RECOIL : What got you interested in gunsmithing?
Jodi Gri tus: I developed a love for firearms around the age of 18. I star ted out with some of the free programs at Ben Aver y Shooting Facility. They taught the basics of safety and how to shoot pistols, rifles, and shotguns. A girlfriend and I were hooked on the spor ting clays course for a while. My mom bought my first gun for my 19th bir thday, a 12-gauge
SKB pump shotgun.
Anyway, I was working a boring, dead-end (customer service) job and wanted to find a steady, hands-on career. I searched courses for local community colleges and found out that Yavapai College had a gunsmithing program. That immediately sparked my interest. I told my husband about it, and he said that he wished he would’ve thought of it! Long stor y short, we both moved to Prescott, Arizona (from North Phoenix) for two years to attend YCC. I prefer to work with my hands and build something that I can take pride in, something that’s dependable enough for someone to trust with their life. I’m intrigued by the inner workings and function of firearms. I really enjoy running a machine, especially a manual mill.
How did you get star ted?
JG: The head instructor at Yavapai, Alan Lohr, had worked for Robar years prior. He referred both my husband, Jim, and I to Robar. We were ver y lucky to get hired for such a great, well-known company. My husband did rifle work mostly, and I was more geared to pistol smithing.
The head gunsmith, Mar ty, star ted giving me lots of Hi Powers to work on. I was eventually deemed the “Hi Power Princess.” On a side note, I work on all kinds of pistols and am still learning about different firearms.
What’s the big gest problem you face when dealing with customers?
JG: It’s always tough when I have a project that’s only based on aesthetics ... I cannot wrap my head around having a gun that looks gorgeous, but is unreliable.
Also, people who don’t realize the completion date is an estimate. I ver y rarely work on something where I don’t come across additional issues that end up taking more time to fix. I treat each firearm as if it was my own, so I want it to leave here as perfect as it can be.
Which project are you most proud of?
JG: Ger trude. Ger trude is my FN Hi Power. I bought her from AimSurplus and she was a mess. I did a hi grip mod, beaver tail, cut dovetails, and installed Novak tritium sights. I installed the C&S type II hammer (skeletonized), trigger pull reduction spring kit, C&S sear, match-grade sear lever, wide combat trigger, and ex tended slide stop. I stippled the front and backstrap. I also stippled a center line down the top of the slide and cut a border. She’s finished in NP3 complete with a matte to guard slide and VZ grips. She’s my favorite gun to shoot and probably always will be!
Jodi Gritus’ FN Hi Power, Ger trude.