Thursday, February 14, 2008
What To Do with Your "Free" Government Bucks
I've been over at Julia Auctions paging through the Bruce E. Stern collection, including the beautiful Luger carbine above, all up for auction.
If I'd only had the money to buy that Microsoft stock back in the day! Spend a few minutes there, then ask yourself which is more important, a new kidney for uninsured Aunt Jane or a 1918 vintage German Maxim MG08. In your heart, you know the right answer...
I'm still pondering a vintage-style 1911 for the SASS Wild Bunch match the weekend before End of Trail in June. If nothing in that sentence makes a wit of sense, here's the Cliff Notes version. The Single Action Shooting Society (SASS), who sanction cowboy action shooting matches, has decided to add a Wild Bunch match to their annual world championships, End of Trail.
A Wild Bunch match is a cowboy shooting matched based on Sam Peckinpah's utterly brilliant noire western The Wild Bunch. If you haven't seen it, go directly to Amazon and buy the DVD. The movie, starring William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Warren Oates, Ben Johnson and a classic supporting cast, is set in 1913 in South Texas,during the transitional period between the Old West and a modern, harsher world.
Guns used by the Wild Bunch reflect that transitional post-Spanish American War and "adventurism" on the Mexican border time frame — lever action rifles, bolt action rifles like German Mausers and 1903 Springfields, Winchester 1897 pump shotguns in the "Trench Gun" configuration and not only Single Action Army revolvers, but the then new 1911 semiauto as well. John Taffin did a pretty cool article on the tiem period here.
SASS standardized the guns you can use for an official Wild Bunch match — lever action rifles in .40 or larger caliber (38-40, 44-40, .44 Special, .45 Colt); a 12-guage shotgun, including '97s in Trench Gun drag and a 1911 .45. I've got an IAC Trench Gun '97 replica and a couple of lever guns in .44 Magnum/.44 Special, a Marlin 1894 Cowboy I've used in competition and a Legacy/Puma 1892 Winchester clone carbine.
As I've mentioned before, the SASS rules on 1911s are pretty broad, allowing adjustable sights and a lot of the standard trick options. However, I'm really jonesing for a vintage 1911 to use in the match...seems like a good choice for the spirit of the game. Plus, you gotta accept a certain level of obsession in your life, right?
In my 10 minutes alone at the SHOT Show Tuesday, I whipped around and tried to look at some of the vintage 1911s. Here are my choices:
COLT WW1 Replica — They had one at the booth, and it was nice nice nice. It also has that Rampant Colt on the slide, which I know the William Holden character "Pike" would certainly approve. Around a grand, MSRP.
Springfield Armory "G.I."— A modern copy of essentially a 1911A1 from WW2. Roughly $500 MSRP.
Auto-Ordnance 1911PKZ — Again, a pretty good copy of the WW2 1911A1, including plastic grips. This looks the most like my father's Remington Rand 1911A1. $627 MSRP.
Rock Island Armory Standard — Not really a copy, but not far from the original 1911A1, either. I've got one of their Tactical versions, and it's a better 1911 than the sub-$400 price would suggest. The low, low price of $329 MSRP.
U.S. Fire-Arms Automatic 1911 Military Model (pictured below...click on the pix for the high rez version)— So my friend Doug Donelly, who owns USFA, opens up the glass case — much like the one the jewelers keep the Rolexes in — and pulls out his 1911 Military Model...it is, indeed, a letter-perfect replica of a WW1 1911. It is also $1895 MSRP.
There are a couple of other options...I could overhaul my father's Remington Rand — he was a chronic shade-tree gunsmith who, sadly, discovered the Dremel Tool — which has some appeal. The gun's in excellent shape...I managed to talk him out of cutting on it too much back when I was in high school. I scrounged some original plastic grips for the gun and could probably tak Bill Laughridge at C&S into doing a gentle internal rebuild. Yes, I know it has collectors' value, but I am not a collector. I tend to shoot 'em.
Wilson Combat offered to build me a WW1 replica using their upcoming new 100% forged gun...God alone know what that would cost me, although it would be one-of-a-kind heirloom and I could do stories on it in the gun rags as well as my electronic stuff. Of course, for that matter I could go back to the Julia Auctions and bid on that near-mint 1915 Navy Contract 1911, then go shoot that like I had good sense!
What's the consensus of the blog?