Firearm Engraving 101

by Roger Post

Interested in getting one of your guns engraved? Wondering where you would start?

The first item of business would be to establish how much you could spend. Engraving can run from a couple of hundred dollars for a simple design, into the thousands for the most intricate, hand-engraved patterns. You could add some character to your firearm, or tremendous value.

With a budget established, deciding what you want on your gun is the next step.

Some folks have a general idea: they want a portrait of their favorite hunting dog or scene depicting hunters waiting for the game to fly by.

Some go for a single game bird, like a ruffed grouse, quail, pheasant, duck or turkey.

Those who hunt elk, bear, moose, deer or wild sheep often have those images engraved on their rifles.

And, then there are those who like the Old West and have scenes from famous gun fights engraved on their Colts and Winchesters.


With all those choices, many game hunters still aren't sure what they want, or even how to go about figuring this out. Some companies, such as Baron Technology, Inc., of Trumbull, Conn., have creative art departments and a custom-engraving shop where people can sit with you and walk you through design ideas. These folks are extremely knowledgeable about what fits best on what gun and its parts, and whether a simple or fancy scroll design is best.

If you have a shotgun that is valued at $1,000, they'll tailor a design and the pricing so you don't end up paying more than the gun is worth. On the other hand, if you own one that is valued at $10,000, they will come up with an intricate scroll design, done by hand. It might include some deep relief that could add significantly to the value to your gun.

They then explain how the engraving procedure will work for what you have chosen. For example, if you are just engraving a name or a simple phrase, it might be done with a laser or etch procedure. If you are having the intricate scroll pattern engraved, they'll show you how the hand engravers use their various tools to create a masterpiece.


There is, however, another item that can be added to the engraving that will kick up your gun's value: gold. Gold filled or inlayed highlights aspects of your gun's design and turns something ordinary into extraordinary. If it is within your budget, this is highly recommended.

By the way, while you are improving the look of your gun, consider getting it re-blued before it is engraved. It makes tired old metal come to life.

Once the design and charges are determined, it's time to talk about a time frame. It's good for both to have the same expectations. Sometimes engravers get busy, so if you need your gun by a certain date, add perhaps a month to a hand-engraving procedure. That work takes a significant amount of time.

From here, you could keep in touch through phone calls or e-mail. Many engravers will e-mail photos of their progress.

Once the gun is finished, the company will contact you. If you are close by, you can go to pick it up. Otherwise, it can be shipped to you; you don't need to have it shipped to a gun shop with a Federal Firearm License on file because it's considered a repair not a sale.


Roger Post is the marketing manager for Baron Technology, Inc.

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