SK Guns “Early Italian Renaissance” Custom 1911 Series
January 10th, 2024
5 minute read
“We produce the industry’s only series-driven, custom, limited-edition, collectible firearms,” says SK Guns owner and founder Simon Khiabani. It’s a mouthful, but evidently true. SK Guns has set a new standard of what uniquely custom limited-edition firearms should mean by launching themed firearm productions and building a series of guns within each theme. What sets SK Guns apart from other companies is the customs operation, called SK Customs, which secures batches of new firearms for refinement and embellishment.
SK Gun’s deals almost exclusively with handguns — revolvers and autoloaders — though it did provide an embellished rifle to raise funds on the National Wild Turkey Federation’s 50th-anniversary. The artistry in each limited-edition production run has a historical theme — a person, an event or a period. Each is typically one in a series, and the consecutive edition numbers on each production run are reserved to match those on future runs within the series. A client or SK dealer who buys into the first run has first crack at the matching edition number on all runs in that series. This option has great appeal to collectors, as it can boost the value of firearms over time.
“History helps us decide how many different pistols to schedule for a series,” says Khiabani. “Four to five is the norm. But the theme, not a number, determines the entries in a series.”
Khiabani’s dealings in custom firearms date back 24 years, when he was a collector himself. For the last five, he has operated SK Guns from Virginia, but he tells me the business is on its way to a new 18,000 square foot facility in St. Augustine, Florida.
A Solid Foundation
The company is now offering a four-part series called the Early Italian Renaissance, using Springfield’s Garrison 1911 pistol in .45 ACP as the foundation. It will feature a limited production run of 250 each and, for the first time ever, SK Guns will introduce all the firearms in a series in the same year.
“We are excited to introduce the Early Italian Renaissance Springfields,” says Khiabani. “Typically, we reserve one gun per year for each series. We’ve found production runs of 200 to 300 pistols add the most value to our collectors.”
Springfield Armory’s stainless Garrison 1911 is already a superb pistol, of course. “Nothing will be done to alter its function or change its feel in hand,” Khiabani assures me. “Our changes are cosmetic, to refine its surfaces and, well, give it a story. Engraving to a theme adds a historical element beyond that evoked by the pistol’s design.”
Examples: SK has crafted a “gods of Olympus” series, featuring a different Greek deity on each 200-gun production run. The third in this series is “Ares,” son of Zeus and god of war. The art of that run depicts battle and physical valor. Inlays and proprietary metal treatment add color to the engravings.
The series of four Springfield pistols will illustrate the early Italian Renaissance, through the art of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Andrea del Sarto and Raphael. “We plan to launch one gun each quarter and plan to deliver the final production in the series by the end of 2024,” says Khiabani.
Each of the 1911s will showcase a different motif — celebrated images that represent each artist’s best work. Michelangelo’s “David” was an easy pick for the first pistol, which also depicts the “Madonna della Pieta” and the near-union of hands as God reaches to touch Adam’s, a scene from the incredible art on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Da Vinci’s talents will show on the steel of the second production, in Mona Lisa’s smile, also on the “Vitruvian Man” and “The Last Supper.” Andrea del Sarto’s artistry appears next, in “Battesimo” and “Triumph of Ceasar,” also “The Disputation on the Trinity.” The fourth Springfield will exhibit images from Raphael: “The Garvagh Madonna,” “The Three Graces” and “The Miraculous Draught of Fishes.”
All the pistols in this series will be fitted with olive-wood grips, appropriately engraved with the Italian fleur de lis in colors to match those on the slides.
Khiabani says that only 25 of the total guns in this series will be dubbed the Gold Series, with distinctive features. “They’ll be offered in the first batch produced, with consecutive serial numbers and all matching production numbers.”
In addition to the SK Customs division of the company, late in 2022, the SK Bespoke Collection was introduced. It includes rare and otherwise desirable specimens from collections and estates. “Once again,” Khiabani points out, “this isn’t anything new for companies operating in the arena of collectors’ arms; but SK Guns differs by having a distribution network of dealers across the U.S., and by selling direct to consumers.” Besides listing high-end collectibles, SK engages Master Engravers from the FEGA (Firearms Engravers Guild of America) to hand-engrave modern pistols as “one-of-one” catalog items. Of course, some of the rarest pistols in the SK Bespoke Collection require no changes by SK.
Khiabani tells me he is excited for gun collectors and enthusiasts to finally see the Early Italian Renaissance series on Springfield Armory’s excellent Garrison 1911 pistol. He urges dealers and collectors to express interest in these eye-catching handguns soon, by visiting skguns.com. “Once each run of 250 is sold out, the pistols are bound to climb in price on the secondary market.”
Anyone who has bought — or failed to buy — well-made and discontinued firearms can certainly vouch for that conclusion!
Editor’s Note: The new guns officially launch on January 12th. Statements about the appreciation of firearms contained in this article are the opinions of the author or quoted persons. They do not necessarily represent the opinions of The Armory Life or Springfield Armory.
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