There are many who hang out the shingle: "Gunsmith",
but few who actually live up to the title. To me, a gunsmith is
not the fellow at the local gun shop who can mount a scope and clean
a rifle, but a true gunsmith is a combination of machinist, metallurgist,
artist, mechanic, and welder, with perhaps a bit of magician thrown
in. There are few who can be counted among the best, but recently
I was introduced to the work of Alan Harton of Single
Action Service in Houston, Texas, and he certainly qualifies.
Having never met Mr. Harton, I had seen some of his
work briefly before, but had never been able to closely examine
any of his revolvers. A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with
a good friend of mine and fellow Shootist,
Fermin Garza, while at the Shootists Holiday at the NRA Whittington Center
near Raton, New Mexico. Fermin asked if I wanted to see some nice
custom single action revolvers, knowing full well what my answer
One at a time, he would extract a padded case with
another custom Ruger from his pickup, laying it on a table
in front of me. The guns exhibited many custom features such as
beveled cylinders, barrel bands, custom sights, re-contoured top
straps, big bore five-shot cylinders, etc., but the high quality
of the work is what really impressed me the most. There is just
something about a custom single action that is done right; subtle
differences that are hard to explain with words, but are readily
apparent to someone who has seen, handled, and shot a lot of custom
revolvers. I have seen many customs that had all the features; cool
sights, five-shot cylinders, and everything else, but they just
weren't "right". The features on Harton's guns flowed
together, instead of being merely an assemblage of parts.
The lines were right, the dimensions right, the proportions right,
and the feel right.
One very impressive gun was a Colt Single Action
Army that Fermin dragged out of a pistol rug. It was a beautiful
seven and one-half inch sixgun that appeared perfect in every way.
Then he showed to me the "before" picture. That old Colt
had been blown apart at some time, and Alan Harton meticulously
rebuilt the thing, starting with only half a frame. The pictures
do more to detail that Colt that I could ever describe. In fact,
all of the guns that I examined are better detailed in the pictures.
One gun that Alan Harton builds that I did not get
to see, but heard about, is a six-shot .32-20 conversion on a Ruger
Single Six frame. I can't wait to try that one at the range! Look
for a review here later.
If you like what you see here, give Alan Harton a
call. His turn-around time is relatively quick, and his prices are
reasonable. Contact him by telephone at: 713-772-8314 or 713-907-6031.
You can email Mr. Harton at: email@example.com.
Click pictures for a larger version.