From the Bench: HS Custom’s First .38 Super!

A Young Vet’s Gunsmithing Dream Comes True
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I was able to get Dusty to send over a picture of the Commander build since he just got it
back from final finish as we were about to post this. Note the front sight (blued with gold bead
installed now), fancy grips and grip screws, French Border and checkering among many custom
touches. The flat triggers look swell and feel great too. It’s done — and ready to return to his customer!

I’ve had the pleasure of helping a young veteran build his custom gunsmithing business over the past couple of years. Now, Dustin “Dusty” Housel is open for business. I’ve shared a bit of his work but wanted to show you what time, energy and great tool skills can accomplish in a short time. As of right now, Dusty is back-logged a good six months on custom 1911 work — and this gun I’m going to share with you is one of the reasons.

But first, for a bit of back-story on Dusty read this article I did on his first “official” build. https://americanhandgunner.com/handguns/dustys-1911/

The “Tri-Cut” slide Dusty created from the Nighthawk Custom base slide. After a lot of “set-up”
time with indicators, Dusty took a deep breath and began cutting. I think the results are fetching.

A Tri-Cut

This particular gun is what’s called a “full-build” meaning creating a gun from a series of un-fitted parts. This one happens to include some custom-made pieces Dusty built using his lathe and mill — as well as hand work — in his shop. In this case, the gun started out as a Nighthawk Custom un-fitted frame and slide. The customer wanted a “COO”-sized gun, a Commander slide on an Officers ACP frame — in .38 Super, no less. And, he wanted the slide cut in a special way, called a “Tri-Cut.” Unlike a conventionally shaped 1911 slide, this one has heavy angular cuts in the top of the slide, giving it a unique sort of “triangle” top.

The slide is “bushingless” meaning the barrel is indexed with a tapered fit into the
end of the slide. To do this, the barrel is threaded and a Chambers Custom Coned Sleeve
installed and turned down on the lathe. The slide internal diameter measures .7025" and
the cone is fit to .702" so everything locks up like that bank vault you always hear about!
Here’s Dusty’s set-up to start on the muzzle of the barrel assembly.

Dusty did plenty of careful set-up in his big mill and nailed it. He admitted it was scary — but was pleased with the result. He also made the front and rear sights to fit the special cuts he made for them. Amazing work for someone who didn’t own a mill or lathe a year ago!

The first cut begins to establish a square face at the muzzle, critical for accuracy.

Here’s Dusty adds the the convex “crown” which will protect the actual chamfer
cut from dings and banging around.

The pictures show various stages of the build but not all of them. The “fire control” parts (trigger, hammer, disconnector, etc.) all need fitting, grip safety fit and blended/tuned, and a hundred other details all need to be sorted out, blended and tuned to work together. Dusty usually does test-firing once the build is complete, but not cosmetically finished.

Ta-Da! Note the neat fit of all the bits. This arrangement also requires a special recoil
spring guide rod assembly. Don’t you think that Tri-Cut looks great?

If there’s any tweaking needing done, he does it then so the final fit and finish isn’t compromised. When things meet Dusty’s approval, the final hand finish gets done. That’s where tool marks are smoothed out, flats are made flat again, checkering finished, French borders added — basically getting the gun to the point it’s ready to be sent out for final finish.

After the initial test-firing, note how the gas marks are evenly placed around the bore,
proof the chamfer is square to the rifling. Check out the target photo too!

Dusty build a custom rear sight for this .38 Super. Here it is in the rough form while he checks fit.
It will eventually be profiled and the final cuts made. This was made from bar stock steel.

Once everything is dialed in “just right” it gets a final cleaning in preparation for the finish. Finish options include Cerakote, classic bluing, hard chrome, NP3+ from Robar, Black Nitride (which is what this gun is getting, from Nighthawk Custom), and lots of other options.

The gun isn’t quite finished yet as slide serrations need to be added and final detail
work completed. But at 25 yards on an icy cold 20 degree windy day, 1" or so isn’t too bad!
There’s five shots in those four holes! Amazingly enough, Dusty’s sight dimensions were
almost spot on right off the bat. The upper target was for fun. We moved in to 10 yards and
tried to shoot around the center green spot. Almost got it right! This gun ended up amazingly
accurate, and the straight trigger and crisp break helped matters.

Check out the pictures to see a bit of what goes into something like this. I often help Dusty do the final shooting/sighting in on his builds and I have to say, this one shot like a laser beam! Check out that 25 yard target, on a 20 degree, blowy day!

A teaser of another gun nearing completion. A “Commander” 1911 in .45 ACP, this one has had
extensive precision welding done to it (frame rails, mag well, etc.), French Borders (note the thin
line at the top of the slide, just before it rounds over), flat trigger, bevel slide bottom and more.
The front sight is incomplete and Dusty has final machining to do to it yet — also plenty of polishing ahead

I was able to get Dusty to send over a picture of the Commander build since he just got it
back from final finish as we were about to post this. Note the front sight (blued with gold bead
installed now), fancy grips and grip screws, French Border and checkering among many custom
touches. The flat triggers look swell and feel great too. It’s done — and ready to return to his customer!

If you have questions about building your own custom 1911, touch base with Dusty. I know he’d be happy to answer some questions. And who knows, you may decide to have one built just for you! A Handgunner “Hat’s Off” to Dusty and taking his dream from an idea in my garage — to a working shop!

His facebook page is:
HG Custom, LLC
Email: [email protected]

https://hs-custom.com/

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