Interview & Tour: Schroeder Bauman, Not Just Another 1911 Shop

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Now, before you roll your eyes at yet another 1911 manufacturer, I encourage you to hold the skepticism for just a moment.  I’ll admit, when I arranged the factory visit I was interested, but not expecting anything out-of-this-world.  By the time I left, I may have taken a real interest in 1911s.

Logo

I was hooked-up with Schroeder Bauman (SB) (note, not Schroder & Bauman), through my local range. When I visited to set up my membership for the year, Mike the General Manager was raving about the three new 1911′s that he just got in. He offered to let me handle them (why would I refuse any new gun?) and I was generally ambivalent. The SB full-size model felt good, but it was a 1911. Interestingly, it had finger-groves machined into the frame. My impression was a resounding “meh.”

A stock-photo of the American Defender (full-size) with finger groves w/ optional carrying case.

A stock-photo of the American Defender (full-size) with finger groves w/ optional carrying case.

(Author’s note: I do not consider myself a “1911 guy.” I like them, appreciate them, shot them many times, but I prefer other styles of handguns.)

What did pique my interest was that Mike mentioned SB was based out of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I found they were a scant ten minutes from my home. Mike linked me up with Jay Morley, SB’s President. After a short call we set up a time for me to stop by, poke around, and take a few photographs.

Schroeder Bauman is located in a nondescript manufacturing park in an otherwise outwardly boring area of the city. Ashley, complete in safety glasses and gloves, met me at the door and escorted me back to the assembly room. There, Jay was personally assembling a  Officer’s model. Even with the door shut, there was a dull roar of CNC and other machines working in the background.

Jay Morley, the President of Schroeder Bauman right at home behind an assembly table.

Jay Morley, the President of Schroeder Bauman right at home behind an assembly table. Jay is much happier running a machine than a company.

After pleasantries and a cup of coffee, we started delving into the history of Schroeder Bauman. Started by Jay, Ashley (who I found out was his daughter) and a third faithful employee, SB was originally going to be retirement “fun.” Jay is the former owner of SWS Trimac, an “electron beam & laser welding, metal fusion, and machining solutions” company originally started by his father. Long story short, if there is a material out there, Jay and SWS tried to fuse, weld, or work with it. Jay has parts on almost all of the US fighter planes and a few even in space.

Still, he’s humble, always deferring to the contribution of his staff and partners. In fact, Schroeder Bauman is named after two of the principal machinists who worked on the prototypes.

I then made the mistake of asking, ” What separates Schroeder Bauman from all the other 1911 companies out there?” Jay winced a moment, but I could see a passion frothing to come forth. It did. 

SB's custom-built one-off 22 Short Gatling (hand-cranked semi-auto). Beautiful polished brass. SB custom made magazines to feed it.

SB’s custom-built one-off 22 Short Gatling (hand-cranked semi-auto). Beautiful polished brass. SB custom made magazines to feed it.

“John Browning used the best materials available at the time,” stated Jay, “1050 carbon steel was strong, but brittle. We have come a long way since then.” . With his background in materials sciences, he explained the material choices he made. Of interest to myself was when he started to explain how some metal pieces can fuse together, in a process called cold-welding. In short, two highly polished and pure pieces of metal, when pressed together, will exchange electrons and form a single piece of material. 

To counter this, SB fuses ceramic material into the rails on both the frame and slide. Not just a simple coat, the ceramic material interacts and stabilizes the steel rails, increasing lubricity, toughness, and yield strength.

Jay redirected me to a picture of what seemed to be a pale bronze 1911. “It’s one of two we made that can run completely dry.” They infused the metal through a new welding method to have previously unheard of lubricity. “We ran 500 rounds through it of the dirtiest, crappiest, Wolf we could find with no issues.” I believed him, but challenged him to put it on video with TFB’s staff.**

Everything starts out as a block of billet. In this case, you see grip safeties in various stages.

Everything starts out as a block of billet. In this case, you see grip safeties in various stages.

Everything on the SB 1911′s except the barrel (they use Storm Lake), springs, and trigger are all made in-house starting from solid billet. There are no forged parts in their pistols. They hold their tolerances and quality standards high. For example, the only pistol available for me to test was rejected from shipment because the front strap etching was just out of spec. Having handled the demo gun and a production-approved model, I could not tell a difference.

All of the major components are machined in-shop. Pictured above are frames in various stages of machining.

All of the major components are machined in-shop. Pictured above are frames in various stages of machining.

“Don’t buy a that guns that have to be shot in, or that you have to select and test certain ammo,” opined Jay. SB’s guns are all designed and tested to work all the time with any ammunition. A Virginia SWAT team tested SB’s guns versus a few competitors and SB’s came away the clear winner. (Note, SB did not share which SWAT team did the testing).

Billet for future slides.

Billet for future slides.

This level of fanatical quality does not come without expense. The American Defender (full-size model) ranges from $2,000 to over $2,500. The officer sized Liberty ranges from $1,300 to $1,779, depending on the options. Pistols ship with Chip McCormick magazines. Compared to other high-end 1911s, these are a bargain.

Slides in their various stages. Ashley was hand-polishing a Commander model when I arrived.

Slides in their various stages. Ashley was hand-polishing a Commander model when I arrived.

Distributed through AGSArmament, SB pistols are available for FFL’s country-wide. Be warned, demand for the pistols is high and you may have wait for one to come in or search hard for the model you want.

AGS

SB is doing complete custom orders including but not limited to serrations, front strap profile, custom engraving, etc. Contact them directly through their website for custom build or use their online tool to get a general idea of the look and feel.

I am fortunate that SB is loaning a firearm for a full work-up and review. Serial number 13-0013 has seen “over 6,000 rounds” prior to my review. SB claims that there have been no spring or component changes in the pistol. Stay tuned for the full work-up and to see if Schroeder Bauman lives up to my positive first impression.

Frames ready for more machining.

Frames ready for more machining.

 Update: Fixed a few grammatical errors (thanks to our eagle-eyed readers!) and changed some minor wording. 

**Correction: SB contacted the author and pointed out an error. The run-dry firearm was not explosion welded. It used a different, “high-speed, low-drag” welding method.

Related

Nathan S.

TFB’s newest resident Jarhead, Nathan is currently working in the Defense industry in international sales. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, bull-pups, and high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries in the last three years working with US DoD & foreign MoDs. You will likely find him either in an international airport or on the local range in NE Indiana.

Nathan can be reached at [email protected]


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  • Giolli Joker

    Never heard about them, I’m not a 1911 guy as well, but I find their approach very interesting!
    Thanks for the article, I’m looking forward to reading the review of the gun!

    (P.S.: “will exchange electronics and form a single piece of material” like this sounds like: “gimme your I-phone I’ll give you my Samsung” :-P Please correct to “electrons” ;-) )

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      I fixed it when I saw it. Hey late at night I’m prone to doing the same kind of thing:-)

      • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Nathan S “Writer, TFB”

        Thanks, Phil…

        The writers should start calling him “Daddy” since he cleans up our messes!

        • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

          LOL but it’s not often that it happens! Thanks Nathan:-)

      • Giolli Joker

        I have a timezone advantage… GMT+4 I’m supposed to be awake when I read you… then back to office routine and my brain sleeps. :-)

  • patrickiv

    Has anyone ever witnessed a 1911 slide and frame fuse together?

    • The_Sargentos

      I suppose the closest to that would be the AMT Hardballer and galling – though that was mainly because the slide and frame were made of the same material with about the same amount of heat treatment.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      No—- I’m not sure I understand what you mean. Elaborate a bit—-
      You mean galling back in the early days of using Stainless steel?

      • The_Sargentos

        Early Hardballers experienced galling, which can result in friction welding (tiny fragments of one piece welded to the other.) However, this seemed to only be an issue with early Hardballers; they changed the alloy in either the slide or frame and that fixed it. So yes, back in the early days of stainless steel.

    • Giolli Joker

      The way I read it is: if you cut down tolerances to the very minimum and you mirror polish the surfaces you might end up with some degree of cold welding.
      They claim to adopt high quality manufacturing standards so their guns MIGHT experience this issue, therefore they employ a preventive solution.

  • Clone

    So, they are yet another 1911 manufacturer, but their special shtick is a ceramic coating that means you don’t need to lubricate your firearm. You can talk about it preventing cold welding, but that requires a vacuum and high pressure. Not the conditions normally found when firing a weapon. I’m interested to see if the lubricity claims hold up under a proper review.

    The prices on their weapons aren’t insane. They are remarkably normal for high-end manufacturers of 1911′s. Looks like QC is excellent, although I’d wonder if they can keep that up if demand rises without getting into wait-lists out of this world or jacking prices up to astronomical levels.

    • ThomasD

      Vacuum is not necessary, merely highly useful. Absolutely clean surfaces are essential, including a lack of oxidation (which gets back the need for the vacuum.)

      The place where I’d be concerned is space. The near vacuum, combined with the significant heating and cooling could easily drive off any surface contaminants, leaving two clean bearing surfaces, and a subsequent ‘clean’ first shot might be enough to cause problems – more likely galling rather than any sort of actual fusing of the two components. In such an environment a fused lubricant seems appropriate.

      If I planned on firing a 1911 while in low Earth orbit this would be the one.

      But beyond the marketing techno-sizzle, when I meet or hear about a new craftsman or manufacturer all I need to know is that they love what they make, and they love making it well.

      I hope they succeed.

      • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

        ” all I need to know is that they love what they make, and they love making it well.” That makes for a quality gun of any type.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      They don’t seem like the kind of people that would raise prices just because. I’m really looking forward to Nathans review.

  • Marc

    Still just another 1911.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      Not really. A 1911 or any gun, you can fire dry and never lube it because of the process they use to bond materials is anything but usual.

      • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Nathan S “Writer, TFB”

        My test gun arrived at the local FFL earlier today. I plan on running it through a large ammo count with no lube to test.

      • guest

        So he basically achieved the same thing that was possible with a regular Glock all the while, for half the price and with 2x ammo capacity.

        Sorry but this is just gun porn.

        • st4

          “…this is just gun porn.”

          That’s why I frequent this site.

          • guest

            Can’t blame you :)

        • Lol

          Glocks shoot like shit lol.

  • Grammarian

    You pique an interest, you don’t peak it.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Nathan S “Writer, TFB”

      An apt username. Thanks for the correction. It has been fixed and my fourth grade grammar teacher is rolling in her grave…

  • dp

    I believe many of these new shops are based on CNC programing skills of its founders a that is very easy to understand – capable people want to be on their own. They may not dazzle you with ‘innovation’ but so what. Isn’t quality of their output what you want?

    • Marc

      Why not both?

      • dp

        The only innovation of substance I recall was Para Ordnance who came up with – double stack magazine capacity. Other than that it we be always the 1911. Gun is as good as it can be.
        Oh yes, I omitted Obregon, same thing with rotary barrel. Tell me why someone does not build that one. That would be a perfect ‘innovation’.

        • Marc

          Yeah, I know 1911 fans like to pretend 100 years of innovation didn’t happen. How about linkless, bushingless, ramped barrels, tensioned by a slide which doesn’t have just one gaping hole in the front; monolithic locking blocks; various extractor designs; getting away with that god awful external plunger tube and fixing various stress risers, like that 90° angle on the bottom of the slide whick likes to crack? You know, all those little things that have become standard on pistols which aren’t bought because of their supposed nostalgic value. Some of those innovations were JMB’S own work, so you better not come back with bogus myths of no improvement needed.

          • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

            Being a user of 1911′s for a long time I have no illusion these innovations are out there on the market. There are also a LOT of very good guns out there. The 1911 is one of them.

          • JaxD

            Start your own company, put all that useful info to use. Innovate ’til the cows come home.

          • Marc

            I could just buy a Peter’s Stahl if I wanted a 1911 with many of the improvements I mentioned.

        • suchumski

          oh, yes?
          Go and watch the Government 1911 of KORTH in the Tube.
          A Fix Barrel 1911 with a Roller Lock Mecanism (HK/MP5)
          Made in Germany, Korth is realy expencive stuff.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      That is is. They are very good at what they do. Explosive welding to make a slide frame work so smoothly is impressive.
      Of course this could apply to many other guns.

  • iksnilol

    Do they plan on making a doublestack version using Para-Ordnance 14 rd mags?

    These seem to be really good.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      Not that I’m aware of and with the number of orders they have waiting I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

      • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Nathan S “Writer, TFB”

        Jay mentioned it during the interview. They have plans in the future, but have a serious back-log now. Phil is right, not anytime soon.

  • Raven

    Are the finger grooves supposed to be somehow impressive? Safari Arms/Olympic have had a finger rest on their Matchmaster series for years.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      Yea they have. It’s an option on the gun not a standard feature. Nathan can correct me if I’m wrong.

      • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Nathan S “Writer, TFB”

        Based on conversations with them, 95%+ of their demand is for the finger-grove version. Out of over 200 guns on the market, only six (6!) were straight-framed.

        • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

          Thanks Nathan. Raven another thing to consider is the other 1911′s mentioned always seemed to use huge finger cuts while these are much shorter and I’m sure useful.

    • Suburban

      I thought it was kind of funny that they added finger grooves to a 1911, when a lot of people complain about the finger grooves on Glock frames, possibly to the point that Glock didn’t put them on their new model 42.

  • daniel prickett

    cool guns. website is down. or swamped. a semi custom 1911 for sub $2500 sounds interesting. i like the “dotted” slide serrations and the finger grooves is awesome. id like at least 1.

  • 101nomad

    “O, wad somebody, the money gie me…….I cud see me wid one of dose.”

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      Huh:-)

    • bcelliott

      Nice, Robbie!

    • bcelliott

      Nicely played, Robert!

  • JaxD

    Forget the 1911, they should produce that Gatling gun. Too cool.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      I love that Gatling gun!

    • 2hotel9

      There is a company that makes Gatling Guns, I believe they run about $50,000 and can be in the caliber of your choice. I’ll see if I can find their address, think they are in North Carolina.

      And yea, the pic of that Gatling is why I hit this post!

  • Blake

    awesome article, thanks.

    looks like a really professional shop

  • pismopal

    And people still buy Harley..and 1911′s. One hundred year old technology for twice the price. Go figure.