Published: Tuesday, April 28, 2015 at 12:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 28, 2015 at 12:26 p.m.
If a high-end, custom 1911 is the pinnacle of the gunmaker’s art, then Brandan Bunker is one of the best artists in the country.
Owner of Bunker Arms, Brandan has been turning out some of the best 1911s ever made. They easily command $4,000 to $5,000 per pistol, and they are well worth it.
“From start to finish, the pistol is completed by only one person — me,” he said.
Bunker has a unique background for a gunbuilder: an MBA, an appreciation of fine art, and superior machinist skills that he learned from his father, a gunsmith, machinist, tool-and-die maker and a semi-pro skeet shooter.
“In this business, I can put as much creativity into my product as I want, with no limitations,” he said.
His end-users include collectors, competitors, ex-military operators, a few overseas contractors — but mostly they’re shooters.
Bunker Arms sells very few “safe queens.” These pistols are meant to be shot.
One contractor has fired more than 80,000 rounds without a single malfunction. When a new customer walks in, the first thing Bunker does is ask about their needs.
“We talk about how they’re going to use the pistol. Depending on that, we’ll move forward to talk about the build,” he said. “The end use is the most important component.”
For bullseye shooters, Bunker Arms guarantees its pistol will produce less-than-1-inch groups at 50 yards.
“If it doesn’t, I will throw the barrel away,” Bunker said.
While Bunker Arms specializes in 1911s, they are also a full-service gun shop, which includes gunsmithing and what Bunker calls “period restorations” — a process that involves historical research so the firearm matches its original factory specs. His period restoration of a Colt Government Model, built in 1917, would be the envy of any museum, or gun writer.
Bunker makes many of the 1911 components himself, and obtains the frames, barrels and other parts from a proprietary list of the industry’s best manufacturers.
The result is a smooth-as-glass slide-to-frame fit with tolerances measured down to 1/10,000 of an inch.
His triggers are works of art. They need to be experienced rather than explained.
I dry-fired a customer’s gun with a 2.5-pound trigger, which is about as light as Bunker is willing to go.
Without any discernible movement, the trigger broke cleanly with a crisp snap. Reset was too quick for me to even discern.
And did I mention the grips?
Bunker Arms obtains the most unique woods, including swirling maple and redwood burls. Bunker stabilizes the grip blanks in a vacuum, which removes air and any moisture. He then adds an acrylic, which is absorbed into the pores of the wood.
“Then we cut and polish. There’s no varnish on any of my grips,” he said. “They last a lifetime, like the guns.”
For more information, go to bunkerarms.com.
If we don’t run into each other at the range, you can reach me at (941) 361-4975, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by regular mail, 1741 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You also can follow me on social media at www.facebook.com/TheGunWriter or www.Twitter.com/ht_gunwriter