The Making Of A Tanker

Mag-na-port Turns A GP100 Into a Custom Carry Gem

Here’s the Tanker nestled next to a 5" Ruger GP100 for comparison. Tank has
the Tanker loaded with Black Hills Honey-Badger and the stock revolver toting
MP-Molds .44 Keith slugs.

As the resident reprobate writing for FMG Publications, I’ll admit it’s changed me. I was happy being the stock-box kind of gun guy — then it happened! I was infected by the custom gun bug. It’s a hazard of the gun writing profession, but one I’m willing to endure.

Roy saw the errors of my innocent ways, hatching a diabolical plan. “Tank drive up to Mag-na-port and visit Ken Kelly. Bring a couple guns, hang out in the shop, learn something while he works your guns over. Maybe have him show you firsthand how EDM works. Who was I to question Roy? Sounded like a plan, so I readily agreed a tour of proper “EDM-ing” was in order. By the way, anyone know what EDM is?

Note the distinctive Mag-na-port inverted barrel crown.

Double, Or Nothing?

Digging around my safe I find two candidates. I have two each of these particular guns, just in case. In case of what, I’m not sure, but I’m glad I have them. Preparation is important, right? The first is a blued Ruger GP100 Lipsey’s Exclusive with a 5″ barrel in .44 Special, the second, we’ll talk about at a later time. That’s me being mysterious.

I have two goals. I want to turn the 5″ GP100 into the perfect concealed carry piece and have Ken utilize his EDM skills, while showing me what the heck EDM is. He’s a mad scientist when it comes to Electrical Discharge Machining, the same process his dad, Larry Kelly, used to put Mag-na-port on the map. Ken carries things further, using electricity in ways that would earn the envy of Dr. Frankenstein.

Tank decided this Tanker needed rounded stocks, so he got busy and made his own.

“Tanker” Model?

Wasting no time, Ken lops off part of the barrel and crowns what’s left. Everyone assumes this is a 5-minute job, and I did too. The cutting was quick using a band saw, but the inverted crown takes time due to the setup of the Bridgeport milling machine.

Ken tucks the gun into a storage box for future work as he tells me I’ll see the finished product next year. Did Roy have anything to do with this? Hmmm …

Fast forward a year and I’m back. The chopped-down GP100 is finished. Handing it to me, I’m in awe! Holding the perfect concealed carry revolver, with plenty of punch and polish, it only needs proper stocks, but I have an idea.

Tank had two identical revolvers because he likes to be prepared. Just because.
The result is this legitimate before and after shot.


The original 5″ GP100 has a half-lug and cutting it down to 3″ leaves a nice radiused curve from muzzle to the tip of the ejector rod. Ken EDM’s a pocket for pinning a front-sight blade in case I ever need to swap for one a different height. The blade has a red insert that my eyes pick up quickly for fast target acquisition.

The rear-sight blade was upgraded to one with a narrower notch and heavier painted white outline, making sight-alignment picture perfect. Years ago, Ken’s mom hand painted the sight-blades while watching TV at night. What a Mag-na-port memory. I’m honored to have one on my gun!

A close-up of the EDM work, jeweled hammer and trigger and matte-blue finish.

EDM Maestro!

Ken outdoes himself with his EDM work. Carbon pieces are machined into shape for transfer to the metal surface. Electrical current machines the metal away in a burr-free process, not harming the finish up to the edge work. Ken machines three slots in the rib, giving my gun a Colt Python, King Custom look, and machines five diamonds into the trigger-guard.

The hammer and trigger are highly polished and jeweled and the hammer spur trimmed back, making it more concealment friendly. The cylinder release, ejector rod, trigger pin, crane pin and rear sight pin are polished and deep blued for a tasteful contrast to the matte blue finish.

The barrel porting itself is responsible for reduced recoil and muzzle flip. Ken also EDM’d “Mag-na-port Custom” into the barrel for that custom handgun marque. If you’ve got a gun ready for the Mag-na-port treatment, Ken states they’re running 7–10 days for simple porting. Same day porting can be done by appointment. Of course, additional custom work will take longer.

The “Tanker” shoots as good as it looks. Black Hills HoneyBadger and the
“Skeeter” load both shot well. The porting really reduces recoil and muzzle-flip!

Round-Butt Concealment

Altamont’s “baby Roper’s” look perfect on the 5″ Lipsey’s Exclusive, but the 3″ Tanker screams for round-butting. Searching numerous sources was futile. I wondered, “How hard could it be? The inside recess for the grip-frame leaves plenty of wood to trim away.” A few pencil marks, a little cutting, filing and sanding was all it took. I think they came out pretty good for a DIY job!

You’ve gotta love the trimmed hammer spur, diamond-cut EDM machining in
the trigger-guard, improved sights and matte blue finish.

Final Word

Shooting the 3″ Tanker is bliss with the polished trigger and action job. The DA pull is 7 lbs. 8 oz. and the SA measures 2 lbs. even. Wow! This chopped-down shorty is easy to carry and conceal while being very accurate in the potent .44 Special. I’ll be carrying the Black Hills HoneyBadger load for self-defense and the “Skeeter” load for field work in my Barranti Leather CCR shuck.

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