Necessity has often been the driving factor for many DIY projects. This can be said for anything from changing the water pump on your truck to replacing the bearings on your washing machine.
Bobby Harris of Fort Gibson is often asked “Why did you get into Cerakote and hydrography?” And the answer is simple – a necessity.
“In the past, gunsmiths would do work that involved blueing, triggering functions, bed caps, and even reshaping the barrel,” Harris said. “However, I saw five gunsmiths in the area either retire or die, which left a void in the local market because these slots were not filled by the younger generation.”
This caused Harris to teach himself a number of different gun-related modifications which he often paid a gunsmith to perform.
“I am by no means classified as a gunsmith but am more of an amateur who can make minor improvements that help with the overall accuracy of the firearm such as setting the bed in motion, changing triggers, barrel floats, twisting scope rings, and basically a lot of things that don’t require machining or gunsmithing in-depth,” Harris explained.
You see, Harris wanted to start a project where he would make another custom rifle. Most of the work could be done by Harris except for chambering and linking the barrel to the action.
He began the process of locating a donor gun so he could use the procedure.
Harris said, “After six months or so, I finally found a candidate in a pawn shop who had a rusty barrel and was a dull blue, but the procedure was flawless. I made a deal and came home with a great benefactor to start my project.”
It looks like the previous owner had put camo tape on the barrel causing it to rust. After a more thorough examination, Harris discovered that the rifling in the barrel was in perfect condition and the gun a great shot. Little did he know that his local gunsmith had just retired, so the project gun sat idle for about a year.
One day when looking at the project in the gun safe, Harris thought to himself, “I wonder if I can fix that?”
After weeks of researching, studying, and taking online training classes, Harris decided to try this gun. This created many challenges such as having to find someone with a large enough cupboard and needing a furnace large enough to make a pipe, not to mention needing a special fixture to loosen the bolt.
Harris felt he had nothing to lose because he was planning to rearm the gun anyway. If he didn’t like the way it turned out, there wouldn’t be much loss.
Harris had to try twice but the cerakote applied and the gun turned out to be much better than he could have imagined.
After showing it to some friends, inquiries started and more “training work” started to come in.
I had him do a rifle scope for me a couple of years ago when he was first starting out and it turned out perfect.
As word spread, Harris soon discovered that others had the same ideas as he did, and were looking for someone to do this kind of cosmetic repair or just a color change.
Harris soon became very confident in his cerakote abilities, so he considered trying his hand at hydrography—I mean, after all, the Internet makes it look easy.
“This is where things go wrong because graphing hydrography is much more difficult than it looks in videos. Each graphic film interacts differently with the applicator, and the size and dispersion of droplets in the applicator is critical, and everything from water temperature will affect to the soaking time on the method of applying the film.It’s a very subjective process,” Harris said.
“I’ve wasted hundreds of dollars worth of film and remastered more projects than I care to admit, but you learn through failures and have failed a lot in the process. Things finally came together after building a new dipping tank with a digital console to help stabilize water temperatures” .
Harris was lucky enough to be trusted with some big projects and people wanted to see more of his work, so he created a YouTube channel called “6 Mile Outdoors” so they could see some of his projects and hear him walk around for a bit.
Word of mouth soon spread as friends showed off their newly encrusted or camouflaged firearms, and more inquiries came, thus the birth of a small business at 6 Mile Outdoors.
Harris smiled and said, “I’m still expanding and taking on new challenges but growing up with a father who had a ‘can do’ attitude taught me, at the very least, to experience new challenges.”
I know Harris has a lot of talent and I applaud his efforts to build a new and growing fringe business.
Reach Kilgore in firstname.lastname@example.org.
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