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  #1  
Old 07-09-2011, 05:46 PM
289fia 289fia is offline
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Actual manufacturing time of a Les Baer




How long does it take the LB smiths to actually manufacture a gun ... machine time, hand fitting bench time, fire test, finish?

How many guns do they build in a week?
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  #2  
Old 07-09-2011, 09:54 PM
Josrah Josrah is offline
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I will guess at 40 man hours.
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  #3  
Old 07-09-2011, 10:20 PM
Rocket XIII Rocket XIII is offline
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They did a segment on LB on TV recently and they tossed off the figure of 25 hours of hand fitment in their standard level of fit and finish. Higher end of their line = more time.
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  #4  
Old 07-10-2011, 01:10 AM
Snoopy47 Snoopy47 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josrah View Post
I will guess at 40 man hours.
I hope not, if so, they arn't getting paid much.
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  #5  
Old 07-10-2011, 07:37 AM
289fia 289fia is offline
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I was looking at the gun building / smith "class" that Bob Rogers runs - about twice a year. It is a 6 day course at his shop. Each "student" is given a complete - in the raw - Caspian slide, frame, match barrel & bushing, all top line components that need to be -fitted, deburred, dehorned, polished, and assembled into a custom gun.

Each student spends roughly 60 hours in that week ... working under the direction of Bob, a true master gunsmith. The finished products are test fired on the last day, and are then tweaked and final assembled. There are people who have have these guns .. and trust them over their "semi custom" EB's and LB's for carry - and accuracy is superb. The Caspian slide / frame and the match barrel are ALL oversized a few thousandths to permit / require professional fitting for a tight, accurate gun. Apparently Bob, on the Custom Guns he sells, puts in more time than the 60 hours .. a lot more time on some .. and the resulting product is a gun that will run and run.

I have seen some footage of production gun assembly, and it looks like those are "built" to final spec., not oversized, and hand fitting is virtually nil. Each piece is buffed and deburred, and the final product is assembled. Minimal labor involvement .. maybe a few hours?

So if a student can build a very nice fully custom gun with 60 hours, and a lot of that is "slow instruction time", I would guess that a LB smith, repeating the process daily, would maybe do it in 1/2 that time? 30 hours? Or is that too much time? Not sure what a factory smith earns ... but LB is advertising for people. Just hope mine gets built by a seasoned smith and not by a newbie !!
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  #6  
Old 07-10-2011, 08:40 AM
skipsan skipsan is offline
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One can kinda back into a ball-park number.

A PII that sells retail for $1800 probably has a 20% mark-up for distributor and retailer. That leaves $1440 for less Baer. Purchased parts and services--grips, pins, springs, sights, forgings, bar stock, heat treat and finishing, etc(if done outside), warranty reserve, shipping--another couple hundred and we're down to $1220 (max). A modern machine shop has to have a shop rate of at least $75/hr and the arithmetic says we're at 16+ hours total. The shop rate would include direct labor, benifits, shop burden, sales G&A, and profit. Someone on this forum in a position to know, told me the LB shop rate was actually in excess of a hundy/hr which would cut the available shop hours even lower, but I'm not sure I believe that. The 16+ hours would be total shop hours. I'd bet that the hands-on shop hours for actual hand fitting would be a couple of hours or less. Conjecture, sure. My opinion's as good as any.
I personaly don't care. I'm on my third Baer, and considering a forth if that guy I in Idaho would get off his duff.
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  #7  
Old 07-10-2011, 09:49 AM
GOA Guy GOA Guy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocket XIII View Post
They did a segment on LB on TV recently and they tossed off the figure of 25 hours of hand fitment in their standard level of fit and finish. Higher end of their line = more time.
I believe it was Charles Petty that did an article in Handloader about Baer and "over 20 hours of hand fitting" was brought up. That would be in line with this TV bit. "skipsan"s assessment is probably on the money for a typical machine shop cost of $75 and hour. I believe Baers pistol business will be somewhat less with much of the work (time) being done with handtools and not machines ie; less overhead, maintenance, etc.
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  #8  
Old 07-11-2011, 09:19 AM
baerhunter baerhunter is offline
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Recently, Massad Ayoob did an article in which he stated that a PII requires around 40 man hours of hand fitting not counting the time spent machining the various parts. Makes a PII, or any Baer, quite a bargain.
Take good care, all.
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  #9  
Old 07-11-2011, 12:28 PM
skipsan skipsan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baerhunter View Post
Recently, Massad Ayoob did an article in which he stated that a PII requires around 40 man hours of hand fitting not counting the time spent machining the various parts. Makes a PII, or any Baer, quite a bargain.
Take good care, all.

With all the respect due Mr. Ayoob, if that were true even without applying burden and overhead to wages (which would have to be done to run a business), that would mean that there was $1000 + in hand-finish invested in every $1800 1.5 incher pistol going out the door. Impossible.
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  #10  
Old 07-11-2011, 01:03 PM
SuHu SuHu is offline
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http://www.qconline.com/multimedia/display.php?id=277


Seems like the frames are checkered (probably machine started and finished by hand if I had to guess), barrels fit, then everything is given to the last guy for what looks like assembly and fitment of small parts, with blending and finishing. 8 pistols per rack, 8 hours per rack for the last step?
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  #11  
Old 07-11-2011, 02:07 PM
Brander Brander is offline
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They work on guns in batches, not just one at a time. So the times everyone is talking about--20,30,40 hours--is not just for a single gun, it is for 8-16 guns, or however many are in the batch.
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  #12  
Old 07-11-2011, 03:05 PM
baerhunter baerhunter is offline
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Hey Skipsan,
I refer you to American Handgunner/Sept. 2009 from which I quoted by memory (sometimes not so good). It states "Each Premier II, Les estimates, encompasses approximately 40 hours of skilled handwork, not counting machine time." This is an exact quote. Now whether, as Brander suggested, this is done a "rack at a time" or in some other way that being a premier builder of 1911's is utilized, I don't know......I was simply quoting a normally reliable source. I do suggest that until proven otherwise, Massad's quote would stand. And, as we all know, Les pours a ton of blood, sweat and tears, and handwork, into every 1911 that leaves his shop.
Take care all.....you, too, Skipsan.....
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  #13  
Old 07-11-2011, 03:59 PM
skipsan skipsan is offline
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Don't care who said it--40 hrs hand work, + machine time,+ purchased material and processes, + burden and overhead, + profit, for an $1800 pistol is impossible. To talk about hours in any other context than on a "per pistol" basis doesn't make much sense.
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  #14  
Old 07-11-2011, 04:25 PM
GOA Guy GOA Guy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skipsan View Post
Don't care who said it--40 hrs hand work, + machine time,+ purchased material and processes, + burden and overhead, + profit, for an $1800 pistol is impossible. To talk about hours in any other context than on a "per pistol" basis doesn't make much sense.
Maybe a shop in Zimbabwa?
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  #15  
Old 07-11-2011, 06:22 PM
baermongoloidhw baermongoloidhw is offline
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You are absolutely correct. 40 hours per gun would mean he's selling at a loss and making it up in volume. I would say more like 10 hours per gun. Who cares how long it takes. The end product is a good buy for the money, and everyone seems to be happy with their guns. His car collection in the video will tell you that he's making a butt load of cash so I doubt he is missing out on any profits.


Quote:
Originally Posted by skipsan View Post
Don't care who said it--40 hrs hand work, + machine time,+ purchased material and processes, + burden and overhead, + profit, for an $1800 pistol is impossible. To talk about hours in any other context than on a "per pistol" basis doesn't make much sense.
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  #16  
Old 07-11-2011, 06:27 PM
sparkman10mm sparkman10mm is offline
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When I purchased my TDP Prototype,(1 of 16) Les said the smith time was
40 hrs compared to 17 for production guns...
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  #17  
Old 07-11-2011, 08:51 PM
TRSOtto TRSOtto is offline
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Les is a businessman and something that all businessmen guard is their operating costs. Time is money, ergo Les isn't going to tell anyone publicly what his production times are.

Any number in this or any other thread is pure conjecture.
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  #18  
Old 07-11-2011, 11:00 PM
GunNut GunNut is offline
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Don't forget that article is two years old. CNC machines continue to improve and I would imagine the hand fitting goes down a bit.
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  #19  
Old 07-12-2011, 12:16 PM
baerhunter baerhunter is offline
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At the risk of stirring more "tempests in teapots", the assumption that's being made is that all of the hand labor is being done at a reasonably high rate, which is not necessarily so. It's possible that there is a "piece" rate applied, or even a master smith/apprentice arrangement that provides skilled hand labor at much lower rates. I'm sure that "40 hours per piece" was an approximate quote, but if the salary average rate was more in the fifteen dollar per hour range, that would bring the labor cost, the primary cost factor in any hand built item, down to around 600 dollars per piece on an 1800.00 to 3000.00 pistol. Assuming that all equipment is owned/paid for and that shop overhead is minimal, then we're beginning to fall into the reasonable range. Again, I believe that the handwork range stated in Ayoob's article is more or less accurate....we simply don't know the details of how it's done. And even though CNC is the big, new solution in many areas of manufacture, Baers real hook is largely based upon the hand-built character of his handguns. As is often the case, I'm not on the popular consensus side of things....but then, I didn't vote for the last President either.
Take care, all.
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  #20  
Old 07-12-2011, 12:48 PM
nolt nolt is offline
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i dont want to know.
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  #21  
Old 07-12-2011, 05:30 PM
clmayfield clmayfield is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baerhunter View Post
It's possible that there is a "piece" rate applied, or even a master smith/apprentice arrangement that provides skilled hand labor at much lower rates.
Exactly my thought. One of the advantages of running a huge shop with lots of volume is that you can specialize some of the tasks. The more tedious tasks that require less skill can be given to cheaper labor. The critical tasks and quality control can be given to a master smith. That said, I really know nothing about smithing, but it is the way that I would run a shop if I had the volume LB has.

I know there is a lot of snobbery in the smaller shops about every gun being individually built one at a time, but you pay a lot for that and get relatively little benefit out, apart from getting to say that the gun was individually built.
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  #22  
Old 07-13-2011, 08:14 AM
Kokopelli Kokopelli is offline
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I'm with Skipsan on this one.. 16 hours or so sounds about right.. JMO.. Ron
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