View Full Version : If You Could Design/Build Your Dream Gun

February 5, 1999, 12:52 PM
Howdy All,
(I'm beginning to think "all" is just two or three of us that are left here.<G>)

Partially in the interest of stirring some new discussion at this site I'd like to pose the following question.
As many of you all (both of you<G>) know I own Gunslingers, a custom shop, where I build custom Vaqueros to the shooters exact specifications for cowboy shooting. The more common work I do is dual and nonstandard caliber conversions. (i.e. .44mag./.44-40 etc. and .22 Hornet to .50 Action Express, including cowboy calibers in .32-20, .38-40 etc..) I also offer nonstandard barrel lengths from 3 1/2" to 12" and custom grip frames. Much of our work is custom firearms research & development.
Given access to a firarms manufacture, which is how I'm licensed, what cowboy guns would you like to see built. Don't limit yourself to just SASS legal guns. Let's make it as wide open as possible and just let our imaginations take over. No idea is too "far fetched" from custom hammers, fanners, slip guns, engraving, grips and the list goes on. The idea is to just have fun with the idea.
If this doesn't stir up more activity here then I don't know what will.
Let 'er rip!

February 6, 1999, 11:02 AM
Just off the top of my head I can't remember too many names but I like seeing variety. I'm glad that other weapons are coming out, i.e.LeMats, Spensers, Schofields etc. How about some more of the esoteric weapons such as Ballards, old Marlin levers, Starr revolver cartrige conversions, revolving carbines, basically anything that doesn't look like a Model P or Win 73.
BTW just saw the writeup in American Rifleman on the Browning Traditional Hunter.

El Chimango Pete
February 6, 1999, 02:22 PM
IMHO, Gunslinger has already done it, the converted Vaquero, 44/40 and 44 mag, comes close to fitting my idea of an ideal handgun.
Would trade my 45's (Vaquero and modern Winchester 94) for a 44 combine. As to rifle, couldnt say: Caliber ... 45/70 for starters. Action - rugged, for modern loads but staying within cowboy era, call that pre-Mauser bolt (which would be first choice, but cheating). Interesting to see other notions. Hasta pronto!

Member NRA, Single Action Shooters, Muzzle Loaders, other clubs in Argentina. Cetified Firearms Instructor

4V50 Gary
February 6, 1999, 02:40 PM
45-70 Gatling Gun. Remember, the Gatling was used during the (un)Civil War.

February 6, 1999, 02:43 PM
Howdy fal308,
Its been awhile since we've "chewed the fat". I like the way you think. I was glad to see the LeMat offered again. The Starr sounds like a fun project. Revolving carbines..hmmm. I've currently got one "in the works". However you did give me a thought. At one time Colt offered a revolving scattergun. They may have been others that I'm not aware of. This should be a relativly straight forward project. How 'bout it?
The Schofield is great with just one complaint from me. I have the same complaint with the LeMat. Cost. I wish that some of these were a bit more affordable.
Come on cowboys and girls. Where is your creativity? Someone on another list (Cas-l or gunfighter, I forget which) a feller is building an 1860 Colt 5 1/2" Sheriffs model with a lightning style grip frame. This is the kind of thinking I'm looking for. Just because no one has built it before doesn't mean we can't here in our fantasy gun shop. It doesn't have to be practicle or even logical. It may not be anything that anyone else would ever want. It's your dream gun. If anyone laughs I'll personally meet them in the street at high noon to defend your honor (idea) GGGG Let's talk about newly designed pocket pistols, long range rifles, Marlin 1895 Trapper (ouch), cut down SxS or O/U in a hip/shoulder holster. (The feds can't regulate our dream guns if they aren't actually built.) For the sake of the forum just keep it cowboy in nature. If it isn't a cowboy gun then something that a cowboy would have carried if it were available. (Please don't say a cowboy would have loved a M16 if they had been available at the time.)
Get those creative juices flowing and key boards clicking.

February 7, 1999, 10:21 AM
Sort of not the way you wanted this to go but how about a copy of John Browning's patent proof of a full auto Win 73 but in an '86 action in 45/70 or even in an 1887 10 gauge?!

February 7, 1999, 10:46 AM
Your last post got me to wondering about that Colt revolving shotgun. Wne to look it up in one of my books. Didn't see any reference to a revolving shotgun but quite a few to revolving longarms. Also found a couple of revolving turret magazine longarms. Think of a 19th century Striker 12 to get an idea of these weapons. Also started looking in the lever action section and recalled the Evans lever action. As I recall it was basically an updated variation of the Spenser design of feeding from the stock though there is no need of manual cocking of the hammer ala Spenser.

February 8, 1999, 03:17 AM
Thank ya' kindly ElChimango. (pssst. don't tell anyone but your check is in the mail.<gg>.) I've been talking to a feller off line about the old Martini's. I'm not certain, but I think they would have the strength to handle modern loads. Navy Arms sells the Martini actions for $175.00 (FFL required). I'm gonna give 'em a call.
Gary you ,sir, are an animal. (I like that in a shooter. <BIG GRIN> I know SASS doesn't have a place for the Gatling gun in the rule book but it would dang ser' get some attention at a shoot. Furr was still making them a few years ago. The going price was around 5 G's if I remember right. I had called them and received a catalog (beautiful guns, beautiful catalog) a few years ago. The wife sorta frowned on the second mortage idea to finance one. At one time someone was offering a kit for a scaled down version in .22lr. I know it isn't the same but I wondered what would be required to simply increase the sizes to achieve the desired full size .45-70. The plans were fairly cheap but after some thought I decided it would probably be beyond my skill level to do the size modifications needed.
Fal308 you've got me curious now about the Colt revolving scattergun. I've seen them advertised in Gun List but beyond that I'm lost to as to any more info. I think I'll ask over on Cas-l and see if anyone there knows anything about them.
Now if we take your revolving shotgun, combine it with Gary's Gatling gun, fabricate a braswell magazine for 10 gauge, make interchangable barrel sets so we can fire both .45-70 & 10 gauge shotshells, make it so we can draw it behind horses or mount it to a pick up bed, then...............

February 8, 1999, 10:17 AM
Here's what I found out about the revolving shotgun.
On 10 April 1866, Sylvester Roper of Roxbury, Mass patented a shotgun (53881) with a bolt mechanism and a revolving cylinder magazine. Cocking the hammer withdrew the breech bolt, extracting a spent cartridge form the barrel as it did so. When the hammer had been retracted, a magazine spring revolved a new cartridge into line with the chamber, pulling the trigger released the bolt to fly forward and fire the chambered round in a 'slam bang' motion.
To reduce the shock, the hammer could be lowered onto the chamber and then pulled back to an intermediate position from which the cap on the cartridge-base nipple could be fired without partially extracting the case.
Made originally in 16 and (later) in 12 bore by the Roper Repeating Rifle Company of Amherst Mass, the shotgun was a minor success. Most examples had a detachable choke patented in July 1868 (79861).
The Roper Sporting Arms Company, formed in Hartford in March 1869, was effectively a partnership between Christopher Spencer and Charles Billings. Production of .40 rifles and 12 bore shotguns continued into the early 1870s but never in sufficient quantity to make any real impact.

El Chimango Pete
February 8, 1999, 03:10 PM
Actually the Martini action is what I had in mind (blush, family ties: as it happens, my wife's first husband - she was a widow when we married - was Franz von Martini, his son George is my shooting and generally all round pardner: the direct descendents of Friedrich Martini, an 1869 picture of the gent at Wimbledon during the trials for the British Army hangs over my desk) glad you concur that it might be the ideal action for such a rifle… I'd still go for the 45-70. Now, how about a barrel: Badgers? (am kind of far away to say!).

R.L. Wilson in "Colt an American Legend" has revolving shotguns among the side-hammers of 1855: though 18.300 long guns were built, only 1300 were shotguns in 20 and 10 (!!) gauge. The problem with these revolving long guns seems to have been the flash from the cylinder-breech gap. Amos T. Colt (an employee at Sam's) records that after trials in South Calinky that: "…It took me all the evening to pick the powder and pieces of lead out of my face, No use telling a person to hold their head back, might as well tell them to hold it under the arm". An adjustable gasket could be tightened in the gap, but then the gun would jam from fouling (I guess a condition for this project would be black powder - right?). This seems to be fixed in the mechanism fal308 describes, as I get it the chamber is in the barrel.

Considering the cost of a Cruise, 5 G sounds reasonable for a piece of artillery - fancy a 10 ga. Gatling would sure get some attention, though I daresay I'd have a hard time convincing the wife that it'd be an indispensable part of the garden landscape… Im sure SASS could accomodate an extra 'open' class

Schofields and LeMats are made by Uberti and Fratelli Pieta - Navy Arms again? Wouldn't be original to build these, as desirable as they are.

February 9, 1999, 10:24 AM
I've handled a couple of the LeMats. The only "problem" with them I can think of offhand is that they are heavy. you definitely wouldn't want to do a lot of duelist class shooting, esp. on a long string.
As for hauling the Gatling 10, all you would need to do is make your shooting cart bigger.

El Chimango Pete
February 13, 1999, 08:36 PM
How about putting a 44 mag inside a replica Spencer? Perhaps with a little design and modern materials it could be made to work.

February 14, 1999, 02:32 AM
Howdy All,
El Chimango do you think with modern materials and machining the Spencer would be capable of holding the .44 mag.? I have to confess ignorance about these. I'd think that the reproductions would be made of stout material already but know nothing about the lock work on these. If it were necessary to "beef up" the actions what would be required and could it remain "true" to the original? Being a fan of the .44 mag. myself the idea intrigues me. I still dream of an 1873 in .44 mag. but know it would not be safe.

fal308 have you seen the new reproduction S&W Third Model Russian?
For anyone wantin' to take a look see it's at www.cowboyactionshooting.com . They
also have a 1875 Schofield "Hide out" pictured. With a 3 1/2" barrel it looks to be the perfect "pocket pistol". It remains to be seen if SASS will allow it for side matchs. However given the fact that they disallow any model "P" clones in short barrel variations I have my doubts. When the first Schofield reproductions came out I thought I had to have one. Being a fan of the contemporary S&W "N" frame it seemed like the natural choice for a cowboy gun. Luckely I had the chance to try one out before spending any hard earned money. It felt ackward and unbalanced to my hand. I know it was no reflection on the gun itself. It was from my having grown up with a Colt SAA in my hand. (I hear you over there fal.)

BTW. Anyone interested may like to know that the plans for the miniture .22 Gatling gun are available from RG-G Inc.. The plans are $58.44 and can be obtained from
P.O. Box 935, Trinidad, Co. 81082. Sorry, they don't list a #. The completed gun is 3' long x 2' tall. I'd still like to know if anyone has any experience with these and if so how difficult it would be to build a larger version using the same plans.

February 14, 1999, 10:54 AM
Went to a gunshow yesterday to window shop. MOSS was there but didn't see any new cowboy guns. Did see quite a few Starrs though. Saw about half a dozen. As few a 5 years ago you were lucky to see one every couple of years. Did notice that the prices were up on most everything though, esp cowboy stuff. Guess that CAS is politically correct. Panic buying?
Don't remember what caliber the Spenser replica is in. Is it in a rifle caliber or handgun caliber? I would think that if it's a rifle caliber it should be adequate to handle 44 Mag, unless the rifle caliber is something rather anemic, along the lines of a '73 caliber. Though Gunslinger wouldbe much more knowledgeable aoubt that than I could ever profess to be.
Another interesting shotgun and rifle were the Burgess. Thses were pump action weapons where the pistol grip was the sliding action component. That would sure look different on the firing line. Would take some getting used to also.
Was there a domestic arms industry down south back then at all or was all weaponry imported. If imported, was it mainly USA, European or pretty much a mixture. I would imagine one saw more European guns down your way back then than one would have seen out West up here. Though just about everything was carried out west, expecially by exxpatriates from Europe.

El Chimango Pete
February 18, 1999, 06:09 PM
"Dream Gun" seems to have stalled - still like the notion of the Martini (and thx. Gunslinger, have correponded since with Randy Davis on his web page) - Wonder where one can find a good reference to the Spencers? (a cut away drawing or plan) other than buying a book?
Fal308 (would be 7.62 here as the Argentine army has a locally made FAL) there is liitle record on early guns here. Yes, mostly european (Lefachaux and spanish made Lemon Squeezer - copies of the S&W). There is a documented import of Colts and winchesters by Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch!. There were issue
Spencers Henry's and Winchesters. The first military rifle to be standrized was the Remington Rolling Block. But in a war with Paraguay (1865-70) many flinlocks (!) were used. Then of course came the Mauser 1908 kept as issue until the FAL.
Back again to "dream gun' in this and other threads we come upon 'SASS legal' ...WAS or NCOWS etc. Actually it would seem appropiate to have a separate forum for "Historical and or muzzle loaders or 'black powder' - worth suggesting Rich? - actually im quite happy with these although the threads do tend to tangle some !
El Chimango Pete
a 44 beats 4 aces

Jim March
February 18, 1999, 08:09 PM
OH ya.

There's a gun I've been trying to get NAA to build for a LONG time now:

Scale up the .22Mag minirevolver a bit, so you've got four or maybe five shots of .32H&RMagnum. That cylinder could shoot .32S&W, .32S&W Long and you could offer a second cylinder in .32ACP. Retain pretty much ALL of the features of an NAA mini otherwise, including the "hammer down between cylinders safety" that NAA stole from an old (1879 or so) Remington.

Offer it in 2", 3" and 4" tubes with a choice of sights, you'd have a SUPERB front-pocket/deep-cover defense gun, possibly one of the best in the world if you can handle .32Mag with a two-finger bird's head grip. It would also kick major tail as a "vest pocket surprise" minimally legal for SASS.

Why I want this gun:

1) .32Mag is a potent little beast

2) Overall size would be well under that of a J-Frame Smith.

3) Given the "street tactical" needs, a small SA is NOT a crazy choice, not for getting one fast shot off safely.

4) You'd have a very large selection of power levels even without the .32ACP cylinder. That cylinder would be a natural for NAA because it'd make this piece a good "Guardian companion".

5) Except for caliber, this sort of piece is *extremely* "period", the late 19th century swarmed with little critters like this. The nickle plate wouldn't peel because you'd make it in stainless steel but still - all of this long predates the FA/NAA minirevolvers.

Anything else in an SA revolver I can get by customizing a Ruger...but in "mid caliber sizes" there is *nothing* available new and in modern materials.

Jim March

Bill Mitchell
February 19, 1999, 10:53 AM
Howdy Jim,

Your post brings up an interesting point. While you can get replicas of lots of Old West style guns,repros of pocket pistols,aside from cap & ball,are non-existent. Granted,you can get Iver Johnson,S&W lemon sqeezers,and H&R's pretty cheap,but a modern repro would sell pretty well,IMHO.

>> Retain pretty much ALL of the features of an NAA mini otherwise,including the "hammer down between cylinders safety" that NAA stole
from an old (1879 or so) Remington.<<

Actually,early cap & ball Colts and Remingtons both had the between the hammer safety feature. On Colts,pins mounted between the chambers on the back of the cylinder fit into a hole in the face of the hammer. Remingtons had a notch into which the hammer fit.

>>It would also kick major tail as a "vest pocket surprise" minimally legal for SASS.<<

SASS has specifically stated that NAA revolvers are illegal under SASS rules. Why,I don't know,since the Colt New Line revolvers
produced in the 1873-1884 period look pretty darn close to the NAA revolvers. Of course,.31 caliber is the minimum for pocket pistols,but a gun like you describe would fit the requirements.

Bellicose Bill

[This message has been edited by Bill Mitchell (edited February 19, 1999).]

Jim March
February 19, 1999, 11:04 AM
Unless somebody knows otherwise, the only thing wrong with NAAs for SASS is the caliber. They've got the "hammer into notch" type safety which I'd think would be tougher than a "hammer onto pin" arrangement. Or...maybe not. 'Cuz if a pin broke, who cares, you've got lots more, you only need one!

Methinks this snubbing of NAA is a mistake, a BIG one! The NAA minis are the LAST of an authentic 19th century pattern that was in VERY common use, and are the absolute #1 street-carried SA revolver today. More people are starting out in SA with a mini than with any other type, at least among newer shooters!

I personally would *never* have gotten started in SA shooting without getting hooked on .22Mag minirevolvers.

Another thing: SASS rules talk about barrel bores of .32 minimum, but the .22Mag round has more POWER than the .32S&W or .32ACP. Especially out of the 4" bore of my Mini Master. So...what the hell are they thinking?

Jim March

February 19, 1999, 11:23 AM
Thanks for the info on the early weapons. Have you been able to "play" with any of the older weapons? I'll look over the weekend through some of my books and see if I have any drawings, parts diagrams etc of a Spencer. If I recall correctly American Rifleman did a story on them a couple of years ago. There is a company making a repro Spencer, but they are not cheap. I think they were either out of Montana or maybe it was Lonestar out of Texas. Went to the Lbrary of Congress site to see what is available and found a book written on the Spencer but I wouldn't want to buy it either as it is a $100 US special order book!
My grandfather was from Rosario, are you anywhere near there?
I've also got a non-SASS legal authentic pocket pistol, a Colt Ligntning. Only problem is it won't lock up. I got some spare parts with the gun when I bought it. Gunslinger, have you done any work on Lightnings or Thunderers?

Bill Mitchell
February 19, 1999, 01:18 PM
Howdy Jim,

Here is the word from the FAQ posted on the SASS website:

Q. North American Arms makes a 5 cylinder .22 caliber revolver. The barrel length is 1 1/8 inches and the cylinder must be removed to reload. My question is:
Does this firearm qualify as a Pocket Pistol or a Derringer?

A. Sorry pard, the firearm you described would be neither. It is a modern revolver, however, it could be used in the .22 rimfire revolver event.

How the above logic differs with regards to using Ruger Vaqueros or Marlin Cowboy rifles,
I don't know. Both of those guns are of modern design,but resemble Old West guns to a certain extent. Same with the NAA revolvers.

We have .22 side matches every few months,but I've never seen anyone shoot an NAA,probably because it only holds five shots.

Bellicose Bill

[This message has been edited by Bill Mitchell (edited February 19, 1999).]

Jim March
February 19, 1999, 04:23 PM
I saw one FAQ that had no mention of rimfire. If it was a "rimfire competition" then something like a Ruger Single Six makes more sense.

The FAQ I saw said ".32 and above and that's IT".

There's a mistake being made here, methinks. NAA is probably among the best-selling SA guns out there, definately the highest in terms of street carry.

Jim March

Bill Mitchell
February 20, 1999, 08:04 PM
Howdy Jim,

Our .22 side match is basically a stage set up with falling plate targets that is shot with a .22 revolver and a .22 rifle. You're correct-Single Six Rugers and other six shooters are usually the gun of choice for these. .32 and above(which has actually been modified to .31 and above to include some of the cap & ball pistols) is for the pocket pistols. Derringers can be .22,and quite often derringers and pocket pistols are shot in the same side match.

Bellicose Bill

February 23, 1999, 02:09 AM
Howdy again all,
I apologize for being away so long. With summer coming up I've been kept pretty busy doing custom owrk for folks all rushing for the up coming season. So I'm going to try to catch up here now.

Fal you flatter me regarding my knowledge regarding the .44 mag. Spencer but I suspect Elchimango, Trapdoor and a whole lot of others would be better qualified to render an opinion.

Elchimango you're right the "dream gun" thread is beginning to stall. I actually started this thread in an attempt to draw more folks into the Cowboy catagory on TFL. If you go back and read just the first two lines in the original post you'll probably remember just how little activity there was here back then. I was becoming frustrated at the lack of talk and, as I said in the last line, hoped it would stir up more activity. Well we've all done that. Things have sure changed since then.
I think you're right that black powder should have a bigger part in cowboy shooting. I know where you're at many of the shooters new to cowboy shooting are using the black powder guns they already own. Here out of laziness of not wanting to clean up after shooting black powder (I'm among that group) and the added speed of the cartridge guns it just isn't as popular. I to would like to see a little more latitude allowed by SASS, WASA, NCOWS, etc. I see and appreciate their concern to avoid the "I win because I've got more expensive equipment then you" approach so prevailent in other forms of shooting. However I also feel it stifles new ideas and developments in the guns and equipment offered. We all, myself included, complain that the manufacturers don't offer new guns that were in use in the 19th century. But when it comes right down to it if SASS, et. al. will not allow a gun or modification it is not profitable to develope and build it. I myself am guilty of this same thinking. I currently have new concepts that I can't afford to develope because of the lack of a market. Fortunately in my case I do a lot of my business in the custom firearms research and development field for firearms industry leaders. It gives me an opportunity to express my (odd) creativity without a great deal of risk. I get none of the glory but do enjoy the personal satisfaction in knowing that one of my concepts is in use by one of the "big boys".

Jim, I agree the NAA mini would be ideal for the pocket pistol stages. I heard several say they would like to see in avaiable in .32. You and Belicose Bill might give 'em an e-mail requesting it. I already have.

Fal I haven't done any work on the Colt Lightning but I do have a source for the parts. If you'd like give me a holler off list and I'd be glad to give the part#'s and phone number for anything you may need. That offer applys to anyone else interested. I know that they are not thought of well because of being prone to parts beakage but I still love 'em.

While I'm here, with Jim's permission, I'd like to invite you all over to the post about building his custom Vaquero. You all are always good for innovative ideas as seen here in this thread. This has the potential to be a fun thread.

I'll try not be such a stanger once the weather warms up and business slows some.

February 28, 1999, 08:23 AM
I'm new to this forum and don't even shoot cowboy yet. I've only got one of the necessary battery, a .45lc EMF Hartford. But I'll give you a fantasy gun.
How about a mutation of the Schofield. A top break, 6 shot with a modern type double action and grip. Offer it with 5" and 7" barrels in .44spl, .45lc, .44-40.
Then do it again with a smaller 5 shot cylinder, round butt and 3" tube.