The famed bike builder turned luxury gunsmith crafted a custom .45 for 45.
You probably know Jesse James from his popular 2000s reality show, Monster Garage, in which he and a team of intrepid mechanics transformed ordinary cars and motorcycles into freakishly souped-up street machines. His West Coast Choppers shop sold countless custom bikes and became a global brand whose ubiquitous t-shirts and hoodies flooded Hot Topics and Wal-Marts during the show’s heyday.
James wasn’t just a bad boy welder-turned-reality star; he was arguably the biggest name on two wheels. Then came his unlikely marriage to Sandra Bullock, and their lurid tabloid breakup in 2010. James left Los Angeles, remarried, wrote a bestselling memoir, American Outlaw, and set up shop with his wife and three kids on a country estate 20 minutes outside of Austin.
While he still makes custom cars and motorcycles, James has largely reinvented himself as a luxury gunsmith who handcrafts gorgeous bespoke pistols and rifles for a clientele that spans from SWAT teams to A-list celebrities, and now, maybe even the President of the United States. That’s because his latest creation is a custom .45-caliber handgun designed for Donald Trump, who James befriended after appearing on The Celebrity Apprentice.
Why did you decide to make this gun for Trump?
Besides us being friends and me building guns for a living, as soon as I knew he was gonna win, I was like, “Oh, I’m gonna build him a gun.” I wanted to really do something special. Even without the presidency, I wanted to do something that was a little on the flamboyant side. Something that looks kinda badass, like a “Dirty Harry” gun. Dirty Harry always had that long .44 Magnum. So it seemed kinda obvious that we should do a .45 caliber since he’s the 45th president, right?
Tell me about the actual construction of it, and what makes it unique.
It says “Donald J. Trump” on one side, “45th President of the United States Of America” on the other. It’s all relief engraved and 24-karat gold plate. The model is a JJFU Grand Master X. The handmade case is local Texas Pecan and Walnut. The box uses wood from one of George Washington’s original 13 Chestnut trees to inlay “DJT” and “45th” inside. It’s got a longer than normal 1911 frame and a two piece Slide & Compensator. When you cock it, the slide splits apart and goes back together in perfect alignment.
And how are you planning on giving it to him?
I could sell it to him so he could own it. A couple friends of mine that are governors want me to take it to the White House and present it to him as like, a formal thing. I mean, I guess that would be cool, but then it becomes property of the people and it’ll go to the [Presidential] Library when he’s not president anymore, which I guess is cool for the gun because it’ll be on display, but I kinda think he should keep it and shoot it, because it’s an awesome gun.
Which governors want you to take it to the White House?
I’m not telling you.
Fair enough. How much is it worth?
We can’t really talk about that because there’s a limit to what the president can accept. I’m sure there are some Democrats who hate him and would like, sue him if he got a free gun from me.
You do make some pretty pricey guns.
They start about five grand. We have some forged Damascus ones, they’re close to a hundred grand.