A Nurse with a Gun

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Clark Concealed Carry Revolver

I had just finished my last case yesterday when the cell phone in my pocket rang. Although I carry my phone with me for family emergencies, I give out the number jealously. Answering a phone in cases involves having a nurse reach under my gown to retrieve it and hold it to my ear before it stops ringing. One ring and concentration is broken. One slip and sterility is broken.

On the other end of the line was Renee at Clark Custom. "Xavier, Jimbo has your gun ready," she said cheerfully. The docs were were discussing a weekend of golf versus shooting, but were keeping an eye on my conversation, wondering if all was well at home. I struggled to keep the conversation generic, to conceal the purpose of the call from their inquisitive ears.

I couldn't recall what time Clarks closed on Friday. I had to ask though, I knew they were closed on Saturday. "Fine, go ahead and give forty milligrams of lasix, and I'm on my way," I replied. A confused Renee agreed. As I excused myself, Dr. Ferguson asked if everything was OK. "Yeah, I need to take off though," I replied.

"You shooting in the matches this weekend Xav?" called Dr. Antonopoulos as I waved good day. I gave him a thumbs up and a shrug.

As soon as I entered the parking lot, I called Clarks back. "Renee, what time do you close today?" I asked.

"Lasix? What's lasix?"

"Don't worry about it," I replied, "What's your closing time?"

"Four o'clock."

"I'm on my way," I said.

"Be careful, drive safely," Renee said. "You know we will hold it for you if you don't make it in time."

"Thanks Renee. See you in a bit."

Pine bark littered the blacktop as I pulled off the exit into the logging town of Princeton Louisiana. At least I didn't miss my exit, I thought. Click to enlargeAs I wound along the long drive into the Clark family property, I saw a familiar face working on a rusty lawn tractor underneath his garage. In the rural South, people still wave at passing motorists. Jerry Miculek looked up from his work on the tractor to wave at me. I waved back and continued down Shootout Lane to the nondescript cinder block building where top tier competition guns are built and shipped all over the world. The cow bell rang as I entered the door.

"Matt, I think you might have something for me," I said to the man behind the display counter of guns. Matt still works at Clarks, even though he could have retired years ago. He called out for Jimbo, who was working in the busy shop beyond the counter. Shortly afterwards, Jim Clark Jr. appeared, his magnifying lenses perched above his ball cap, and a metal flecked apron protecting his clothing.

"Glad you're here," said Jim. He reached among the cardboard boxes stacked on a shelf behind the counter, Click to enlargeand pulled out one with my name on it. As he opened it, I saw the gun I had been waiting for. In July of 2009, I collected my Colt Commander after a Clark Meltdown, and I dropped off the stainless Smith & Wesson 649 that rested in the box. I picked the revolver up, opened the cylinder, and checked it's condition, even though I knew it was empty.

The gunsmiths at Clark Custom had deftly removed every sharp edge on the Bodyguard frame and cylinder, then bead blasted the result. It felt good. The Uncle Mike's rubber grip still fit the gun perfectly. "We figured you would want the trigger polished," said Jim, as I ran my fnger along it's mirror surface. He was right. A polished trigger face allows the shooter's finger to slide across it on the long double action trigger pull of a revolver. The result is greater accuracy as the muzzle of the gun is not pulled off target.

"Thanks Jim." I replied. "Mind if I dry fire it?" Jim gave the go ahead and I aligned the sights and pulled the trigger. It was silky smooth but still at what felt to be stock weight. Perfect.

Jim was waiting for me to examine the front sight. Last July, he was experimenting with dovetailing a Trijicon shotgun sight onto a J frame revolver. He had proudly displayed his work to me as I picked up my newly melted Colt. The dovetail was perfect, with a paper thin distance between the barrel and sight base to compensate for heat while shooting. The rear sight notch was opened up to accommodate the big glowing front dot.

"I've got to ask Jim, because I know of several people ready to send you guns for this mod....... Are you ready to make it a staple modification?"

Jim smiled. "Much as I'd like to, I don't see how I can," he replied. "We have a one year waiting time on comp guns right now, and I just don't see how we can accomplish it. Besides, with these scandium frames........"

I started to point out that my revolver was stainless, but Jim knew that. He was talking about working difficult metal in the future, and trying to turn a profit on precision hand work. "So it's a one-off then?" I asked, just to make certain.

"Unless someone wants to wait a year and pay more," Jim replied, never one to close an open door or turn away work. I asked how much I owed him. "One bead blast finished Meltdown, one XS Trijicon sight furnished and installed..... $362.64," came the reply. I pulled out my checkbook and wrote a check. Years ago, I had purchased the 649 as a practice weapon to decease wear and tear on my aluminum framed Model 38. I had bought it used for a price in the neighborhood of $230. I now held it as a bespoke one-off custom gun with less than six hundred dollars invested.

Today will be a great day at the range.

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Blogger Owen said...

Oh man I would pay at least that much and wait twice as long to have that done to my 642! Awesome post Xavier I've missed your writing, glad all is well.

9:34 AM  
Anonymous 1894C said...

Ditto on missing your writing Xavier.

Love the "humpback"! I've got a pinned '74' era factory nickel with a Tyler T grip adapter and smooth buffalo horn stocks, it's a great piece.

Thanks for the posting, enjoyed the text and pictures as always.



11:28 AM  
Blogger Don said...

It's beautiful. You're right to be proud of it.

12:02 PM  
Blogger stbaguley said...

I think I have finally decided what it is I like best about your writing. You provide the necessary logical framework to properly articulate WHY one should lust after a particular piece of gear. So much better than "oooohhhhh shiney!" Thanks!

12:23 PM  
Blogger Asphyxiated Emancipation said...

Nice, very nice. Good to see you writing again.

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a interested 638 owner I gotta ask for pictures of the hogged out rear sight.

7:36 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Imagine the groove in the top rib going straight back.

Like I said though, it's doubtful Jim will do another.......

7:44 PM  
Blogger Crucis said...

Beautiful pistol.

I'm jealous. I carry a M442 and have a spare just in case. Too bad that type work can't be done on black anodized aluminum.

9:39 PM  
Blogger Mark Horning said...

I really like the anti-glare serrations on the top of the barrel.

You've got a keeper for certain.

2:25 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

"A polished trigger face allows the shooter's finger to slide across it on the long double action trigger pull of a revolver. The result is greater accuracy as the muzzle of the gun is not pulled off target."

So THAT is why they do that. Thanks for providing the "why" behind some custom work.

speaking of DA pulls; a DA pull will definitely show you what's wrong with your form over a SA trigger.

11:23 AM  
Anonymous WW Paul said...

Fine looking firearm. I'd still be interested in what you think of the front sight.

5:38 PM  
Blogger Will said...

I read that Miculic prefers a grooved trigger face. Not sure about the width, though.

4:09 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

I don'r know what he prefers. I suspect he would outshoot me with any trigger. I prefer a polished trigger face on a revolver.

5:53 AM  
Blogger Will said...

Yep, I figure any trigger that moves as far as a DA revolver's should be smooth. And I'm starting to stare at my Glock's trigger, and debating method and time.
That front sight looks interesting. I may have to drag out my 442 and consider the possibilities of doing something similar. Not to mention the Charter Arms. Might require the TIG, though, being as they are aluminium. Hmmm... As if I don't have enough projects...

3:00 AM  
Anonymous Kevin S said...

Really nice and worth the price.
Good looking 642!

Glad to see your writeup and your pics.

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Scott J said...

I've never understood the grooved trigger thing at all.

Every revolver I have is polished.

Only my 1911 is grooved and I only leave it that way because it's movement is such I am unaware of the grooves.

7:35 AM  
Blogger lbrasi said...

I've been waiting for this update since you sent it to Clarks. Great job!. I've got a S&W 640 .38 that I'm thinking of sending in for similar treatment.


9:10 PM  
Blogger Jarubla said...


Thank you for keeping up the great writing. This one felt like I was a fly on the wall the entire time.

Fine pistola sir! Hope the range was as great as you hoped it'd be


12:23 AM  

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