Building a Pistol - Continued

The FGW way...

Posted by Bobby on August 16, 2011

Now we need to cut for the rear sight. Since I already have the slide indicated in the vise, I want to now zero the quill off of the breech face. I'm also going to find the centerline of the slide while I have the edge finder in the mill.

Once I have my coordinates, I'll start making my cuts. The first cut is to flatten out the back of the slide.

Next, I'll make the relief cut for the Bomar dovetail and for the back of the sight to melt into the slide. This is one of those places where some smiths will short cut by cutting the whole back flat. I like the look of having the ears on each side of the rear of the sight. It's a little more work to cut that way, but we're not interested in half assing something here at Freedom Gunworks. It's also the reason we found the centerline of the slide earlier.

Then we'll go in the relief cut with the Bomar dovetail cutter.

The finished product should look like this:

If cut properly, final fitting of the rear sight will be brief. With the rear sight in place, I'll drill and tap for the elevation screw.

For a little extra flair, we're also going to serrate the top strap of this gun with an arrow pattern so the customer never forgets which way to point the muzzle. It adds a little bit of a custom look as well. Again, we mount the slide in the jig and indicate it on its side for this operation. We eyeball the centerline of the slide and make cuts stopping at predetermined intervals.

The next step will be the slide lightening and cocking serrations. There are lots of variations to these and everyone has their own style. As many of you will notice, Matt Cheely and I have very similar styles. We're great friends and talk often about methods for doing things and share ideas. I'm quite thankful for the tips and hints I've gotten from Matt and we both continue to grow in our builds from the relationship. Maybe one of these days I'll get him to come down and we'll invite some folks over for a full blown build class with both an Open gun and a Limited gun.

Back to the build. While we have the slide indicated, we'll start with the front serrations and lightening cuts.

With those being done, one side of the slide now looks like this:

Another little touch added to this build is in the frame cuts. Mostly cosmetic, but adding a little additional touch. The frame is indicated on its side for this procedure as well.

After the machining is complete on the frame and slide, we fit the small parts to the frame. I would be fitting the barrel at this point but this barrel is off for the spiral fluting so it will be done later. John Golson once told me the mark of a true craftsman pistolsmith is in the blending of the back end of the gun. This being the ejector, extractor, ambi safety, and beavertail safety. The relief for the ejector pin is cut and the ejector is installed, then the safeties. Each part overhangs to some degree and needs to be contoured so that everything flows together. If this is skipped, it will put painful blisters on the hands of the shooter. It helps to know your customer here as well, if he is a lefty a few additional mods might need to be done.

The gun is now starting to take form. It's going off for Atraniteā„¢ tomorrow and when it gets back we'll be fitting the fire control components, tuning the trigger, stippling/contouring the grip and painting it. We'll also fit the barrel at that time and take it to the range for function testing.

After indicating it in the mill, this is the section we have to remove material from. I have to remove material from the top and the front for the standing lug.

The finished product.