Motor City Sixgun Fun Run

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Before and after of Lipsey’s Exclusive blued Ruger GP100, featuring Mag-na-port custom work.

Heading up the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I set my sights on mi amigo, Doc Barranti’s adobe in Pittsburgh, 3.5 hours away. From there, we head north for 5 hours to Motor City. Our destination? To see buddy Ken Kelly, of Mag-na-port fame.

Shop Rats

We plan this trip every year, since the first visit four short years ago. The first time Doc and I entered Mag-na-port was love at first sight. You see, Mag-na-port just so happens to house the Handgunner’s Hall of Fame, as well as world renowned handgun hunter and inventor of Mag-na-porting, Larry Kelly’s trophy room. And then there’s the shop!

For a couple of shop rats, this playground is both heaven and hell for us. The smell of gun oil, coffee and burnt metal from the EDM process blends together for a siren song aroma every gun guru, tinkerer and do-it-yourselfer is seduced by. The shop is full of gun parts tucked away into every nook and cranny.

Ken doesn’t believe in throwing parts away, and for good reason. He recycles these parts into magnificent specimens of Mag-na-port stature for one of a kind toting and hunting handguns.

Ken EDM’d a Python-like rib to the GP100 while Tank “roundbutted”
the factory stocks, which are not quite done here.

And the reason it’s considered hell for Doc and me? It would take months to comb through every part to unearth what’s hidden in this treasure trove of hammers, triggers, cylinders and sights. Sights? You wouldn’t believe how many if I told you — so forget I mentioned it.

This is the kind a place that makes a guy unconsciously rolls up his sleeves and start delving into piles of parts, gears churning, inspired by all the vintage components lying about. The shop’s familiar smell fuels the flames, as we explore, taking in all the tools, parts and projects in various states of progress. You can’t help but pick up and examine everything that catches your eye and yelling, “Hey Ken, what’s this for?”

Ken is a man who knows how to blend, mend and EDM those parts into a unique, working revolver with the looks, style and performance Mag-na-port is known for. After all, he learned from the best. Ken himself was awarded Pistolsmith of the Year in 2007 by the Pistolsmith Guild.

Motor City is known for Cadillacs, shiny chrome and flashy finishes. Keeping in step like
“The Temptations” is Mag-na-port’s trimmed and jeweled hammer and trigger.

Tanker” Model?

During last year’s visit, I dropped off one Lipsey’s blued Ruger GP100 .44 Special for a nip and tuck of sorts. I had Ken chop the 5” barrel to 3”, do a little cosmetic EDM work and port the short-barreled carry piece. He also performed the Mag-na-port trademark trigger and hammer jeweling, as well as working the action and trigger to perfection. As you can see, Ken knows how to polish. Just think how smooth those parts feel on the inside when they’re polished the same way!

Not all butcher work occurs in the butcher shop. Here’s Tank shaping his “roundbutt” stocks.

Do It Yourself

The blued Ruger GP100 with 5” barrel is a Lipsey’s Exclusive and Jason Cloesner had Altamont Grips make what I call baby “Roper style” stocks for these guns. They look perfect for the 5” barrel, but I wanted a round butt look for better concealment properties.

Looking at the inside of the stocks, I could see there’s plenty of wood remaining around the grip-frame recess to effectively “roundbutt” the stocks. A few pencil lines were drawn, a few cuts on the band saw, some sanding, and voila — homemade round-butt stocks!

It’s an easy project and anyone can do it. Hell, even I managed not to screw it up. Perhaps I’ll do a “How To” article in the future if there’s interest?

[Editor’s Note: Send your interest to Roy at [email protected]]

Round-butt or square-butt: Which would you rather wrap your hand around?

All Hands On Deck

Doc and I kept Ken pretty busy as he administered the final touches on our guns while also drilling and tapping a few screw holes for a rifle barrel of mine for a future article. He even chopped a few inches off the barrel and threaded it for a future suppressor project. By the end of the day we were all greasy, dirty, dusty, smelling of oil and sweat, and loving life!

It was a great day as watching a master at work is a joy to behold. Ken makes any task look seamlessly easy, until you try it yourself! Doc and I learned a lot, gobbling-up every word Ken had to say and do.

All Hands On Deck

Doc and I kept Ken pretty busy as he administered the final touches on our guns while also drilling and tapping a few screw holes for a rifle barrel of mine for a future article. He even chopped a few inches off the barrel and threaded it for a future suppressor project. By the end of the day we were all greasy, dirty, dusty, smelling of oil and sweat, and loving life!

It was a great day as watching a master at work is a joy to behold. Ken makes any task look seamlessly easy, until you try it yourself! Doc and I learned a lot, gobbling-up every word Ken had to say and do.

A bench-eyed view of Ken Kelly putting the finishing touches on the red front sight insert of the “Tanker.”

Food, Fun And Friends

Whenever gun guys get together, you know what the majority of the conversation is going to be about. We had great talks, shared stories, ideas and dreams, asked questions — you name it, we hashed it over and debated the pluses and minuses of each idea, mixed in with good-natured kidding and a few jokes. The workday carried over to our traditional fried perch dinner and bowl of chili at the world-renowned Adair Bar. Friend and American Handgunner/GUNS reader David Mach met us to join in the festivities.

Teaser alert! Tank picked up what was once a Ruger .45 Colt Hunter model.
You’ll hear about it on some later date.

Plan Your Own Fun Gun Run

If you’re ever around the Detroit area, call the folks at Mag-na-port to plan your own road trip and bring your guns — you’ll be glad you did! Mag-na-port offers same-day porting if you call ahead to a make an appointment. Otherwise, porting runs 7-10 days when guns are shipped.

Ken is usually working in the back, while sisters Donna and Doreen run the front. They’re a close-knit, family-run business and love meeting new customers. Plus, you’ll be amazed at the trophy room in the front lobby, as well as the Handgunner’s Hall of Fame. You’ll recognize those that are honored and proudly displayed here. You can even watch videos of some of Larry’s hunts while you wait.

Friday is fried fish night at the Adair Bar, so I’d plan accordingly! It’s the best you’ll ever have and a wonderful way to finish out your visit at Mag-na-port.

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