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Recollections of a Combat Master

  • Writer's pictureElden Carl

Tools of a Champion

In preparation for an article (or two) about the pistols I used in my early shooting career, I asked our editor Pat Rose to take some photos of all three pistols as well as some of the individual parts that I modified and improved. Before I start writing the articles I thought I'd share with you now one of the photos and a brief description of the three pistols.

The two Smith & Wesson Model 19 combat Magnums were bought a couple of months apart in the last half of 1959, and I purchased the military surplus 1911 A1 for $15 near the end of the same year.

The combat Magnums were used in two-gun shooting exhibitions. The best of the two was the one I used for my duty pistol at the El Cajon Police Department. The Model 19 on the right in the photo was slightly superior action-wise and that's the one with which I did all my important work. The barrels on both pistols were chromed for visual effect by master plater Jack Neeson. Unlike some other well known double action shooters, I did not weaken the mainspring or sharpen the firing pin on either pistol. I did, however, highly polish the double action parts.

The original stocks on both pistols were Smith & Wesson target stocks which I reshaped to better fit my hand. Later Herret's came out with much better S&W Model 19 stocks, which I only had to slightly reshape. They fit my hand more like the 1911, which had the most comfortable fit of any pistol I have ever fired.

The Colt Model 1911 A1 shown in the picture is the original combat .45 ACP that I finished building in late 1961, except for the “bump pad” magazine extension which I invented in early 1962 and the two tone finish Jack Neeson did for me later that same year. In 1966 I had Neeson give it an industrial hard chrome in a single tone.

Before she put the camera away, Pat mentioned how beautiful the three pistols were, not only as examples of human technology but also the intrinsic beauty of steel and wood as well as function defining form. Of course there was also the historical significance of my 1911 A1 and my S&W Model 19 combat Magnums. She asked me for a few cartridges and lined them up on the table to create my initials (EC) and then carefully positioned the three pistols in a circle around the cartridges. The composition she created is the photo you see here.


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