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American Handgunner May/June 2010 - Page 32
John Connor GUNCRANKDIARIES TM EXCUSES, ALIBIS, PITHY OBSERVATIONS & GENERAL EPHUS Tale of A Roamin’ Pony A gunfighter’s grail: A Tussey Custom Colt, ‘smithed 30 years ago — now reborn. The Man, T The Missions Two little Ts — the mark that cracked the Great Stone Face. From Roy’s and Terry’s hands, back to where it belonged. I The ColT ThAT CAme home t was late 1980 or early ’81 when a stone-faced man in a dark suit stepped into the shop of up-and-coming gunsmith Terry Tussey. Stoneface surveyed the room with scorched-earth eyes, and then closed the door. Terry quickly spotted the bulges under Stoneface’s arms, and felt a little relief when his coat parted to reveal a gold badge clipped to his belt. Though decades younger then, Terry already knew serious armed thugs had occasionally hit gunsmiths’ shops. After all, that’s where the good guns were. And this guy looked nothin’ but serious. Sure didn’t look much like “Officer Friendly” though. He wasn’t. Stoneface laid a blue box and an envelope on the counter. The box contained a spanky-new Colt Mark IV Series 80 Government Model 1911A1 pistol. The envelope held a sheet listing operations to be performed on it. Most were reliability mods, like lowering and flaring the ejection port; throating the barrel and polishing the ramp; tuning the extractor and smoothing the trigger; combat sights and more, finished off with a frosted matte industrial hard chrome job. Terry spontaneously started to ask a routine question. “So, the primary purpose of …” and Stoneface cut him off. “Gunfighting,” he said, and tapped the list. “You may shave a little accuracy for absolute reliability, but she’s got to shoot into eye sockets at 15 and fists at 50 — with government hardball.” He dropped his card on the counter and turned to leave. “Fists?” The man silently laid a big fist over the center of his chest. Terry nodded; he understood. “I’ve heard you’re good,” Stoneface said. “Show me.” Terry looked at the card, made a coupla phone calls, muttered “Hmm …” a few times, and then — Oh, boy, did Terry show HIM! When his two descending Ts in an oval were finally stamped on that Colt it was a gunfighter’s grail, brutal and beautiful at once; elegant and ominous; a pure bullet-launcher and deadly serious, like the man it was made for. hat stonefaced man was my Uncle John, then commanding officer of one of the nation’s largest and most active SWAT units. He had risen through the ranks of SWAT the same way he’d earned combat promotions as a Marine: by single-minded ferocious dedication to the mission, whatever it was, at whatever risk. He was at his best — even his most comfortable — when playing the game “You Bet Your Life” with dangerous men. He didn’t do so well with what he called “politics, platitudes and patty-cake.” He may tell his own story someday, but I’ll tell you this one to sorta illustrate the man: When unit commanders were ordered to generate yet another piece of PC feel-good fluff — a “C.O.’s Statement on Race and Color” — he gathered his SWAT cops and said, “This is our policy on race and color: We have two races — the 440 and the mile, run quarterly. We have one color: camouflage. Dismissed!” He got thunderous cheers from the troops, and a thorough reaming from the brass. He didn’t care. Only the mission counted. The damages of duty caught up with him a decade later, and he found himself disabled, retired and financially strained. Some guns had to go, and the one he could get the highest return for was that Tussey Custom Colt. It stung him worse than shrapnel and he grieved to let it go, but the stone face never slipped or sagged. He sold it and never looked back. The Colt wound up in the hands of a young officer who loved Terry Tussey’s work, and equally loved guns which could murmur stories in the night; tales of standoffs and shootouts; face-downs with felony Continued on page 83 32 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • MAY/JUNE2010