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American Handgunner Sep/Oct 2010 - Page 30
WINNINGEDGE Dave Anderson SOLID ADVICE TO KEEP YOU AHEAD OF THE COMPETITION This Shockey pistol was built on a military surplus 1911A1 made by Remington Rand (note initials FJA for inspector Frank J. Atwood). Trigger pull breaks at a clean 3 lbs 6 oz. s a rule, custom 1911-style pistols of today are the best ever. In terms of quality of materials, workmanship, attention to detail, indeed, in every aspect of performance, current 1911s are so good as to be nearly incredible. It didn’t just happen though. Progress in any field comes from building on the work of others. Isaac Newton once wrote, “If I see a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” The post WWII era saw a dramatic increase in hunting and shooting activities. Competition handgun shooting meant bull’seye shooting, and a demand for highly accurate 1911 .45s. In the early 1950s several pistolsmiths began developing ways to meet the demand. The “Giants” of the era included such names as Bob Brown, F. Bob Chow, Jim Clark, Alton Dinan, George Elliason, John Giles and Frank Pachmayr. These men built remarkably accurate pistols. And they did it without the high quality, precision components we take for granted today. Need a hard-fit match barrel today? The pistolsmith simply orders one of the many high quality, slightly oversized barrels available and fits it to the pistol. Back then no such barrels existed. The pistolsmith would take a standard barrel, build up the bottom lugs and barrel hood by welding, and then hand fit the barrel. Even good base guns were hard to come by. Colt was producing commercial pistols again, but for years after the war supply could not keep up with demand. Military surplus 1911s and 1911A1s were available, but many were wartime production with “soft slides” (heat treated only at high wear points to speed production) and needed a lot of fitting and tightening. A ShowiNg The wAy This is the Deluxe Custom pistol built by Richard L. Shockey. Features include tightening of slide/frame fit, barrel fitting, thick barrel bushing, Bo Mar adjustable rear sight, sight rib with extended front sight, frame-mounted weight, frontstrap stippling, and a quality trigger pull. Pistols were guaranteed to provide groups of 1¼" at 25 yards. The Merit optical device (attaches to shooting glasses to increase sharpness of the sight picture) was popular with target shooters in the 1950s and still is today. Left: Takedown is conventional except the recoil spring plug must be removed from the rear of its tunnel in the slide, rather than the front. The spring-powered roller on the plug presses against the bottom of the barrel. richArd L. Shockey o ne of the most respected pistolsmiths was Richard L. Shockey. From a Gil Hebard catalog: Shockey apprenticed as a machinist in Pennsylvania from 1928-1932, then worked as a tool and die maker to 1940. During the war, and to 1948, he was tool room foreman at the York, PA Naval Ordnance Plant. From 1948 to 1953 he worked for the Department of Justice, setting up a machine shop at a federal prison at El Reno, Okla. Shockey had been a bull’s-eye competitor for many years, before resigning his employment and setting up a custom pistolsmith operation. He offered several custom competition packages. The pistol shown here is the Deluxe Custom .45 auto package. In a circa 1960 Gil Hebard catalog the price for this package was $192.50, which included a new commercial Colt Government model as the base gun. The pistol pictured was most likely made in the late 1950s or early 1960s (about the time BoMar sights were becoming popular), and I’d guess the military surplus Remington Rand 1911A1 was provided by the customer. 30 Shockey and his compatriots learned to fit slides to frames, to build up and hard-fit barrels, and to tune triggers. The trigger on this gun breaks cleanly at 3 lbs 6 oz. The frame weight shifted weight forward to improve steadiness and balance. Incidentally, back at the 1985 IPSC US Nationals I noticed Bill Wilson had a similar weight on his match pistol, the purpose he told me was to reduce recoil. A patented Shockey feature was the “mousetrap,” a springloaded roller on the recoil spring plug. Shockey claimed the roller slowed down the slide, reduced the twisting action of the gun during recoil, and prolonged the accuracy life of the pistol. Many of these great old bullseye guns are no doubt still in use. This pistol is still superbly accurate and would need only a quality red-dot sight to be competitive even today. Current pistolsmiths have added features such as extended safeties, beavertail grip safeties, low-mounted sights and mag chutes. They are generally much more nicely detailed, with tool marks removed and sharp edges broken. But they didn’t have to learn how to make the 1911 style pistol shoot accurately. The Giants of the 1950s and 1960s had already shown the way. * WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER2010