Les Baer began tuning, fixing and modifying guns in 1973. His first shop, so to speak, opened in the basement of his home in Allentown, PA.
Enthusiasts quickly discovered the quality of his work and word spread. By 1976 demand outgrew his workspace, forcing him to expand. In 1980 he launched his full-time gunsmithing career by establishing Bear Custom Guns.
Nine years later Springfield Armory harnessed that talent by hiring him to manage its custom shop. Baer made the move to Geneseo, IL, but the desire to create his own fine line of precision 1911s never faded.
He officially established Les Baer Custom in 1991. Headquarters was originally in Rock Island, but in 1994 he moved operations to Hillsdale, also in Illinois.
There the Les Baer legend grew, with collectors, match shooters and 1911 fans more eager by the year to own one of his 1911s. When Illinois enacted even more restrictive gun laws, he moved operations across the Mississippi—to LeClaire, IA, to be precise—in 2007. It was a strategic business victory, putting a political barrier between anti-Second Amendment legislators and his thriving business. The approach was ingenious. The two cities are only 20 miles apart, minimizing attrition among his highly skilled staff, yet ensuring legal isolation from left-leaning Land of Lincoln regulation.
Today the company maintains the same attention to detail and dedication to precision. It offers a fine line of 1911s. Most are in the traditional .45 ACP chambering, but there are models that run 9 mm NATO, .38 Super and 10 mm cartridges. All have the trademark looks of a Baer and come with the performance now relied upon by serious competitors, law enforcement and special operations groups.
The Les Baer Custom Premier I pistol is the firm’s 1911 king, so to speak, but there’s no shortage of other versions from which to choose. Its 10 mm-chambered Kenai Special—a tribute to the state of Alaska—has a corrosion-resistant, hard-chrome finish, timeless looks, Baer performance and it’s all in packaged in that reliable 1911 platform.