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A little about Michiguns: background and philosophy
My name is Ned Christiansen, and I've been shooting almost since I can remember, starting out with Dad and the Winchester Model 61 .22. I suppose I can thank or blame him for this whole shooting and gunsmithing thing. He is and always has been a Jack of all trades. He and Mom both worked at Saginaw Steering Gear during the war, making M-1 carbines and Browning machineguns. At age 7, I watched with interest and awe as he sporterized a Springfield 03A3 in the basement shop. In that basement, I was introduced to machine tools and discovered the satisfaction of creating things from wood and metal.
My first exposure to competition with a firearm was when Dad won a DCM match with that Springfield a few years later. I have been active in action shooting since about 1977, when a local club started having combat shoots (this was well before the days of political correctness and it was more OK to say combat). These were primitive affairs by today's standards, with Cooper tunnels, and, as I recall, not even a stopwatch; the RO just used his wristwatch. I put a set of Pachmayr grips and the tiny MMC rear adjustable sight of the day on my Colt Series 70 and was on the cutting edge!
Since then I have participated in several varieties of competition. I started shooting IPSC in 1984. I have shot in the Steel Challenge, Soldier of Fortune 3-Gun Invitational, the Second Chance Bowling Pin Shoot (20 consecutive years, until 1998), and the Single Stack Classic. In 1984 I won the World Shotgun Slug Championship. This turned out to be a somewhat pretentious match title, but I did win it using a Winchester Model 97 with a TC3RP pistol scope mounted out on the barrel, in rings I made from aluminum barstock, against what were essentially benchrest-style bolt-action shotguns with heavy, rifled barrels. These days I am shooting IDPA, IPSC, pins and steel, some rifle silhouette and NRA High Power. I hunt partridge in Michigan's Upper Peninsula once a year and prairie rodents in South Dakota when I can get out there.
I have a couple decades plus as an engineer in the plastic injection biz; designing and making molds, designing plastic parts and assisting customers in designing theirs for maximum reliability, manufacturability, and economy; acting as the customer's advocate, managing the program from initial part concepting through mold design and construction, to mold sampling, part qualification, and production start-up. All on high-end, precision plastic parts for cell phones, cameras, computers, cars... even a few defense jobs, like parts for ASW sonobouys, TOW missiles, and the plastic components for the SMAW-D (Shoulder-launched, Multi-purpose Assault Weapon, Disposable). I hold several patents, all on plastic products or mechanisms, a few of which are gun-related.
My philosophy with regards to working on your gun is so simple it's going to sound stupid: whatever it is, it must be right. This approach has worked well for me over the years in both guns and molds. What has sometimes caused problems for me in the mold biz is that I want it right first; within budget takes a far distant second! As in making molds, I like to view each gun as an individual and unique project, so I don't offer made up packages like some shops. I believe this can disqualify a job as "custom" work. What you will get from me will be true, one-off custom work, so I prefer to quote jobs individually. Most of the work I do is on pistols for defense and competition, but I'm pretty diverse. I tend to gravitate toward and attract the kind of work that interests me the most, the more serious and practical stuff, but wild-side game guns are not unknown in my shop, and I am always looking for an excuse to do something not yet tried or something that somebody else said couldn't be done.
Some of the work I do is for all practical purposes the same kind of work done elsewhere. I try my best to do it to a higher standard, but frankly, there is a lot of this work that is pretty easy and formulaic. In these I will probably be competitive in price; maybe a little higher than some. But much of what I do will involve parts made individually in my shop, by me, from blocks of the appropriate high-strength steel or other material. These will be custom parts in the true sense of the word, not made for me by the lot in a local machine shop. No two ways about it, this can get expensive-- but the result will be something truly uncommon. For a lot of people, this uniqueness holds little meaning, and there's nothing wrong with that. When a $75 drop-in magazine well gives you 75% of the area and functionality of my made-from-scratch, TIG-welded, checkered, matched, and polished magwell at several times the price, mine is only worth it if you must have something distinctive and perfect, something that will still be special a hundred-and-some years from now when your great-great-great grandchild receives it as an heirloom! As to the components I purchase- well, like everybody else says, I use the best I can get. It just doesn't make sense to dote and fuss over a job and top it off with second-rate parts.
The following pages contain some examples of what I can do. Again, the photos do not illustrate available packages, they are meant to show some possibilities.
NRA (life); USPSA; IDPA (2002 and 2004 MI Champion in CDPExpert); Citizens Commitee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (life); Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners; American Gunsmithing Association; Amnesty International; Nature Conservancy; Mensa; Ducati Owners of Canada Club; Association of Fireatms and Toolmark Examiners;