HGR 048 - Hamilton S. Bowen of Bowen Classic Arms

Hello and welcome to Handgun Radio! I’m your host Ryan Michad from the wilds of Central Maine, and this is your home for all the news, information and discussion in the handgunning world. This week, we continue our “Masters Series” of handgun gunsmiths and custom gunmakers with a discussion I had with Hamilton S. Bowen, the founder & proprietor of Bowen Classic Arms, located in Tennessee. We discuss his journey into the custom gunmaking business, along with some of his favorite projects and observations of the industry over the years.

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Week in Review:


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That about wraps up our week in review so we are going to head into the main topic which is a discussion with Hamilton Bowen of Bowen Classic Arms!

Main Topic: Hamilton S. Bowen of Bowen Classic Arms

1.) Mr. Bowen, you are the proprietor of Bowen Classic Arms located in Tennessee. What prompted you to start Bowen Classic Arms?

2.) In your opinion, how has the custom gunmaking business as a whole changed since you founded BCA back in 1980?

3.) Bowen Classic Arms is one of the finest examples of the custom gunmaking business, particularly when it comes to single and double action revolvers. What drove you toward custom revolvers specifically?

4.) I am a fan of strange or non-mainstream calibers, and I recall seeing a .25 ACP S&W J-frame that you built and I loved it! When you are conceptualizing a new project, where do you start? Do many customers have detailed plans for custom projects, or do they just give you certain specifications and let you go to work?

5.) In your experience, what base gun makes the best platform for custom work?

6.) Conversely, what base gun(s) can be problematic when performing custom work?

7.) Over your long career, what have been some of your favorite custom projects?

8.) When you take a range trip, what do you personally like to shoot?

8b.) What would you warn the home gunsmiths against that you have seen?

9.) If you could see one change to the way that the big companies produce firearms, what would it be?

10.) There are a few specific custom jobs I have seen on the BCA website that I would like to inquire about:

a.) I own my father’s S&W Model 19-4 that he carried as a police officer in our town starting in 1981. Seeing the small-bore K-Frame caliber conversions really intrigued me. What made you think of doing something like that with the .256 Winchester?

b.) I did some handgun hunting with a scoped Ruger Redhawk in .44 Magnum last year, and seeing your .50 AE Alpine Redhawk I was amazed! Did you come up with the idea or did a customer order it? I remember hearing about you having .50 AE moonclips made?

c.) I am a huge fan of the M1917 .45 ACP revolvers, and I was blown away by the M1917 Redhawk. How did you ever dream that idea up?


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Until next week, have fun and SAFE SHOOTING!!!