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American Handgunner March/April 2011 - Page 24
COPTALK Massad Ayoob OPINION AND FACTS FROM THE MEAN STREETS 36 years on the street, and decades on the bench and in competition taught this retired detective how to maximize a Smith & Wesson revolver’s performance. D.O. Reichard at the bench. Below: Reichard gave new life to this rare 5", 5-screw preModel 27 .357. A Street Cop’S CuStom n the summer of 2010, Detective Dennis O. Reichard retired after 36 years as a street cop and detective. Locally famous for his skill at solving homicide cases, he is better known nationally as a master of tuning the Smith & Wesson revolver, and is now free to devote more time to doing so. Always an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, he’s happy to do gun work for law-abiding armed citizens and officers alike. I first met Denny on the proshooting tour in the early ’80s, at matches like Second Chance and Bianchi Cup where he competed with the duty gun that was his trademark for most of his police career, the 6" S&W .44 Magnum. Hold on the Dirty Harry jokes, please. Dirty Harry shot blanks. Reichard’s duty load was a Federal or Remington 180-grain HP running 1,600 fps. He was big enough and skilled enough to shoot it so fast some other competitors nicknamed him “Rolling Thunder.” In 1981, ’82, and ’83 he won the Indiana State Championships in the Bianchi Cup format shooting Model 29s he’d tuned himself. “I believe the difference was that my guns ran smoother and faster, which allowed more time for correct sight alignment and trigger press,” he reminisces today. Denny had tuned all those 29s himself. In 1980 he had become a certified S&W armorer, learning directly under S&W’s legendary master John Contro in an in-depth, 3-week factory course. He kept scrupulous notes he memorized like holy scriptures. Over the next 30 years, Reichard honed his craft, making fine Smith & Wesson sixguns even finer. First a trickle, then a stream, then a river of Smith & Wessons flowed across his bench, each one sharpening his ability to slick up a Smith. He did guns for firearms instructors, taught students how to keep their revolvers going — and the word spread. revolverS I or about a quarter century, I’ve taught annually with Denny in Indiana, which has given me the opportunity to see a lot of Reichard guns go through classes. They don’t misfire, they don’t shave lead and their owners generally finish skill tests in the upper part of the class. While he can provide engraved guns, Denny focuses on the inside of the machine. His basic $60 action job gets everything working perfectly, but what you want is his $100 job. This adds a careful honing of the contact surfaces in the mechanism, resulting in a trigger pull that feels like running your finger over a piece of Waterford crystal. Check out his “geezer sight” option, an adjustable rear sight with a notch big enough to give a clear picture for old eyes, and a faster sight picture for young and old alike, with no perceptible loss in precision accuracy. And consider his “scalloped trigger,” reshaped for super-fast double-action work. Except for a glass-smooth polished trigger, Reichard’s work is visible only inside this Model 329. Realistic Approach F rom his first day as a cop in the mid70s to when he sat at the feet of Johnny Contro, and ever since, Reichard understood that absolute reliability was the Prime Directive. In the countless thousands of rounds I’ve seen fired from Reichard Smiths, I don’t recall a misfire unless it was a dud primer. One year at the Indiana State IDPA championships, I experienced two misfires with factory ammo in a S&W tuned by another famous custom house. I went direct from the match to Reichard’s place, where he replaced the mainspring and re-tuned the gun. It hasn’t missed a lick since. This year, my best finish at a sanctioned IDPA match was First Master, Stock Service Revolver at the US East Coast Championship, beaten only by overall division champ Craig Buckland, who is so good these days I couldn’t beat him with the Magic Sword Excalibur. My gun was a Reichard-tuned S&W Model 15, and it worked beautifully without a hitch. Denny’s Sand Burr Gun Ranch encompasses one of the coolest old-time gun shops anywhere, and an expansive shooting park ideally suited for a family firearms weekend. Delivery on action work has been running four to six weeks, but with Denny freshly retired, I expect that may shorten up a bit. I can honestly say I don’t know of anyone in the country who can do a better action job on a save-your-life Smith & Wesson sixgun. For more info: sand Burr Gun Ranch (574) 223-3316, www.americanhandgunner. com/sandburrgunranch F Reliability * 24 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • MARCH/APRIL2011