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American Handgunner March/April 2011 - Page 26
J.D. Jones HANDGUNHUNTING Ken French and Warren Center with the first TCR 83 rifle. TIPS, TECHNIQUES AND POLITICALINCORRECTNESS Kenny co o lunch on king a Moose hunt. A go is a goo od guide d cook to o! Pam and Ken at the “Quitchabitchin” cabin in the Maine north woods. KEn FrEnch oF T/c ittle did I know, in the late 1970s when I went to Camp Curtis Guild to a Handgun Metallic Silhouette shoot, I would meet Ken French and develop a lifelong friendship. Kenny had a Contender in .357 Herrett loaded with 200-grain RN bullets and offered it to me to shoot. During the course of firing those 40 shots we discussed some interesting things about the particular gun and ammunition. I like to think that incident provided a tiny bit of the motivation for Kenny to vastly improve the accuracy of the Contender. Shortly thereafter, I received a Contender barrel with L an improved locking bolt. Early Contenders had some ignition problems with large rifle primers due to a weak hammer spring. Partly as an experiment and partly as a joke I wound some strong rubber bands behind the hammer and around the sight and ignition improved. About a week after sending a photo of this rig to Kenny I received a very nicely done package of rubber bands complete with official T/C logo and labeled appropriately. A month or so later a new hammer spring arrived. No doubt about it, Kenny was the man behind the astounding accuracy increase, startling popularity and success of the of the Contender pistol in competition and in the field. The Early Days Quitchabitchn K enny was one of the first T/C employees. It gets hellishly cold in Maine and as a young man with a family when the timber industry shut down Ken went to T/C looking for an out-of-the-cold winter job. Warren Center himself hired him and told him if it worked out he wouldn’t have to leave in the spring. Ken told me he thought to himself; yeah, a single-shot .22 pistol — I wonder if we will last till spring. Last they did, and the company became a significant part of American industrial history. Being there at the beginning Ken learned and did most of the jobs in manufacturing. This awakened a “can we make it better and what should we be making” thinking. Warren was certainly a mentor to him as he became a mentor to many others in the company. He sought the ideas and opinions of others regarding the products and tested them in the field himself. He was interested in a wide variety of hunting and shooting sports. I believe Kenny’s interest in black powder shooting is what brought T/C into that market. As the company grew so did Kenny’s responsibilities and influence in the direction the company took. I don’t believe there is a T/C product that doesn’t reflect his genius in gun design. He became living proof hard work done well and honesty in business pays off. The T/C lifetime warranty is a reflection of his thinking. K en became the Plant Manager of the company and for the last few years there was in charge of all R&D as well as hosting many T/C sponsored gunwriter hunts. After his retirement he stayed active as a consultant to the company. His bigger than life attitude toward life was simply “Quitchabitchn.” He led an exemplary life with family, friends and business. Personally, I owe Kenny a lot. Without his help there would never have been an SSK. Sadly, Kenny left us on Aug. 31, 2010 at the age of 71. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Pam, and several children and family members. He was a fine man. I miss him and probably always will. * 26 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • MARCH/APRIL2011