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American Handgunner Sep/Oct 2011 Digital Edition - Page 75

iN The FooTsTePs oF The mAsTer Colt’s classic 1908 Vest Pocket .25 was manufactured for nearly 40 years, with a sum total of a half-million pistols made. It’s also a great canvas for the custom pistolsmith. This custom one was inspired by one of Wayne Novak’s earlier pieces, a gorgeous Swensonstyle conversion of a 1903 .32, the 1908’s big brother. t all began in 2002 on my first trip to Novak’s .45 Shop in Parkersburg. That’s when Wayne first showed me the hammerless Colt 1903 .32 he had built when he apprenticed with the famed Armand Swenson. Wonderfully engraved by George Spring (now of the Colt custom shop), the .32 Auto had gotten a full build-up in the Swenson style: the frontstrap was checkered at 30 LPI, the triggerguard squared, and the top of the slide matted. Instead of the customary S&W K-frame revolver sight Swenson usually installed, there’s a smaller J-frame rear sight, along with my NovAk-sTyle i a one-off ambidextrous safety — a nod to the fact Swenson pioneered the ambi-safety on the 1911. Intended as one of a set of three pistols, the .32 was to be accompanied by an identically-customized 1911 .45, and a petite Colt 1908 .25. All in all, the sort of thing you speak of in low, respectful tones. 25 Jeremy d. Clough Jeremy matted the frontstrap to make the truncated grip a little easier to grasp. Grist Fast forward seven years, during which time I had the privilege of learning the art of pistolsmithing at Novak’s bench. Wayne’s style is his own now, and he’s mostly known for serious working guns: .45s and Browning HiPowers going into harm’s way. While I focused on learning the skill set of building the working guns, the .32 never left my mind, and to make it worse, I’ve always been attracted to the tiny hammerless Colt .25s. Marketed from 1908 until 1946, The new thumb safety, shown with a stock 1908 safety. during which a half-million were sold, and chambered for a totally ineffective cartridge, the Model of 1908 looks like a stunted 1911, complete with grip safety and a thumb safety in the right place. After stumbling across a thoroughly battered one in a friend’s parts drawer, I decided it was my turn to attempt building an understudy gun in the style of the man who had taught me. When I describe the pistol as “thoroughly battered,” understand I mean it. The triggerguard had been broken and silver-soldered back together, giving it an odd contour and leaving a strange discoloration in the otherwise uniform brown finish. There was no magazine, a fair amount of pitting, and the pistol fired only intermittently. To round out the deal, the original thumb safety was long gone, replaced by a hand-filed Continued on page 91 75 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM

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