The Clark Meltdown Colt Commander
The next couple of years saw a trigger replacement, a Nowlin hammer installation, a Ed Brown thumb safety, and an aluminum mainspring housing. The Pachmayr grips were exchanged for cocobolo. The pistol was a good gun, reliable, and accurate. It carried well. It did not really bother me that it was a rather homely pistol, it made up for the difference at the range. Still, I just felt it deserved better.
At the same time, I had always wanted a pistol that encapsulated Clark Custom's signature modification, the Clark Meltdown. Because the Commander was finished in electroless nickel, the refinishing costs would include stripping off the e-nickel. Not exorbitant, but more expensive than usual. So I waited. A year went by, and the pistol still shot unfailingly. Another year went by. The pistol never failed.
Finally, I made the drive to Shootout Lane, and discussed the pistol with Jim Clark Jr. I did not want to upset the applecart on a great pistol, so we decided to just melt the Commander and hard chrome the result. The pistol had no need for a trigger job, tightening, or accurizing, and Jim did not try to sell me anything I did not need. We agreed to replace the front sight insert after the hard chrome was completed. I left my pistol in Clark's competent hands, confident that I would be pleased when I saw it again. That was February.
Yesterday, as I was closing up my last case, my cell phone rang. My Commander was ready. I made another trip to Shootout Lane and received a familiar friend with a beautiful facelift. There are some that call the Clark Meltdown the revenge of the belt sander. If that is the case, the sander is in the hands of an artist. Jim and I had discussed leaving the original bushing in the gun. I did not want to upset a reliable and accurate barrel fit. The fit of the pistol was exactly as I remembered, but every sharp edge had been removed. The rear of the slide had been rounded. No a corner remained. It had the feel of a well used bar of Ivory soap. Flawless hard chrome covered everything, including the steel low profile base plate of the Wilson magazine. Jim had even cleaned up my roughly done insetting of the slide release pin. The pistol was beautiful.
I caught up with the fellows who massage pistols in Princeton Louisiana, and I needed to inquire about one thing in particular. In Louisiana, a person with a CCW has a duty to inform an officer of the law who engages them on official business, of the presence of their firearm. I had heard rumors that law abiding licensed concealed carriers were having their handguns confiscated by the Shreveport police at traffic stops. I was informed the rumors were not only true, but the weapons had not been returned, and the mayor had the balls to say his officers could do whatever they liked. Attorneys have been hired, and court dates are pending. Hopefully, the Shreveport police department will become reacquainted with the US Constitution, as well as the Louisiana constitution soon.
While we were talking, Jim broke out a revolver he was working on for a customer. He was installing an XS Tritium shotgun bead in a dovetail he had milled into the barrel of a J frame revolver. He had widened the notch in the rear of the top strap to accommodate it in the sight picture. The set-up was sweet. He had serrated the top of the barrel to reduce glare. Jim informed me the modification was still experimental, but he expected it to work well.
I just happened to have my Smith & Wesson Model 649 out in the car. Several years ago, I had seen a pair of 44 magnum snubbies that Jim had melted and set up as a brace of bear protection for a friend who was traveling through the Yukon. I left my little 649 with Jim to be melted with a bead blast finish, and to receive a new front sight if the XS Tritium sight modification works out well. Another Clark gun coming up.........
FWIW, Jim also had a well worn but complete and original 1918 M1911 in his used gun case for $1000 even. If anyone is interested, give him a ring.....