This time of year it’s hard to let a weekend go by without spending some time in a blind. We eagerly wait 9 months of the year for these three months to come around, and then optimize that time to spend as much as we can afield.
So taking a weekend off from mud and cold and feathers (although mud has been the predominant theme so far this season, outweighing feathers and cold significantly) was a bit of an aberration for this feather chaser…
One of my closest and longest friends has recently taken over a gun shop. Not just any gun shop, but one with a long-standing reputation in the gun repair and restoration business, having actually invented the free floating ventilated rib and installing them for Winchester in the 1950’s. Simmons Gun Repair & Sales, Inc. started in 1945, and is, to this day, still one of the most reputable gunsmithing and firearm restoration shops in the country.
With a table at Wanenmacher’s Tulsa Arms Show, which claims to be the largest gun show in the world, an extra chair, extra bed, and room in the Expedition, it was decided that this was a tag-along opportunity not to be missed. Not to mention I had this feeling that the ducks would still be around next weekend, and so would the mud flat we’d be fighting to get to them.
I have been to gun shows, outdoors shows, trade shows and conventions of all shapes and sizes… but nothing like this. The Quick Trip Center in Tulsa was unbelievable. And to see it packed from wall to wall with anything and everything from $89k Parker over/unders to historical weapons from the World Wars, and much further back to antique weaponry representing any and every phase in the history of firearms was pretty much the Willy Wonka’s for a guy like me. Every kind of assault rifle, handgun, classic hunting arms, historical firearms, custom and exotic… you name it, it was there. I found myself spending my time more like I was at a museum of firearms history than at a gun show, and was simply fascinated by all of the relics that were on display – and for sale, if you had that kind of money.
Getting back to Simmons…
During my time at the table, helping Paul man the booth, I was blown away by the number of people from all over the country that stopped by, thrilled to see us and tell stories about how we (Simmons) put a rib on their Dad’s Model 12 back in the 50’s, or how we restored that old Model 42 of their Grandfather’s. Or even just to say, “hey, I am so and so from such and such, you have my gun, how’s it coming along?”
This happened over and over and over. And I think it really speaks to what a brand can do by building a strong, long-standing sense of pride in their work, along with maintaining a timeless devotion to customer service. It’s rare to see a small niche business like this still making it these days. These guys are truly craftsmen of another day and age, skilled and knowledgeable in their art. And after spending some time with a few of them, a great bunch of guys who take pride in what they do. When you walk into the shop, if you could talk Paul into a tour, you might find the place looking the same is it did in 1950, or 1960, or 1970. I guess I find piles of barrels, half sanded woodwork, racks of guns that might range from 100 years ago to brand new, lathes and machinery and bluing tanks… to be a bit romantic in its own right.
I have been taking my guns to Simmons my whole life. I recall my dad taking guns there when I was a child. I was recommending the place long before my buddy was running it, and obviously give it my highest recommendation now. You will have gunsmiths that have been there for 30, 40 years working on your firearms. If you have guns that have been handed down to you that you want refinished, stuff you need repaired, sites put on, chokes installed, or just a thorough clean and test fire between the seasons… you name it, you should give Paul Marsh a call up at Simmons at 913-782-3131. You won’t be disappointed, and you can rest knowing your firearm is in the hands of, arguably, the best gunsmith staff in the world.