Mirror Image Duo.
I’ve known Bob Marvel for some years now, and consider him a friend. But what does that have to do with Joe Chambers, who built this stunner of a set? Bob is, without a doubt, one of the top, rare handful of true master custom pistolsmiths in the business — period. Suffice to say I respect his work and his opinions. A few short years ago at the Shooting and Hunting Outdoor Trade Show, he came to our FMG booth with a young man in tow.
“Roy,” he said, “I’d like to introduce you to Joe Chambers, a young man who is working with me, learning how to build guns.” Before me stood a young man, intense and interested, acutely aware he had an opportunity presented to him when Bob offered to mentor him, and another now as he was being introduced to industry insiders at the SHOT Show. “Joe has a gun he’d like to show to you,” continued Bob.
Out came the case and into my hands went a pistol that, frankly, surprised me. Some (most?) of the “This is a sample of my work” guns I see from new pistolsmiths are good examples of potential — but rarely something I could feature in Handgunner in good faith. We keep the bar high here, and with today’s readers (and customers) expecting virtually flawless performance and workmanship, if we don’t deliver the goods, I hear about it — a lot.
But Joe’s gun was different. Solid, perfectly executed, crisp lines, flats that were flat, unique design touches and checkering that didn’t have to hide from the most discriminating customer. Frankly, I was amazed. But having said that, and knowing Bob, I wasn’t surprised. Bob would not have wasted my time with anything other than the best.
“Joe,” I said. “Get your shop going, build some guns, flesh out your experience in business a bit, build a good website and then call me. I’d be happy to chat with you about being in Handgunner one day.” Bob grinned, Joe grinned and even I grinned as we shook hands on it. And sure enough, as time passed, Joe parted ways with Bob, started his own shop, built guns, built his business and reputation and we met a few more times.
One of those times he told me he had a hankering to build a “lefty” 1911. I said, “If you build a two-gun set, a right and left, that’d be very interesting, something definitely different for our pages. If you do it, we’ll need to talk some more.”
I could see Joe was thinking hard as we parted company.
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