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I wasn’t familiar with JEM Enterprises prior to bumping into them at SHOT, and there’s good reason for that. JEM sells primarily to 1911 “manufacturers,” who white label JEM’s parts as their own. Yeah, they’re fitting and putting the finishing touches on frames and other parts actually manufactured by companies like JEM . . .

JEM’s main business is selling forged frames. They’ll apply for an ATF variance to put their customer’s name and serial number sequences on the frames — assuming the customer is an FFL-07 — whether they need one unit or thousands. Slide rails are slightly oversized so the customer can fit them as precisely and as snugly as they desire. The rest of the frame is finished to a finer degree than most “blanks,” and requires little more than just surface prep for whatever treatment or finish will be applied.

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They have plenty of options to choose from, but they’re also a custom house. JEM’s customers can specify all sorts of changes and modifications that JEM can incorporate into the product. Custom engraving, of course, is one of those options. One off-the-shelf offering is the “checkering” seen above, which is actually the sharpest, grippiest firearm surface I have ever felt. Seriously, gloves only on that one. Plaid looks more comfortable…

DSC04420JEM also sells a large quantity of mainspring housings, grip safeties, and magazine wells. Yes, they sell these for white labeling as well.

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Another service they offer is almost-fit slide and frame combos. They slide back and forth, but it’s snug. The flats are flat. This leaves whatever company is going to stamp its name on the finished gun with little work to do and the option of just how tight they want that fit to be on the end product.

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JEM is also building complete pistols on a very limited basis — like a couple a month, in their spare time when not filling parts orders for OEM customers, which will remain JEM’s focus. They’re designed to be match-grade, highly tuned and fitted pistols that are ready to run. Indeed, lockup was tight and I couldn’t feel any wiggle room whatsoever in the barrel-bushing-slide fit, the barrel hood area, or between slide and frame. However, they unlocked from battery without a fuss.

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As they’re only about 40 minutes north of Austin, we’re planning on sending JWT and/or RF up there for a visit. Hopefully they can borrow a complete pistol for review.

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28 Responses to Discovering JEM Guns at SHOT Show 2016

  1. I’ve always wanted a bare slabside with no markings whatsoever. Something about an unmarked gun does it for me. But I also think welded ak’s with no rivets look really slick.
    1911 unmarked parts? Yes please. How about a oversize in the white 1911 kit that you have to hand fit everything?

    • I have to agree. Most manufacturers ruin the clean lines of a 1911 by turning it into a billboard. I’d love one of these to finish off and keep it unblemished.

      • I didn’t specifically ask this of the JEM guys, but I’m fairly certain that if you call them up (or your FFL does), they’d be happy to provide a matched slide-frame set (plus beavertail grip safety plus mainspring housing, etc, if desired) that requires final fitting and is blank of all markings except, in this case, it would have JEM Guns’ manufacturer info engraved on the frame with their serial number like what you see on the frames in the lead photo. Heck, I’d bet you could get a frame sans checkering and a slab-sided slide sans serrations, too, if you wanted to DIY basically everything…

        • It would not be totally blank, as it would have to be serialized. As a complete frame, it is a firearm, after all.

          I wonder if one could even buy these in California without complying with the microstamping law, at least without a manufacturing license, and even if one could, it could not be sold to anyone else in the state.. We can still do 80% kits, but these would not qualify. It would be a fun project though.

        • I think Chris was just talking about a completely blank slide without logos or model names and other junk engraved on it.

          No, these would not be allowed for sale by an FFL in CA since they are not on the Roster. Well, unless they built a complete pistol from a bare frame that met the Roster exemption. In this case, it would have to be a break-action or bolt-action, single-shot pistol with a long barrel. (“(b) Article 4 (commencing with Section 31900) and Article 5 (commencing with Section 32000) shall not apply to a single-shot pistol with a break top or bolt action and a barrel length of not less than six inches and that has an overall length of at least 10½ inches when the handle, frame or receiver, and barrel are assembled.”). Once built in this configuration and transferred to your ownership, you could modify it into a semi-automatic pistol if you wanted to as long as the final product doesn’t violate CA assault weapons or NFA laws (which no normal 1911 would as long as you don’t put a vertical forward grip on it haha).

  2. A company making a nearly complete product and then passing it onto another company just so they can stamp their name on it and take the credit?

    That is truly outrageous. Truly truly truly outrageous.

    • It’s done all the time in the AR-15 market.

      There’s only something like four “forged receiver” manufactures in the US. If you look at how many “forged” receivers are in the AR-15 marketplace, it’s a lot more than four. It’s also done in plenty of other markets, too. It used to be done by several foundries in Liege, Belgium for shotguns.

      When you’re in business to sell forging, castings or machined custom receivers (eg, Defiance Machining’s rifle actions), your customer is the FFL who is finishing the gun. What they want, they get, within reason.

      • Well to be fair, it’s the same with forged 1911 frames and JEM doesn’t make the raw forgings. Those come from one of the few forgeries in the U.S. that makes these things (most or all are in the northeast, I believe). However, an AR lower raw forging or 1911 frame raw forging is far from a finished lower/frame, so the company machining it into final form has all the impact in the world on the final product.

        The “thing” here is that quite a few of the high-end, boutique companies “making” uber expensive 1911s aren’t actually even starting with raw forgings, but with a 99% finished frame from a company like JEM.

        • FYI, the plural form of forge is forges, not forgeries, which means something else.

        • Sure.

          As I’ve indicated many times, people don’t appreciate what it takes to make a well-finished (much less a highly finished) gun. I’ve said over and over that Colt cannot make a Python for $1K – mostly because of the finishing. The Parker Invincibles were built on the same actions as the low-grade Parkers, they were just finished outlandishly well. So I’m not about to show some sort of high moral outrage at someone buying a frame/slide/etc for a 1911 and finishing the heck out of it and putting their name on it. It’s done with Caspians, it’s been done with various gun actions throughout the years. As I mentioned above, some custom rifle builders use Defiance Machining’s rifle actions – and Defiance will even put your company’s logo/name on their receiver for you.

          The quality of the forgings or castings can mean a lot to a highly finished gun. There’s nothing like putting a lot of time into polishing a 1911 slide and frame, only to see pits keep working their way up to the surface. I’ve seen some 1911 frames/slides from off-shore where there were so many pits that kept coming up, it turned out to be easier to grind out the pits, TIG ’em up, then put the slide and frame on a surface grinder to take the welds down to level. A well made frame/slide means no pits float up through the finish polishing, saving time (and therefore, money).

  3. I like that trigger. Click it to embiggen, it looks like sawteeth to give your finger a better grip. Does JEM make them too?

  4. First, thanks guys for your comments about our product.

    Please understand, we do not send out receivers that are not marked either with our name or the customer’s through a variance. However, if you want blank in everything, assuming you supply the slides as they are not available through us at this time, we will be more than happy to leave it BLANK. You guys are the experts. We are here to serve and make your job easier.

    Regards,
    Ed

  5. Thanks for this article, guys. I’ve been looking for another source of 1911 frames other than Caspian for a while.

    • Hey if you pick one up, I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts on how it compares to the other frames you’ve used for builds! Things like how much surface prep and cleaning up of tool marks you have to do, how much fitting is required, how much time you had to spend flattening out flats and filing holes, etc etc…

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