Congratulations to Weber & Markin GunSmiths for 35 years in business.
April 15th, 2023, is their anniversary date for a long career in the firearms trade.
Chris Weber and Steve Markin have given their all to the firearms community with outstanding service and craftsmanship. They continue to move forward even during these challenging times.
Chris Weber immigrated from his native Germany and settled in Kelowna, BC, Canada in August 1983, after completing the four years gunmakers apprenticeship at Euregio HTBLVA Ferlach, Austria. The school Chris attended is the only one of its kind in the world. Euregio HTBLVA Ferlach, among other programs, offers a four-year gunmakers program which, by Canadian standards, would be a gun-making degree. The school was established in 1878 and has a 145 years history of producing some of the best gunmakers in the trade.
Chris continued his career as a budding premier gunsmith with “Guncraft Ltd.”, at the time Western Canada’s leading gun store chain with stores in Kelowna, Kamloops and Calgary.
Don Robinson of “Robinson Firearms Manufacturing Ltd.” of Kelowna hired Chris in the waning days of 1985, and in April 1988, Chris acquired the gunsmithing portion of Don Robinson’s business. Now sole owner, Chris renamed the business “Waffen Weber Custom Gunsmithing.”
Don Robinson was a scholar and a gentleman with exceptional gun-making/gun-smithing skills. Don remained a close fatherly friend and mentor to Chris until his passing in July 2020.
“. . . a True Gentleman of the Old School has left us, leaving a void never to be filled . . .
. . . operating Gun Shops in Kelowna and Prince George . . .
. . . the Dean of Canadian Stock Making, supporting professionals and amateurs alike across Canada for decades with his semi-inletted gun stock blanks and gunsmiths supplies . . .
. . . operating under Robinson Firearms Mfg and Don`s Gunstocks . . .
. . . the Builder of the famous Fraser River Hawken Muzzle Loading Rifles and Pistols . . .
. . . a Mentor to Many in All Things Gunsmithing . . .
. . . a Participant and Attendee of Gun Shows across Western Canada . . .”
“Countless are the rifles and shotguns across Canada that bear a stock that had its beginnings on Don`s duplicating machine, and forever cherished are the moments when Don shared his wealth of knowledge. He produced 201 Fraser River Hawken Firearms, many of which still to this day are appreciated by their original owners.
After attending the 1989 “American Custom Gunmakers Guild – ACGG’s” annual convention in Reno, Nevada, with fellow gunmakers Kerry Jenkinson of Grand Forks, BC, and Knut Lie of Kamloops, BC, Chris set himself the goal of becoming a professional member of this association of some the best gun craftspeople in North America, if not the world.
Meanwhile, near Nelson, BC, in the wilds of the Central Kootenays, Steve Markin enjoyed the outdoors from an early age. Fishing, exploring the logging roads on his trusted Honda Elsinore and getting his first rifle to join the ranks of successful deer hunters, he was ever curious to explore and develop skills associated with these hobbies, be it wrenching on motor vehicles, tying his own flies, tanning his own hides and tinkering with firearms, which eventually led him to converting a piece of wood, cut out of an old lightning struck walnut tree, into a new stock for one of his beloved lever rifles.
Jack Malchow, of Wises Hardware Store of Rossland, BC, an avid gun trader known to anyone attending gunshows in Western Canada as “Jack of Many Guns” took a liking to Steve and supported his budding firearms restoration career. He took him around to introduce him to Karoly Gorog, a Hungarian gunsmith plying his trade out of his house in the Gulch in Trail, BC, and, especially inspriring, retired Air Force pilot Austin A. Moorcroft of Nelson. Moorcroft was a dedicated collector of British rifles, which got him honourable thankful mention in Jonathan Kirton’s book “The British Falling Block Breechloading Rifle from 1865”.
As Chris was working with Don Robinson, Steve was one of their clients getting his supplies of checkering cutters, bedding compounds etc. from them, and his quarterly phone calls with Chris always included discussions of their latest respective projects. A Mauser M96 military barrelled action that Steve had sporterized and sent to Chris for hot bluing, showed up for sale fully stocked at Al Harvey’s Harv’s Outdoors. Don and Chris discovered it on one of their weekly Saturday after lunch visits, and Chris bought it, as it displayed unequalled quality of workmanship for having been executed by someone completely self taught.
As it turned out, this rifle was Steve Markin’s second attempt ever at a gunstock, and that rifle still today is in inventory to show the kind of craftsmanship that would land anyone a job. Nobody has even come close ever since.
During their next phone conversation Chris mentioned the purchase and the reason behind it.
If he ever wanted to come work with him, the offer was good, and Steve took him up on it May 1st, 1990.
During the following years Chris shared his passion for becoming a professional member of the ACGG with Steve. This also was shared with the local viewers of CHBC Television with a documentary of Chris’ firearms artistry. Showing the seriousness of this endeavour, it was 4 years after that goal had manifested itself in Chris’ conviction that he achieved it in 1993, the 10th Year Anniversary of the Guild, as only the third “Canadian” to do so. Following in Martin Hagn’s and Don Horsfield’s footsteps, Chris joined the ranks of ACGG professional members as stockmaker with a unanimous vote. To be accepted as an ACGG Professional Member, samples of your work have to be found acceptable for endorsement by at least 3 professional members in good standing, which enables a candidate to submit his/her application for review at the Annual Convention. The membership present reviews the work at a high level of scrutiny and casts their votes, and a 2/3rd majority gives the nod of approval.
In January 1995, Chris changed the name of his business to “Weber & Markin Custom Gunsmiths” due to Steve Markin’s acceptance into the Gunmakers Guild as stockmaker.
Chris added the category of metalsmith to his membership accolade in 1999.
Between 1993 and 2002 Chris served on the Membership Committee (’93 – ’02), was Vice President under Presidents de Pentheny O’Kelly, Tucker and Mazur (’95 – ’00), together with Bob Snapp was the Nominating Committee in 2001, have encouraged more than a dozen Associates to join, and he would like to think that in some way he had his hand in the Guild gaining as members such outstanding craftspeople like Steve Markin, Ralf Martini, Reto Buehler and Hugh Toenjes. Numerous issues of the “GUNMAKER”, the ACGG publication, feature Chris’ photographic contributions and as VP he was tasked with coming up with informative seminars for the AGM.
Steve and Chris have been striving ever since to turn the dreams of many a firearms aficionado into a hands-on reality. The results of their efforts have gained Commonwealth and Olympic Games fame, as well as having been the companions to hunters worldwide.
Steve’s and Chris’ museum-grade restorations have enriched many antique and collectable handguns, rifles and shotguns.
In more recent years, the mainstay of the business lies in retailing quality firearms, ammunition and optics, and giving freely from their over 40 years experience in their trade to existing and prospective clients.
Steve and Chris Thank You for Your support over these past 35 years.