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.
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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.
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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!
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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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