The ASP Is Born

Theodore’s version was called the ASP, after Armament Systems and Procedures, the sister company actually doing the conversion work, and it was revolutionary. The aluminum frame of the 39 already kept weight low, and in place of the service-pistol dimension of the 39 (S&W had unsuccessfully tried to sell it to the military), the barrel and slide were shortened some 3/4" and the butt was likewise bobbed.

Though many gunsmiths offered similar — but often less-refined — packages later on for the 39 and other guns, it’s more complicated than it sounds. Shortening the butt usually required cutting out and re-welding a section of the frame. Shortening a pistol with a Browning-style tilting barrel changes its unlocking angle, introducing geometry problems — not to mention reducing the mass of the slide and barrel, a critical element of how (and how fast) the gun cycles.