Custom Gun Gallery

GUNS & AMMO Book of the 1911, 2004

Paul Liebenberg

Another immigrant pistolsmith from South Africa, Paul Liebenberg learned the 1911 from the inside out. Liebenberg was forced to handmake a lot of the parts he needed to customize 1911s for IPSC because of the arms embargo against his country. Like his friend and one-time coworker Claudio Salassa, he learned to adapt and overcome.

Liebenberg came to America and went to work as the Custom Shop manager for the renowned firm of Pachmayr Gun Works. The old man himself, Frank Pachmayr, hired Liebenberg.

Adding to his own vast store of knowledge about the 1911, the experience of working at Pachmayr gave Liebenberg the unique opportunity to work alongside one of the real pioneers of custom 1911s. The amazing things those two must have discussed!

Liebenberg's talents were spotted by Smith & Wesson, and when the storied old gunmaker decided to open the Performance Center, it hired Liebenberg to be the first director. The world lost a great 1911 pistolsmith in the process, but thankfully it was only a loan.

Liebenberg left Smith & Wesson in the shameful boycott that shooters wrongly targeted at an American gun company forced against its wishes to follow the political agenda of an anti-gun British owner. Smith & Wesson watched helplessly as its sales plummeted, having to lay off hundreds of workers. The axe eventually fell on Liebenberg.

And in a way it was lucky for 1911 lovers because now we had one of the most talented hands back. Liebenberg now operates Pistol Dynamics out of Florida where he offers totally custom pistols built on Caspian frames and slides, made to his specifications by Caspian Arms.

Liebenberg also offers an Officer’s Model with a spherical barrel bushing. Most Officer’s and other compacts can’t use a bushing, but Liebenberg’s little gun functions with all the reliability that bushings have traditionally offered.

New for 2004, Liebenberg is harking back to his days at Pachmayr to introduce the Combat Special. It will be available as a classic version built on vintage Colts or as an enhanced version with upgrades that weren’t available in Pachmayr’s heyday.

Liebenberg’s best talent lies in his overall eye for detail and cosmetics. His understanding of the internal geometries and relationships of the parts inside a 1911 is absolutely unrivalled. I don’t know of anyone who does a more tasteful custom 1911 than Liebenberg.