Fink’s Custom Gunsmithing

by Matt Olivier

photography by Matt Olivier

August 26th, 2020

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Author Matt Olivier (right) with David Fink (left) at Gunsite Academy.



Blued Series 70 Colt Government Model 45 ACP.

I met David Fink, owner/head gunsmith at Fink’s Custom Gunsmithing, a few years ago while attending an industry event hosted by Simply Rugged Holsters at Gunsite Academy.  David had recently graduated as a gunsmith from Yavapai Community College and had hung his shingle, and set up his mill, in nearby Chino Valley, AZ.  A US Navy veteran and married father of one cute-as-a-button little girl, he was starting to make a name for himself in the community and was attending this industry event with me.  We had recently enjoyed a few days of shooting, and also getting to know each other, at another media event, again at Gunsite Academy, so I decided to leave a few handguns with him for some improvements.

While most of my shooting over the last few years has been with full size, 5” barrel/slide 1911, or 1911-style pistols, one thing that I cannot abide on a carry, or carry-able, 1911 pistol is a smooth front strap and a smooth slide.  In the Arizona heat, my hands tend to sweat and can get a little slippery so front cocking serrations and a checkered front strap are a must for me for any gun that I may elect to carry.  I realize both of these can be a “like ‘em or leave ‘em” kind of thing for most shooters, but to each his or her own.  That’s how I prefer to have a gun that I carry.

I left David with three of my current favorite (or at least strong candidates to potentially crack the top 5!) pistols for front strap checkering.  One is a blued 70s Series Colt Government (Gov’t) model 45 ACP, one is a lightweight Springfield Armory 1911-A1 9mm, and lastly, one is another 70s Series Colt Government model but this one is chambered in 9mm that had been hard chromed along the way, probably upon re-importation from Israel, as it was a service pistol there at some point.

The blued Colt Gov’t model in 45 ACP is a very recent acquisition found in a local pawn shop.  It was found already fitted with one of Wayne Novak’s great rear sights already installed, which is my favorite for carry guns, and also already had an extended thumb safety and beavertail grip safety installed.  It was someone’s fighting pistol, for sure, so I decided it would make for a good addition to my EDC battery, but needed a checkered front strap for a more positive grip.

I found the lightweight Springfield Armory 1911-A1 9mm pistol on Gunbroker not too long ago and thought it could make for an interesting pistol that, should reliability and accuracy prove themselves, could be a candidate to insert in my EDC rotation.  When I acquired it, it had a black anodized aluminum frame with an olive drab slide so I asked David to go ahead and also Cerakote the gun in black once he was done with the checkering.

The hard chromed Colt Gov’t 9mm has already proven to be quite an accurate pistol.  I used it during my 350 Advanced Pistol class at Gunsite back in 2018 and it served me well.  In one of my not so bright decision making moments, I actually traded it away once for something I had to have, though now cannot remember.  I was able to trade back into it a few months ago, again for something I cannot remember.  This time, it is staying in my safe, or on my hip!  While the hard chrome looks great, and provides good finish protection, it feels particularly slippery to me, especially when press checking, so I thought it would be a great candidate for front cocking serrations along with the front strap checkering. 

It wasn’t too long before David called me to let me know the guns were ready.  David offers four different levels of coarseness for his checkering: coarse (20 lines per inch, or LPI), medium (24 LPI), fine (30 LPI) and extra fine (40 LPI).  I opted for his fine checkering, which felt the best in my hands.   The checkering on all three guns was perfect.  It is crisp, straight and provides for exactly the right level of “grippiness” on the front strap for my liking.  

With his front cocking serrations, David is able to match whatever style of rear cocking serration pattern, to help provide a more balanced and matching pattern on the slide.  He was able to skillfully just about perfectly match the serrations on the rear of the slide on the hard chromed gun.  He recommended a simple bead blast finish over both the front serrations and the checkered front strap in order to best match the hard chrome finish of the 9mm Colt Gov’t.  This was a great recommendation, as there is barely any difference in the finish after his work.

While speaking with David a few weeks ago, I also mentioned to him in passing that I had some trouble ejecting empty cases from my recently acquired 7.5” barrel Ruger Bisley Single Seven chambered in 327 Federal.  It seemed that the ejection port was cut just a little too undersize to reliably and positively allow the empty case to be pushed out with the ejector rod.  The rim of the case would hang up on the frame and the cylinder would need to be rotated back, ever so slightly, to allow for extraction.  Sometimes it even required turning the cylinder back around and catching that chamber before it clicked over to get the case to eject.  He was able to open up that ejection port just enough, and now the gun extracts empty cases perfectly, without any hang up, and without any impact to the loading gate.

I have to say that I am very impressed with the quality of the work, the quick turn-around time, and the friendly service provided by David Fink.  If you’ve got some gunsmithing work for which you’ve been waiting on the right time and the right gunsmith, give David Fink a call, he won’t disappoint you.

Fink's Custom Gunsmithing, Chino Valley, AZ - Phone (928)756-8916 / Web Site:

Matt Olivier

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Ruger Bisley Single-Seven 327 Federal.



Lightweight Springfield Armory 1911-A1 9mm.



Hard Chromed Series 70 Colt Government Model 9mm.