.............................
- Charcoal Blue....................................On
- Color Case Harden:
bone & charcoal method ,
completely hand polished and prepared...On quotation only.
- Other Finishes for
- Nitre blue (the
old translucent blue, like old Colt hammers)
- Straw color (like
Lugers used on small parts).
- Slow rust browning.
- Electro-plating in nickel
& silver (we
do not accept badly pitted guns for plating.)
Note: Electro-plating is expensive, the costs to
refinish in electro-plate are often greater than the
value of the weapon.
- Matt blasted and brushed
- Restoration work..........................On
Repair work. . .
- Revolver work (some Single Action examples shown) also see our
- Replace and hand fit the
hand & handpring, completely re-time the revolver $100.
- Replace and hand fit "early"
or faulty bolt and completely re-index the revolver $125.
- Tweak (slightly turn)
barrel to adjust windage on Colts & clones (shooting-sighting
in is additional) $65
- Cylinders: Hand polish and
hone chambers, chamfer rear for easy loading/unloading.
Left bright $60.
- Rotational: Line-ream worn
frame & bushing for new, oversized base pin. $75.
- Rotational: Fit new
standard base pin bushing. $35.
- Rotational: Fit oversized
base pin busing to worn cylinder. $60.
- Alter (machine and drill)
fixed sighted revolver frame to accept S&W target
rear (+ materials & blue if needed) $235.00
- Revolver barrel work:
(prices shown are approximations,
actual cost quoted per job only)
- Re-barrel or set-back
barrel and lathe cut ejector housing, set front sight at
12o'c, test fire for function, (sighting
in is additional) $175.
- Barrel lining, quoted on a
per job basis.
- Smith & Wesson Model
Repair blown forcing cone; a process we developed, the
repair is virtually invisible, looks factory and restores
the gun to shooting condition from $500.
- Alter (machine and drill)
fixed sighted barrel to accept S&W pre-war target
front sight. (Does not include R&R barrel or finish
- Re-sight Colt or clone SAA
with correct silver soldered in place sight, includes
blueing or plating work, R&R barrel test fire for
function (shooting-sighting in is
- Shorten barrel, machine
crown, machine factory-type sight notch, install front
sight (silver solder or pinned-S&W) R&R barrel
and test fire for function (shooting-sighting
in is additional) POR
- Revolver cylinder re-chambering:
(prices shown are approximations,
actual cost quoted per job only)
- Colt SAA .38-357 to .44 or
- Colt SAA 32 to .38 Spl or
LC $210. to .44 or .45 $270.
- S&W NM#3 32-44 to .38
Long Colt or .38 S&W to .44 Russian or .45 S&W $270.
- S&W NM#3 32-44 to .44
Russian or .45 S&W $270.
- Stocks, grips and
Woodworking. . .
- Custom 19th century style
grips (shaped exactly like factory) in ivory, ebony,
sambar stag, aged walnut, rosewood or several other
exotics....priced on quotation only.
- Simple factory-like repair
(remove dents) and re-finish in hand rubbed oil, from...$200.
- Checkering, re-cut, from...$250.
- Handgun grip repair and
refinishing, wood, hard rubber, ivory......On quotation
- New Checkering.........................................................On
- Other: Re-stocking with new wood to
original...Stock repairs and restorations of all sorts...Glass
bedding...Leather faced pads (we no
longer offer leather covered pads.)
...carving... stock shields (nameplates)...Inlay work.
All custom woodwork is unique and is done by written
- Other Services..........................On
- All manner of repairs,
mechanical rebuilds and mechanical restorative work.
- Parts and screws handmade
to exacting specifications. (only when ordered as part of the
job, sorry but we just don't have the time to make parts
and screws for sale separately.)
- Firearms finish
refinishing (refurbishment): A long-time shop speciality.
- Re-cut markings. Factory
- Milling, drilling, lathe
and other custom machine work.
- Turn Around Times
- How long does this take? For
antique arms, sometimes it can take a while
- These days I am writing only about
a quarter of the time, so while antique gun work is still
being done on a semi-part time basis and I am able to
devote much more time to the shop than I have in the past
several years. My son David T. Chicoine is now working
full-time at my shop, his primary focus is the more
modern guns. For most work excepting restorations,
generally speaking, David T. has a shorter turn-around
- Repair and restoration work on
older firearms is always essentially one-of-a-kind,
custom work and the demand has always been in much
greater supply than my time. While I will always try to
accomplish your job in a timely manner, you should
understand that the quality of the work and customer
satisfaction with the end product will always take
precedence over speed and I make no exceptions to
that simple rule. We maintain a level of craftsmanship
that is consummate with 19th century practice,
this is not production line work; if it were you could
find it everywhere.
- All jobs are placed into a
chronological schedule that is based on the order the
work is authorized and paid for. Since this is a two-man
operation, some jobs will end up taking longer than
anticipated so it may require patience on your part while
you are waiting for the work to finish, this is something
the potential customer should understand at the start. If
the biggest concern is getting your weapon back
quickly, then I encourage you to consider having someone
else work on your project as we may not be able to
deliver your project within your time expectations.
There are great differences between a factory-like
refinishing (or refurbishment) and a full-scale restoration and
this is a point to clarify. Most of the work we do is the former
(factory-like refinish.) In other words, refinishing the weapon
just like the factory would have if you returned it to them some
time after the gun was made, say for example, an 1890 production
gun returned to the factory in the early 1930's.
What's the difference between a factory-like
refinish (let's call it plan A) and
a restoration (we'll
call that plan B)?
There are quite a lot of differences really.
plan A; the factory-like
refurbishment resurfaces the metal to a state that is similar to
what it was when the gun was new with the proviso. . ."as
best as is possible/practical, given the starting condition or
state of the gun we are working on" and finishes it in a
manner consumate with factory service department practice from
the old days. That means keeping the edges square, lettering
sharp and surfaces flat and on plane. When they did this, the
factory did not recut or restamp markings and you can see many
good examples of this by examining guns that were factory
refinished by any of the the major manufacturers (a good example
would be S&W's "star prefix" serial guns) from the
19-teens through the 1960s.
This kind of rework or refurbishment allows that the bottoms
of damages (deep pitting or dents) will also remain, the markings
and factory logo are often thinned out, if not even partially
obliterated. The factories took a "what you start with
determines what you end up with - we are not building you a new
gun here" attitude and if the markings had to be lost to
give the gun a proper refinish, then so be it. Normally, we are
able to go much further than the factory with this since we are
doing it one gun at a time but there are still limitations based
on what we have to start with.
We are also able to take this a step further
than the factory would have on many occasions by having an
engraver hand re-cut some markings to the point where they are
legible and clear, but again, normally this is not a re-stamp so
the edges of letters and logos will never have the slightly
raised corners (like you will see on some new guns that have
never been refinished.)
Why are we or the factory not restamping markings? There are
exceptions, as we can occassionally have some small markings
correctly restamped, but as a rule the engraver is the only
practical way. The reasons are manifold: To restamp like the
factory did it initially requires;
- A) that stamps be custom made, an expense averaging
anywhere from $200 to several hundred dollars per stamp.
- B) portions of some of these markings are quite deep
while others were very light, in many cases this would
mean removing so much steel that the factory lines may be
lost, thereby altering the shape and contour forever.
Thus in the process defeating the purpose of restoring
the gun. ) in order to restamp properly, every vestige of
the old markings must be removed from the area in
- C) the gun or part must be held quite firmly while the
part was actually rolled under the stamp while under
pressure. A process that is simply not economically
practical to reproduce outside of a production line (factory)
environment.) because to correctly roll-stamp the
markings, special holding fixtures would have to be
made to hold various
In addition, no attempts are or were made by the factory to
resurface areas that are not easily accessed, examples of this
would include the inside of the frame in the cylinder opening on
a revolver, steel under the stock or grips and etc.
Because our work so closely duplicates factory work, as a rule
we mark all our refinishing and restoration work
with our initials and a date on the frame; up under the grip (where
S&W used to mark refinished guns) or under the stock wood, so
a serious collector could find it easily.
The worst kinds of guns
to refurbish are guns that have been previously and poorly
refinished. I am talking about the kind of work we see so often
where someone has taken a loose buff to the gun, knocking out and
rounding edges and markings, hogging out screw holes and/or
polishing a frame without the sideplate on. This kind of work is
the most expensive to repair and there are times when we will
outright refuse the work. If we do refuse it or recommend against
doing the work, it's because the job will never come out right
and from an economical perspective we are trying to do you, the
owner, a favor by telling you not to bother. We are giving you
the benefit of our experience in judging that such a gun won't
come out well, thus we won't have to present you with a job that
we know will be less than saftisfactory that everyone is unhappy
For some informative reading on
this subject, refer to my book Smith &
Wesson Sixguns of the Old West (2004,
Mowbray Publishing), pages 165-172. Restoration
plan B; The full-on
restoration and we do very little of this. Resurfaces and
restores all the metal to a state that appears like it was when
the gun was new. .period, no matter what it takes.
That would include re-cutting any and all markings to maintain
consistent and deep markings throughout the re-surfacing process.
Often this actually means cutting and then re-cutting markings or
logos several times, depending on how much resurfacing is required
so the engraver charges themselves can get pretty steep,
Plan B would also address any and all areas that had been
damaged (rounded-off, broken corners and edges, deep pitting,
dents or whatever) often involving welding, resurfacing and
sometimes even an expensive re-heat treating of the the steel. On
top of that, the work also includes preparing any areas that
would not normally be seen except on a very close examination.
In short, the effort here would be to re-produce the gun as it
was when it was new with no effort or expense spared. One
of the big differences between plan B and plan A is that the
sheer amount of work and the costs to perform such work (for plan
B) are far greater than the amount of work required a factory-like
refurbishment. Jobs like these are always priced individually but
normally, full-on restorations hover roughly in the $3000-10,000
range, even more for older guns with serious age damages. Now, it
should be said that not every gun will be good enough to start
with to warrent a restoration (we shy away from previously,
poorly refinished guns and won't touch fire damaged guns at all)
and more than that, still fewer firearms are worth enough in any
state to be worthy of this kind of expense and labor.
Fire damaged guns may or may not be salvagable, the outcome
depends on several variables. If it is simply a case of the wood
being scorched and metal damage from water and chemicals, then
the gun can probably be saved.
Normally, when a gun has been burned badly enough that the
wooden grips or stocks are gone and the springs are ruined; we
have to assume the heat treatment of the steel is cooked off, in
other words the carbon has been drawn out and we would call
it unsafe. Some quick evidence of a gun being too far gone is
found in the form of an uneven and very hard carbon coating on
the surfaces of the steel. This is from what kills most guns gun
during a fire; the quench they receive from the water
applied by the firemen, this can take the steel from 1800-2000
degrees or more, down to room temp in seconds.
A gun damaged that badly could be brought back but it would be
a tremendous amount of work, then there would be the costs for re-marking
and for the re-heat treatment of the steel. One other annoying
problem resulting from this sort of damage is that just getting
them apart can be a terrific challenge. This is because the
screws and pins have rusted and expanded in place (due to the
carbon released from the quench) forcing one to drill them all
out with a carbide drill bit and then to build new, oversized
screws and pins; no small job in itself! For almost any gun, the
costs to do all this would be far in axcess of its value.
With black powder guns there is more of a chance they
might still be redeemed, since the steels were of poor quality
anyway and the only parts critically heat-treated were small
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