A Woebegone Woodsman
No More


S&W’s SW22 Victory (top) is a sort of modern version of what Roy did 33 years
ago with the Colt Woodsman below.

This all started typically for me. I walked into a gun store on University Avenue in San Diego about 1980 and there, staring at me from the display case, was a “sorta’ rusty” Second Series Colt Woodsman, which “mostly worked” according to the counter guy. In those pre-internet days his “Colt” book showed it to have been made in the 1949 to 1950 time frame. For a “Hunnert bucks” I owned it.

I had been hankering after a real Colt Woodsman for a long time but most were outside of my pay grade. Sure, Ruger Standard .22 Autos likely did the same job, but they didn’t have the elegant lines of the fabled Woodsman. Besides, all my old Gun Digest books had old guys wearing fedoras taking aim with those early slender Woodsman autos and it all seemed very mysterious. They looked like they knew something I wasn’t privy to. But now I’d find out, wouldn’t I?

Thanks to Numrich Arms, I soon had a new firing pin and found the Colt shot just fine. The rifling was clean and sharp and it seemed to run well. Accuracy was also excellent with my then-young eyes. But the light pitting and patina just didn’t set right to me so after much slow work with wet-or-dry paper and even a fine file at times, it was looking pretty good in the white. A local gunshop handled a re-blue — $49 since I had done all the hard work — and the result is what you see in the pics. While not that lovely early Colt blue, it got the job done and I had a “real” Woodsman. While not as rakish as the early ones having the pencil barrel, it was still fun to own and shoot.

That’s five shots at 25 yards with Stinger, of all things!

Roy tried a bunch of .22 ammo just for fun. The CCI seemed to shoot the best in this old gun.

Years Passed

Around 1986 the Colt was on my work bench and by an odd coincidence, so was a very early Bushnell Phantom scope. That was the 1.5 power scope which, when you looked through it, always seemed to make the target seem smaller than real life. I once had an optics engineer explain it to me but it still didn’t make any sense, so I just nodded like I was understanding him, then trundled off still confused. I still don’t understand how a 1.5x “magnification” makes things smaller.

Nonetheless, smaller or not, I started to eyeball that scope, then the Colt sitting nearby, then the scope, then the Colt — this going on for some time. I even held the scope up to the top of the gun and it sorta’ looked right. I dug into my “scope bits” box and found a rail from an early TC Contender which the scope’s integral mount would fit on.
Then I eyed my bench-top milling machine — and an idea was born.

“Bein’ since” — as they say here in Missouri — this wasn’t a collectible Colt I figured installing the scope on it wouldn’t hurt a thing and just might be pretty darn fun to boot. With no small amount of eye-balling involved, some breath-holding while I drilled into the top of the Colt and one broken tap as I recall, it went together. Much to my surprise and delight, the cross-hairs were even straight. That was a good thing as the scope can’t be rotated in the mount.

Did it work? In spades, as they say.

I shot a zillion rounds out of this combo and it chased no-end of Southern California jack rabbits, Necco Wafer targets (remember those?) and counted plinking adventures in the thousands. I remember at the time being able to keep pretty much ragged, one-hole groups at 25 yards with the right ammo. It was a deadly combo and I’ve never seen one like it since. Today, it’s easy to scope a .22 pistol, and my S&W Victory .22 in the picture is sort of a modern version of what I did 33 years ago — but the Woodsman still rocks, if you ask me.

When I saw it in my safe not long ago I dug it out and put it to work. It’d been years since I had shot it last. I found it was glitchy though, failing to engage the sear sometimes, and even doubling now and again. Hmmm …

I dug into it and guessed the sear spring had taken a set or weakened some — hey, 70 years is a long time — so tuned it up a bit, re-shaping and re-tempering it. After the install, all ran just fine again. I went ahead and put in a new hammer spring and recoil spring while I was at it too. A good lesson here if your Woodsman is doing the same thing — it’s likely the sear spring is not engaging the sear reliably.

My target shooting afterward revealed the old girl still shoots. That ragged one hole, 5-shot group at 25 yards was done with CCI Stinger ammo, of all things! It was the best at that range. One group with CCI Mini-Mag HP at 40 yards measured about 1.25″. Nothing went over 1″ at 25 yards. I don’t care who you are, that sort of performance out of a 70-year-old gun with a 50-year-old scope and 65-year-old trigger-man is amazing — and great fun. If all this sounds interesting, dig up a beater Ruger Standard Auto, or old Browning Buckmark .22 and go to work. Let me know how it goes if you do it.

Crossbreed For Taurus G3

If you’re looking for a good holster to fit your new Taurus G3 9mm, you can stop searching. CrossBreed has developed an entire lineup of holsters fitting the G3, along with accessories like mag carriers. Look for OWB carry, Pancake, SuperSlide and more models. A trusted maker for years and one we can highly recommend without hesitation. www.crossbreedholsters.com

Robar’s Done But NP3’s Still Alive!

Robar has shut its doors, but Robbie Barrkman, the gent who started it all decades ago (and sold Robar a few years ago), said he didn’t want the coating side of things to die. So, Robbie (who owns the NP3 brand and others) is going to continue to offer NP3, NP3+, Nickel, Bluing, Parkerizing and his hot new ArmorLube. Robbie told me, “I didn’t want my old customers, new customers, friends and industry people to lose access to these great products so we’ll keep them going!” While the custom gunsmithing side of things is gone now, Robbie’s commitment to keep one of the best coating technologies going is great news for we shooters. Everything is done to aerospace quality specs, and it shows in the final product. Drop them a note at [email protected] and they’ll get you going on how to take advantage of this great service!

Lister Engraving Book

This is a coffee table book in the fullest sense of the description. While guns are the medium, I’d simply call this an unparalleled art book. Weldon Lister also does stunning engraved jewelry (knives, bracelets, etc.) so there’s a good dose of that in here too. His work has always impressed me due to the depth and three dimensional look he gets. If you’re planning a project, you’ll refer to this book again and again. It’s a limited edition, so don’t drag your heels — $125, shipping included in the U.S. Email: [email protected], Weldon Lister Engraving, 116 Juniper Ln., Boerne, TX 78006.

Garden Gun Back

My grandfather kept a single shot .22 loaded with LR shot cartridges handy to keep pests out of their vegetable garden. The funny thing is this was in Long Beach, in the city, in the early 1960s. I don’t know if that rifle was a smoothbore but Henry has recently revitalized the concept of the Garden Gun. In the old days, makers made rifles without rifling specifically to shoot small bore “shot” cartridges to rid pests from barns, gardens, sheds and the like. The shot cartridges shoot much better without rifling. Henry’s new Garden Gun holds 15 rounds and I predict is going to be hugely popular. How about Oreo Cookie skeet! Ha!

Hi-Point Failure?

Okay so what you’re seeing here is the muzzle of a Hi-Point 9mm carbine showing bullets stuck in the bore. That first one stuck, then 29 more followed, filling the entire barrel, with no bulging or untoward things transpiring. The owner returned the gun for “inaccuracy” as it “failed to hit the target” during his shooting. Hi-Point honored the guarantee, sending a new gun to the shooter, along with a note recommending how using the proper ammo and load might make the gun “more accurate” in the future! A testimony to Hi-Point’s strength, and earns points to the factory for honoring their guarantee even in light of the screwball behind the trigger!


FlatEye Light

This light has an “unround” body, allowing you to index it easily. It doesn’t roll off things and it tucks into a back pocket. It uses eight (!) CR123 batteries delivering 2,100 lumens for four hours, 1,100 lumens for six hours and 50 lumens for 40 hours. It’s an aluminum body, polymer grip, double-switched for safety, waterproof, shockproof and rugged as hell. At 2,100 lumens it lights up my entire west pasture out to several hundred yards. Between $50 and $200, it’s an ultimate life-saving, survival light at every level. I noticed amazon.com has them in different sizes.


Walther PPK/S Returns!

The First Edition PPK/S .380 in stainless steel is a limited run by TALO distributors. At only 1,250 pistols, serial numbers will be 101 to 1350 and will be a one-time run. These are U.S. guns, built right in Fort Smith, Arkansas, having cocobolo wood grips and “First Edition” marked on the slide. We’ve got our order in for one as we speak. I wasn’t able to find out a price but all the features seem to be classic PPK/S design. Sometimes old-school is just fine, and this looks like one of those times. At about 20 oz. or so, it’s light enough to carry — and effective with modern .380 ACP ammo. We’ll let you know what we learn.


S&W’s New/Old Model 648

Built on the classic K-Frame, the 648 in stainless offers eight rounds of .22 Magnum from a full-underlug 6” barrel. If you pay attention to modern .22 Magnum loads, you’ll find some of them are tailored for better performance from the shorter barrels of handguns. In the old days, much of the .22 Magnum punch was lost due to unburnt powder. I like the .22 Magnum in a rifle a great deal and the killing power is several levels above .22 LR ammo. This brings some serious versatility to the idea of a .22 hunting revolver. MSRP is $749.


Janelle Cooper Passes

Mrs. Cooper passed recently surrounded by her family. She was 99 years old. Janelle was the wife of Col. Jeff Cooper, who, with her able help, founded Gunsite in 1976. Since Jeff’s passing some years ago, Janelle’s residence at Gunsite, The Sconce, has been the scene of countless legendary tea, lemonade and brownie get-togethers for Gunsite’s “250 Class” students. I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with Janelle many times, have visited her at the Sconce and know members of the Cooper family. To call Janelle an icon is to understate her presence in our industry. Our hearts go out to the extended Cooper family.

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