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Guns of the Old West Winter 2021

Guns of the Old West is for the tens of thousands of Americans involved in our fastest growing shooting sport, Cowboy Action Shooting, the Old West is as alive today as it ever was, and especially so in any number of competition shooting matches East and West,

United States
Athlon Media Group
4 Issues

in this issue

3 min
i saw it in a catalog

In today’s world when you want to see a product you search for it online. In an instant it appears and you can order from any of a dozen suppliers or sometimes directly from the manufacturer, and it arrives in a matter of days, even overnight. We still have paper catalogs of course (check your mailbox, ’tis the season), but they’re not as important to consumers today as a hundred years ago. Back in the late 19th century, a catalog was the easiest means of seeing what the product looked like, reading the description, and if not ordering directly, at least knowing what to order at the mercantile or hardware store in town. Two major retailers, Montgomery Ward and Sears, Robuck & Co. made this a much easier and reasonably…

9 min
smith & wesson’s tip-ups

Mark Twain may have been the first famous firearms critic. In his 1871 book Roughing It, chronicling his early adventures in the American West from 1861 to 1867, he used his famously lighthearted and sarcastic wit to at once define, defile and glamorize—dare we say immortalize—the Smith & Wesson Model No. 1 Tip-Up .22 Short revolver. “I was armed to the teeth,” wrote Twain, “with a pitiful little Smith & Wesson’s seven-shooter, which carried a ball like a homeopathic pill, and it took the whole seven to make a dose for an adult. But I thought it was grand. It appeared to me to be a dangerous weapon. It only had one fault—you could not hit anything with it.” Indeed, Daniel B. Wesson’s first patented self-contained metallic cartridge, the .22 Short…

6 min
feather weight .45

My friend and respected firearms writer John Taffin first used the term “Perfect Packing Pistol,” now commonly called a PPP. For many years my personal PPP has been a .45-caliber 2nd Generation Colt Single Action revolver with a 4.75-inch barrel. However, if one habitually carries their everyday carry gun from “can see to can’t see,” even this SA revolver, at 38 ounces, becomes surprisingly heavy and uncomfortable. Enter the lightweight modifications to the SA revolver. Elmer Keith, the first Outstanding American Handgunner, passed away 36 years ago, so some of you might not know of him and his custom .44 Special Colt SA No. 5. Keith spent a lifetime experimenting with high-performance handloaded ammunition, and his heavy .44 Special loads were instrumental in the development of the .44 Magnum cartridge. In…

11 min
classic colt showdown

THE PATERSON WAS JUST THE BEGINNING. Samuel Colt was only 21 years old when he created his first design for a percussion revolver with a mechanically-rotated cylinder. This concept led to the Paterson revolvers built in Paterson, New Jersey from 1836 to 1842. There were earlier guns with cylinders, like the Collier, but Sam Colt invented the revolver as we know it, the basics of which are still used to this day. Whether or not it is true that Colt never saw a Collier (which were built in England with a 5-shot cylinder that had to be manually rotated), what’s interesting is that Colt took a different approach. He also knew a little bit about patent laws and didn’t file the first patent for his design in the United States, but rather…

9 min
turnbull restoration

ONE OF THE GREAT ATTRACTIONS of firearms for many people is that they can be much more than purposeful tools. They can represent great works of art as well. Look at an Ulrich-engraved Winchester presentation rifle om the 1800s, for instance, and you can see that pride of ownership went beyond appreciating a firearm merely for its ability to down game or defend the ranch. While you’re not as likely to view a polymer-frame Glock or an AR-15 as an object of art today, there are still opprtunities to achieve great beauty alongside excellent performance. Turnbull Restoration Company provides such opportunities. Turnbull is where you turn when you want to restore a family heirloom to its original appearance, personalize a favorite firearm with custom embellishments or turn a plain old shooter into…

1 min
how it all began

Doug Turnbull grew up in a gun shop. His family’s business, Creek Side Gun Shop, was the top stop for gun lovers in central New York and northern Pennsylvania. Doug, however, loved to tinker with the old guns that came into the shop more than he liked being a salesman. This passion led Doug to open Turnbull Restoration Company in 1983. His father had experimented with bone charcoal color-case-hardening prior to that. Doug took what he learned from his dad and refined the process. Along the way, the company added engraving, refreshing stamps and other markings and restocking to their in-house operations. However they do still send out some exacting work to other specialists. Today, Doug Turnbull is the go-to source, not only for color-case-hardened firearm finishes, but for full restorations as…