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American Handgunner May/June 2010 - Page 42

I Gotta Be Make Mine Custom! A much younger Taffin shooting a Mag-na-port Stalker. I 42 n the 1950s I discovered Elmer Keith and his writings, which often covered customized sixguns. He had about a half-dozen highly customized .44 Special Single Action Colts and I was mesmerized by the beauty, combined with practical function of those sixguns. Fifty years later I found myself placing those same sixguns in the Elmer Keith Museum. In between those two happenings I set about to make most of my sixguns me. I know this article is going to tweak my friend Mike Venturino. We really are friends, and in many ways we think alike — however there are also many ways we take divergent paths. I had my first article published in 1967. It was written as I spent the summer in the Payette National Forest. Mike’s first feature appeared in the early 1970s and was written as a college assignment. Over the years we have followed each other’s works, and certainly noticed how each of us has changed in several ways. I’ve especially noticed how Mike has gone astray in his view of custom sixguns. In those early years he had two .44 Magnums which he personalized to his specifications; a Ruger Super Blackhawk which he cut back to 51/2" and a S&W which was also trimmed to 5". Both of these were distinctly his, and then he got bored or lazy or something and I have never seen another sixgun of his that was changed, except for occasionally adding aftermarket grips. Mike, you were on the trail of the Perfect Packin’ Pistol and somehow took a fork in the road. A New Duke? If you’ve noticed the photos of Mike recently he’s getting smaller and smaller, and in his newfound skinny-ness perhaps he now has enough energy to get back to work customizing or personalizing some of his sixguns. Mike, readers are waiting to see what we do; waiting for us to lead. I know this is true by how many have been customizing Ruger Blackhawks since I started writing about them nearly 30 years ago. I did not start the trend; that honor belongs to Skeeter Skelton. I’ve just tried to carry the torch. When it comes to customizing the sixgun, or semiauto for that matter, I’m a firm believer in “Don’t fix what ain’t broke!” Nor do I believe in adding a lot of doodads to a self-defense gun. Thanks to the influence of customizers, most factory semiautos come already “customized” with features custom makers were adding back in the 1950s and 1960s. About all any of the modern semis need is a good trigger job. When it comes to sixguns we are living in a time when we have our choice of the best revolvers ever made. They are stronger, held to tighter tolerances, most often shoot better than their 50-year-old counterparts. And relatively speaking, WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • MAY/JUNE2010

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