some of you already know, my good friend Terry
Murbach passed away last December, as the result of injuries
he sustained from a fall at his home. Terry was a hard man to
get along with sometimes, a cantankerous old curmudgeon, a
misunderstood genius, and one of the best and kindest friends I
have ever had, or will ever have. I loved him dearly, and I miss
him every day; as my friend Mark Roberts said at Terry's
Memorial Service at the 2019 Shootists
Holiday a few weeks ago, "There is a giant hole in the
Universe where Terry stood."
I want to tell you a story here about two
extraordinary men, and an extraordinary sixgun. The men are the
aforementioned Terry Murbach, and Mike "MadBo" Hutyra; Mike is a
wonderful man, a brother Shootist, loving, intelligent,
friendly, humble, and very fast and fancy with a sixgun. This
story took place at the 2011 Shootists Holiday at the NRA
Whittington Center near Raton, NM, and is absolutely true. I
first related this to the members of Lee
Martin's Single Actions Board back in the day...
some reason only he and God know, Mike Hutyra idolizes Terry Murbach. They've
never even met (Jeff says THAT's why!), and I only just met Mike
face-to-face for the first time at the Spring 2011 CSA gathering
(CSA is a loose group of friends who gather each Spring in
Arkansas for shooting, trading, eating, drinking, and lying -
not particularly in that order!). Mike had told me previously
when we'd emailed about how we love Colt New Frontiers that he
had a 5-1/2" 38 Special New Frontier, and I knew that a 38
NF was Murbach's "Grail Gun" - Murbach's love of the
Colt New Frontier engendered my own, and he had expounded on to
me on several occasions about how a 38 New Frontier would just
make his life complete. Problem was, Colt only made a handful of
them - 39 with 5-1/2" barrel, and 10 with a 7-1/2"
tube, making them the 4th-rarest and 2nd-rarest Colts ever
produced. So, at CSA I BEGGED Mike to sell me that NF - told him
I'd pay any amount of money, or trade him anything I had for it.
I explained how it would mean SO much to Terry, and after Terry
had given me S.S.6 (one of seven custom "Skeeter
Skelton" Ruger Old Model 357 Flattop 44 Special conversions
produced by the late Bill Grover of Texas
Longhorn Arms) I just wanted to see him get his
extra-special sixgun. Mike mulled it over a bit, and I thought
he was fixin' to set me an astronomical price (and I would have
done my damnedest to pay it), but he just shook his head and
said he couldn't do it.
Shortly after I got home from CSA, I got a call from Mike,
saying he was sending me that sixgun for me to give to Terry at
the Shootist Holiday! I could hardly believe it, but a week or
so later it showed up at the Hardware Store, and it was
BEAUTIFUL. Perfect and unfired since it left the factory as far
as I could tell, and it had the nicest stocks I'd ever seen on a
New Frontier (which ain't saying much because NF stocks are
typically UGLY, but these were NICE). So I spent a lot of time
in the ensuing weeks fondling that sixgun and learning why
Terry, Mike and others had always told me how much nicer the
2nd-Gen guns are than 3rd-Gen - I've only owned 3rd-Gen guns
myself (although I have since rectified that problem), and I'd
never really closely compared the two. Any of you who don't
know, I can't tell you any more than I could be told - but if
you ever get a chance to sit down and carefully compare them,
I had been practicing for weeks leading up to the Shootists
Holiday how I was going to give him the sixgun, and it went
perfectly according to plan.
I had planned on giving Terry the NF on Monday morning (the
first day at the range), but we were sitting around on Sunday
evening and Terry was looking at all the guns I'd brought. We'd
just consummated a trade (I traded him my Old
Model Bowen Bearcat for his Tom Ruger Shootist Bisley - the
old bastard really ripped me off!), and he was looking at the
rest of my sixguns one at a time. This took a while, because I
had brought quite a few NICE sixguns (including S.S.6, which
Terry fondled lovingly for a bit) and after I told him that was
all I had, he said "Well, didn't you bring anything
else?" I couldn't pass up an opportunity like that, so I
told him I had actually brought one more thing I'd like for him
to look at. I just took that NF out of the rug, and handed it to
him without comment while Jeff grabbed the camera.
Terry looked at it and said, "Oh, a New Frontier". He
nonchalantly inspected it a little...
(click picture for a larger version)
THEN he saw the caliber marking and sat bolt upright in his
chair, shocked to the gills - you can see his slack-jawed
(click picture for a larger version)
said, "THAT'S A 38 SPECIAL!!!"
said, "Yeah, ain't that cool?"
he started telling me again how RARE a 38 Special NF was, and I
said "Yeah, I know" and handed him the paper Mike had
put inside the rug with total production numbers, with the title
"RAREST OF THE RARE".
just looked at me, and his hands were shaking. It was going
said, "You know what else is cool about that sixgun? Look
at the front of the cylinder."
turned it around and rotated the cylinder slowly, inspecting it
carefully, and said "I THINK THIS IS UNFIRED!!!"
was the time to lay it on him! I said, "Yep, I think so
too. And you know what's the COOLEST thing about this
just looked at me, and I paused and said...
The stunned look on his face was a sight to behold. I told him
about how I'd begged Mike to sell me that NF at CSA so I could
give it to him, but Mike wouldn't do it, then it just showed up
a couple weeks later with instructions to give it to Terry. I
wish you'd all been there to see the tears streaming down his
face. I bet it took a good five minutes to sink in to him that
this was actually happening, that Mike had actually given him
his dream sixgun. Mike had done it all - I was just the delivery
boy, but I got to see it happen.
told Terry, "Now you know how I felt when you gave me
S.S.6." It was a great moment.
Thanks to Mike for his generosity to Terry.
It still blows me away - this really shows the quality of a man,
to do something this special for a man he admires. It was really
special, and I was proud just to be there to see it.
And if THAT ain't a great story, I don't know what is.
Over a year after I originally posted
this story to the Single Actions Board, Terry posted the
I told Boge after looking at all his guns, " is this trash
all you brought' or something close to that but more obscene. To
say I was speechless when I realized what I had in my hand after
that, an honest-to-GOD COLT NEW FRONTIER 38SPL, does not quite
say it all, guys !! I could barely speak and my pulse rate must
have topped 150; WOW !!!
strangely enough it also made up for the three PYTHONS I've
owned over the decades, none of which could shoot for sour owl
sweat. THIS Colt NF 38SPL may well be the most accurate SA or
38SPL I've ever shot, and I am here to tell you that is a pile
of 'em in the past 62 years !! AT SH'11 that NF 38 shot every
38SPL load guys offered to me [ several factory loads and
different handloads ] and put all of 'em dead center; I've never
had to touch the rear sight of this SA 38; WHATTA SIXGUN !!
finally got to meet Mikey Hutyra at SH'12 and we hit it off like
to long lost old army buddies; after five minutes talking it was
exactly as if we'd known each other all of our lives, just a
swell fellow who fits right into THE SHOOTISTS like he was born
for it. Truth be told he was !!!
As an update to the original story, Mike was
able to buy the 38 Special New Frontier back from Terry's estate
after Terry passed, and I was able to bring my old Bowen Bearcat
back home as well.
Godspeed, Terry - I will see you on the other
side of the River.
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