Al Marvel's life long fascination with firearms started his gunsmithing career in 1958 when he began working part time for a local gunsmith. After recognizing that most advanced levels of gunsmithing required the skills of a machinist, he took a part time job in 1960 in a neighbor's machine shop to gain the experience. With the help of his neighbor and friends, Al started to acquire the machinery he needed to establish his own part time gunsmithing business. Al received his first FFL in January 1960.
Around the summer of 1959 Al became interested in Bullseye pistol competition. At that time there were only 8 to 10 civilian pistolsmiths in the country. Some of the top pistolsmiths were Jim Clark, F. Bob Chow, Alton Dinnan, George Elliason, John Giles and Richard Shockey, none of whom were anywhere close to the Baltimore area. All branches of the military had developed their own Marksmanship Training Units and produced some very talented pistolsmiths.
With the lack of pistolsmiths near the Baltimore area at that time and no schools or courses being offered in the pistolsmithing trade it was very difficult to learn the basics of pistolsmithing. In 1962 Al was introduced to MSG Nelson Lute, who was the NCOIC of the 2nd Army Marksmanship Unit at Ft. Meade, Maryland. Under MSG Lute's tutelage Al learned the basics of accurizing the Colt 1911 45 ACP and the conversion of the Colt 38 Super to 38 Special for Bullseye competition. During the time that Al was learning the basics of and perfecting his skills in the pistolsmithing trade he was also a competitive Bullseye shooter.
Al has also attended the Smith & Wesson and Ruger factory Armorers School.
As a former competitive shooter Al understands the shooter's problems and can work with his customers to achieve the ultimate competition handgun.
After a 3 year tour with the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps, and a 36 year career as an Air Technician with the Maryland Air National Guard, Al retired in 1987 and has devoted his efforts to the full-time operation of Marvel Custom Guns.
Marvel Custom Guns is a one-man shop with over 50 years experience in gunsmithing and pistolsmithing. All work is performed in the shop from machining, grinding, welding, polishing, machine and electro chemical engraving, bluing, with the exception of Parkerizing and hard chrome plating. The machine shop is equipped with all the essential machinery and precision test equipment needed to perform any modification on your custom firearm. Al has designed and built many fixtures to enhance the quality of the finished custom Bullseye, IPSC, PPC, and 22 Target pistol. Over the years Al has manufactured some of his tools, fixtures and parts for sale to the pistolsmithing trade. The tools and parts are sold by some of the top distributors in the country and on this website.
Al is also on the Board Of Directors of the Ordnance Museum Foundation at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.
Al was inducted into the American Pistolsmiths Guild in 1978 as the 12th member following the first 11 charter members. In 1988 Al was the fourth member of the Guild to receive the Outstanding Pistolsmith of The Year Award and in 2001 Al was awarded the Guild Presidents award. Al is the only member of the Guild to hold all three elected offices of President, Secretary and Treasurer and is presently a member of the Board of Directors.