In late summer 2020, on a sunny Monday morning, 10 students arrived at
Gunsite Academy, in Paulden, AZ, for the start of a week-long Defensive Pistol Class (the "250 Class"). This class is also known as "The Gunsite Experience". It was first introduced by
Col. Jeff Cooper back in October of 1976 and was intended to teach the fundamentals of the "Modern Technique of the Pistol". This goes far beyond just marksmanship, gun handling and the famous combat mindset, but it pulls those tools together to help students improve their confidence and competence as a gun handler. It is 5 full days of range exercises, intense classroom lectures, night shooting and both indoor and outdoor simulators. This is truly the best way to experience just a taste of what Gunsite has to offer.
This time, there was a twist to the class, however. It was going to be a 100% revolver-only class. Students and instructors, alike, were carrying, shooting, understanding, and appreciating the revolvers. Every class topic was taught with revolvers, how those topics apply to revolvers, including carrying, reloading, cleaning and marksmanship, and especially double action.
One night, while at dinner on Whiskey Row in
Prescott, an enthusiastic discussion took place. We were in the midst of planning our own class gun. The conversation was lively with lots of ideas on how to create the "perfect" revolver. After a few cocktails, everyone came to their senses and agreed that the perfect revolver hadn't yet been devised and we settled on what we felt was near-perfection: a round butt, 3" heavy barrel, S&W K-frame Model 10 38 Special for the base gun. The 3" barrel would allow for a full-length ejector rod, while still providing a great balance in the revolver. It points well, and allows for a slightly better sight radius, while still allowing for easy packing and holstering whether inside, or outside, the waistband. The K-frame was chosen specifically for its ideal frame size for concealability, weight, and reliability. The model 10 was chosen as it provides fixed sights, perfectly suited for a self-defense revolver, and is chambered in 38 special which is a caliber that can be used for self-defense as well as those enjoyable afternoons of plinking with mild target loads.
This revolver would need some enhancements to help improve its usability and practicality. We put on our thinking caps and here is what we came up with amidst our cocktails:
David Fink, of Fink's Custom Gunsmithing in Chino Valley, AZ would slabside the barrel, cut a dovetail for the front sight, crown and polish the barrel, and set the barrel cylinder gap to 0.005".
Bobby Tyler, of Tyler Gun Works, in Friona,
TX, would polish and refinish the gun, and engrave the Gunsite Raven logo on the sideplate. As an option, Bobby would also offer a custom fit set of stag grips.
Wayne Novak, of Novak's Sights, of Parkersburg, WV, would be just the man to provide a gold bead front sight, regulated for a 130-gr Speer Gold Dot short barrel load, as a compromise to the various loads that could be used, from 110-gr to 158 gr.
Nelson Ford, The Gunsmith, of Phoenix, AZ would then do one of his fantastic action jobs, including polishing the trigger.
It was decided that grips, which are a very personal and individual feature, would be left to the gun handlers themselves, unless they chose to use the stag grip option offered by Bobby Tyler.
The guns and barrels were quickly secured. This was quite a feat smack dab in the middle of the gun buying frenzy of Covid-19 and the craziness of 2020. One gun was selected, more or less at random, to be the prototype. It would be sent to each
craftsman to validate the feasibility of the work along with the estimated cost. It took nearly 4 months to complete our dream prototype. We spent a good bit of our time collaborating and making our best efforts to secure the most skilled revolver smiths in the country. We did learn of a few minor hiccups along the way, which were tweaked and course-corrected well before the remaining 14 guns were started. The Gunsite Raven needed to be moved up slightly higher on the sideplate and to the right of its current position in order to be centered with boot style grips. In an effort to help keep costs down, the barrels would be polished by David Fink, while he actually had them off the gun. Once these small glitches were corrected, the remaining guns were then sent off. As of this writing (February, 2021), the remaining guns have been completed by David Fink and are now in the hands of Bobby Tyler. The gold bead front sights are complete and are awaiting the guns' return from Bobby. As soon as they are back, Nelson Ford will waste no time starting on the action jobs and the guns will soon be on their way to their new owners.
As far as the prototype, well, I had no trouble consistently hitting a 12" steel plate at 80 yards with factory 125-gr JHP, or with my 145-gr silvertip HP reloads. I am confident it will be just as accurate with up close and personal distances as well. A good set of grips, (mine currently sports the stag grips offered by Bobby!), and a good holster, such as those offered by Rob Leahy of
Simply Rugged Holsters, or Mike "Doc" Barranti of
Barranti Leather, and one would be hard pressed to find a simpler, handier, trusted, well-built and reliable handgun for field or social work!
Gunsite Academy: www.gunsite.com.
Fink's Custom Gunsmithing: www.finksguns.com.
Tyler Gun Works: www.tylergunworks.com.
Novak's Sights: www.novaksights.com.
Nelson Ford, The Gunsmith: www.thegunsmith.com.
Simply Rugged Holsters: www.simplyrugged.com.
Barranti Leather: www.barrantileather.com.
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