Tag Archives: collectible gun

Ask Yourself One Question…

Smith & Wesson’s large N-frame revolvers are a favorite among handgun hunters, competitive shooters, and classic wheel gun enthusiasts.

With a basis in the old school circa 1908 Hand Ejector First Model “New Century” double-action revolver, the first handgun chambered in .44 S&W Special, this early S-frame morphed during World War I into the Model 1917, chambered in .45 ACP, and a series of similarly beefy descendants such as the Model 27 – the world’s first .357 Magnum – and, the subject of our tale, the hand-filling Model 29.

I recently got to handle these bad boys while I was in the Vault in Minnesota. There is a reason these have been in production for over 60 years.

More in my column at Guns.com.

The HK SL8 Fever Dream is still Alive

Much as the HK91 was a civilianized version of the G3, soon after the very sci-fi looking G36 hit the market in 1997 HK moved to give hungry fans what they wanted.

I mean, who wouldn’t want a G36, right?

First introduced in 2000, the .223 Rem caliber SL8 used a short-stroke piston actuated gas operating system with a 20.8-inch cold hammer forged heavy barrel. Semi-auto with a grey carbon fiber polymer thumbhole stock– it debuted during the Federal Assault Weapon ban– with an adjustable cheekpiece and buttstock, the initial version of the rifle included a removable Picatinny rail, an ambi charging handle that folded into the centerline of the gun, and adjustable sights.
So this is the “G36” consumers in the U.S. got stuck with:

The original SL8-1. Originally imported 2000-2003 and then again in 2007-2010, the first generation model now known as the SL8-1 included 10-round mags and a grey thumbhole stock.

In 2010, HK updated the design to the SL8-6 which ditched the space cadet grey for an all-black format and added an elevated Pic rail/carrying handle. It also had a vented handguard, closer to the G36 original. Unfortunately, this model was only imported for a year.
Now, the SL8-6 is back, and it is still kinda wonky but, if you call people like TBT, they can turn it into something great.

GWM: The Grizzly Winchester Magnum

Formed in West Jordan, Utah in 1968, L.A.R. busied itself with bolt action rifles and upper receiver assemblies for AR-15 style carbines until SHOT Show 1983, when they appeared in Dallas with eight different caliber conversion units for M1911 pistols, and a gun they tentatively called the Grizzly Winchester Magnum, or GWM. Designed by L.A.R. owner Heinz Augat and Perry Arnett, who held accurizing patents for M1911 style handguns, the Grizzly was something special.

Like 6.5-inch extended barrel, .45 Winchester Magnum kinda special.

How about a 27-pound recoil spring?

More in my column at Guns.com.

What the Glock?

Intended for “an undisclosed foreign government” the contract for the Glock 19 Mariner was not completed and these interesting and very functional collectibles are now filtering out to the market.

I’ve been kicking one around for about a week. Spoiler alert, the ones spotted in the wild in the States are, by and large, standard Gen 3 G19s but have a few, um, maritime changes.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Python Shorty

While most of Colt’s world-famous Python .357 Magnum models were service-sized and longer, some more abbreviated variants were made.

First introduced to Colt’s 1955 catalog for a price of $125 and pitched as “a finer gun than you actually need” to “a limited number of gun connoisseurs,” the big double-action revolvers were most common with barrel lengths in 6-inch and later 4-inch formats. There were even some big 8-inchers that came along eventually.

Downsizing, Colt produced a few short runs of these vaunted revolvers with a 3-inch barrel known to collectors as “Combat Pythons,” and, off and on between 1955 and 1994, the 2.5-inch model, which still sported full-sized grips.

And they are beautiful.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Is that a 9mm in your pocket? 1986 edition

While there is a number of very handy and downright pocketable little 9mm pistols today, back in the mid-1980s, Detonics was the main name in the game.

Super compact semi-auto pistols at the time were far from a radical concept, as guns like the assorted Browning Baby and Colt Vest Pocket had been on the market since the 1900s. However, they were more on the pipsqueak level, chambered in .25 ACP. Larger format pistols like the Walther PP/PPK brought .32 ACP and .380 ACP to the table, but if you wanted something with a bit more ballistic performance, you had to cash in your savings bonds and go for a Semmerling or an ASP, both of which were in extremely limited, almost underground, production.

Enter the Detonics Pocket 9.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Manurhin MR73s Inbound, Courtesy of Beretta

Beretta has quietly added two French-made Manurhin MR73 series revolvers to their U.S. offerings, available now through Beretta dealers.

Introduced in the early 1970s– hence the MR73 designation– the full-sized wheel gun is about the same size as a Colt Python or S&W K-frame and has a reputation for being beautifully made with a brilliant polished blue finish, and extremely rugged. 

Speaking to the latter, the guns are favored for use by French counter-terror units, which meant frequent practice with full-house magnum loads.

All jokes about recent French martial ability aside, their Gendarmerie and special service units have done lots of heavy lifting in recent years, and their preferred handgun, MR73, is a unicorn on American shores.

At least it was.

More in my column at Guns.com.

The Best Concealed Carry Piece of 1903 Still Looks Good Today

Compact, slim, accurate, and simple. All mantras for the most modern concealed carry pieces today. They all apply to a design introduced 118 years ago as well – the Colt M1903.

While well-engineered semi-auto pistols abound today, the same statement simply wasn’t true in the early 20th Century. Most early autoloaders were downright funky (see the Bergmann 1896), had bad ergonomics (Borchardt C93), were overly complex (C96 Broomhandle, which are notoriously hard to disassemble), and proved to be evolutionary dead-ends (the Luger – not a lot of toggle actions in production these days). 

Enter the gun guru of Ogden, Utah, Mr. John Browning, who largely hit it out of the park with his freshman semi-auto handgun, the FN M1900 of 1896, the first pistol with a slide – let that sink in. A simple blowback single-stack chambered in .32ACP – which he also invented – he followed that up in 1897 with his short-recoil operated Colt Model 1900, a larger gun whose action was recycled into the Colt M1902, which we have talked about before, then scaled down to make the Colt M1903. 

And with a “carry melt,” easy maintenance, and outstanding ergonomics, the new gun is surprisingly modern when compared to today’s offerings.

Boom, sweetheart. 

More on the Pocket Hammerless in my column at Guns.com.

Not English Make: The Saga of the Lend-Lease M1911s

The British, along with their Australian and Canadian cousins, had at least a passing affinity with the M1911 platform going back to the days of the Great War. Canadian troops carried the hardy John Browning-designed pistols on the Western Front as early as 1914 and the “daring young men and their flying machines” of the RAF often had .455-caliber M1911s along for their fight against the Red Baron and his Flying Circus, ordered on a special contract.

Fast forward to WWII and the M1911 was commonly issued to elite Commando and Parachute units– the product both of early commercial contracts with Colt and wartime Lend-Lease production passed through U.S. Army channels to London.

However, the Brits made sure to double-check these guns through the Birmingham and London proof houses (it’s not like there was a war on or anything), and in the process, these guns often received upwards of a half-dozen post-production proofs and stamps, one of the most glaring was “Not English Make,” just so there wouldn’t be any confusion that it wasn’t a fine Webley or Enfield product.

From left to right, the U.S. Property stamp, Birmingham proof house stamps,” NOT ENGLISH MAKE” under the manufacturer’s (Ithaca) serial, “Released British Govt. 1952” and US ARMY model number– and the gun has numerous other marks on the barrel and left side

I recently had a chance to look at a couple of beautiful circa 1943 Lend-Lease .45s that were passed on to Mr. Churchill and the gang and profiled them over at my column for Guns.com.

It’s Not Steampunk, It’s Savage

A rifle that hit the market the same year the Wright Brothers first took to the air, the Savage Model of 1903 had a lot going for it and is highly collectible.

Rather than a basic bolt-action or a lever gun, the 1903 was pump-action, something that was still pretty novel at the time. As such, it was an answer to the Colt Lightning and Winchester Model 1890, pump-action takedown carbines that had been introduced just a decade prior. However, one-upping Colt and Winchester, which both utilized underbarrel tube-style magazines, Savage’s new gun had a detachable 7-shot box magazine. 

Takedown rimfire rifles and carbines were especially appealing in the 1900s as they made for easy transport on bicycles, which were much more widespread than automobiles, and for easy storage in traveling shooting gallery operations.

More in my column at Guns.com.

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