Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Handguns From My Past

For several years I settled in to a routine with my pistol shooting.  I used the snub nose for work and the 4" gun for play.  I was shooting lots of .38 special trying to learn the craft.  Competing when I could, trying to shoot at least once a week.  I  had been a field officer for about six years and was up for promotion to a supervisors job.  I wanted a smaller, J-frame gun to carry as an office revolver, but couldn't come up with the scratch to buy another handgun.  Growing kids need shoes, and they want to eat on a regular basis.

The Model 60

One day in late April, I believe it was in '87, I had to run over to the courthouse to have the judge sign a warrant.  I talked with the judge's secretary.  He was in court, but they were finishing up a trial and if I'd wait, she'd make sure I got in to see him.  So, I waited, cooling my heels in the hallway outside the judge's office.  After a while, the judge came down the hallway from the courtroom.  He was holding a small plastic evidence bag, and inside I could see a small frame revolver.  He looked distastefully at the little gun.  "What am I supposed to do with this thing?"  More a rhetorical question than anything.

"Give it to me, your Honor."

He looked at me.  "You need to see me, Dennis?"  He looked at the gun.  "Come on in."  We walked into his office and he called his secretary.  "Take a minute entry," he said.  "I'm ordering that this" he looked through the plastic on the bag "Smith and Wesson revolver, serial number.  XXXXXX be given to Agent Dennis Dezendorf for the furtherance of law enforcement in Chinquapin Parish."  He tossed me the pistol.  "So ordered."

As the judge signed my warrant, I looked at the little piece.  It had been used in a pistol-whipping.  Blood was evident on the revolver and the trigger guard was crushed, pinning the trigger against the frame.  That evening, at home, I got some hot, soapy, bleach water and washed the blood off of the revolver, then took down my 4" gun and removed the side plate, studying the internals.  Then I took the side plate off of the little Model 60 and compared the internals  The little gun didn't look hurt, simply held captive by the crushed trigger guard.  I grabbed the trigger guard with a pair of vice grip pliers, got the guard in a good strong bind, and gave it a yank.  It bent back out and the little gun worked.  I tweaked it a little bit, and I had my Model 60.

As I recall, this was about 1987.  I was promoted soon after and got a Don Hume Level II holster to carry it.  I still consider that old Don Hume one of the very best holsters for belt carry.  Unfortunately, they don't make that holster any more.  Fortunately, I have two of them and they're very good leather.  I carried that little pistol as a supervisor.  My 4" gun still did duty as a woods and competition gun, and I turned in the 2.5" Model 66.  It was a good gun, but I didn't need it.

That little pistol digested a lot of my 4.3 grain Unique load, but for duty, I carried Federal's Ny-Clad 125 grain load.  At the time, that was the very best .38 Special ammo that ran standard pressure and I didn't want to beat the little gun apart.

One day in the late '90s I came home on a sunny afternoon.  As I was getting out of the truck, I heard a boom and figured my elder son was target practicing in the back yard.  So, I grabbed some ear muffs out of the truck and walked around the house.  Elder son was standing there with his big Ruger .44 magnum.  He had set up a hay bale about 25 yards away and had set a line of beer cans up on the bales.  I watched him fire the big hogleg, then stepped around him, unholtered my Model 60, and peeled one can off the hay bale.

"Keep practicing, Slick.  Front sight, trigger squeeze."  I holstered my revolver and turned toward the house.

"I bet you can't do that again, old man." he retorted.

I kept walking.  "I don't have to do that again."

I retired a couple of years later, and that Model 60 became my pocket pistol. Dropped in a jeans pocket, or in my slacks, the little gun was a constant companion.  In late 2012 my daughter-in-law was looking for a steel J-frame.  She had tried her husbands alloy frame and the recoil was too stout, but she liked the size of that frame.  I had found a Model 38 Airweight and was considering using that for my pocket pistol, so I passed the Model 60 on, as a semi-permanent loan.  She carries it today as her concealed carry piece, and from all accounts, shoots it just fine.

We did do a bob job on the hammer, because she carries it appendix carry and the hammer spur was digging into her skin.  I now use the Ariweight for a pocket pistol and anytime you see me with pants on, you can be assured that the little gun is riding in my pocket.  It suits me fine.

Oh, Missy.  If you look on the bottom of the trigger guard, you might be able to see the marks that those vice-grips made so long ago.  I never polished them out.  They're part of the story, and the history of that little pistol.


The Displaced Louisiana Guy said...

The model 60 still carries your surgery scar. Time has worn it down to a blemish in the finish, very thin, and only about a centimeter long. You can only see it in good light, and can only feel it by running a fingernail across it.

Ryan said...

My mother has a Model 60 S&W. Mom's has a 3 inch barrel with adjustable sights. It is a very shootable little revolver. In my youth I thought more than once that little gun could fill most roles pretty adequately.

What type of pocket holster do you use for the J frame? What pocket do you keep it in?

I ask because I am looking for a discrete way to carry my little airweight 642. Thanks in advance,

Mike said...

I've got a Don Hume that I have had for years that fits my Sig 229 really well. Built like a tank, guess you'd say. I like it because it is easy to adjust the cant.

The Displaced Louisiana Guy said...

Ryan- in answer to your question, paw paw carries his model 38 in his dominant side front pocket. He doesn't use a holster, but doesn't carry anything else in that pocket. He NEVER drops anything in that front pocket, and is comfortable carrying that way. I also carry my 638 in my front pocket. I use a Blackhawk pocket holster. When I carry the j-frame, nothing goes in that pocket, either. That being said, me and Paw paw are both significantly larger than you. It works because of pocket death and looseness of clothing. I have several pairs of pants that won't work for front pocket carry. Your mileage may vary. Hope this helps.

The Displaced Louisiana Guy said...

Pocket debth, not pocket death...