Makers' Marks

Branding or signing work started in the ’40s with gunsmiths like Jesse Harpe in Florida who engraved his name on the 1911-barrel bushing. Arnold Capone of Kings Gunworks, Calif., with his “crown” logo. Then came pistolsmith Jim Clark who inscribed and numbered his work in the order of completion. It also helps he dated the work on the inside of the slide. The first thing most serious custom gun lovers look for is the telltale signature or hallmark on the gun.

Today, most custom smiths mark their work not as a sign of pride but as a marketing tool to help their business. I remember my dad buying an NRA match Colt 1911 from gunsmith Alton Dinan of Connecticut. It had two holes drilled through the side of the large front sight. I asked him about it and he said, “Dinan made it so shooters could look down the firing line and instantly know it was one of his guns.” A very good early marketing strategy. There are a number of ways to mark or brand your work. From a simple steel stamp to CNC engraving.