Old Guns Rock


Roy discovered more than dust buffaloes in his safe not long ago. He got to thinking,
are new gun designs — really that new?

I was digging through the safe trying to find a gun I knew I had but hadn’t seen in some time. I kept pulling things out and saying, “Hey, that’s cool, I forgot I had that.” After doing it about a half-dozen times, I also began to once again realize the old adage about “What’s old is new again” applied in many cases. If you believed today’s makers, you’d think they invented pocket autos, lightweight revolvers, small .45’s and accurate .22’s. But think again, folks.

Here’s my “Old, but still cool fun-guns I discovered again and now need to shoot a bunch” list. This also reminded me the constant barrage of new and plastic on the gun-side of things needs to be balanced carefully by some judicious used-gun-rack visits at your local gun store. “Hey Brandon, how much is that sorta’ clean and not too rusty old Colt .32 revolver I see hiding behind the GLOCK there?” And while you’re at it, visit the used rifle rack and fall in love again with a walnut and blued steel single shot .22 rifle. I keep seeing amazing values in the $150 range, with names like Remington and Winchester on them.

Star PD

When Jeff Cooper said the Star PD was the answer to daily carrying a .45, I had to have one. I scrounged one from a friend who was a Federal Marshall at the time, refinished it (hard chrome slide, nickeled aluminum frame) and carried it for years as a back-up and off-duty. I dearly loved that gun and it was all Cooper said it was. I “lost” it in a trade (idiot …) and only recently found a very clean original one from, of all places — one of you! A reader knew I liked them and soon a deal was made. It’s still fun, still shoots great, has adjustable sights, good thumb safety, good trigger and frontstrap serrations, all standard. The amazing thing? I discovered a standard 1911 barrel bushing fits on it with a tiny bit of modification. Which means I now need to do some experimenting with accuracy. Ha!

Iver Johnson Pony

The Pony, in .380 (look for a write-up in depth in the Jan/Feb issue coming up), was also marketed by Colt briefly. It’s based on another Star design and looks a lot like a “mini” Star PD. When Iver Johnson manufactured the model, quality improved over the original Star produced-version, imported until the gun control act of 1968. I always admired these cute and sensible little pocket .380’s so picked this extra-clean sample up not too long ago. It shoots great, runs fine and is amazingly accurate. What’s not to like?

Walther TPH .22 LR

Billed as an “ultimate” police back-up gun when I patrolled the mean streets, they were always hard to find and a bit finicky to feed. But once you sorted things out, you had a flat, lightweight .22 LR auto which is sort of like a miniature Walther PP series pistol.

They’re typical Walther quality and mine seems to run just fine with copper plated high velocity .22 ammo. If they weren’t worth so much, I’d love to put some miniature adjustable sights on the rear! Remember when Micro made those tiny sights? A top-notch pocket pistol from the olden days, and they also made them in stainless steel.

S&W Model 12

Old doesn’t mean useless. This Model 12, 2″ .38 Special is something I would have nearly killed for as a back-up and off-duty gun in the 1970’s. Elegant and light, with a factory-smooth action and full-caliber chambering, these six-sure-shots can still get the job done. Thad Rybka made me the strong side simple scabbard and I still carry it regularly, along with two HKS speedloaders. Can you say 1.5″ at 15 yards standing? What problem can’t be solved with that? An interesting fact: Model 12 frames are about 1/10″ slimmer than standard K-Frames. If you put grips from a standard Model 10, for instance, on a Model 12, there’s a tiny gap between the back of the grip and the side plates on the gun. Bet you didn’t know that, eh?

S&W K-22

My old 5-screw K-22 was a beater when I got it for the princely sum of $100 (cash, thank you) from an old gent in the middle 1970’s. I had recently learned to parkerize so into the tank it went. I know … now I wish I hadn’t, but it still looks fine and shoots like a zillion watt laser. I’ll bet I’ve shot over 20,000 rounds through this gun and it keeps working and shooting just fine. Who needs a new one?

I’ll bet you’ve always liked the slim lines of a Colt pocket auto. Well, I do too and one day some years ago I was lamenting to Wayne Novak, wishing Colt had put real sights and a better thumb safety on that model. “Well, let’s do it, then,” smiled Wayne. And he did. This is the custom 1903 (.32) Wayne’s shop built. Note the elegant and appropriate Novak sights, serrations on the slide, frontstrap checkering, topstrap treatment and (this surprised the hell out of me) the conversion to side button magazine release, like a “real” 1911! Other than caliber, this gun doesn’t give ground to anything made today. And frankly, with good ammo, the .32 ACP isn’t anything you’d want to get shot with. Wayne and his crew Rocks!

We could go on and on, and I just might need to the next time. There’s so many great old guns, which still perform at the top of the spectrum, why not dig ’em out of the safe and/or find some at your local gun shop? A few hundred dollars can turn up some real gems. Don’t let Taffin find ’em all. Now get hunting!

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