My life with guns included a very long hiatus due to vision problems. During that time, all the decent gunsmiths in L.A. apparently dropped dead or got too old to twist a screwdriver. During the last 4 years I've chatted up every gunsmith I could find, and even hired a few to do some minor work. The results were not encouraging. At present, the only gunsmith I can recommend has limited his practice to shadetree type work, which he excels at, and which obviates the need for storage and insurance. He's getting mighty old and he's not going to be working much longer. I kinda saw this coming - I noticed that the local gun stores stopped cleaning guns before selling them used or on consignment. Apparently nobody associated with any local store has enough confidence to be able to remove a sideplate and get it back on without doing some damage. 1911 smithing is silly easy... Up to a point. Most stores have someone around who can change a spring or drop in a part that doesn't require any fitting (not to say that drop-in parts don't often require fitting, and I've heard woeful tales of a thumb safety job that went horribly wrong). But that's about it. One fella told me that a can of black paint and poor lighting in his shop were his most valuable assets when working on AR's. I'm now coming up on 4 years of smithing experience myself. I recently divested my collection of all the guns that had screws that could only be replaced by cannibalizing other guns. I made that awfully difficult decision after handing a minty Colt Trooper across the counter at a local shop and getting it back with all screws as buggered as if they'd had a turn in the royal navy. So, what I'm here to say is... Abandon hope, all ye who enter into a career of shooting. The 1911 is still a viable and valuable shootin' iron, but market pressure is going to send it the way of the Dodo as disposable guns drive the need for factory gunsmiths to extinction. A few more years will suffice to bring the art of gunsmithing to an end.