Terry Murbach, Mike Hutyra, and "The Rarest of the Rare"

by Boge Quinn

photography by Boge Quinn & Jeff Quinn

July 11th, 2019

Click pictures for a larger version.

 

 

Boge and Terry, on that day in 2011. Terry is holding his prized 38 Special New Frontier, a gift from Mike Hutyra; and Boge with his prized "S.S.6" Skeeter Skelton sixgun, a gift from Terry.

 

 

Terry preparing to fire that 38 for the very first time. He hadn't brought any 38 ammo, but I had anticipated that and came prepared!

 

 

I think is a REALLY cool picture. After he fired the first few rounds, and found the sights were perfectly regulated and he was hitting literally everything he shot at, he just paused for a few seconds and looked at the cleared bank of targets with this satisfied smile on his face.

 

 

Terry bearing down on that sixgun. He just carried on about how well it shot. He fired several hundred rounds through it during the week, burned through the ammo I'd brought and then some.

 

 

This picture was taken later in the week. He really bonded with that sixgun! The lady shooting with him is his wife, Judy.

 

 

 

 

As 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...

 

 

For 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, you'll see.

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)

...and THEN he saw the caliber marking and sat bolt upright in his chair, shocked to the gills - you can see his slack-jawed amazement!

(click picture for a larger version)

He said, "THAT'S A 38 SPECIAL!!!"

I said, "Yeah, ain't that cool?"

So 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".

Terry just looked at me, and his hands were shaking. It was going perfectly.

I said, "You know what else is cool about that sixgun? Look at the front of the cylinder."

He turned it around and rotated the cylinder slowly, inspecting it carefully, and said "I THINK THIS IS UNFIRED!!!"

Now 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 sixgun?"

He just looked at me, and I paused and said...

"IT'S YOURS!"

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.

I 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 following response: 

 

ACTUALLY, 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 !!!

AND 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 !!

I 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.

Boge Quinn

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Colt 2nd-Generation New Frontier 38 Special, one of the rarest Colts ever produced.