Craftsmanship is not something that comes simply from a box—it comes from the heart. That was something I learned the first time I built an engine. My mentor made it clear, “this is not assembly, there is an art to it, and you must put in the time to learn to do it properly.”

Given the nature of business, those unwilling to put in the work and perfectly willing to take your money have often tried to replicate the work of artisans and craftsman. The work is often substandard, and nothing more than pieces and parts thrown together. Those who assemble or mass produce often tell you there is no difference. Those who have owned both will tell you the difference is similar in breadth and depth to the Grand Canyon.

With the advent of computer-aided machinery, and the immense capacity to mass produce firearms these days, it is far too easy to forget it can be more than pieces and parts. It has been a craft for a century or more and remains so today. One such organization dedicated to maintaining that craft is the American Pistolsmiths Guild.

The American Pistolsmiths Guild (APG)

A group of 11 charter members got together in 1977 in Jackson, Mississippi to start the guild. The idea was to ensure that customers having a guild member build their pistol or revolver would be assured it was the finest work possible. By-laws and membership rules were established in order to be certain only the most qualified pistol builders could become members. By the early 1980’s, the guild had grown to the point it incorporated and became a legal entity. Today, what started with 11 charter members has a membership of over 60 and is growing. Along with full members, there are now associate, honorary, and student members. What started as a group of pistol builders has grown to include holster builders, display craftsman as well as writers and others that strive to further the craft.

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