A Nurse with a Gun

Monday, January 09, 2006

Pawn Shop Circuit: Shreveport & Princeton

I had business in Shreveport Louisiana this morning. I make it to the big city of Shreveport about twice a year. Today, I finished up my business, and got on the interstate to return home. Once over the river and into Bossier, I spotted a huge sign reading Top Dollar Pawn. It did not take much to swerve off onto the exit ramp.

On the way to Top Dollar Pawn, I came upon Cash 'n a Flash Pawn. I whooped into the parking lot. Cash in a Flash had several interesting revolvers, but they were all a bit rich for me. A charming young lady was working the counter, and she gladly showed me a Smith & Wesson Model 10-6 in fine shape for $249. The heavy barreled Model 10 is something I have been searching for, but not at that price. Among the other guns in the case was a boxed M&P with a four inch barrel. It was mint. The price was $600. The lady at the counter said she preferred selling guns to selling jewelry, so I asked to see a Colt Series 70 Gold Cup National Match that was under the glass. This pistol had been massaged by Clark Custom, and the trigger was fantastic. Asking price was $1299. One other 1911 I looked at was a Colt 9mm Government, still in the box, in pristine condition. It was priced at $999. I commented that I had a 9mm Commander that I liked a lot. That's when the young lady informed me the shop's owner often placed his own guns in the display case marked so high that he knew they would not sell. Something about hiding guns from his wife.

I moved on down the road towards the original pawn shop, and stopped at a Cash America on the way. They had a Smith & Wesson 586 in nickel for $380, among other guns.

I left, and finally arrived at the Top Dollar Pawn, which had lured me off the highway in the first place. Top Dollar was a huge pawn shop. They had everything from jewelry to guns to tools to saddles to big booming car stereos. On display was a huge selection of junk guns, potmetal pistols, interspersed with overpriced Mil-Surps that had been ordered from SOG or AIM. All had a high price tag. Among this stuff I also found a nice S&W Model 13 for $339, a clean S&W Model 30-1 for $299, and a Model 10-5 Snub for $349. All the while rap music was booming from the bass speakers being sold. It's no wonder so many people get frustrated pawn shopping. I did notice that there were a total of three Glock 26 pistols under the glass, all priced at $399-450. I made a few notes, and left.

On the way back to the interstate, I saw a sign that read Clark Guns & Safety. Ok, I decided, one more. I went inside to find a very nice selection of firearms, all attractively priced. I was helped at the counter by an attractive young belle named Justin. She could probably sell screendoors to submariners. One of the first pistols that I noted was a parkerized Springfield Loaded. It was in very nice condition and priced at $499.
The handgun that really caught my eye though, was a Colt Army Special. Once before, I had passed on an Army Special, expecting the price to go down, and saw it bought from under me. Justin was showing me one with quite a bit more bluing, in much better shape, for what I knew was a reasonable price. It was in .38 special. The serial number placed it at 1917. The wear was consistent with an old revolver that had been stored a lot but shot very little. It locked up tight. It had a $275 tag. I said OK. While Justin was running the NICS, I wandered over to the holster rack and found a swell IWB holster for a Government Model. It was handmade in the region, and ressembled a Summer Special. I laid it on the counter. I passed NICS and Justin pulled a complimentary gun boot from the rack across the store. We talked about Jerry and Kay a bit, and Justin suggested I stop by 336 Shootout Lane on the way back home. I checked my watch. Why not?

Princeton Louisiana is a weathered hard scrabble town that has seen better days. Pulpwood is the means of economic survival now. When one turns off Highway 80 onto Shootout Lane in Princeton, a person gets the feeling he had better know somebody at the other end of the road. Shootout Lane is a one and a half lane strip of blacktop winding through the pines for a couple of miles. You pass several homes on your way to the cinder block structure that houses Clark Custom. Over a hill, you might hear the pops and booms of gunfire. If you don't know, you will think Clark Custom is simply a grey storage bunker. Clark Custom is painted on the exterior wall in a darker grey, however, along with an arrow pointing to the door.

I went inside to find Jim Clark, Jr. working the counter. Clark Custom was founded by Jim's father, and the Clark son carries on the tradition of exemplary work and humble service. I perused the cases. Among other guns, Jim had four old M&Ps pretty well beaten, one of them a Victory conversion Model. He also displayed two custom S&W 629 revolvers. These two guns had a Clark meltdown, an action job, as well as other work. Jim let me dry fire one, and it was slick as a newly caught catfish.

Then I spotted something among the many guns that I thought I would never see. Back in November 2005, I predicted I would someday find a Whitney Wolverine. The Whitney was my Holy Grail gun. There it was, under Jim Clark Jr's glass. I asked Jim if I might examine this pistol. He took it out, and for the first time, I held a Whitney Wolverine. This pistol was called the world's most pointable pistol by no less than Rex Applegate. That assessment was dead on the money. The pistol is fullsized, but the aluminum frame makes it light. It fits the hand extremely well, and comes to sights unfailingly. This Wolverine was the real deal, not a reproduction. I found it on a pawn shop run, being sold by the best known gunsmith in my area. The tag read $295. Eventhough I had spent my cash with Justin an hour earlier, I could not let this slip by. I broke out the plastic and began filling out the forms. While Jim Jr. was calling in the NICS, I checked his sale rack. I gathered up a couple of round butt K frame Hogue grips coated with pine tar (I wonder who those belonged to......) an old floral carved holster, and of course, a Clark Custom ball cap. When Jim finally came back around, he told me $295. I pointed at the items on the counter. "What about the tax?" I asked.
"We have you covered," said Jim Clark.

There is an old tradition in Louisiana called lagniappe. That tradition is alive and well among the Clark and Miculek families. Jim Clark made my day in many ways but the lagniappe was a perfect topping on a delicious cake.

Range Reports are coming soon........

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Blogger AlanDP said...

Congrats on the Whitney. I saw one at the gun show a back in November selling for about the same price.

I have one of those Colts also, but it has been parkerized. Some old guy at the gun show last year told me the parkerization meant that it had been re-issued for use during WWII. It is operationally perfect, but looks like crud.

5:45 AM  
Anonymous Ron said...

I must say first and foremost that I enjoy the heck out of your site. Your photos and refreshing way of writing has me checking back here just about every day. Many thanks Xavier.

I know you placed that Colt down gently onto the dirt to take the photo but it just doesn’t look right. I know you have and show respect for firearms but the image is akin to scratching fingernails across a blackboard to me.

Not to worry, I’ll get over it. LOL!!


4:06 PM  
Anonymous MarkF said...

Oh the horror....
Nice find on the whitney. Looking forward to the range report.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Nate said...

What a fantastic fun day of pawn shop browsing and buying. Congrats onthe neat gun finds.

Somehow, I had it in my mind that Shreveport/Bossier was your neighborhood. Anyway, that Whitney is a neat pistol.

10:35 PM  
Anonymous Mark S. said...

Hello and thanks for the information on the Whitney. I have an original and never knew it was special. It was my uncle's, then my Dad's and now mine. I fired it today for the first time in decades. Only got off a few rounds before it jammed and then wouldn't fire. Took it apart and parts fell off and I didn't know what they were and couldn't fix it. Then I found your site. Turns out it wouldn't fire because that 'reverse' safety was on! :) Oops. I found the manual you referenced and was able to put the firing pin and retaining clip back in the proper location, and now that I know how the safety works I can get the hammer to drop again. I can hardly wait to try it again. Thanks. Mark

5:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was excited to come across the site and see you got that Whitney. I actually looked at it. I too am from Shreveport. I used to be a Fugitive Recovery Agent in the same neighborhoods you work. My uncle is a Captain on the SFD and my wife is a physician at LSU where I am sure you wind up taking a lot of your patients after stabilizing them.
I am actually writing because I noticed the ad for the NRA Blacklist on your site. It is funny to me that the people on the list, that are so "ANTI-GUN" make so much money through the use of weapons in there movies or songs. For example Matt Damon is on the list and 75% of his movies contain gun fights and violence. Then there is Missy Elliot the gansta rap star who has had her on dealings with the law and her associates that have had gun related legal issues...bottom line is that these people are "NUTS".
Anyway, I think I will revisit your site once in a while and see what other exciting stories you can tell.

Dustin Thompson

8:32 AM  
Blogger Tamie said...

Thanks for posting your take on the Whitney. I was looking for a personal opinion. My grandfather recently passed away and among the possesions shiped my way was Whitney in its original box w/ its certificate. The only thing I could think when I saw it was "how cool." I love the lines. I've only ever shot a rifle, but after I clean the Whitney up, I'll have to take her to the range.

12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a duplicate of a post I made on a similar site not knowing which site is current.
I have recently acquired a Whitney that is the exact image as the one shown and described by Xavier. The serial #26181 and is in excellent condition. I'm reluctant to disassemble it without some type of reference. I went to the Olympic Arms site as Xavier suggested in 2006 but they don't have any info on the Whitney. Does anyone have a manual or where I can get access to one?
Thanks, Bob

1:27 AM  

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