Pawn Shop Circuit: Shreveport & Princeton
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........