“Makin’ ‘Em Mine…”

| Think Tank |


By Tank Hoover

Nothing is more exciting than taking possession of a new gun. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be new to excite us, just so long as it’s new to us. Whether brand spanking new, collector-grade antique, or beat-up plinker, there are certain things we require to actually make the gun in question become “ours.”

This prerequisite initiation usually starts with handling, fondling and inspecting our new piece and then giving it a thorough rub-down with an oily rag. We then tuck it in and say goodnight, as we gently place it in the confines of our safe. That is, untill the next hands-on, lovey-dovey session. This treatment is usually reserved for the one or two safe queens we may own.

Safe queens are guns that we “need” to have, but are scared to shoot. Scared, not from raucous recoil, but by trying to keep our queen in the same pristine shape in which we found her.

Tanks Commemorative Model 19 he obtained after five years on the
police force, flanked by other guns that are “his.”

A Safe Queen can be a real temptress to own. They are constantly taunting us to shoot them as they were intended, as we continually struggle with the desire to keep them on their pedestal.

After completing five years as a police officer, I saw an FOP Commemorative Anniversary S&W model 19 that came in a felt lined, walnut display box I had to have. This is my “Safe Queen” as I have yet to ever propel a projectile down its pipe. I know, it’s a twisted, sickening thought, but after 31 years, it has earned the right to stay as is. It will make for a nice keepsake for my daughter, or possibly a grandchild, someday? Till then, it’s “mine.”

About ten years ago (or was it 17?) I bought a brand new Ruger Bearcat. Being factory new, its action and trigger were stiff and its stocks seemed tiny in my hands. I disassembled, cleaned, polished and pampered its moving parts and then shot thousands of rounds through it. Later, I made some Elk horn stocks for it. For the uninitiated, the stocks look kinda lopsided, as the right stock is thicker than the left side. This was intentional, as the right-side stock fills my palm swell, just swell. It is custom made, just for me, which now makes it “mine.”

A side profile of Tank’s stocks he made with the proper palm swell
for “his” paws. Like Tank, they’re not perfect, but will do just fine.

Tanks bearcat.

My first Ruger old model flattop was bought used. Its barrel was cut down to 5″ and it had a brass Super Blackhawk grip-frame, hammer and trigger with the lightest let-off I ever felt. Since it was altered, I acquired it for a song, about 20 years ago. It needed to be re-blued, but I liked it as it was.

After reading the words of Skeeter Skelton, till my eyeballs literally lifted the words off the pages into my psyche, I knew this gun needed a few more alterations. I added a traditional plow handle aluminum grip-frame that was pretty banged up. So I did as Skeeter, and polished all the finish off. It was all it took to transform it into “Little Skeet,” my 5″ .44 mag flattop Blackhawk. These ministrations allow me to call it “mine” now.

Two years ago, I took delivery of a gun I had dreamed of for years. Ruger had finally come to their senses and decided on turning out a 5-shot Bisley in .480 Ruger. Before shooting it on its maiden voyage, I replaced the trigger spring, polished its innards and hammer strut, then replaced the front sight with a taller one, provided by my buddy, Dick Thompson. I shot it so much my handloads I learned its trigger intimately. We mesh into one, as it becomes “mine.”

“Little Skeet,” one of Tank’s favorite guns.

Tank’s Ruger big-bore Bisley in .480 Ruger was made “his” after administering
his ministrations and shooting the hell out of it at the range.

This small sampling is just an example of some of the things we can do to make our guns “ours.” The more they are carried, shot and personalized with proper accruements of our choosing brings them closer to becoming “ours.” Some guns become “ours” right off the bat, with little to no pampering needed at all.

Examples include inherited or gift guns we receive, for they are perfect, just as they are. Others include guns showing such good manners at the range they impress us, as they shoot to their sights and never seem to miss.

We may own a lot of guns, but think about how many of them are actually “ours?” How many of your guns do you consider being truly “yours?” Which ones are capable of stirring emotion in your heart and soul, or just make you feel better as you hold it in your hand? These are the guns we “own.” We may have a lot of guns, but how many guns do you genuinely consider “mine?”

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