Getting your gun engraved.

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The lure of a personalized and decorated weapon is centuries old. Embellished swords and knives from the 17th and 18th centuries are well known; before that, soldiers in high standing had their armor decorated. Some of the earliest firearms in existence are lavishly treated, with inlays and fine woods.

Today many people desire to have their favorite guns engraved. But where to start? There are so many engraving styles, not to mention engravers, and asking someone to recommend an engraver without ...

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“Can you really conceal a revolver?”

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Sorry to be late today, but my cable internet connection has been experiencing spotty outages lately. For the money I pay, you’d think they’d give me better uptime than this!

GRRRRRR! But I digress…

Anyhow, today’s topic once again comes from that fountain of firearms misinformation, the local gun store. A fellow is looking at several guns, and asks to see a Ruger SP101. The clerk tells him that for concealed carry (ostensibly the prospect’s use), a revolver is “just no good. ...

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Triggers are three-dimensional.

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It’s surprising how little attention is given to the back of a revolver’s trigger. I recently came across a gun that had been worked on by another gunsmith (more on this in a future blog post), and one aspect of the gun illustrated the limited understanding of revolver shooting by many ‘smiths.

The face of the trigger had been polished smooth, but done in such a way that the sides tapered to meet the back, leaving an untouched knife edge. For ...

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Battle of the “J” frames?

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The internet forums sporadically ignite with a common debate: what “J” frame is the best?

The disagreement seems to center around the fans of the exposed hammer models (who hold out the dream of needing to make a “precise, long range” single action shot) and those of the enclosed hammer Centennial models (who opine that the lack of entry points for dirt outweighs ever needing single action capability.)

I’m not going to talk about tactics, but there is one salient point that ...

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“What revolver should I buy?”

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If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been asked that question…!

On every forum, in my daily email, and in the phone calls I receive is a common query: “of the revolvers available at a dealer, which one should I buy?” These folks are looking for some guidance beyond the simple choice of caliber and barrel length – this is more along the lines of “who makes the ‘best’ revolver?”

The answer I give? Ruger. This, from an admitted revolver snob ...

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Are we shooting more than we used to?

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People routinely ask about the lifespan of a particular gun, while at the same time suggesting that somehow the guns of yesteryear would last longer under use than today’s offerings. I’m not sure that this is the case.

Let’s jump back to, say, 1935 or so. Someone has just bought a new .38 Special revolver (take your pick of quality makers) and a box of ammunition. If they were an average shooter, that box that might last them for a decade ...

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A bit of opinion about MIM parts.

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Heard about “MIM” parts? MIM is an injection molding process for metal parts, and it has been revolutionizing many industries. In the revolver business, both Smith & Wesson and Taurus have made use of MIM parts. Like any new process, however, there are those who decry the new technology; some gunsmiths spread the misinformation that MIM parts can’t be worked on, and refuse to take in guns using MIM parts. Adding fuel to the fire are a few well-publicized parts ...

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What does “reliability” really mean?

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A recent rifle class in which I assisted brought to mind a topic which is just not understood amongst gun owners: “reliability.”

What is “reliable”? You’ll hear all kinds of definitions, all kinds of criteria. My definition is deceptively simple: the next time you pull the trigger, the gun will function perfectly. That means zero, zilch, nada, nyet failures. Every single time, regardless of how many rounds you’ve just shot. Not just “bang”, but feed, fire, eject, and feed again.

Sounds like I’m ...

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Let’s talk about triggers.

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I had an interesting email recently. The writer said that he’d contacted a number of gunsmiths to inquire about action work. In every case, he said, all he could get out of them was “we can make it lighter.” Occasionally I’ll get an inquiry from the other side of this phenomenon – someone whose only question is “how light can you make it?” Why this fixation on pull weight? I believe it’s because people just haven’t been properly educated!

If you’ve ...

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Fake Pythons?

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Well, the guns are certainly real, in the sense that they were made by Colt. What’s not real, though, is they way they came from the factory!

With the prices of collectible Colts going well north of a grand (editor’s note: when this was written in 2006; they’re much higher now!) some unscrupulous sellers have taken to faking the rarer, and more valuable, variations. The most commonly faked is certainly the 3″ Python.

A number of years ago, Colt sold off their ...

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Revolver grips: finger grooves or plain?

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Many people ask me where to get finger grooved grips for various guns (often for the Colt Python, but the Ruger GP-100 seems to be a common request as well.) Personally, I usually try to talk them out of that style grip, and I’d like to share my reasoning.

First, the grooves rarely fit any given person perfectly; for my hands, for instance, every grooved grip I’ve ever tried required me to spread my fingers to an uncomfortable degree. If I ...

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Measuring chamber throats – calipers vs pin gages.

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There is a huge amount of misinformation regarding revolver accuracy. Folks, assuming that you have a gun in proper repair – timing, lockup, chamber-to-bore alignment – the most important factor in accuracy is the chamber throat dimension.

What is the chamber throat? It is the slightly constricted opening in the chamber, just in front of the cartridge mouth, that the bullet passes through on its way into the forcing cone. The throat gives the bullet its first stabilizing guidance, and many ...

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What “generation” is my Colt Detective Special? Depends on who you ask!

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Many people talk about the Colt Detective Special using the term “generation.” I get emails asking which “generation” is best or which should be purchased. I recently got a nasty email from a potential client who asked if I could work on a certain “generation”; when I replied that I wasn’t sure what he meant by ‘third generation’, he decided that I wasn’t qualified to work on his guns because I “obviously don’t know anything about Colts!”

Folks, here’s Fact #1: ...

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“Can My Colt Use +P Ammunition? “

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This is one of the first questions a new Colt “D” frame owner asks. The answer depends on the model and the vintage of the individual gun.

What Colt says
Post-1972 (shrouded ejector rod) models: The owner’s manual says that these guns are rated for +P ammunition. The manual calls for a factory (gunsmith) inspection every 1,000 rounds for the alloy models (Cobra and Agent), and every 3,000 rounds for the steel-framed guns (Detective Special, Police Positive Special, Diamondback.)

Pre-1972 (unshrouded ejector ...

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Lubrication 101: Gun oil, snake oil, and how to tell the difference.

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Introduction

Firearms enthusiasts are the targets (pardon the pun) of some of the most misleading advertisements regarding the proper lubrication of their guns. The purpose of this article is to give a background on basic lubrication concepts, the technology behind them, and some guidelines for selecting lubricants based on facts, not hype.

Before going further, let’s make something perfectly clear: with a very few obvious exceptions, firearms lubrication isn’t terribly difficult. Compared to many more common objects, guns just don’t make big ...

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Is the Colt Python revolver delicate?

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There is an assertion that comes up with surprising frequency, particularly in the internet age where everyone is an expert: the Colt Python (and all other Colt revolvers) are “delicate”, “go out of time easily”, or “not as strong/durable as a S&W.”

Let’s start with the construction: a Colt revolver, for any given frame size, is as strong as any gun with that frame size. Their metallurgy is absolutely the best, and their forged construction is of superior quality. They are ...

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Which brand of revolver speedloader is the best?

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Lots of people ask me about speedloaders – as in “what speedloader should I buy?”

Well, there are really only a couple of choices these days: the push-type (typified by Safariland) and the turn-the-knob style (like the common HKS.) There have been others; the superb SL Variant models are no longer imported, the Maxfires don’t – at least in my mind – qualify for the “speed” part of the name. The “Jet” speedloaders come in and out of popularity, but for ...

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What is a “good” trigger?

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I recently met a fellow who was shooting a Colt Detective Special. We talked about his gun a while, and I asked him if he’d had any action work done to it. He said he hadn’t; sure enough, on trying his gun, I felt the typical Colt factory trigger – heavy and ugly. Since I happened to be carrying my own Colt that day, I offered to let him try it’s trigger.

Surprise! He handed back with thanks, but opined that ...

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