All In A Family …
1911s From Heaven


No finer family you could ever meet.

You and I are different from most because we have a deep respect and love for guns. We understand the joy and pleasure they can bring. While non-believers simply see hunks of steel, we see something much deeper. Guns have the ability to forge friendships while nurturing responsibility and sparking memories of long-gone family and friends.

For us, having a favorite gun from a dearly departed loved one is the last physical, tangible way for us to hold onto their memories. Sadly, I have several guns from departed friends and cherish them, as simply holding these guns is the closest thing I have now to spending time with them.

The Introduction

The story I’m about to share hits close to home for several reasons. I’ve known everyone involved for several years. I’ve watched the boys mentioned grow from young kids to responsible young men. At the same time, I’ve watched their father reach the pinnacle of his career, but I know he has more surprises up his sleeve for both his family and job. And we know any success isn’t possible without the strong, loving support from a wonderful wife and mom — the super glue that holds everything together while making things better.

Big Tom LeBlanc and his little Amanda.

The Beginning

Jason has always loved guns. This was established at an early age while hunting with his father. As he got older, he hung around gun shops. Eventually, he met and befriended the local gunsmith, Tom LeBlanc (or Big Tom to his friends). Tom was an interesting man, for sure. Besides his gunsmithing duties, he was a competitive shooter, Jambalaya cooking champion, played bass guitar and sang. No matter what he did, he did well.

When Jason went off to college at LSU, he met a pretty blonde named Amanda. A short conversation revealed they had a common acquaintance. Big Tom, the gunsmith, was Amanda’s father! Small world, eh?

Fast forward, the relationship blossomed, and Jason and Amanda married. Three boys quickly made their appearance — Jacob, Evan and Grant. If you thought Jason and Amanda were happy, you should have seen Big Tom. He was ecstatic!

The Build

Being a gunsmith, Big Tom wanted to do something special for “his boys.” Slowly, methodically, he started gathering parts, piece by piece, with Jason’s input, for a custom 1911 for each grandson.

As the years went by, all of the parts were obtained and kept meticulously wrapped in individual plastic boxes. Tom’s health started waning, but the project seemed to keep him going, saying he’d complete the guns “when he got better.” Sadly, that day never came, and Big Tom died.


The project was long forgotten; at least, that’s what Jason wanted Amanda and the boys to think. Under the cover of darkness, he sent the boxed parts to Bobby Tyler of the famed Tyler Gun Works. Here, lead Gunsmith Dusty Hooley, the coolest name in the industry, assembled the pile of parts into memorial-worthy pieces from the boys’ “Paw.”

The guns have big Tom’s trademark “TL” engraved on the frame, for Tom LeBlanc. The same trademark was on his competition large cast iron skillet. Rob Leahy of Simply Rugged provided nice border-stamped holsters with each of the boys’ initials on them.

One of the boys thanked Dusty Hooley for making his gun, and in true Dusty style, he responded, “Your Paw made those guns, not me.”

Stag grip panels really make these guns special.

Evan Cloessner’s gun inspired by his “Paw.” Notice the TL trademark.

Rob Leahy of Simply Rugged supplied the leather.
It looks like Rob even got a manicure for the photo.


Jason waited for the perfect moment to present the guns to his Three Amigos — Jacob, Evan and Grant. To say the boys were tickled would be an understatement. When I first heard the story, I admit to some eye leakage, as it exemplifies just how powerful guns can be — and I’m not talking foot/pounds! These 1911s are certainly sent from Heaven, with love from the boys’ “Paw.”

Watching the boys shoot those guns was inspiring, to say the least. I know Big Tom was there, looking down, smiling, feeling satisfied that his special project was finally finished.

Grant Cloessner shooting his “Paw” gun.

Evan Cloessner shooting his “Paw” gun.

Shootist Jacob Cloessner shooting his “Paw” gun.


Jacob, Jason’s oldest son, had the honor of being inducted into The Shootists organization this year, and I had the privilege of sponsoring him.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, Jason is none other than Jason Cloessner, senior vice president of product development for Lipsey’s. Yes, the man responsible for all the cool Lipsey’s Exclusives. Because of his background and knowledge, he knows what shooters want. He’s not only one of the most knowledgeable people in the industry but also one of the nicest.

Jason’s middle son, Evan, is hot on Dad’s heels and wants his job when Jason retires. Nothing like keeping it in the family!

The boys with industry giants Rob Leahy of Simply Rugged
and Bobby Tyler of Tyler Gun Works.


So, the next time you hear someone bashing guns, telling you guns are evil and responsible for all of society’s ills, remember this story. Better yet, share this story with them. It illustrates how guns have a much deeper meaning than a way of expending ammunition. They can provide a very successful career and, best of all, be a reminder and way of feeling connected to a dearly departed family member or friend.

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