A little background about The Accurizer, Inc.
Back in 1954, my Dad, Russ Carniak, who was still in grad school for civil engineering, started customizing and repairing Colt 1911’s; his gun of choice and the most popular 1911 of the time. I was not born yet to confirm this, but knowing my Dad as well as I did, I am sure that this began as a way to help his friends who were fellow shooters. His passion for this kind of work stemmed from growing up with his machinist father who owned his own shop in Detroit, Michigan. I have wonderful childhood memories of walking through a maze of machinery in my grandfather’s basement shop. What four-year-old girl looks at giant saw blades, drill chucks, and bulbous “on-off” switches and thinks, “Will someone show me how these work please?” Me, that’s who.
Those of you who have been to my shop and have caught me in my nostalgic moments have heard my stories of growing up with Russ Carniak as my Dad. Hovering on a high metal stool over the workbench in the basement, helping Dad melt the lead and pour that beautiful, shiny, molten liquid into molds was magical. Then running the freshly made bullets through the lubricator and pulling that handle of the single stage press with the same joy and anticipation of my Mother at her favorite slot machine! Oh, how I loved watching those .38 special rounds tinker down the piece of downspout and into the cigar box that my Dad rigged up at the end of the cycle. At age 7, little did I know that he had his own little sweatshop going in the basement of that very unassuming colonial in a small town in Illinois.
I loved hanging around my Dad, which many parents can find to be very annoying while they try to work on very important stuff. Instead of telling me to “go play on the freeway,” which I have to admit, the four of us kids did hear at times, he would tie a nail pouch around my waist; fill it up with finish nails and a handy nail punch for countersinking. He would then hand me scraps of wood left over from his projects, plop a hammer in my hand and say, “Here, go build something!”
Most little kids learn to “choke up” on a baseball bat. I learned on a hammer! I would use my grandfather’s old bandsaw, which is still very dear to me, and cut out every shape that the blade would allow for and build my little heart out. The point to this story? If my Dad had shushed me away those many times I wanted to learn, I would not be where I am today. I never felt that just because I am a girl, that I could not do something. He instilled that confidence and talent in me.
Never in a million years would I believe back then that today I would be using the many things he taught me to maintain his reputation as not only a top notch 1911 pistol-smith, but as top notch person in this business. I thoroughly enjoy hearing and re-hearing stories from other people whose lives he touched with his humor and antics. I enjoy making new humorous memories in his honor. So if any of you have any great Russ stories to share, please email me.
My experiences in art school at U of M and Wayne State certainly helped prepare me for my unexpected work as a pistol-smith. Phillip Fike, God rest his soul, a phenomenal jewelry and metals teacher at Wayne State was very influential in my learning. His old school teaching and requirement that we fabricate many of the tools we needed prior to creating our pieces aligned perfectly with what I had learned from my Dad. The times spent working side by side with my Dad from 1991 until his premature death in 1998 made some of the very best memories of my life.
During these times, we started shooting together again. I was so excited to join him and my sister at the Second Chance bowling pin shoots up north. I will never forget feeling like my heart was in my stomach when he asked me to shoot in his name because he was not feeling well. Talk about pressure. When I returned to him with his scorecard with my chin on my chest, he said: “I’ve never shot so poorly in the history of Second Chance.” “Never ask me to do this again,” was my stern response. It’s not that I am a bad shot, I just could not be Russ Carniak!
I have been on my own now since 1998 and the business is still going strong. My Dad’s spirit lives on through the determination I have to treat every gun that comes into my shop as my own, just as he did. He used to say, “It’s too bad that everyone can’t be as perfect as we are Marianne,” with his cigar hanging out of that big ole smile on his face. No one is perfect. To aspire to perfection in this business is very important. I now know what he meant by that statement.
Thank you for your interest in my work and please feel free to contact me via email or phone if you have any questions.
May the legend live on.