Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Gun Pr0n And A Dilemma

Okay…last post before my one year/100 post warranty expires. I need the help of my loyal readers and followers. You see, I am on the horns of a dilemma. As some of you will recall from my midlife crisis wish list post, there are several firearms that I am drooling/lusting after which, sooner or later, I will add to the Castle Erickson armory. I have since refined and tweaked that list just a little. So, please allow me to recap the updated list for a moment. Here, in no particular order, is the old but improved (since something really can’t be “new AND improved”…it has to be one or the other), list:
1) Ruger 10/22 Sporter .22LR semi-automatic rifle. I had originally listed the target version of the same rifle, but then I got to thinking about the 10/22 as a zombie gun. The target version would be nice, but the added weight would be a bear to lug around all the time. I decided the Sporter was a good compromise between the target model and the carbine model (which I find aesthetically unpleasing). Besides, the Sporter is about $100 cheaper up front, and I can always get a target weight barrel and stock to swap into the Sporter action anytime I want.
2) Ruger MkIII Hunter .22LR semi-automatic pistol. This is a carryover from the original list. I still really like the way it looks; however, I am also considering the 22/45 version of this pistol as well. I’d take either one to be perfectly honest. Perhaps even both.
3) Taurus PT1911 .45ACP semi-automatic pistol. I landed on the Taurus as my first choice for an entry level 1911 style pistol for 2 reasons: a) I’ve owned Taurus’ before with no problems whatsoever, and b) it’s got a ton of features for the price. As many an article pointed out, it’d make a good base gun for a custom 1911.
4) Ruger SR-556. This is a gas piston version of the AR-15.
5) Remington Model 700 Sendero bolt action in .308. I changed my mind on the bolt action rifle from the Browning to the Remington mainly on the strength of the fact that I’ve shot the Sendero and liked it a lot. I went to the gun store recently and compared the Remington to a comparable Savage, and the Remington just felt better all the way around. I’ve held the Browning and liked it but not enough to pay more than the Remington.
6) Glock 9mm. This is a direct nod to the zombie gun post. I haven’t decided on the full size versus medium frame yet, but I’ll probably go with the full size since I don’t plan on conceal carrying it, and I may use it to get into production class shooting sports.
7) Smith & Wesson Model 686, 386 XL Hunter or 627 V-Comp .357 Revolver. This is sort of a carryover from the first list…with options. I want another .357 revolver, and you can’t argue about the quality of the Smith & Wesson revolvers.
8) Springfield M1A Super Match .308 semi-automatic rifle. Another carryover. See the zombie gun post for more reasons why I like it.
9) Marlin 1894 lever action rifle in either .44 or .357. I have the Smith & Wesson Model 29 in .44, and I want the 686 in .357. I think a classic lever gun in a matching caliber would make a great field/hunting combination.
In the “it’d be nice to have, but I can live without it category” are the following:
a) Savage Mark II BVT .22 LR bolt action rifle
b) Paraordinance 1911 .45ACP semi-automatic pistol
c) Colt 1911 .45ACP semi-automatic pistol
d) Browning or Beretta 12 gauge over/under shotgun
e) Browning or Benelli 12 gauge semi-automatic shotgun
f) DPMS or Rock River DGI AR-15 5.56mm semi-automatic rifle
So, anyway, here is the dilemma…I inherited/liberated a Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Mag revolver from my grandfather (the senile, 89 year old coot of a “father” to my mother who is in an assisted living home now). Even though I have the original presentation grade wood case, etc., this gun is a shooter. The bluing is worn and pitted in several places because my grandfather thought the perfect place to keep a quality firearm was under the front seat of his pickup amongst the cigar ash and empty beer cans. The gun is not hideous by any means, but it’s not going to win any awards anytime soon. Here is a picture of what it looked like up until last March:

After March, I changed out the original square butt wood grips for a nice Hogue contoured wood grip. It now looks like this:

See the difference?

The new grips make it more comfortable to shoot. However, I’m still not satisfied with its overall performance. To me, a revolver should have a six inch, fully underlugged, heavy barrel. The standard 4 inch barrel on the Model 29 isn’t bad, and it gives acceptable accuracy. However, I think it is capable of much more.

So, here is what I am thinking and the question I’d like to pose to you, my dear readers: I’m toying with the idea of having the pistol reblued, rebarreled (like a six inch ported/compensated target barrel), and maybe a little extra custom work (like modifying it to use moon clips or adding a Hiviz front sight). Does anybody think I’m crazy or that this would be a bad idea? Does anyone think I should leave it as is and spend money on getting a gun set up the way I want straight out of the box?


  1. Leave it as is. It is a family heir loom. Get another gun to set up the way you want. Someday when you get to be an old man you will be proud to pass it on to a younger family member.This gun belonged to my granddaddy now it belongs to you.

  2. Frankly I think you are crazy to modify it.

    I'm a little sentimental on the subject but this is a legacy firearm. In my opinion, It should be treated like that and if possible kept in as original of condition as possible.

    Your children probably don't know your grandfather or won't have the opportunity to know him well. Through the pistol, you have the chance to share stories, to tell his history to them, to make him live in their mind.

    I recommend you purchase the gun you want right out of the box. Then you can pass that along (eventually) as a legacy and/or use it as teaching tool - "I wanted a different grip, so I did bought this" with your kids.

  3. Harp, welcome to the party. I appreciate the contribution. I'm not sure I'd go so far as to call it a family heirloom, but your point is well taken. I should have mentioned that granddad is anything but a sentimentalist (or kind or considerate for that matter) and has tried, on several occasions (succeeding on some), to sell his collection to strangers instead of remembering his one and only grandson who he infected with the passion for guns. There's a .30-40 Krag sitting in some stranger's house right now that I'm still a little bitter about.

    Bob, I'm not entirely crazy as evidenced by that fact that I only purchased new grips for it so far instead of giving into baser impulses and trading it, selling or turning it over to a gunsmith's tender mercies. I would also point out that I wisely (or so I hope) kept the original grips for some as yet unforeseen future need. By seeking the wise counsel of others, it was my hope to support or reject the notion of further modifications.

    Sadly, The Queen and I have not been blessed with children, and it's beginning to look like a remote possibility from this point forward. We haven't given up hope yet, but there are limits to everything. As such, at this time, I have only my sister...the devil's spawn to whom I can consider bequeathing the collection.

    More on the subject of it being a legacy firearm. Granddad bought it in the 1980s from one of his stepsons from his second marriage. So, it hasn't been passed down lovingly from generation to generation (unless you consider me and mom confiscating it from him when he went into assisted living) like some of the other guns I have in the collection. There is at least one interesting (to me anyway) story attached to it in which I won a bet against him with it (much to his dismay).

  4. You can bequeath the collection to me...you know I'll take good care of it. :)

    What are your plans for the gun? If you don't like the way it shoots and you're going to bury it in your gun safe, then turn it into a gun that you're going to get more enjoyment out of. I think that guns are meant to be shot, not kept in storage because of potential sentimental value.

  5. GunDiva, I've got 2 nieces who will probably want to stand in line ahead of you.

    As to my plans for the gun, that's a good question. The grips were a huge improvement. That alone will keep it from being a safe queen.

    I'm still shooting off my grandfather's (very) inconsistent hand loads. I'm going to the gun show this weekend, and I want to pick up a box of good factory ammo to do a proper sighting in and get a baseline for accuracy. If I can hold a 6 shot group less than 3 inches at 25 yards, I'll probably give up any thought of a barrel change. Although, a ported 6 inch fully lugged barrel would be nice.

    Cosmetically, I would like to have it reblued; but, then again, it might be instructive to others to see what happens to a quality pistol after it's spent a few years bouncing around in the floor board of a pickup.

    It'd be nice if it could accept moon clips; however, the cost benefit ratio of that versus several HKS speedloaders is probably not going to be worth it.

    Lastly, the stock sights are good. The rear sight is fully adjustable for elevation and windage. It also has a nice, white outline around the square notch. The front sight has an bright orange ramp, but a Hiviz fiber optic front sight would be nice, too.

  6. K.,

    Have I mentioned the 3 Boxes of BS Home for Wayward, Unwanted, Unloved or Under Used firearms lately?

    It's a non-profit, charitable organization (i.e. I haven't made a profit and the only way I would get a firearm is if someone was very charitable) that takes in firearms and promises to take them out to the range at least once a year.

    I would also like to mention that I'm local to you and would grant limited visitation rights.

    By the way, we should look for a chance to hit the range together one of these weekends. Preferably when it's not in triple digits.

  7. Bob, you haven't mentioned the 3BoBS Home for Guns that I recall. It sounds very similar to the P&H Home for Abused, Neglected and Amateur Gunsmithed Weapons (wait till you hear what granddad did to a once beautiful mid 1800s percussion cap double barreled shotgun...it'll make your hair stand on end). I agree about the meet and greet/range visit. I am planning a range outing at my mom's place in October to test the zombie gun theories from an earlier post, but I'm sure we can find a suitable time before then. Sundays are best for me. Do you have a preferred range?

  8. K,

    Actually I do have a preferred range :)

    It's a private membership range in the middle of the metroplex where I'm the membership secretary.

    Here's a sneak peek at just the pistol and rifle ranges

    I don't want to spread the name/location around because that would remove the last of my semi-anonymity.

  9. Bob, I understand about trying to preserve some vestiges of anonymity. While I have never been to that range, I'm pretty sure I know which one it is. It wouldn't happen to be sporting a 50TH Anniversary badge on its website would it?

  10. Bob, I'm close enough. I used to be real close at 287 just southeast of Little. I'm a little further east now around about 408 and I-20.

  11. K,

    Amazing, I'm close to where you used to leave. And where you live now is close to where I used to live.

    Went to SGP back a couple of decades ago.

  12. Bob, funny ol' world, isn't it? Such is the tangled web of blogging.


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