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CUstomizing A
Custom Gun (Page 1)
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By Dan S Defense

The Les Baer SRP is an excellent weapon. Reliability, accuracy and handling are all superb in this fighting gun. In fact, this 45 ACP 1911 handgun, will out shoot all, but the most expert shooters.

We looked at the best way to build an ideal new custom gun. But, what happens when new requirements arise, and you realize that your very expensive custom gun can't address them? That's the topic we'll discuss here. We'll use my example as a case study, since my SRP, as built by Les Baer, couldn't meet critical new requirements. We'll see how to handle this scenario, and look at the transformation of my Les Baer SRP by a master gunsmith, into a one of a kind weapon, that met, and even exceed my new needs.

If you read the in-depth review of the Les Baer SRP, you know that it's a fine weapon. Since that's the case, a natural question of 'why fix it, if it isn't broken?' comes to mind. The reason is simple-I needed the Les Baer SRP to do even for me. I had a few choices: I could turn it into a 'safe queen', and no longer use it as a self defense handgun, or I could opt to sell it at a loss, or ideally, I could seek a more palatable solution to meet my needs.

I decided to find a way to make it work for me. I'll share the entire process, from start to end with you. Together, we'll look at the scenario, then examine the derived requirements, and finally focus on the resolution.

The four scenarios that come into play here are: home defense, urban concealed carry, wilderness protection, and range work. An additional factor, that affects my outdoor scenarios, has to do with the weather, or more precisely, the high humidity of my chosen home-the Pacific Northwest. With that in mind, let's examine the requirements.

For home defense, I wanted a light-rail for a weapon-light. I wanted the ability to install a weapon-light such as the Surefire X300 (light only), or a Surefire X400 (light and laser). Had I only wanted a laser, Crimson Trace would have sufficed, but my weapon-light requirement dictated a proper, full size rail. Given this, I had a requirement for a rail that could hold a Surefire X400 and that meant a Novak rail, because you can't mount a Surefire X400 on a Dawson rail.

For outdoor carry, both urban and wilderness, I need a finish that would be highly resistant to scratches, and a finish that would address any humidity related problem, both from the environment, and my own body. Thus my second requirement called for a highly resistant finish.

For range work, I wanted the ability to mount a sound and flash suppressor. After years of shooting in the military and civilian life, my ears became highly sensitive to noise, and even the best hearing protection leaves them ringing for hours. Since my state allows the ownership of suppressors, and soon their usage too, I wanted my Les Baer SRP to be fitted with a new threaded barrel that can take my 45 ACP AAC suppressor. This was the most expensive item on my list for Robar.

Finally, for all scenarios, I wanted improved combat sights. After significant research and testing, I opted for the XS 24/6 Big Dot sights. The XS front sight is indeed big, and enables very quick target acquisition, as well as better compatibility with my aging eyes. There were a few more general purpose items, such as crowning the original barrel, but those aren't salient here, and don't affect the scenarios directly.

Now that I knew exactly what I wanted, I needed to find the best possible person, to implement my requirements. I wanted an expert gunsmith to retrofit the SRP to my needs. After all, this was a Les Baer Custom gun, and I wanted to be sure, that each and every work item will be executed to perfection. I gave this hours of thinking, and then decided on Robar.

Having worked with The Robar Companies before (i.e. Robbie Barkman's custom shop), I knew that I wanted them to carry out the work. I wanted Robar to transform the Les Baer SRP, from a great gun that can meet some of my needs, into a one of a kind weapon, that will meet all of my requirements.

Let's take a step back, and look at the current 45 ACP Les Baer SRP, which can be seen in a slide show and read about in an in-depth article. At a high level, the Les Baer SRP was initially built for the FBI HRT (Hostage Rescue Team). Problems and turnaround time for repairs, and a possible need for on premise gunsmith, resulted in the contract moving from Les Baer, to Springfield Armory (which also experienced problems, but had far greater resource, than that of Les Baer's small custom shop). The SRP then went through some changes, and was made available to the public, law enforcement ,and military customers.

You can buy the SRP from dealers, or directly from Les Baer, and since it's a true custom shop, you can make several modifications (e.g. add a light-rail) when you place the order. Complications arise after the sale, when new needs arise, and the original gun, as good as it is, can't fulfill them. If money is no object, you can simply order a new one. However, since the base SRP costs a few thousands of dollars, retrofitting the gun is far more cost effective. Retrofitting the SRP is also better than the alternative, of putting the gun away in the safe, or selling it for less than you paid for it.

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