Handgun Radio 172 - A Brief History of Custom Handguns & Competition with Daniel Watters

Hello and welcome to Handgun Radio! I’m your host Ryan Michad from the wild woods of Central Maine, and this is your home for all the news, information and discussion in the handgunning world. 

This week, we talk about custom handguns and competition from 1950 to 2000 with Daniel Watters!

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Gonna skip the week in review as i didn’t do anything related to firearms and we have a really awesome main topic ahead of us!

Drink Segment: This was an old experiment I’m revisiting.   It can be considered the love child between a Gimlet and a Singapore sling.
0.5oz Cherry Brandy
1oz Lime Juice
2oz Gin
A few dashes of Angostura Bitters
Shake and serve up or on the rocks.

I may have to come up with a name for this.

Main Topic: A Brief History of Custom Handguns & Competition with Daniel Watters

Classic Bullseye

    .22 Rimfire
    Centerfire (no caliber floor until the Askins incident in 1937, then raised to .32)
.    .45 ACP  (both semi-autos and revolvers allowed)
    Service Pistol (minimal external modifications allowed)  


    First documented service interest in National Match pistols arises in 1920.  However, this is limited primarily to reducing the minimum trigger pull regulations and adding slightly larger sights (⅛” sights versus issue 1/10”.)

    “Fitz from Colt” (J. Henry Fitzgerald) quickly sets up shop at large matches, fitting factory select “match” barrels and larger sights, as well as performing trigger jobs for competitors.



    Colt National Match pistols commercially introduced. (1932)



The rise of the civilian pistolsmiths (Pre-WW2)

    Archibald Brinkerhoff

    Archibald R. Brinkerhoff was the Jim Boland/Ned Christensen of the pre-WW2 pistolsmiths. Unfortunately, he died in 1946 before Bullseye shooting enjoyed its post-war resurgence.

Brinkerhoff patented a torsion hammer spring arrangement as well as a sear depressor system. Between the two developments, Brinkerhoff could rework the frame to be more user-friendly to shooters with smaller fingers, and safely achieve sub-3 pound trigger pulls without the hammer following.

US Patent #1,711,874 - Spring Actions for Firearm Hammers

US Patent #1,807,727 - Safety Lock for Firearms

The drawing of the reworked frame in the first patent is grossly exaggerated, but I hate to think what it would cost for a modern gunsmith to duplicate the frame modifications of the pistol in the article. Still, the concept is rather neat as you could rework the mainspring housing any way you wanted since its purpose is reduced to holding the grip safety and sear spring in place.

Brinkerhoff submitted one of his modified M1911 pistols to the US Army's Chief of Ordnance back in 1933. However, Ordnance was only interested in Brinkerhoff's recoil buffer system. The design inserted a spring-loaded plunger into a GI-length guide rod. The plunger would impact the interior of the recoil spring plug when the slide cycled. Oddly, Brinkerhoff never patented the design, and it was widely copied after his death. Another fellow even patented it in the late 1940s!

There is another Brinkerhoff pictured in the book "US Military Match and Marksmanship Automatic Pistols." From the photos, you can see that Brinkerhoff fabricated a custom magazine slam-pad to match the recontoured frame and stocks. In addition, there is a photo of a custom Brinkerhoff trigger that is fitted with a spring-loaded plunger to reduce the vertical movement of the trigger within the frame. The modern equivalent would be the Castillo's Custom Actions trigger.)

    King Gun Sight (Dean W. King)



    Frank Pachmayr


    A.E. Berdon




    While the patent drawing shows this adapted to a rifle, Berdon performed the same modification to his M1911 pistols.

    Trigger pull compensation for firearms

    J.D. Buchanan


    Jesse Harpe

This post on LTW has a copy of a 1942 vintage article by the early M1911 pistolsmith Jesse Harpe. Note his early self-branded parts, fabricating his own thick-flange barrel bushing, matching spring plug, and barrel links.  Also note the number of modifications that are already standard: trigger overtravel stops, reducing trigger play in the frame, tightening slide to frame fit, and fitting the lower barrel lug tight to the slide stop pin. 


The return of the National Matches (Post-WW2)

    New crop of civilian pistolsmiths begin to replace those who did not continue after WW2



    John Giles 


    Jim Clark, Sr.  

    Here is a 1960-vintage profile of gunsmith and Bullseye champion Jim Clark, Sr. by Grits Gresham.

    Alton Dinan


    Austin Behlert

Bob Chow


    Richard Shockey

Recoil reducer and accuracy improver

    Apparatus for improving the accuracy of a firearm

    George Elliason

The birth of the .38 Special Wadcutter conversions for the M1911 (~1950)

Renewed military interest results in official service-built National Match pistols.  This results in a major increase in technical expertise and the production of match grade parts. (1954-1968)



First integrally ramped M1911 barrel  (Clark -1955)
Factory responses - Colt Gold Cup National Match (1957) 

Factory responses to .38 Wadcutter conversions - Colt Gold Cup National Match Mid-Range (1960) & S&W Model 52 (1961)

    Automatic pistol firing mechanism

    Single or double action firearm
    Firearm with a pivotable barrel having a spherical hump engaging a slide member

Shockey identifies the headspacing issue with the .38 Super (1961)

    In the June 1961 issue of The American Rifleman, John F. Rollins and Richard L. Shockey identified the head spacing issue in their article "Accurizing the Colt Super .38." Shockey ended up sleeving the factory chamber and recutting it to headspace on the chamber mouth.

Longslide conversions (Clark -1962)

New adjustable sight options for the M1911

    Micro Gun Sight
    S&W K-frame rear
    Elliason designs (HEG/Triangle, Colt/Elliason, Kensight, BoMar)

First aftermarket full-length guide rod for the M1911 (Max Atchisson - ~1962)

Pachmayr Signature Model conversion (Frank Pachmayr, George Hoening, and Edward Miller)


    Here are all of the patents for the Pachmayr Signature Model conversion.

Pistol barrel mounting structure

Gun barrel locating structure

Gun head space takeup elements

Gun barrel bushing structures

Gun slide guiding devices

Mounting structure for pistol barrels

Gun having movably mounted barrel

Gun recoil spring assembly

Jeff Cooper and the Creation of Practical Shooting Sports
    Big Bear Leatherslaps (~1956), Bear Valley Gunslingers (~1959) & Southwest Combat Pistol League (~1963)




The rise of the practical gunsmiths and “combat conversions” 


    First extended M1911 thumb safety (No later than 1958)

    Armand Swenson (1965)


Pistol safety mechanism adapted for right or left hand operation

    Gun sight

    Automatic slide guard

    George Sheldon


    Paris Theodore - ASP


Grips for Handguns    



    Jim Hoag


    Austin Behlert 


    Gun sight

    Adjustable gun trigger mechanism
    Pachmayr Combat Special (Tom Dornhaus and Craig Wetstein - 1972)


    Bar-Sto Precision Machine match barrels (Irv Stone, Jr. - 1967)


The official creation of IPSC (May 1976) and the rise of new pistolsmiths


    Charlie Kelsey - Devel

    Mini-39        http://americanhandgunner.com/1979issues/HMJ79.pdf#page=24
Mini-59        http://americanhandgunner.com/1980issues/HSO80.pdf#page=42
Gammon    https://americanhandgunner.com/1982issues/HJF82.pdf#page=33
8-rd magazine    https://americanhandgunner.com/1983issues/HMA83.pdf#page=33
    Gammon II    http://americanhandgunner.com/1984issues/HSO84.pdf#page=42


    Bill Wilson 

    Ed Brown


    Bill Laughridge - Cylinder & Slide


    Steve Nastoff


    Richard Heinie


    Jim Boland

    Bruce Gray


    Les Baer


    Wayne Novak


    Paul Liebenberg    


The IPSC Arms Race Begins


    Extended ported barrels
    Williams Quick-Comp (~1978)
Clark Pin Gun (1979)
    Plaxco Comp (1980)
    Wilson Accu-Comp C (1981)
    Wilson Accu-Comp LE (1984)
Wilson Accu-Comp DP (1988)

Growth of the Aftermarket Parts Industry

    Caspian Arms (1983)

Rise of the .38 Super/Major 9

The birth of the Major PF .38 Super owes a certain amount of credit to Jeff Cooper's wildcat "Super 9" covered in the December 1973 issue of Guns & Ammo. Cooper gave quite a bit of credit to others who had been hot-rodding the .38 Super: gunwriters George Nonte and Mason Williams, gunsmith Terry Tussey, and John Adams of SAECO Bullet Moulds. At the time, Cooper noted that the downside to hot-rodding .38 Super was the unsupported barrel, and potential for case web failure. The base pistol was a .38 Super Colt Commander customized by Jim Hoag with a ~6.5" Bar-Sto barrel. Cooper originally started with hot .38 Super rounds loaded by John Adams. In the long barrel, Adams could get to roughly 1,600 fps with a 125gr projectile before the .38 Super cases began to blow. To improve the strength of the case web, Whit Collins suggested that Cooper try .223 Remington brass cut to .38 Super length. The change in cases allowed the Super 9 wildcat to achieve ~1,750 fps with the same 125gr projectiles. However, Cooper never saw this as a competition pistol, but as a lightweight/long range trail pistol.

In the November/December 1980 issue of American Handgunner, Dick Thomas noted that in 1977 Ken Hackathorn had floated the idea of building a .38 Super competition pistol. This might have been in response to 1977 IPSC World Shoot, which some folks claimed that been set up by the Rhodesian hosts to favor the higher capacity of the Browning Hi-Power. Note that the winner was Rhodesian Dave Westerhout using a BHP. Thomas developed a load with Speer's 125gr JSP that achieved 1,380 fps. This was sufficient to make Major on Hackathorn's ballistic pendulum. He considered recoil to be low, with the trade off being additional flash and blast. Thomas believed that the high velocity would simplify the lead on moving targets, and reduce the need to hold over on 60yd targets. Not mentioned was the fact that the .38 Super gave two extra shots over the .45 ACP.

Bruce Gray claims that he built his first .38 Super competition pistol for a customer in late 1978, followed by a second pistol for himself. They used 173gr cast bullets to achieve Major PF on the ballistic pendulums of the era. In response, some local clubs banned their pistols outright, while other clubs raised the threshold for Major PF to 185. Gray claims that he was told that the organizers of the 1981 US Nationals would not allow the pistol to be scored as Major no matter how it performed ballistically.

In any case, Gray's .38 Super pistols brought him to the attention of Charles Kelsey of Devel. Gray worked with Kelsey on the development of the .38 Super Gammon II, which was campaigned by Chip McCormick and Mark Duncan in 1983. Kelsey had plans for a dedicated Major PF wildcat, the 9mm Devel, using a strengthened case, but this never reached mass production.

The Super's popularity really took off when Rob Leatham and Brian Enos started campaigning Wilson Combat-built .38 Supers in 1984, with Leatham winning the 1984 US Nationals.

From around 1980 to 1993, IPSC and USPSA only allowed flush flt magazines for the M1911. While solid bumper pads were kosher, you could not use an an extended tube or a hollow baseplate to expand the capacity of the pistol. So the only way to increase your magazine capacity in the single-stack M1911 was to either use a Devel (pre-Shooting Star) follower and/or swap to a smaller caliber.

In response to the rise of the .38 Super, match directors began to increase the round counts of stages to force reloads upon the .38 Super shooters, who then held a 1-3 round advantage over their .45 ACP brethren. To counter this, gamers then scrambled to find a 9x19mm high-capacity pistol that would remain together when loaded to Major PF. You had gunsmiths playing with "Major 9" in the HK P7M13 (Bruce Gray), the Browning Hi-Power (Cylinder & Slide), and the CZ75 (Don Fisher.)

Things really came to a head when shooters sponsored by S&W and Springfield started to field hi-cap "Major 9" pistols. A few months prior to the 1990 Nationals and World Shoot, the USPSA BOD banned the use of 9x19mm at Major PF when loaded shorter than 1.25". The sponsored shooters quickly rechambered their pistols from 9x19mm to 9x21mm IMI. The joke was that they were using 9mm JLE (Just Long Enough).

Explosion of the Aftermarket Parts Industry

    Shooting Star / CMC (Chip McCormick and Virgil Tripp)
    EGW (1991 - George Smith)

Creation of Factory Custom Shops to Support Sponsored Shooters

    Springfield Custom Shop (Tim Dillon, Les Baer, Jack Weigand, and Dave Williams)
    S&W Performance Center (Paul Liebenberg and John French)

Rise of the Red Dot and M1911 Widebody Frames (1990)

The 1990 US Nationals were the last hoorah for the single-stack .38 Super, but added a new wrinkle in the form of red dot sights. The real equipment race was sparked a month later when Doug Koenig took the 1990 World Shoot with a red-dot equipped Springfield P9 in 9x21mm.

That is when you started to see major work at perfecting a high-capacity M1911 frame suitable for .38 Super. While Jim Boland and Otto Matyska had individually fabricated one-off high capacity M1911 frames in the 1980s, nothing was commercially available until the Para-Ordnance frame kits came on the market. However, their quality control was not always the best, nor did they have a .38 Super magazine available in the early days. About the only person trying to campaign the Para-Ord in its first few years was John Dixon. I seem to remember that he even had Para-Ord custom cast one out of beryllium copper. However, the first USPSA Nationals win for Para-Ord was in 1991 with Todd Jarrett using a pistol built by Blake Gann. The same year Jerry Barnhart used a Wilson Combat with a custom high-cap M1911 frame fabricated by George Huening. The Wilson/Huening pistol used CZ75 magazines.

The Caspian and CMC (pre-STI & SV Infinity) widebody frames hit the market in 1992. There was a loophole in the IPSC/USPSA magazine rule (7.05) that allowed non-flush magazines if the extended magazine was the standard equipment introduced with the pistol/frame. Caspian and CMC exploited this rule to increase their magazine capacity over the CZ75 and its clones.

The CMC frame kit's first USPSA Open Nationals win was in 1992. Jerry Barnhart's racegun was built by Wilson Combat. Matt McLearn used a Caspian widebody frame to win the 1993 USPSA Nationals and IPSC World Shoot.

The Backlash Ensues - IPSC Standard/USPSA Limited (1992)

Limited Division was formally introduced in USPSA around 1992 in response to the backlash against the optics and muzzle brakes. The latter were growing ever longer with multiple expansion chambers to use every bit of high pressure gases. Briefly, the Major PF caliber minimum in Limited was 0.354" just like in Open. The USPSA Board of Directors thought they were being clever when they imposed a production minimum for eligible pistols and required three manufacturers to produce Major PF loads for a cartridge to be legal. This ended the moment that S&W appeared ready to succeed with their Model 3566 and .356 TSW. Even as S&W was sending fliers out to dealers stating that this combo was Limited Division Major PF legal, the USPSA BOD quickly met and increased the minimum caliber for Limited Major PF to 0.400". (Personally, I think that the .357 SIG would have never been born if S&W had properly marketed the .356 TSW outside of competition use.)

The minimum production number rules for Limited Division kept the CMC and Caspian frame kits out of play for a few years. This changed once STI started making complete pistols in late August 1993. However, the minimum production rule basically meant that they were only legal just a few weeks ahead of the 1994 Limited Nationals. (The Para-Ordnance P16.40, introduced in early September 1993, suffered the same fate.) The Caspian frames weren't legal for Limited until 1998 after Fred Craig cranked out a large number of his "Fantom" models. That said, the Caspian frames were never really a big thing in Limited as their magazine width was not optimized for any cartridge larger than 9x23mm/.38 Super.

While it suffered for the first few years due to the lack of approved widebody pistols, the 40 S&W ultimately became the Limited Division cartridge of choice due to its capacity advantage over the .45 ACP. However, STI soon began to exploit further loopholes. The STI Eagle 5.1's factory bull barrel ultimately led to approval of bull barrels across the board starting 1994. Coned barrels quickly pushed out the conventional bushing set-up. STI went on to add full-length dust covers and then heavy, long dust covers, leading to their approval in June 1996.

Loading tricks became the reverse of Open Division; shooters gravitated to heavy bullets with fast burning powders so pressures would be lower as the bullet left the barrel. Some went even further, with shooters using 250-260gr bullets in .45 ACP and 200-220gr bullets in .40 S&W and 10mm. The extra heavy bullets worked in the .40 M1911-pattern as most shooters were loading them long for more reliable feeding. You might ask why not go to the 10mm? Well, once-fired .40 S&W brass was a lot cheaper due to its popularity in police departments. Of course, trouble began when folks would try to duplicate these heavy bullet .40 S&W loads at shorter lengths so they would fit in a Glock or other stock pistols.

The 170mm magazine rule was passed in 1992, and went into effect on January 1, 1993 in both IPSC and USPSA. However, IPSC only allowed it Open Division, but not their Standard Division. In contrast, USPSA decided to allow it in Limited Division for a year. After the first year, the standard-length magazine rule was reapplied to double-stack frames, while still allowing single-stack frames to use 170mm magazines. In 1995, USPSA revisited the issue setting the maximum length to 140mm for double-stack frames in Limited.

Of course, stage round counts started to go out of sight. I think part of the USPSA BOD's logic for the 170mm single stack magazine Limited Division was that the M1911 .45 ACP shooters with 11rd magazines would be able to keep up with the wide-body M1911 frames. I suspect the 140mm dimension was based upon the lengths of the OEM 20rd magazines that had long been available for the Browning P35, SIG-Sauer P226, Beretta 92, and S&W Model 59-series. These extended magazines had long been used by Military and Police tactical teams.

Unfortunately, most of the 11rd .45 ACP single-stack magazines were junk, and the makers of the double-stack M1911 frames quickly developed extended magazines. Moreover, the "High Capacity Feeding Device" ban went into effect in September 1994. As a result, all of the extended single-stack magazine development went into 10rd magazines. However, a lot of double-stack M1911 shooters played hard and fast with the replacement parts loophole. We were extremely lucky that the Feds didn't clamp down. After all, years earlier, some ATF field offices had gone after pistols with optics mounts that were too close to the serial number. Needless to say, most optics mounts quickly standardized on the dust cover.

Backlash Part 2 - USPSA Limited Division Arms Race

Established pistolsmiths begin to drop out of USPSA in favor of carry pistols.

New shooting organizations formed by IPSC/USPSA alumni .

    1911 SSC (1994 - Richard Heinie, Russell Cluver, Frank James, Walt Rauch, Bob Houzenga, Jerry Glogoski, Steve Kalaman, Kerby Smith, and Bill Laughridge)


    IDPA (1996 - Bill Wilson, John Sayle, Ken Hackathorn, Dick Thomas, Walt Rauch, and Larry Vickers)

The Rise of the Pistolsmith Manufacturer

    Baer Custom - 1993

    Wilson Combat - 1996

Don’t forget to shop Brownells using our affiliate link! Head to firearmsradio.tv and click the affiliate link in the upper right hand corner!
Be sure to go like Handgun Radio on facebook and share it with your friends!
Leave us a review on iTunes!
Listen to all the great shows on the Firearms Radio Network!Guns of Hollywood
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Be sure to check out the Firearms Radio Network on YouTube!
Visit Weerd Beard at  weerdworld.com   sqrpt.com  http://gunblogvarietycast.com/ 

Daniel - Where can people find you?  Loose Rounds (http://looserounds.com/ and http://looserounds.com/556timeline/) & on Facebook at “The 5.56mm Timeline: A Chronology of Development” (https://www.facebook.com/The-556mm-Timeline-A-Chronology-of-Development-259763052133/)

Until next week, have fun and SAFE SHOOTING!!!!

Handgun Radio 167 - The NRA Show 2017 Experience with Weerd

Hello and welcome to Handgun Radio! I’m your host Ryan Michad from the wild woods of Central Maine, and this is your home for all the news, information and discussion in the handgunning world.

This week, Weerd & I talk about his recent trip to NRA Annual Meetings 2017!

Brought to you by the Firearms Radio Network

Please check out the Patriot Patch Company for their awesome patches and other high quality items! Visit www.patriotpatch.co for more information!

Shop Amazon using our affiliate link www.firearmsradio.tv/amazon



Head over to http://firearmsradio.tv/pledge/ and click on HGR.

Week in Review:

Ryan: Shot a car today! Used a Remington 887 Nitro with 3 ½ in shells….fun to see, but not terribly enjoyable.

Weerd: When it rains it pours!    Went to NRAA Meeting,   got some Eddie Eagle videos which my Daughter LOVES,  you can get them free on youtube.

Then a buddy of mine FINALLY took me up on a range trip as he’s planning on buying his first gun soon and wanted to try out an assortment of guns to see what he liked.

Sadly he shot my semi-autos WAY better than my revolvers,  so we may not make a wheel gunner of him

Drink Segment: While at the house I was cooking dinner for the gang and I was also the bartender.   Made Martinis, Manhattans,  and one night when a call for “Something new” was requested,  I decided to make a gimlet….only my traditional recipe of 0.5oz Elderflower Liqueur, 1oz lime juice, and 2oz Gin was not available.    I did have sugar for a simple syrup,  but it was dark brown,   and I had limes, but they were key limes which taste fantastic, but are VERY small.    So I elected to squeeze a lemon too to make up the needed amount of juice for a large crowd of thirsty gunbloggers.    To tie it all together I had a bottle of peychaud’s bitters, and that tied the dark richness of the brown sugar with the brightness of the lime and lemon juice.   It was something unique, and quite good!

Main Topic: NRA Show 2017 Wrap-Up with Weerd Beard









CZ P10





  • Don’t forget to shop Brownells using our affiliate link! Head to firearmsradio.tv and click the affiliate link in the upper right hand corner!

  • Be sure to go like Handgun Radio on facebook and share it with your friends!

  • Leave us a review on iTunes!

  • Listen to all the great shows on the Firearms Radio Network!Guns of Hollywood

  • Be sure to visit the Firearms Insider for review more awesome content! Also, if you are interested in writing reviews for the Firearms Insider, please email TJ at tj@firearmsradio.tv

  • Be sure to check out the Firearms Radio Network on YouTube!

  • Visit Weerd Beard at  weerdworld.com   sqrpt.com  http://gunblogvarietycast.com/

Until next week, have fun and SAFE SHOOTING!!!!


Handgun Radio 127 - Dream Handgun Roundtable

Hello and welcome to Handgun Radio! I’m your host Ryan Michad from the wild woods of Central Maine, and this is your home for all the news, information and discussion in the handgunning world.

This week, we discuss our dream handguns with Weerd, Daniel Watters & Jordan Bell!

Brought to you by the Firearms Radio Network


Please check out the Patriot Patch Company for their awesome patches and other high quality items! Visit www.patriotpatch.co for more information!

Week in Review:

Ryan: -Shot the Taurus PT22 Poly some more, it shot great!

  • Shot some single shot break action, rolling block & falling block guns in .22 LR as well!

Daniel:   Of course, I did some background research on your neighbor’s Hy Hunter single shot, which is a copy of the old Stevens No. 35 target pistol.  For more information on the original Stevens, it is worthwhile to check out Arthur Corbin Gould’s book  "The Modern American Pistol and Revolver" published in 1888.

Jordan: Cold blued that Rohm RG10 copy. Got it all shiny. Found some 22 short to go in it. The 50 round box was missing 6. Cussed about it. Still haven’t got to shoot it. Also, cleaned up and got all nice and neato an old Zebco 76 rod/reel that was grandpas. Tried not to feed my children to lions. Discovered my XJ is leaking antifreeze. Cussed about it.

Weerd:  Moved things out of the house this weekend for a renovation….did some rearranging of the Armory,  and got a bookshelf for my gun books….that the wife promptly appropriated it for herself.

Drink segment: How good a spirit to use in a cocktail.   No you are NOT wasting good spirits on a cocktail.   Note we’re NOT talking a simple highball like a whiskey and ginger or a rum and coke where your spirit is going to be very masked.   But say an old fashioned, whiskey sour, or a Manhattan, you’re mostly drinking booze with some added flavors, so good stuff will show through.

Main Topic: Dream Handgun Roundtable

Back on Gun Guy Radio, we chose to do a fun episode topic about “Dream Rifles”. It was really well received and people enjoyed hearing about what other people wanted and what they wanted. We decided to get some people together for handgun radio and do “Dream Handguns”

Here were the rules:

List your choices for a "dream handgun" below.

1.) It can't be 100% of an existing design with a slight change, i.e. "I want a Glock in .38 Super" or "A Glock with a hammer". You can use design cues from certain guns, but not the entire design.

2.) It has to be SOMEWHAT realistic. While I know it's our dream gun episode, a .50 BMG Beretta 92 just isn't going to work

The Panel:


  • Revolver the size of a Colt Detective Special, but with the Phillips & Rodgers Medusa Concept (chambering everything in the 9mm/.38 Range) with the boot grip style of a J-frame and a shrouded 638 Bodyguard style hammer.

  • Browning High-Power Slide with a shortened compact grip, Steyr-style trapezoidal sights with a polymer frame and barrel swaps from 10mm to 9x25mm Dillon.

  • Benelli B76 pistol with a polymer frame that isn’t any different sized than the steel frame with the ability to switch chamberings between 9mm and .32 S&W Long Wadcutter.

Weerd: NAA mini .32 ACP and Ruger GP100-sized LCR

-.357 Magnum Top Break.   I don’t see why we can’t do this with modern technology!  Ideally in either S&W I or J-Frame

-A Combination of the size and shape of the Remington R51 with an aluminum frame with options for a stainless.   The roller-Delayed blowback action from the CZ-52/ H&K P9S,  Inside frame rails a-la the CZ-75/ Steyr M9,  and the “Squeeze Cock” safety from the H&K P7


I wish S&W could be convinced to debug their ill-fated C-Frame Model 73. It was meant to be S&W's answer to the Detective Special - a 6-shot revolver smaller than their existing snubnose Model 10. If they don't want to revisit the original design, perhaps they could upscale the existing Bodyguard BG38.

I'd also like to see a modern revision of the S&W M-frame Ladysmith or Rossi Princess. Ideally, the updated version would have a cylinder large enough for 5-shots of .327 Federal Magnum, 6-shots of .22 Magnum, or 7-shots of .22 LR.
My wackiest idea would be for a breaktop revolver with a barrel firing from the bottom charge hole of the cylinder.  That in itself would not be terribly odd, except for the idea that it would be striker-fired.  Going one step further, you could use a center pin serving double-duty as a gas piston.  You could either use the piston to rotate the cylinder or simply reset the striker.


1: MRX. Modular Revolver. Multi-Caliber, Multi-Length, Optic Ready

Top Break frame, SA/DA.

Barrel housing is rectangular, giving a similar look to the MP412 REX. Front and rear sights (Target rear, tritium insert serrated ramp front) are dovetailed in, but may be removed altogether and replaced with optic or BUIS as the entire space between is a 1913 rail. Target rear, tritium insert serrated ramp front.

Barrel housing can be adjusted to 2, 4, 6, or 8 inch lengths using spacer segments between frame interfacing segment and fixed frontal segment.

Barrel caliber can be changed by inserting tool provided and stored in grim frame cavity into teeth inset around muzzle front. Unscrew barrel until unlocks, slide out. Replace. Barrel max size is .45 caliber, min size is .22 caliber. Screw in barrels can be had in 2 - 8 inch lengths to accommodate use.

Cylinder is unfluted with 5 shot capacity. Default cylinder size is 45. caliber and strength rated to handle up to 454 casull. Cylinder sizing can be adjusted using drop in inserts which affix beneath ratchet and extractor (selective eject) which are removed using reverse side of same tool used to remove barrel inserts. Cylinder inserts are titanium and center cartridge on appropriate barrel. Both barrel insert and cylinder insert are sold together and marked with unique shaped visual indicators to warn against mis-matched use. Smaller caliber inserts are not solid tubes like larger inserts, but are instead, a tube within a shell.

Frame is overbuilt to handle high pressure loads. Trigger and hammer weight are user adjustable with recommended settings provided with caliber kits. Hammer is commander style and can have an insert screwed into the side to allow manipulation below a long optic.

Grips are modular with various levels of padding/thickness to be added or subtracted as needed for caliber or ergonomic concerns. Grip adjustments are made using single piece rear/side rubber insert which affixes to grip frame from rear.

2: uh… Well, there’s that while twin barrel drill gatling 22 thing I mentioned. Everyone else has plausible ideas!

3: yeah. There’s way more rifle/carbine ideas I could legit go on about but I’m kinda at a loss on handguns. For instance, I’d love something in between a Deerfield and an M1 Carbine, but in like .500 S&W with like an 8 round mag.

The Listeners:

Erik Chesney:  I'd like to see HK reinvent the P7M8 and M13 with a polymer frame and a traditional slide stop. Although that isn't exactly a totally new design, I don't care. It would be cool 😁.

A LCP sized .22LR with a 21A style tip up barrel. There would have to be an engineering feat to get it thinner than the Beretta design with the springs in the grip. For that matter, a .380 and .32 the size of a G19 would be great with a tip up barrel for those with infirmities as  Wish the 86 Cheetah's were still around, but a lighter striker fired trigger would be ideal.

Brett: I would like something along the lines of a Sig P226 , only chambered in 38/357. With a threaded barrel and matching suppressor.

I would fully expect to be required to change recoil springs to cycle with subsonic ammo. I would also like a slide lock feature to fire one shot ( ultra quiet ) without cycling a round.

Matt: An integrally suppressed gas Delayed blowback 9mm handgun running off Glock mags and setup for slide mounted optics from the factory.

Manuel: A single stack PPQ would be my ideal: thin enough to carry with the ergonomics of the full size, including the lovely slide release button and awesome trigger. I can now see why Pincus is going the way he is going with his new project. I personally (perhaps until I drop more weight) can only comfortably carry single stacks, though I will try double stacks soon again. So the advantage of having, say, 8-11 rounds of 9mm in a single stack is useful.

Ryan G: I'd like to see a steel framed, single stack, d/a handgun slightly larger than the Walther PPK/s chambered in 10mm (I'd take same size but that round will require extra room in the grip). I'd like to see this gun be equipped with a slide release and a decocker, as well as a good fast acquisition sights like XS big dots.

Matt M: I would be good if S&W remade the 632-1 or a "real" model 27 (deep top strap checkering/countersunk charge holes

A striker fired, single stack .32 ACP pistol with a Browning action that is the size of a Glock 19. For people with weak hand strength that can't rack a more powerful guns slide and want a self defense pistol. Also for people with smaller hands that have trouble with double stack mags. .32 ACP is a round with a long history as a self defense round but it's mostly found in small handguns. Smaller pistols are harder to aim and usually blowback so it's harder to rack the slide. A 4.5 inch barrel and 10 to 12 rounds of .32 ACP is a good pistol

Chad: 1911 size handle, grip angle, and trigger reach. Striker fired, no safety/safeties. Undercut trigger guard, ambi mag release. 4-4.25" barrel, front and rear cocking serrations. Good sights (fiber optic front) 9mm w/13+ capacity, and a flip selector switch on the back of the slide for 2 round burst.


Until Next Week, Have Fun and Safe Shooting!!!!!!

HGR 044 - Handguns of World War I & II

This week, myself and Weerd Beard of the Squirrel Report discuss the various handguns that were used in World War I & II. We also discuss some blackpowder revolver testing I did this weekend!

Brought to you by the Firearms Radio Network

Brownells helps make Handgun Radio possible. Selection, service, satisfaction. Find it all at Brownells! If you are doing any shopping with Brownells please use our affiliate link www.handgunradio.com/brownells to help support the show!

Week in Review:


  • Shot the Pietta this weekend, got some pretty decent groups with it! There is a video over at the YouTube page showing the test. I used a pistol rest and shot three, five shot groups from 25 and 15 yards. The first group was okay, the second group was one of my best, and the third one was abysmal. The blackpowder revolvers seem to be sensitive to the powder charge, and that seems to have a large effect of the accuracy that you can obtain. The single action trigger is wonderful for precise shooting, but the sights are miniscule to almost non-existent. I also used some paper cartridges that I made. These were more for convienience than anything, as the charge was already pre measured, and all I had to do was dump it in the chamber and seat the ball after. A great day of shooting and a good time!

Weerd: Time with family; watching videos!

Main Topic: Handguns of World War I & II

So this week, we are going to be discussing the military handguns that were issued to each side during World War I & II. I chose to lump both conflicts together for the purposes of this episode because many of the countries did not change their selected handgun between the two conflicts. Other countries SLIGHTLY changed their guns, like the British and the .455 vs. .380/200. One thing to note also is going to be the differences in purpose that the handgun served between the European countries and the United States. In most of the European countries, with Great Britain being the exception, the handgun was seen as a badge of rank, not as a serious front-line combat weapon. This is the reason that you see many of the European service sidearms chambered for cartridges that we would consider not combat effective. A good example of this is the Walther PPK in .32 ACP or the Beretta 1934 in .380 Auto. For the purposes of our discussion, we are going to stick with the larger players in the conflict and stay away from the smaller countries that may have had their own domestic arms production and had an individual pistol of their own. Also, a few countries, ESPECIALLY Germany, would seize arms from a country they invaded and absorb those arms into their ranks, oftentimes giving them a designation under the “substitute standard” category. One great example of this is the Browning Hi-Power, which, when issued in German service, was designated the Pistole 640 (b). Also, different branches of the military may have used different firearms as well. While the standard pistol for the German military at the start of WWII was the P08 Luger, the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) and the Fallschirmjagers (Paratroopers) were known to use the Astra 600 and the Sauer 38H respectively. We are going to try to stick with the MAIN handguns that were issued on both sides.

World War I & II:

Allied Forces:

Great Britain:

- At the end of World War I, only three major military powers still issued revolvers as their standard handgun; France, Great Britain and the new-to-the-party USSR.

- The British forces in World War I (and many in World War II) carried the Webley Mark IV revolver chambered in .455 Webley. The .455 Webley was a decent combat cartridge, firing a 265 grain .45 caliber slug at 650 to 700 feet per second. The Webley Mark IV was a double-action, break open revolver with automatic ejection that weighed in at a hefty two pounds, five ounces.

- In order to lessen the weight on the footsoldier, the British switched in 1928 to the Enfield No.2 Mark I revolver. This revolver was smaller and lighter than the Webley, and was modified to speed up production and cut manufacturing costs. It chambered a cartridge that was known as the .380/200. It was basically a beefed up .38 S&W cartridge, moving a 178 grain bullet at 700 feet per second. Weighing in at only 27 ounces, it was a full ten ounces lighter than the Webley Mark IV. It used the same break action automatic ejection that the Webley Mark IV used.

- Not wanting to be outdone on the semi-automatic pistol front, the British helped get some designers out of occupied Belgium and send them to work at the Inglis factory in Canada. These designers, including one Dieudonne Saive, brought with them the blueprints for the Browning Hi-Power and built them for the Allied Forces use. The British began issuing the 13 shot 9mm pistol to troops in March 1945, just in time for the last operations of the war. The Hi-Power has the distinction of being used by both sides in the conflict, with the Germans utilizing Hi-Powers mostly with the Waffen SS and the Fallschirmjager forces.

_Webley also did some limited use with the .455 Webley Self-loading Pistol which was chambered in the .455 Webley Automatic which fired a 224 grain jacketed bullet at 700 FPS.


- France was armed with a HUGE array of different handguns following World War I. The main handgun that was issued to French soldiers during WWI was the G. The M1892 revolver fired an 8mm French cartridge and weighed in at around 30 oz. It was a double-action revolver, with a swing-out cylinder holding six rounds. The French attempted to switch to a domestically-designed and produced semi-auto, the Mle 1935, but production could not keep up with the needs of the troops, and continued to issue revolvers. The 8mm French cartridge fired a 128 grain bullet at 730 feet per second, not very robust. One notable feature of the revolver was that the cylinder swung out to the right instead of the typical left. Many believe this was to allow cavalry to reload the gun with the reins in their hand and not having to swtich hands. After France was occupied by the Germans, the resistance fighters continued to use the Mle 1892 in large numbers.

- In WWI, the French were desperate for small arms, particularly handguns which were well suited for trench warfare. Several Spanish firms had begun manufacturing handguns that almost replicated the venerable Colt/Browning 1903 Pocket Hammerless, but with a longer grip to accommodate more cartridges. The French government got ahold of some of these so-called “Ruby” pistols in 1915, and contracted with several Spanish firms to produce the small .32 ACP pistols for their troops. The name “Ruby” covers the general form/finish/caliber/function of the pistols rather than being a particular brand or model.

USSR (Russia):

- The USSR followed a similar pattern of the British army, sticking with a revolver for the majority of both conflicts, before switching to a semi-automatic pistol. The USSR switched much earlier than the British Army, but still used revolvers right until the end of the war and beyond.

- The USSR issued the much-loved (not) Nagant 1895 Revolver. The Nagant used a 7.62 cartridge that was seated well below the case mouth, like a deep seated wadcutter. This bullet helped create a gas seal along with the unique mechanism of the gun, where the cylinder cams forward on every shot. The 1895 Nagant 7.62 cartridge launched a 102 grain bullet at 900 fps, which was very underpowered compared to other pistol cartridges of the time. The Nagant has the distinction of being the only revolver that can be effectively suppressed due to its gas seal operation. The NKVD put this to good use in the 1950’s.

- The USSR did adopt a semi-automatic handgun in 1930, the TT series of pistols. The TT-30 and more ubiquitous TT-33 were semi-automatic pistols that took cues from the M1911 pistol and the 1903 Pocket Hammerless pistol. It used a simplified trigger system that could actually be removed from the gun as a unit for repair or replacement. The TT-33 was probably most notable for its powerful cartridge. A HUGE step up from the 1895 Nagant cartridge, the 7.62x25mm launched an 85 grain bullet at almost 1,500 fps! This cartridge was based off the 7.63x25mm Mauser cartridge that was chambered in the C96 “Broomhandle” pistols. The TT-33 did not fully replace the Nagant Revolver, but it did significantly increase the firepower of the troops.

United States:

-  The United States saw the handgun as a viable combat weapon, unlike many other countries in WWI & II. The U.S. issued the well-known M1911 pistol in .45 ACP from 1911 all the way to 1986. The 1911 has been covered as much as any one handgun can be covered, but it served well in the military. It fired a hard-hitting & proven cartridge and was accurate and controllable.

- While the U.S. had the 1911, they still had a need for even more handguns. S&W had contracted with the U.S. to provide revolvers, and a S&W engineer came up with the design for moon-clips, allowing the rimless .45 ACP to be fired out of a revolver. The S&W Model 1917 and the similar Colt 1917 served as substitute standard weapons in both wars. The 1917 revolver saw a great deal of use in the Pacific theater during WWII.

Axis Powers:


Luger P08: Introduced 1904,  Chambered firs in the 7.65x21mm (AKA .30 Luger) but later chambered for the famous 9x19mm Luger.   Used a toggle lock system and was striker fired.   It used a lot of hand fitting had had almost no parts interchangeability between units without fitting.

Walther P38/ P1:   Chambered also in 9x19 luger.   Uses the Walther locking block design that is best seen today in the Beretta 92/M9.   It was DA/SA gun using a slide mounted decocking and safety lever.   In many ways this gun can be considered a single-stack predecessor to the Beretta 92 series.  In 1961 this gun was updated with an aluminum alloy frame and called the P1 which was still being issued until 2004 when it was fully replaced by the H&K USP pistol which had started seeing service in the 1990s.

Walther PP and PPK: The PP (Police Pistol in German) was the first gun to be issued, chambered in .32 Auto and .380 Auto.   PPK (Police Pistol Short *kurtz*) was a smaller variant.

It was one of the first DA/SA pistols issued, and was simple blowback with the decocking and safety lever on the slide.   More of a badge than a fighting weapon, given how small even the PP variant was, and the power level of the .32 and .380 pistol cartridges.


-Beretta Model 1934 .380 ACP

-Glisenti Model 1910


-Type 14 Nambu (8mm)

-Type 94 (8mm)


HGR 026 - Awesome Movie Handguns

HGR 026 - Awesome Movie Handguns

Ryan and guest Shawn from the WeLikeShooting.com and the We Like Shooting show discuss some of the cool handguns and favorite handguns from the movies. We had a pretty somber topic last show so this is just a fun, free-wheeling episode!

Brought to you by the Firearms Radio Network

Brownells helps make this show possible. Selection, service, satisfaction. Find it all at Brownells. Please visit www.handgunradio.com/brownells

Week in Review:


  • Picked up a nice Triple-K holster and some .451” roundballs for the .44 1851 Pietta Colt Navy at Cabela’s today! Finally I can get some shooting in, unless the temperature continues to stay below zero as it has been all week.
  • Saw some really cool handguns and rifles at the Cabelas gun gallery in Scarbourough, ME during our trip.  I got to handle a beautiful Remington Model 8 (I don’t know why I really like that rifle, but I do.) and also looked at some beautiful Colt and S&W revolvers that they had for sale.  Most were in somewhat obsolete or hard-to-find calibers such as .32 S&W or .38 S&W. There were a few vintage Steyr pistols and some odd looking Olympic target pistols chambered in .22 Short.  It is interesting to see what sorts of grips they put on some of those competition target pistols.
  • I am REALLY excited about the new Remington R-51 semi-automatic 9mm pistol.  I think the gun is really pretty revolutionary as it takes an old design concept that hasn’t been used in a very long time and revamps it for today’s marketplace.  The pistol uses a locking system designed by John Pederson and used by the Remington Model 51 pistol that was produced between 1918 and 1927 and was chambered in .32 ACP or .380 ACP.  The locking system allows for a fixed barrel like in a blowback pistol, but using a large, service size caliber that often just isn’t feasible in a blowback locking system.  I have fired the old Remington Model 51 and it is a very VERY fine handgun, and I cannot wait to see what Remington has done to update the design. Now if I could just convince Colt to make the Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless again……


  • New Glock
  • Reloading Mania

Main Topic: Awesome Movie Handguns

Ryan’s Picks:

1.) L.A. Confidential:

-Colt Detective Special

-S&W Combat Masterpiece (Model 15)

-Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless

2.) Heat:

-Colt M1991A1 Series 80 Officers Model

-Star Megastar

3.)Sin City:

-Beretta 93R “Auto 9”

-Ruger Blackhawk .44 Magnum

4.)Beverly Hills Cop:

-Browning Hi-Power

-S&W Model 19 Snub 2.5” barrel

-S&W Model 629 Mag-Na-Ported

Shawn’s Picks:

  1. Die Hard
    • Beretta 92F
    • Walther PPK
  2. Cop Out
    • Sig-Sauer P226
    • Ruger GP100
    • Beretta 92FS
  3. Idiocracy
    • M1911A1
  4. The Avengers
    • Smith & Wesson M&P9
  5. Total Recall (2012)
  6. Cobra
    • Jatimatic SMG
    • Colt Gold Cup National Match 1911 in 9mm


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  • Be sure to go over and check out the God and Guns Podcast!
  • Also go check out all the great content over at the Firearms Insider!

Until next week, have fun and SAFE SHOOTING!!!

HGR 020 - Listener Roundtable

HGR 020 - Listener Roundtable

In the Twentieth episode of Handgun Radio, Ryan discusses handguns and other topics in the first Listener Roundtable!

Brought to you by the Firearms Radio Network

Brownells helps make this show possible. Selection, service, satisfaction. Find it all at Brownells. Visit www.handgunradio.com/brownells

Main Topic:

1.) What was your first handgun?

2.) Why did you get into guns?

3.) What has been your most memorable firearms experience?

4.) In your opinion, what is the best looking handgun ever made?

5.) In your opinion, what is the ugliest handgun ever made?

6.) What is your favorite caliber?

7.) Do you reload your own ammunition?

8.) Out of all the episodes of Handgun Radio that you have listened to, which is your favorite and why?


  • Be sure to check out all the great shows over at the Firearms Radio Network! The hosts of all the shows as well as the people working behind the scenes all work very hard each week to put out great content for your listening enjoyment! Any feedback on any part is always welcome. It is great to hear that people enjoy listening, and it is also great to hear constructive feedback which allows us to make our products better.
  • Like and Share our Facebook Page!
  • Please leave us an iTunes review if you haven’t done so. It helps me make the show better each week!
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Until next week have fun and SAFE SHOOTING!!!

HGR 019 - Wonderful Wheelguns

HGR 019 - Wonderful Wheelguns

In this episode, Ryan discusses why he likes revolvers and some of the really classic designs that still work wonderfully today!

Brought to you by the Firearms Radio Network

Brownells helps make this show possible. Selection, Service, and satisfaction. Find it all at Brownells. Visit www.handgunradio.com/brownells

Week in Review:

  • No luck this week hunting, heard some movement and saw a lot of tracks around our hunting area but no sightings.  Perhaps next weekend!
  • I appeared on Gun Guy Radio Episode 094 this past Saturday night along with Jake and Jared to discuss some cold weather concealed carry considerations! It was a great time and I really enjoyed the discussion. Go check it out at the link above and you can also watch it on YouTube.
  • The Listener Round Table is set to happen on November 24th which is this coming Sunday.  I believe we will be going live right around 9 p.m. EST, as to give our West Coast listeners time to get home from their day :) There will be a link posted on the Handgun Radio FaceBook page. By using that link you can watch the show live as it is happening or you can go back and watch it on YouTube after the show has ended.  I’m really looking forward to it!!!!
  • A Pietta 1851 Navy .44 and a Starter Kit is on it’s way to me for testing & evaluation! I can’t wait to receive it and take it out to the range.  I will be posting a review of the whole kit over at the Firearms Insider once I get a chance to test it out!
  • There are a lot of great shows on the Firearms Radio Network, and the We Like Shooting Podcast is one of the newest on the network! There are a lot of great discussion on that podcast and I really like the roundtable format of the show.  Go over to the link in the show notes and check them out! Leave them a written review on iTunes as well and help them out!

Main Topic: Wonderful Wheelguns

This week, I’d like to take a break from the “technical” how-to style shows we’ve done the past two weeks and have a freewheeling discussion about some of the reasons I like to shoot & carry revolvers, as well as some of the classic revolvers that I like or that are really fine examples of firearms craftsmanship. A lot of this episode will be based on personal opinions, so your milage may vary.

Why do I like revolvers?: To me, revolvers are really elegant handguns. People describe them as simple; simple to use, yes. Simple inside? No. While they may not be excessively complicated, the interaction between parts inside the revolver to accomplish its goal is really an awesome sight to see.  The first time I ever saw a revolver with one of those clear side plates to show the inner workings in action, I was amazed. All the parts that must interact in order to complete something as simple as the double-action trigger stroke is a feat of engineering.

Then there is the finish on the revolver.  Some of the most beautiful metal finishing work I’ve ever seen I have seen on the classic Colt and Smith & Wesson revolvers.  The first time handling a Python revolver from Colt is truly an experience every shooter should have. Colt was known for its superior polishing and bluing skills, and the Python revolver is a fantastic example of this.  Another good one to see in person is the S&W Model 27.  The Model 27, and the earlier Registered Magnum are wonderful examples of mid-1900’s firearms craftsmanship.  The guns are put together perfectly, strong as can be, and they look stunning.  While the finishes you see on revolvers today may be more practical, the finishes on the classic ones blow them out of the water in terms of aesthetics.

Capacity is everything to a lot of people. The revolver doesn’t have a high capacity. Doesn’t this bother you?: When the capacity argument is brought up, I look at several factors that tend to come into play during a defensive shooting.  First, consider the dynamics of a defensive shooting. It is quick, violent and stressful.  Typically occurring at no more than a few yards, the attack and subsequent reaction is typically over in seconds.  The Hollywood-style shootouts that you see in TV and Movies that last 20 plus minutes are just not a realistic depiction of a real-life shooting situation.  When it comes to civilian self-defense and concealed carry, there is rarely an instance where 17 rounds are used.  Note that I said “used” not “was not needed”; you can always use more ammuntion in a gunfight.

You must always look at what your personal situation is as well.  If you live in an area where the crime statistics show that typical attacks involve only one perpetrator, a small & concealable 5-shot revolver might be a good choice for you.  This is my choice. I carry a Smith & Wesson Model 60 .38 Special revolver loaded with 125 grn Speer Gold-Dot Hollowpoints.  I also carry a speedloader in my pocket loaded with the same ammunition.  Given the crime statistics in my area, I feel comfortable with this setup.  Check your area, and choose your setup accordingly.

Do you have any advice concerning revolvers & their use?:

1.) Guys, PLEASE stop telling females who want to buy a gun for personal defense that the best gun for them is a .38 Special snubnose revolver with or without a pink frame. The .38 Special snubnose is NOT a beginners handgun.  For smaller statured shooters, the recoil can be very snappy. Beginning shooters do not need to be scared away from the sport and hobby because they are afraid of pulling the trigger.  I would honestly rather see my wife with a semi-auto .22 LR handgun that she can hit with repeatedly and fast.  9 .22 LR bullets all in the same spot beat a .38 Special that misses any day.

2.) Revolvers are versatile and allow for a wide array of ammunition selection. You can use anything from hollowpoints, to full metal jacket ammuntion and snake shot loads without functioning issues.  As long as the bullet does not extend out the front of the chamber and bind the cylinder, you are good!

3.) The limited capacity of revolvers tends to make shooters more careful in their technique when shooting. The capacity to “spray and pray” with a semi-auto with a large magazine is somewhat limited with a revolver.  I know that I really focus on making shots count a great deal when shooting my revolvers.

Some Favorite Revolvers:

1.) Smith & Wesson Model 60: A Classic snub-nosed revolver in .38 Special.  It was the first ever stainless steel handgun.  The stainless steel brother to the Model 36 or “Chief’s Special”.

2.) Smith & Wesson Model 19: The Model 19 everything a duty revolver should be. Light enough to be portable and comfortable, yet strong enough to handle most of the .357 Magnum loads for duty use. The Model 19 that I own is my dad’s old patrol revolver, and it is the most accurate handgun I have ever fired.  It is a prime example of exemplary craftsmanship.

3.) Colt Official Police: The Colt Official Police in .38 Special was the direct competitor to S&W’s Model 10 or M&P.  The Official Police and Model 10 both had their advantages and disadvantages, but both were superb revolvers and were great examples of firearms craftsmanship.

4.) Colt Python & Diamondback: The Colt Python & Diamondback revolvers were some of Colt’s finest double action revolvers. Chambered in .357 Magnum and .38 Special respectively, the Python is known for having the most beautiful bluing ever seen on a production firearm.  This is rumoured to be a product of many many hours of polishing before being dunked in the hot bluing tank.  No longer in production, these revolvers represent the pinnacle of Colt’s manufacturing prowess.

There are many more classic revolvers out there! What’s your favorite? Email me at ryan@handgunradio.com and I will read them on the roundtable!!


Until next time have fun and SAFE SHOOTING!!!

HGR 017 - From Beater To Beautiful

HGR 017 - From Beater to Beautiful

In this episode, Ryan discusses some of the tools, techniques and tips that you can use to restore a beaten-up old handgun to good-looking or even beautiful condition!

Photo Credit: Turnbull Manufacturing
Photo Credit: Turnbull Manufacturing

Brought to you by the Firearms Radio Network

Brownells helps make this show possible. Selection, service, satisfaction. Find it all at Brownells. Please visit www.handgunradio.com/brownells

Week in Review:

  • Due to space limitations, I had to re-locate my reloading bench this past week.  Previously, I had a large L-shaped bench setup, but I really didn’t need that space as I didn’t have tumblers and other things working, just my press and powder measure.  I had a purpose-built reloading stand with multiple drawers and shelves that was very compact, so I re-located my setup there.  Now the setup is very space-efficient, and I have some great lighting overhead that will enhance the reloading hobby even more.  Here is a picture of the new setup:

Main Topic: How can I make my beat-up old gun look new again?

This discussion will cover some of the ways that you can take a beat-up old handgun (or for some techniques/tools, any gun) and restore it to a somewhat decent looking condition. I will be dividing the tools and techniques up into several different categories: Metal Working and Finishing Methods; Wood Working and Finishing Methods; Specialty Methods that cannot be done by your typical end-user (i.e. chrome finishes, hot bluing salts finishes, etc.)

Caution!: If you are planning on refinishing an old, beat up firearm PLEASE make sure it does not have any historical or collector value.  There have been a great number of collectable firearms that have acquired a nice, natural patina, only to have it scrubbed off by someone with a wire brush trying to make the gun look “nicer”. If you have any doubts, don’t do it and get the gun checked out.  I thoroughly checked out my Colt 1903 to the point where I felt comfortable enough before I refinished it.

Metalworking & Metal Finishing Options:

  • If you have a firearm that has some light rust, perhaps some pitting and a scratched up, dull finish you may choose to do a complete refinish of the handgun.
  • I originally tried my hand at metal refinishing with an old no-name break top .32 S&W revolver that had no collector value.  It was an old piece that had quite a bit of rust and pitting and the firing pin had fallen out of the hammer so the gun was non-functional which made it a great first test gun.
  • I had the gun sandblasted by a friend with a sandblasting setup, and left in the white (no finish). The gun had to be completely disassembled before the refinishing process could take place (this is typically the case with all refinishing methods.)
  • after the sandblasting took away most of the pitting and imperfections in the metal, I used progressively higher grits of sandpaper until I ended at 2000 grit wet sandpaper.  I must stress that this sanding action was done with a VERY light touch, to smooth out the metal. I then finished with a light polish of the metal with very fine steel wool.
  • One product I used for both the .32 S&W revolver project and the Colt 1903 project that I was very impressed with was Brownells Oxpho-Blue Creme bluing compound.  When I used it, it produced a much deeper and long lasting blue finish than the liquid blue compounds typically do.
  • One thing that is ABSOLUTELY KEY when bluing a firearm (or doing any metal prep work, really) is to wear rubber gloves so you do not contaminate the metal surface with oils and fingerprints, as these will show up in the final finish.  MAKE SURE THE ENTIRE METAL SURFACE IS CLEAR OF ANY OIL.  Use some sort of degreaser to ensure there is no oil that could ruin the finish.
  • If you are someone who refinishes firearms often, you may be interested in the Benchtop Parkerizing Kit from Brownells.  This kit allows you to add a durable parkerized finish to handguns and small parts. The parkerizing absorbs oil quite well and helps with corrosion resistance, and can provide a great replacement finish for a firearm that may not look great cosmetically with a traditional bluing job.
  • One other option for a firearm that may not look great with a cold-blue job is using the Duracoat Painting System. The Duracoat painting system allows you to apply a painted on finish in a variety of colors on firearms and firearms parts. Then you simply bake the part in the oven to allow the paint to cure and let it sit for the time allotted in the instruction manual.  This can be a great alternative.

Wood Finishing Products & Techniques:

  • Much of what will be discussed in this category can be applied to handgun grips as well as rifle stocks that you are refinishing. The same rules apply here: Make sure it isn’t a collectable!
  • I’ve worked quite a bit on smooth handgun grips, but on checkered handgun grips proper wood refinishing can sometimes be a problem. It can be difficult to use many wood refinishing techniques without damaging the profile of the checkering somewhat.  I would caution you to leave the checkering alone when doing wood refinishing unless you have the means & tools to recut the checkering.
  • For grips & stocks that have been dented, scratched and otherwise damaged, there are many techniques you can use to return them to decent looking condition.  First, use some sort of wood stripping compound to remove all of the old finish off the rifle.  Wear thick rubber gloves and safety goggles, and do this outside.  You will use a lot of paper towels while wiping my preferred compound, Citri-Strip, off the wood stock.  This will remove much of the oil that has seeped into the stock over the years.
  • After the majority of the finish is stripped away, but before the stock dries too much, use a hairdryer on the LOWEST heat setting and slowly run it over the wood a safe distance away. Only do this for about 30 seconds at a time.  This will bring out some of the oil that has permeated the wood over the years.  Be careful doing this on thin handgun stocks.  Don’t do it too much as you don’t want to dry the wood out.
  • To raise dents and scratches, soak a cloth towel in hot water, and then using a standard iron, place the wet towel over the dent or scratch on the wood, and press down with the iron for only 2 or 3 seconds. Any longer and you can burn the wood.  This will raise the dent somewhat which will then allow you to sand it and make it less noticeable.  This technique works better on larger and thicker pieces of wood.
  • To finish the wood, use progressively higher and higher grits of sandpaper, I would start at 240 grit and head up to 320 and perhaps a few steps higher after that.  When you reach the feel you want, make sure the wood is free of any sawdust from the sanding, and apply the stain you want to achieve the color you want.
  • To finish & seal the wood, you have a couple options. You can go the traditional route and use a product such as Brownells Tru-Oil Stock Finish or you can use a modern Polyurethane sealer that can be purchased at any hardware store. The Tru-Oil offers that classic, hand-rubbed oil finish look, while the polyurethane offers a glossy, modern look that is quite resistant to the elements.  I have used both, and my choice depends upon the purpose & character of the firearm.

Specialty Methods:

  • These methods typically cannot be done by the end-user, and require that the gun be shipped off to the shop of your choosing to have the metal work done.
  • If I had a lot of extra money laying around, I would send my Colt 1903 to Turnbull's Mfg. to have it completely refinished and reblued. Turnbull’s shop has done so many AMAZING firearms and I hope one day that I get to own a firearm that they have refinished.  They do truly astounding work and they are one of the few shops who can do that classic blue to old Colt firearms and make it look right. I hope to have the money to send my 1903 in for at least a simple hot blue job sometime soon.
  • If hard chrome or other plating is what you’d like to have on your firearm, then Mahovsky's Metalife is a great option for you. They offer many different services including Hard Chrome metal plating, electroless nickel plating, and many more firearms finishes.
  • Another great option if maximum finish durability and easy cleaning is what you desire is the NP3 Finish from Robar. The NP3 finish is an electroless nickel based finish that is similar to Teflon. It is a very durable and very slick finish which allows for easier cleaning as dirt and fouling cannot stick as well to the surface.


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