Jim Hoag

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing' started by pokute, Oct 27, 2014.

  1. pokute

    pokute Sincere as a $5 funeral

    I just scored a custom "Mastergrade" Colt Commander built by Jim Hoag in 1978 :D

    To put that in perspective, the "first generation" of Custom 1911 'smiths were named (in order of appearance) Swenson, Hoag, and Pachmayr. Arnold "Al" Capone is sometimes wedged in between Swenson and Hoag, but there is some question about whether Hoag did the work credited to Capone.

    Custom work done on a Mastergrade:

    Profiled and checkered front strap
    Profiled and checkered MSH
    Squared and checkered trigger guard
    Frame reshaped for cosmetic match with new trigger guard
    Profiled and checkered rear of slide (and extractor)
    Extreme low mount Bomar sight
    Hammer reshaped and recut to clear Bomar sight and grip safety
    Frame tangs welded up and shaped for cosmetics and super high hold
    Hoag custom grip safety - Made from 3 pieces - ears brazed to Colt safety
    Swenson SS thumb safety fitted to slide cut
    Customized Hoag slide release
    Pachmayr combat grips with front strap section removed
    Colt GCNM trigger - wide trigger required frame opening work
    Bar-Sto barrel - Slide and barrel fitted at hood for zero play - A Hoag only option
    SS custom bushing
    Slide fitted to frame and otherwise modified for enhanced lockup
    Frame and Slide flats mirror polished
    Top of slide matted and grooved
    All internal parts hand fitted
    Critical frame areas welded up and recut
    Pins and frame holes squared and fitted
    Frame and slide reblued

    That work ran around $600 in 1978

    Care to guess what that would cost TODAY?

    The mirror-like finish is not apparent in the photo. I swapped back the Colt slide-stop and thumb safety for range use:

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 18, 2014

  2. gumpy

    gumpy Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

    A work of art!
  3. pokute

    pokute Sincere as a $5 funeral

    Wait 'til I get some pics up that show the finish properly. Hoag was a true artist. I'll be visiting him later today.
    Compare the lines on that frame to any frame you have. See the difference?

    I can't wait to wring it out.

    UPDATE: Just got back from seeing the gun. It really is a work of art. Then I went to visit Jim Hoag - What a great guy! He loves to talk about his work. I found out that my gun was Commander Mastergrade #3, made in 1978, and that it does indeed have every option that existed in 1978. He worked at King's in Glendale from 1961-1974, when he set up on his own in Canoga Park. He was THE 1911 gunsmith at King's. All the early King's 1911's were done by him. He said he didn't start doing full-house guns until he left King's.

    American Handgunner issue with article about Jim Hoag guns:


    And some quotes:

    I have a Hoag Longslide built on a Gold Cup and it is very nice.
    I would rate Hoag's checkering above Swenson any day. Jim Hoag
    was a big influence on my 1911 work. Anyone who says he wasn't a
    big name, just hasn't been around very long.
    Oh by the way my longslide functions very well. - Richard Heinie

    Back in the late '70s and early '80s, I apprenticed with Mr. James Hoag,
    a custom pistolsmith of some renown, still in business in suburban
    Los Angeles. In those days the only ballgame in town was Colt. And
    business was good because although the quality of steel in the
    early-to-mid production of the Series 70 Government Model was terrific,
    the internal machining of the slide was not... - David Tong

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 18, 2014
  4. pokute

    pokute Sincere as a $5 funeral

    A particularly nice Hoag Longslide:

    Attached Files: