American Handgunner Jan/Feb 2013 Digital Edition - Page 28

THESIXGUNNER John taffin ? e s i M o r p CoM No matter what the barrel length or caliber no one ever compromises by buying a freedom Arms sixgun such as this 51/2" Model 97 .44 special. These 5" s&W .44 Magnums aren’t original but they are still great sixguns. Top gun has been cut to 5" and tuned by Jim stroh; bottom sixgun has been re-barreled by smith & Wesson. custom compromise 51/2" Ruger .44 specials. it CAN Be A Good thiNG! M y dictionary has one definition of the word “compromise” as the settlement of a dispute by mutual concession. There are always compromises and trade-offs when it comes to firearms. A 10-pound rifle is much easier to shoot than a lightweight, however a 6-pounder is certainly much easier to carry all day. When it comes to sixguns I prefer Perfect Packin’ Pistols for carrying, but long barrels for shooting — a compromise in both situations. Over the years I’ve found the easiest carrying big bore sixguns to be 43/4" single actions and 4" double actions. However, once in the hand, I find it much easier to shoot 71/2" single actions and 61/2" double actions. For me the easiest shooting sixguns of all are 10" single actions and 83/8" double actions. The longer barrels offer two things, a longer sight radius which normally results in more accurate shooting, and more weight to control recoil. In between the long and the short of it we have the compromises. Too long to be short and too short to be long, they compromise colts: 51/2" New frontiers in .44 special and .45 colt. Left, two by Ben forkin using a Ruger .44 Magnum flat-Top barrel and a colt .44 special New frontier barrel; right, heavy barrel by Andy horvath and #5 by david clements. are not quite as easy to pack as the shorter barrels, and definitely not as easy to shoot as longer barrels, however they do an excellent job of providing a compromise between the two extremes. Especially for the man who has only one sixgun, the compromise barrel length can be the best choice. For me these barrel lengths are those from 5" to 51/2" in length; the same barrel lengths I had no use for in my earlier shooting experiences. I should have known better. the magic barrel length keeter Skelton packed and wrote about a lot of sixguns during his law enforcement and writing career, however his favorite seemed to be a 5" Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum. When I met John Linebaugh in the early 1980s I found he prescribed to Old School Sixgunning. He felt a sixgun’s attributes should be powerful and packable. It needed to be such it could be carried all day, relied upon in any situation, and be comfortably placed under a pillow or bedroll at night. His choice of barrel length was 51/2". John made me such a sixgun chambered in .500 Linebaugh. As a companion sixgun to the Compromise Linebaugh .500, I had Jim Stroh do a 5-shot Ruger .45 Colt with a 51/2" barrel and a Bisley grip frame. s All of these men can be described as accomplished sixgunners, so their compromises turn out to be very good choices. As we look back farther in history we also find the military started using 8" barrels with the Colt 1860 Army, and carried this over to the 71/2" Colt Single Action Army. However the Cavalry Model was soon sided by the 51/2" Artillery Model. I do not have figures on the barrel lengths of the 1st Generation Colt Single Actions, however it seems I see more 51/2" Colts than I do either the 43/4" or 71/2" versions. When enough 1911 Government Models could not be manufactured to supply the troops in WWI, both Colt and S&W produced 1917 revolvers Continued on page 74 Left: no compromise here! These three 51/2" custom Ruger Bisleys, a .45 colt by Jim stroh, a .500 Linebaugh by John Linebaugh and .44 Magnum are superb go-anywhere, do-anything sixguns. 28 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • JANUARY/FEBRUARY2013

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