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Sometimes all it takes is a single word to inspire me to great reams of prose. Today that word is dinosaur. I have a vast store of knowledge on the subject because I are one. There is some disagreement among scientists as to the cause of the dinosaur’s extinction but they are all wrong. Dinosaurs are alive and well living among us. They have simply evolved.


And I hang out with quite a few who think nothing new in firearms has come along since Browning died and I have a dear friend who believes that loading any handgun cartridge with anything other than Bullseye or Unique is the eighth deadly sin. Somewhere are tablets of stone that say guns should be made of steel and stocks of walnut. And that may not be a bad thing.

But one of the things that bothers me the most is the idea now going around that one must be a machinist to accurize a 1911. You must cut the barrel hood to precisely 0.4000”. I guess that’s fine, but what do you do if the slide cut is 0.3999”? The dino in me is repelled.

When I learned how to do the job the most sophisticated stuff we had was a welding torch and a bunch of files. And carefully calibrated eyeballs. Some things just shouldn’t be reduced to a strict formula. You just don’t get soul with a micrometer.

Can a gun have soul? Maybe… maybe not… but doesn’t a gun built by one man for whom the gun is more than just a hunk of metal, by someone who gives a damn, take a bit of him wherever it goes?

I sure think so.

When I was leaving the air force in 1962 Bob Day and I built me a carry gun. It was just a GI .45 I got at a gun show but he milled it for a set of S&W sights and made what may well have been the first ambidextrous safety. I welded up a discarded NM barrel and did the fitting and trigger job.

I shot that gun a lot and did fit a modern safety but ended up with a more modern carry gun. But sometime, perhaps late 80s, I was going to Thunder Ranch and was going to spend a couple of days at Bob’s shop (The Powderhorn) in San Antonio so I took the gun with me.

We know how s*** happens so sure enough during the class my gun shed the rear sight. The tiny little screw holding the sight simply sheared off. When I got to Bob’s I asked if he had a slightly larger screw and was going to fix it when I got home.

He almost snatched the gun out of my hand and gave it a quick inspection. “Hell Charlie, this barrel is shot out.”

Without a word from me he took a new barrel off the shelf and set to work. He tightened the slide/frame fit which had become a bit loose. The original bushing happened to fit the new barrel very well so he fitted the hood and then pulled out a contraption I had never seen. It was a fixture he had made to hold the fame for cutting the barrel lugs and it only took a few minutes to do the job. I just stood there and watched.

In something less than two hours he rebuilt that gun, drilled and tapped a new hole for the sight screw and handed it back to me. You can learn a lot by how a gun feels and this one was merely perfect. He hadn’t measured a thing.

I took it to the shoot tube and fired a couple of rounds just so he could be sure it worked and took it home. After I had shot it a bit I knew it was good so I put it in the Ransom Rest and shot a bunch of groups. Few were over one inch for ten shots and I took one that measured 0.75”, signed it with the note, “ To Bob Day: you’re are still the best,” had it framed and mailed it off to Texas.

A year or so later I was back on another trip and there on the wall, right next to the frame where his Distinguished Pistol Shot, and Excellence in Competiton (leg) medals hung was that target. He never said a word about it, but for the second time I had a struggle to keep my emotions under control.

A friend of mine who knew the story dubbed the gun “Air Force One.”

I like that.
 

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Charlie Petty said:
Sometimes all it takes is a single word to inspire me to great reams of prose. Today that word is dinosaur. I have a vast store of knowledge on the subject because I are one. There is some disagreement among scientists as to the cause of the dinosaur's extinction but they are all wrong. Dinosaurs are alive and well living among us. They have simply evolved.

...

A friend of mine who knew the story dubbed the gun "Air Force One."

I like that.
Now that is a story.
 

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Good story Charlie.

It reminds me of a gentleman name Thomas M Gathright, a geologist by trade, who got me started playing with 1911 in the early 1970's. This was a time when one would find a barrel that you hoped was hummer, weld up the hood area and the bottom lugs and fit it to the slide and the frame.

Tom is a Bullseye shooter and showed me how to shoot a pistol and got me started with casting bullets.

After reading you story, I need to call up Tom and arrange a visit with him.

Thanks for the story Charlie...
 

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Excellent post Mr Petty. Mr. Henderson, your post about Mr Gathright brought back memorys for me. I worked at a gun shop in Charlottsville in the early 70's, and Mr Gathright came in often, He was a wealth of info and I spoke to him every chance I got, Truly a fine gentleman and a pleasure to deal with .
John
 

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Charlie Petty said:
Yes I did although I'm not remembering where

was he a supply officer?
Miller was a materiel officer with the Marksmanship School, had previously been with the Survival School, and was one of General LeMay's hunting buddies. Among other things, he designed the M4 Survival Rifle, assisted in the design of the ArmaLite AR-5 (MA1 Survival Rifle), and supervised the USAF's initial testing of the AR-15 in 1960. In 1963, he retired from the USAF and became VP of ArmaLite. He also wrote for Guns & Ammo and some of the knife magazines.
 

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johniv

Regarding Tom Gathright...was it in Carter's or Earl's gun store that you worked and saw him? Yep, Tom was a wealth of knowledge. I am trying to remember his wife's name and cannot, but she was a pistol shooter in the Olympic's for a number of years...and while Tom was pretty darn good, she was just unbelievable to watch shoot.
 

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Carters Gun Works, Earl was running the retail store at the time. I only met Mrs Gathright once in Winchester in (about)1980 or 1981 , and she was a wonderful person. We were forming an IPSC club at that time, and Mrs G. was escorting a reporter from the London daily Mirror doing a story about Winchester Va. (named for Winchester G.B.)And they did a story and photo piece. I never saw any follow up , so I dont know if the article ever ran.Wouldent be the first time I lost track of things.
John
 

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Tom Ferguson was another dinosaur I liked and was a San Antonio cop.

Charlie, my one and only bullseye gun was built in a week by a guy at Benning named Jackie Best. That gun would flat shoot, Colt 70 series, the test target was a knot hole at 50 yards. I ended up selling it as the siren song of IPSC sang to me.. :ek:
 

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I read dinosaurs and Charlie in the same line and I clicked in expecting to read a first hand account of hunting them........I KEEED, I KEEED,

Charlie, the story reminds me of being mentored by a few "old timers" in my early years and what I learned from them is simply not available anymore. I am jealous of your time spent with him, and all he taught you. I try to learn every day from you and I bet he would be proud of what you have taught me.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Al it's too bad you didn't have a good gun... :wink:

Bob was surely high on my list of heroes and to this day I want to pick up the phone and ask him stuff. But it was pretty neat when I could teach him something. I know he was proud of me too.
 

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I want to pick up the phone
My Dad died 14 years ago and I still do that on occasion.. :(

On a different (and more cheery!) note, buddy of mine has a S&W M29 chopped down to a very compact size by Austin Behlert. Refinished in hard chrome, it a bear with full house loads but an absolute joy with .44 Special loads.
 

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Charlie, thought I'd mention that I love that 1911. Wish I could stipple like that, looks just like the Wadcutter-gun I was issued(The Stippling). I tried, back in the day,to learn that sort of thing. I could stipple a little but checkering was a disaster! Ruined two frames(Luckily, they were old Essex alloy-frames. You know the ones, soft) trying to learn. Hah! I remember the first time I tried to make a frame-filler, used an old commercial mag. Tried to seal it like they said in the American Rifleman magazine and when I poured in the molten lead I almost set the Garage on fire!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
We did it with a pnematic hammer and had a gadget to hold a cabide core from a .30 cal AP bullet. We didn't use a filler, but I did make a pair of aluminum "grips" to hold it in the vise and serve as a guide for the border.
 

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We did it with a pnematic hammer and had a gadget to hold a cabide core from a .30 cal AP bullet. We didn't use a filler, but I did make a pair of aluminum "grips" to hold it in the vise and serve as a guide for the border.
====

Charlie
I never had an air hammer but wish I did. The way I was taught to stipple was with an engraver's hammer and .125 harden drill rod that we would grind to different shape points, depending on the detail and texture wanted.

I have never tried to checker in steel and would farm it out. I dislike most checkering anyway and have come to prefer the feel of stippling.

Retmsgt, Charlie,
From a parts stand point, what are you guys using for hammer, sears, disconnects, frames, slides, etc? I am always interested in what various folks have come to prefer.
 

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Well, Hammers, I like Cylinder&Slide, Wilson Combat and Nighthawk ind. Lotta others like the Ed Browns but they cut the hooks too low for my tastes.

Frames/Slides- Caspian and Fosters.

Thumb Safeties, depends on whether I'm installing a strong-side extended or an Ambi. Standard Extendeds, I like Ed Brown, Nighthawk, and Caspian. Ambis, in order I prefer Caspian, Kimber and cylinder&Slide. I really like the Caspians and the Kimbers,the extended Hammer-pin with the cap holds the rightside better with less chance of breakage.

Triggers- Well, I like John Harrison, Cylinder&Slide Videki style speed triggers, and Ed Browns.

Grip Safeties- If it's a standard, nothing but Colt. For Beavertails, it depends on the gun(Whether or not it's .220 or .250) but, the upper-end Wilson Combats, Ed Brown and Nighthawks are good.

Barrels- I'm like Charlie, Kart.

Springs- Wolff except for Sear-Springs then it's Colt only.

Internals- either Wilson Combat Bulletproofs or EGW(Not a big fan of MIM parts).

Sights-Fixed; Novaks, MGW. Adj.Ed Brown, Kensight, Novak.

Magazines- Believe it or not, Wolff seven-rounders when I can get them. Best 1911 magazine made. Otherwise, Wilson Combat 47Ds, Tripp or CMC Match-Grades with Wilson Combat #19 follower kits. Another really good magazine is Kim-Pro by Kimber.

Mr.Petty's turn. Remember Charlie, Kings is out of business!!!
 

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Retmsgt. said:
Mr.Petty's turn. Remember Charlie, Kings is out of business!!!
Really? Is that recent? I was just looking at their online catalog a few weeks ago.
 
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