Linda bought me a ‘cute’ little gun as a present a couple years back; I think she paid $100 for it. Turns out it was a S&W .32 Double Action 4th Model. Good mechanically, but rough. I bought a box of Remington ammo- mugawd that stuff is expensive- and tried it out. Everything worked and the trigger was typical old S&W- heavy but glass smooth- but the tiny grip was well-nigh impossible for me. Worse yet even with the front sight pare down to a nub the gun shot 8-10″ low at seven yards. There was some pitting in the bore near the muzzle, but nothing that would account for this! I suspected the barrel was bent, but didn’t bother to measure it. Given the cost of ammo I just consigned it to ‘conversion-piece’ status.
Of course I can’t leave anything alone, and I had already shortened the barrels of a couple of guns, so I bobbed it at 1-5/8″ to match the Steampunk Snubby. I also carefully stripped the nickel finish- which was not in good condition- and blued it with Van’s Instant Blue. That being done I made an ergonomic grip for it so that I can actually shoot it. I went through a couple front sights before I got it hitting the way that I want to, and once I had started reloading I came up with a load that performs well in this little gun.
When I showed Linda the modified gun she said, “That’s a cute little critter!” Since then I’ve always thought of it as The Critter.
This gun is really small; it’s not a lot larger than many pocket .25 or .22 autos, and I started dropping it in my back pocket when I was going out to the workshop or yard. It may be a little critter but it’s also a ‘critter- git’r; a Norway Rat in the back yard was dispatched handily at 8 yards with a single shot. Since this and other guns were wearing holes in my jeans I made a pocket-holster for it. It’s rough-out top-grain leather and holds the gun securely without it being really difficult to draw.
With the new grip and sight the gun is remarkably easy to shoot well, despite the microscopic sights and uber-short 2-1/8′ sight radius. This is in part because the sights are so close together that they are in the same focal-plane, which works well with my old eyes. Rapid-fire groups at seven yards? Not a problem!
For those interested the load I use is a 96gr. LRBFP over 2.0gr. of Red Dot with a CI 500 primer. This gun handles the load very well; I’m not sure how lesser-quality guns would handle it.
So thanks to a bit of work (and a reloading press!) a gun once consigned to the junk-pile of history has a new life as one of my favorite guns.
Michael Tinker Pearce, 30 August 17

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