CSMC vs Custom Fox small bore?

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CSMC vs Custom Fox small bore?

Postby Silvers » Thu Apr 30, 2015 8:10 am

So while at the Southern SxS last week I looked at several very nice used CSMC Foxes, with the "cheapest" of them negotiated down to $13.5K; that was a CE Grade, 28-inch barrels with good upland choking and single trigger. The CSMC website shows costs for its range of new Fox guns and features that will add substantially to that figure.

I also looked at several extremely nice custom Fox small bores. One of them is owned by a talented member gent who does some of his own work, and he told me had about $5K in the gun to pay for (I believe) one primary craftsman. I don't think that included the cost of the donor gun but maybe I'm wrong. Also talked talked with two custom 'smiths who related that ROUGH costs for a very nice custom Fox will average about $9 to 14K - with the high range to include advanced features like a fancy back/rebated frame, breech ball profiling, skeleton buttplate, substantial coverage by a master engraver, and very nice but perhaps not exhibition grade wood. Again that doesn't include the cost of a Philly or Savage donor gun.

All this is jfi ..... food for thought if you're considering a new or used CSMC Fox, versus getting a true custom Fox small bore made up.
Last edited by Silvers on Thu Apr 30, 2015 7:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: CSMC vs Custom Fox small bore?

Postby vaturkey » Thu Apr 30, 2015 9:17 am

Good topic Frank.

I would certainly agree with the cost estimates you provided. The nice thing about CSMC is you are going to get a warranty with the gun and perhaps the resale value might be better down the road. You also have the advantage of building a 28 Gauge or 410 which certainly isn't an option if you go the custom route because those barrel options aren't available for consideration. Of course if you want to build a 12 gauge custom because you want to duck/goose hunt, that option isn't available from CSMC because they don't build 12 gauge Foxes.

IMO, there are certain limitations one gets by going with CSMC (besides the investment) versus going with a top flight gunsmith who is well known and also using a well known engraver who is a member of the FEGA. That top flight gunsmith is able to really build a gun you want from the perspective of client desired metal work which your not going to get from CSMC. For example if you want to a gun that looks like it came out of the factory in 1914 your not going to get it from CSMC. They only build a fancy back gun ala Burt Becker. Not saying I don't like the fancy back because my first custom gun had that feature. Frankly, I just like having the option of sitting down with the custom gunsmith and working up a plan on what you want to have done and make the decisions collectively on what makes sense, coupled with what floats my boat. There is a close involvement/association one gets by meeting face to face (eyeball to eyeball my dad used to say) that one doesn't obtain by going to CSMC website and filling out an order form of what options one wants on the gun and writing a deposit check. Maybe one can do it with CSMC, but my thoughts are you wouldn't be sitting down with the craftsman actually doing the work.

I also like the ability to be able to adapt on the fly should the situation change. For example I changed walnut blanks three times on one of my customs just because I could. I also changed the butt options more then once. Changing from toe clips to skeleton buttplate to whatever. I liked once again the ability to adapt/change direction should the need arise. For me, I just liked the process as it kept me involved to a degree and I having the option of swinging up to my gun makers place and checking progress and having personal interactions/status checks etc. Maybe one can get that with CSMC, but me thinks probably not.

There is really no wrong or right answer on this one. Its all up to what one ultimately wants or perceives they want. I also think a lot has do with how much one likes to be involved in the process. For me I like lots of involvement. For example on my two Fox customs I provided a detailed written breakdown on exactly what I wanted, which included pictures or drawings of checkering patterns, metal work, safety/top lever shape, finishes etc etc. I even did the same with the engraver which included providing pictures of what type scroll I wanted, what type birds, facing what direction, flying left, flying right, where on the gun I wanted them. In short just a lot of interaction and involvement which provided quite a bit of satisfaction along the way.

Last thing I'll mention is trust your craftsman and be forewarned these projects take some time. Patience is a virtue in this case for sure.
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Re: CSMC vs Custom Fox small bore?

Postby Jim Cloninger » Thu Apr 30, 2015 11:13 am

Nice write-up VA! Jim
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Re: CSMC vs Custom Fox small bore?

Postby Gleedaniel13 » Thu Apr 30, 2015 9:27 pm

It seems to be interesting then. But it would be more interesting if you will post some pictures here.
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Re: CSMC vs Custom Fox small bore?

Postby vaturkey » Thu Apr 30, 2015 11:12 pm

Gleedaniel13 wrote:It seems to be interesting then. But it would be more interesting if you will post some pictures here.


My two customs are already posted here as are others custom Foxes. Take a look.
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Re: CSMC vs Custom Fox small bore?

Postby Silvers » Fri May 01, 2015 8:30 am

Some custom Foxes remind me of the classic rifles turned out back in the day by top-shelf builders like Linden, Shelhamer, Biesen, Minar, Dubiel and some others. They did commission work on Springfields, Mausers and Model 70's in their small shops ..... started out with a good donor gun and had at it in a classic fashion and with superb workmanship. These 'smiths weren't all that well known back in the pre-internet days ..... maybe just a mention or two by O'Connor or his peers in mag articles. Most of their guns were hunted and look like they were. But try to find and/or buy one today. :wink:

Surely most "sporterized" rifles far fall below the classic looks/workmanship and current market value of those made by the then-little known Masters but as with many things in life the cream tends to rise to the top. :) Will the same happen with classic, well executed customs made on the A H Fox shotgun platform? Gents, time will tell but I'm thinking it will. All this is JMO of course.
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Re: CSMC vs Custom Fox small bore?

Postby gwsmith » Wed May 06, 2015 7:41 pm

I've been making similar comparisons in my mind over the past year or so. I've been contemplating a project - that is upgrading a 20 gauge Sterlingworth to a B Fox with the later style engraving. I'm always been partial to the B grade Foxes - and have given up thinking I'll find one with 28 or 30" barrels in decent condition anytime in the near future. As I look for a donor gun - I'd strongly prefer a 20 gauge with decent barrel length and ejectors. These guns are also pretty rare and prices I've seen are in the $5K range. By the time I lay out $5,000 for the donor, get it redone and reengraved - I'd probably have the price of a new CSMC Fox in it. I've talked to Lou and they're happy to make me a new Fox with B grade engraving. Obviously it isn't an original gun - but neither is a custom project. I haven't done anything yet - and may not for a few more months (building a new house right now) - but I've been thinking about the pros and cons of both approaches.
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Re: CSMC vs Custom Fox small bore?

Postby Twice Barrel » Wed May 06, 2015 9:41 pm

I didn't know CSMC would make any grade lower than a CE. Did you discuss price?
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Re: CSMC vs Custom Fox small bore?

Postby gwsmith » Wed May 06, 2015 9:59 pm

It would be a C grade at the C price - just with B engraving. Still not much more expensive than a full custom job.
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Re: CSMC vs Custom Fox small bore?

Postby vaturkey » Wed May 06, 2015 10:58 pm

gwsmith wrote:It would be a C grade at the C price - just with B engraving. Still not much more expensive than a full custom job.


I think it depends on what you are looking for. If you want a rebated frame and fancy back and that other custom metal work then its going to cost more for sure. However, if you want the regular Fox frame the metal shaping won't be much and that is what take time and time is money. I think you can find a decent Fox Sterlingworth 20 gauge ejector for well under 5K. I'd think more in the 3K area unless you want 30" barrels. Far as engraving goes, Gournet I'm guessing would charge you in the neighborhood of 2K for B grade engraving as he only want's $3,500 for XE engraving and that's bunch more work then a B grade.

I think you can build a custom for far less then what a C grade would cost at CSMC. Thousands less as they now start at $19,500.
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Re: CSMC vs Custom Fox small bore?

Postby Goldenfox » Thu May 07, 2015 9:36 pm

I really don't have much interest in a CSMC gun. They look nice and have all the bells and whistles, fancy stock, fancy engraving etc., but my preference is to build a custom gun from an old, non-collectible. I take pride in responding to inquiries about my "new" custom gun that it is actually 100 years old. There is nothing, IMHO, quite like the feeling of reviving an old gal from the scrap heap of rust and neglect, and giving her new life. The cost may be quite high, even if she only needs a new stock, but that is minor in comparison to the joy that "new gun" brings to me. The truly custom gun made from a good donor is a real hit on the pocketbook, and I am paying as I go, taking more time to complete, because I don't have all the money up front to afford such a project. The end result will be something spectacular, and probably worth half the price I have invested, but it will be just what I have been longing for, and it will be MINE. It will shoot where I look, felling birds from all angles and distances, with narry a miss. Clay targets will burst into a ball of smoke, and after I have run 100 straight, I'll lovingly rub her down with the finest oils and put her to bed. It will last much longer than I, and will be cared for by my son long after my ashes are spread in the pheasant fields.
I don't know if it is just me, or if anyone else out there has the same affection for their guns as do I.
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Re: CSMC vs Custom Fox small bore?

Postby gwsmith » Fri May 08, 2015 2:14 pm

vaturkey wrote:I think you can find a decent Fox Sterlingworth 20 gauge ejector for well under 5K. I'd think more in the 3K area unless you want 30" barrels.


If anybody knows where I can find a 20 gauge Sterlingworth ejector gun for less than 5K please let me know (with 28 or 30" barrels). I've been looking for awhile and haven't had any success.
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Re: CSMC vs Custom Fox small bore?

Postby ROMAC » Fri May 08, 2015 6:45 pm

In regards to CSMC Foxes, I've got no real beef with them. But, when it came time for me to pony up I decided that I am going the Custom Gunmaker route. For me it was very personal and I do not want to get into it here but the value proposition was much better this way.

I bought a Savage era16 gauge Sterlingworth ejector as a base and just when things started to move forward I bought an earlier Philadelphia one here. I also ordered a second set of barrels with all the forend iron from Jason Barden. I offered both guns to Dan Rossiter to decide which would be the best fit for the in the white barrell set and he chose the Early Fox. The barrels were just about a perfect fit. So Dan is just geting started on my project. It has taken 2 years to get to the point where I've moved up in the line and am next after shaking his hand at the 2013 SXS shoot at Ernie's. Dan is busy and some delays were mine. I also gave Geoffroy Gournet a deposit and he has shown a lot of patience.

So for me a two barrel, two fore end set from CSMC was gong to start in the $27K range for a CE and go up from there. It was easy to see I had a lot of runway for the budget before I even came close to that. I'll have about $13,000 into it before engraving. Seeing as I only plan on doing this once Gournet is going to have a lot creative license. It is going to be special.

Currently, the only CSMC gun I own is an RBL Professional slug gun. It has exhibition wood and I bought as new in the box "used". I like it. It has a beavertail forend, single trigger and the leupold scope package. I hope to bloody it this fall.

I checked my notes and adjusted my number above. $15K looked high and it was.

That's it for now, I'm off to Penn State to my daughter's graduation. My wife and I got the "Deluxe" suite at the Sleep Inn for only $465 a night, two night minimum for graduation weekend. That's alot of gun money right there. I enjoyed complaining about it all week.
Last edited by ROMAC on Sun May 10, 2015 5:19 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: CSMC vs Custom Fox small bore?

Postby vaturkey » Fri May 08, 2015 6:55 pm

gwsmith wrote:
vaturkey wrote:I think you can find a decent Fox Sterlingworth 20 gauge ejector for well under 5K. I'd think more in the 3K area unless you want 30" barrels.


If anybody knows where I can find a 20 gauge Sterlingworth ejector gun for less than 5K please let me know (with 28 or 30" barrels). I've been looking for awhile and haven't had any success.


Here's one that has been on sale for a while that I think is priced high, but its been redone. I'm sure the real price would be less then what they are currently asking:

http://www.gunsinternational.com/A-H-FO ... =100537556

PS. Not my gun btw.
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Re: CSMC vs Custom Fox small bore?

Postby eightbore » Sat May 09, 2015 10:37 pm

In my opinion, good mechanical condition in a custom project is more important than ejectors or the last two inches of barrel length. I would like my Becker style Fox project to have had ejectors and 32" barrels, but the outstanding state of preservation of the 30" gun became more important. It has no ejectors and it has 30" barrels, which will be perfectly fine when the gun is completed. Rarity of features is not on my agenda when planning a custom project. I think Tom Tutwiler has mentioned that not all of his custom projects are ejector guns or 32" 20 gauges. Bird guns and pigeon guns don't need Kautsky triggers, ejectors, or any particular barrel length to be useful in the field. In fact, a custom "bird gun" could have non original cut barrels and still be a great canvas for the gunmaker's art. Originality is not on the plate when a custom project is being planned, or at least it shouldn't be.
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