Most people would say a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite that fell to Earth in prehistoric times belongs in a museum. Robert Bianchin decided to use it to make the world’s most expensive and exclusive set of pistols.
Bianchin, a Canadian by birth, moved to the U.S. in 2002 to pursue a career in economics and finance, and quickly devoted himself to obtaining citizenship after becoming enthralled with the American Constitution.
A recreational shooter, the Second Amendment in particular called to him, and a decade ago he decided to start creating American-made pistols of incomparable quality and craftsmanship. He based them on the Colt 1911, the iconic .45 caliber automatic that served as the standard-issue sidearm for the United States Armed Forces from 1911 to 1985 in its original form.
When he was first starting out, “There was no business case study in making extremely high-quality pistols at the time,” Bianchin says. “The industry had been on the decline for decades, and while there was a small but vibrant niche for high-end long guns, all of those options were located in either Britain, Italy or Germany.”
Bianchin has said his “thesis was simple; If there are folks who can appreciate fine mechanical watches, there would be some who would recognize the same quality in a handgun. It was our goal to create an important and enduring American brand, with the stipulation that if one wanted the finest pistol in the world, it would be completely American made”—down to grips made of mammoth ivory found in Alaska, dating to the Ice Age.
It turns out he was right. Now based in Pennsylvania, Cabot Guns has become one of the world’s top makers of collector-and investment-grade firearms, found in some of the most prestigious collections on the planet.
“We challenged America’s top engineers, machinists and master craftsmen to build the perfect precision handgun from scratch without compromise,” eventually setting on aerospace technology to achieve this; and then figured out how to go beyond what any gunsmith had ever dreamed of in finishing them.
According to Forbes, Bianchin has had offers of upwards of $1 million for the pair of pistols made from the Gibeon meteorite, dubbed the Big Bang Pistol Set, which was completed in 2016; having already broken the world record for the highest price ever paid for a new pistol, he is holding out for much more, confident the right buyer will come along soon enough.
Meanwhile, in celebration of the company’s 10th anniversary, Cabot Guns has released several bespoke and limited-edition pistols, some of which include both meteorite fragments and Damascus steel, Bianchin’s other great innovation in gunmaking.
Dubbed “the metal of kings and royalty,” Damascus steel has been “prized for thousands of years for its mythical beauty and strength,” Cabot notes, by Samurai warriors among others. Only two metalsmiths are currently capable of replicating the ancient way of forging the precious material in a way comparable to the earliest artisans, and both produce intricately-patterned Damascus steel for Cabot.
”These rare one-of-a-kind masterpieces are perhaps some of the most extraordinary pistols ever built,” they declare. Which is not to say that Cabot guns are merely for display. “In over 100 years of competition, only two civilians have taken first place overall in the NRA National Pistol Championship,” the company states, “and both did it shooting a Cabot pistol…. Cabot 1911’s have set a new standard in precision tolerances and quality not seen before in the gun world.”
The 10th anniversary offerings are headed by the Impact ONE, featuring a “meteor shower” pattern in Damascus steel, created by intermingling layers of carbon steel with fragments of Gibeon meteorite and nickel. Other pistols in the earth-shattering collection are created with newly-developed patterns of Damascus steel, colored meteorite fragments, or both.
“For the past ten years, we have been pushing the boundaries in the exploration of construction with rare materials, finishing and design,” Bianchin tells Maxim.
“We are now in the golden age of the 1911. The quality which is available today to folks is unparalleled as compared to any time before. We are in the final act of the attempt at perfection of the 1911. I hope I am wrong but I don’t think you will see the quality which is being produced today continuing beyond another 20 years.”
“Many of the highest-end pieces”—costing up to six figures—“will never be shot,” Bianchin concedes, though some clients have done so and enjoyed it immensely. “Clients who purchase high-end arms as an investment tend to keep pieces unfired and mint in order to obtain a higher resale value down the road,” he notes.
“There is definitely a growing number of clients purchasing high-end firearms. The most typical buyer is a successful business owner who is enthusiastic about both firearms and art. I have also noticed in the past year a trend in folks purchasing upper-end firearms who have never purchased a firearm previous to 2020.”
As for the anniversary pistols, “We’ve had several clients fighting over the purchase rights of each of them”, Bianchin tells us. “I have never seen anything like it. The pistols were generally in the $35,000 to $60,000 price range and sold out instantly.” The price range for Cabot’s highest-level, custom engraved guns is $50,000 to $150,000. However, “I have no doubt that years from now, folks will marvel over many of the pieces we have produced, and current prices will be considered inexpensive.”
Experts consider the Big Bang Pistol Set to be the “holy grail of firearm collectibles.” Some would be content to rest on their laurels, knowing the feat may never be replicated. However, Bianchin insists, “I’m not done yet.” There is, after all, Cabot’s second decade to consider; and “we are currently working on pushing the boundaries even further on a couple of super-secret builds,” he confides. One can only imagine what he’ll come up with next.