CMP Custom Shop Continues to Maintain Rifles and a Remarkable Amount of Business
June 28, 2014Civilian Marksmanship Program▸The First Shot▸CMP Custom Shop Continues to Maintain Rifles and a Remarkable Amount of Business
By Ashley Burgnone, CMP Writer
In only eight months of operation, the CMP Custom Shop has preserved, repaired and upgraded an impressive number of USGI-issue rifles. Since it first began in October 2013, the shop has received 434 return authorizations (work orders) in total, with 345 rifles having been completed and returned to customers and over 40 sitting on the rack waiting to be serviced, not to mention over 40 currently on their way to the store.
Additionally, there are also rifles on backorder – meaning rifles that have been purchased from the CMP Store but buyers wish for the firearms to be serviced by the Custom Shop before they ship. So, it’s simple to see…
“We haven’t run out of work yet,” said Chris Hord, one of the CMP gunsmiths in the Custom Shop. “And no two projects are exactly the same, so it gives us the chance to do different projects every day.”
Though a lot of M1 Garands come through the doors of the shop, there are actually a balanced variety of rifles sent to be serviced, including a growing amount of Vintage Sniper rifles. Jobs mostly consist of technical inspections, but the armorers within the shop will accept just about any task – even if they’ve never done it before. “We get a lot of odd requests that are kind of neat – things I’ve never thought about doing,” said Hord. “But there’s nothing we won’t at least consider or try to figure out.” Hord works alongside John McLean, the CMP Custom Shop manager, who has over a decade of experience working hands-on with rifle maintenance. New to the Custom Shop team is Ryan Lindell, who joined in December 2013. Lindell had previously worked in the CMP armory, where the rifles are inspected and built, but is now becoming accustomed to rifle maintenance instead of just rifle assembly.
“I’m still learning. It can be tough, different guns with different issues, but I’m figuring it out,” he said with a smile. “Chris and John certainly know their guns, so it’s great to work with them.”
According to Hord, Lindell has been an extremely valuable addition to the Custom Shop. Although still learning, he can be counted on to do quality work with each job he undertakes.
“Ryan is always willing to listen and learn. He will naturally take something to the next level,” said Hord. “If you explain something to Ryan, he will automatically understand the next step in the process.”
In July, Hord and McLean will both be traveling to the National Matches at Camp Perry, OH, to work the CMP Armorer’s Trailer, for anyone who needs repairs during the event. Though the trailer is meant for quick maintenance during the Matches, Hord and McLean will also accept rifles to be taken back to the Custom Shop in Anniston for servicing.
“We’re not going to turn down much,” said Hord.
With the success of the Custom Shop, the team within it has discussed possible directions the shop could take in the future. One thought is to create custom rifles for buyers. Instead of purchasing a rifle off of the shelf as-is, the gunsmiths could assemble a rifle out of parts chosen by the buyer – from the barrel to the stock.
“I think we’re going to get more and more into that,” said Mark Johnson, CMP deputy chief operating officer. “The problem we have right now is there aren’t enough hours in the day.”
Hord added, “There are services out there that we know a flood of people are interested in. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to do it and what it’s going to take to do it. Just like anything else, there’s a process you have to go through to get things done. But there’s certainly a lot we’re trying to add or would like to add.”
According to Johnson, the shop itself, though growing in popularity, isn’t meant as a revenue builder for the CMP. Its purpose is to further strengthen the relationship between the CMP and its members – to maintain a working relationship with them and ensure the quality of the CMP rifle products.
“The Custom Shop is a little better than break even. The reason for that is because we’re charging minimalistic to middle-of-the-road pricing, and we’re throwing some expensive labor at it,” said Johnson. “We probably should be charging more because of the quality of work we’re doing, but that’s not the goal. The goal is to provide the service to the customer base – a service they can rely on.”
The service provided by the Custom Shop is so reliable, in fact, that it often receives repeat business. Some customers have sent multiple rifles, with the intentions of sending more yet. And, the work never goes unappreciated.
“We get all kinds of ‘Thank you’ letters with pictures, saying how well the rifle shoots,” said McLean. “Our testimonials are always filled with good comments.”
In the end, the Custom Shop has proved to be a positive addition to the CMP, both for the organization and those who have been loyal to it. The CMP is now able to take the historical rifles it sells and keep them alive for years to come.
“You’ve got guys who bought guns from us 10 or 15 years ago, and they’re not going to be in the same condition as they were when they bought them,” said Hord. “We can provide them the service to get them back to where they should be. And we enjoy it.”
The CMP Custom Shop is open daily, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Due to the National Matches in Ohio, the shop will be closed July 2 through July 27.
For more information about the Custom Shop, including a list of services, visit https://thecmp.org/cmp_sales/custom-gunsmithing/