This past month has been one of the most hectic we have had in a good long while. Normally June is a sluggish month with kids getting out of school and lots of families going on vacation. This past 4 weeks has been anything but sluggish. We designed and introduced a couple of new limited issue revolvers, our El Diablo on a stainless full engraved Vaquero, the new version of the Texas Ranger Classic also on the Vaquero, and the Red, White & Blue Classic also built on a stainless full engraved Vaquero. We figured we would take orders for a couple of each, but we were way off. The stainless El Diablo has sold like the proverbial hotcakes and kept me busy engraving into the wee hours of the night almost every night for the last month. The Texas Ranger has almost done the same. I am in the middle of changing the Red, White & Blue Classic and we will be coming out with a whole new version of that within the next week to 10 days. It will again be built on the stainless Vaquero but more special features included, including a new name. We are waiting on the registration of the new name and logo and hopefully will have that in a week or so.
It is sort of ironic in that the very special guns we come up with that I absolutely know for sure will be great sellers, never are. I donít know why but they just never do. I have heard it said that a manufacturer has to have his finger on the pulse of the buying and shooting public to be successful. In that case I canít even find the pulse. Thank the Lord there havenít been too many of these but there have been a few. This is why the SHOT SHOW is around. Gun manufacturers come up with a new whizz bang idea, build a prototype and bring it to the show. Sort of like a concept car show. They show very special cars that may someday be added to their line up, or if the concept isnít popular at the show, they quietly destroy it and never admit to ever building it in the first place.
Firearms companies are known to do the same, although some just go under so there is no one to deny they ever built a certain gun. Here are just a few that just couldnít make it. Maybe not enough working capital, maybe not enough interested customers, maybe...well, you know the rest. Back in the mid to late Ď80s it was a good time to come out with handguns. Ronald Reagan was in office so the chances of any anti gun bills being passed was slim to none. American Arms had a nice little stainless steel double action 380. The feel was very similar to the Walther PPK/S. It was chambered in 380 and was a slick little gun at a decent price. It didnít make it.
American Derringer is known for their nice little 2 shot stainless derringers from 22 up to 45-70, yep, a derringer in 45-70.  A quick story here. At our shop in Florida we had a very large black friend who hung out at the shop. He was a former professional football player. He did a lot of work with young black kids who had run afoul of the law, trying to get them heading in the right direction. He bought one of the Model 4 American Derringers from us in 45-70 (I told you he was a big guy). He rode all over town in his bright red Corvette, a lot of times at night. Apparently his wife thought some of these nightly excursions werenít on the up and up, so one night he started to leave and she told him no he wasnít going. he told her to sit down and shut up. She then grabbed his 45-70 derringer and shot him in the ass with it. He was standing broadside to her when she pulled the trigger. The slug hit him in the right cheek of his ass, went all the way thru and came out the left cheek of his ass. He then walked over to her, took the gun away from her and told her he would be back in a little while (I did mention he was a big guy, didnít I?) He then got in his Corvette and drove to the hospital. He told me the only time it really hurt was when they ran an alcohol swab all the way thru side to side. If memory serves me he told the cops he had the gun in his back pocket and his wife threw the TV remote at him and it hit the hammer of the gun causing it to fire. Sounds plausible, doesnít it?
Anyway, back to American Derringer. They also came out with a little semi auto in 25 auto and in their proprietary 250 Magnum. I never saw the 250 Magnum so I am assuming it was just a slightly longer 25 ACP. In their literature they show the gun lasting a few years but I think it was actually a few weeks. It is now history.
There was a company called Arminex who had a semi auto called the Trifire. It looked like a modified 1911 that would shoot 9mm, 38 Super and 45 ACP by changing the barrel and magazine. The gun reminded me of the Coonan, but it bit the dust too.  Another company that had no luck was a company called Auto-Nine. They had a tiny little pistol out that looked very much like the Baby Browning, and was chambered in 22 LR. Adios Auto-Nine. A company that went by the name of F.I.E. brought in a large amount of little inexpensive guns from Europe. Their line up was too numerous to mention and a lot of them came into the states. They didnít last too long. Rumor was they were in some nasty lawsuits and are now long gone. One of the better ones they brought in from Italy was their TZ-75, pretty much an exact copy of the famous Czechoslovakian  CZ-75. It was made by Tanfoglio in Italy, who still make that same gun for several companies. It was a fine 9mm but the importing company folded.
I mentioned the Baby Browning a moment ago. There were several companies that made copies of it, including Bauer and Fraser. The Bauer was a fine little gun, small enough to put in your watch  pocket and not be noticed and was a stainless version of the Baby Browning, but it didnít last long.  And if you know what the watch pocket is, you are showing your age. The Fraser for some reason just didnít make it. The action just never was quite right. I saw a couple and then they went by the wayside. Iver Johnson was another that came out with several new guns that just didnít make it. One was the Pony, a little 380 that was a miniature 1911. Colt ventured into the Pony game for a short time, then it disappeared. Word in the business was that Star made it for Colt.  But Iver Johnson had a vague copy of the Colt Woodsmen out called the Trailsman. I think I saw one before it bit the dust. They also had a nice little 22 LR and 25 ACP that were pretty close to the Walther in design. It was the TP22 and the 25TB. We sold a few of these in our shop, then they were no more.
Korth is a big German company that makes some of the finest guns ever, although they are extremely ugly. The Germans donít go out of their way to make anything pretty. They kept bring more and more guns into the U.S all thru the 80s and none were what could be called a success. Their 357 Magnum revolver looked like someone who had a Colt Python fetish designed it while on cocaine and Thunderbird wine. It was undeniably one of the finest made revolvers ever but it was ugly, and ugly doesnít sell well here in the states. Even in the 80s when a S&W M-27 in 357 sold for $350 all decked out, the Korth was priced at $1100 to $3000. Did I mention it was ugly?  Germans also have no imagination as far as nice appealing names for their guns. It was called the 357 Magnum. Catchy name, huh? Korth also has a semi auto 9mm out that was also eat up with the uglies. It also had a catchy name. It was called the Semi Automatic Pistol. Just talking about it gets me all hot to run out and buy one. It was priced at only $2500. By the way, it was ugly too. And like the revolver, flopped here in the states. In Germany I heard they sold them to large breasted 300 lb women who were never known to smile.
Speaking of ugly, Steyr, a very well known company, came out with a 19 shot 9mm called the GB. We had a couple of them in my shop and there was no way possible to make the gun function. We had a priest come in and sprinkle holy water on it hoping that would cure itís ills. But that didnít work either. A couple of companies bought the patent later and they were also never able to make it work.  Flop. flop, flop.
Betcha never heard of the Steel City Double Deuce. It was a little semi auto made in  England but brought into the states by a company in Pennsylvania.There were big write ups about it in all the magazines touting itís helical, self cleaning bolt, two stage recoil assembly that allow you to throw any 9mm ammo in it and it worked perfectly. That was great, except it didnít work. It was a pistol the size of the Walther PPK/S but came with a 10 shot and a 34 round magazine. Bet that was hard to shove down the front of your pants. Flop Flop.
Another German revolver was the Arminius, which was actually several revolvers chambered in 22, 32, 38 and 357. Like the Korth, they were ugly. Also like the Korth, the Germans had a gift for cute little names for their guns. They called this one the Revolver. Damn, wish I had thought of that name. It was cheap, unlike the Korth, running well under$250, and did I mention that it was ugly. Flop.
There was an effort to make the 1911 double action. The design was by Seecamp if I remember right. It was brought out by a company called. O.D.I. It was called the Viking. My gunsmith in Florida bought one and never could get it to function. He also thought it was a fluke, so he bought one of the conversion kits to go on his Colt Combat Commander. The last I saw of that conversion it was in the air heading toward a dumpster behind our shop. Flop Flop.
Another one that was touted by all the gun magazines was the Semmerling. It was a tiny little gun that came in 9mm and 45 ACP. It was supposedly all hand made and the gun rags went on and on about how it was the new thing in pocket pistols. Now here is the feature that they crowed about constantly. It was a little 7 shot semi auto, except it wasnít semi auto. After each shot you had to reach up and pull the slide forward manually to eject the spent case. There were no serrations on the back of the slide because the slide didnít go backwards. The serrations were on the front of the slide because the slide went forward. Now what mental midget would come up with an idea like that? And to make things even sillier, they had a year or more wait. Finally they went under and American Derringer bought out the patent and it also went under with them. Flop flop.
Another one that the gun rags fawned over was the Sokolovsky 45 Automaster. This very expensive space age looking pistol touted it being hand made and having no screws in the gun at all. It had a trigger inside the trigger. A weird set up that was supposed to be the new high tech in safeties. The gun had a waiting list as long as your arm and started at $3000. It, like the Semmerling, was the ďin thingĒ to have in the 80s. They were all over the gun magazines for a year or so and then disappeared.
Left handed pistols were big for a brief time in the 80s. The Randall 1911 was probably the first. and had moderate success with it. Then a company brought out a pistol called the Falcon Portsider. It was sort of a rip off of the Randall but didnít last long at all. Another flop. A company that was known for very well made revolvers in the moderate price range was Charter Arms. But they had their flops too. They came out with a semi auto called the 79K. The pistol was chambered in 32 ACP and 380. They also had big dreams with another in 22 LR called the 40K. To give Charter Arms a bit of credit they actually imported them from Germany under their name. Nevertheless, they flopped.
One of my favorite pistols was also a flop, although there were probably circumstances beyond their control that brought itís demise. This was the Bren Ten. A great gun, designed partly by Jeff Cooper, and sort of a half breed CZ-75, that Cooper thought of as the finest 9mm ever made. The company had money problems from the start and the company that was to make their magazines for them folded leaving them with pistols but no mags. They delivered some guns without magazines and a few with magazines. Later they came into some magazines and tried to bring life back into the company but it was too late and the Bren Ten became history.
There are dozens of guns, probably hundreds of them that had great expectations but for one reason or another flopped. We can all have lemons. I know I have had a couple thru the years. We just keep on trucking and if someone brings it up, we tell them it was another company that brought out that dog, wasnít me.
Our next HHC is now 3 months away, October 2 thru Oct 5th. We already have almost 30 people on the list signed up. If you need more info on it, feel free to give me a call at 928-526-3313 and consider this my invitation to you to join us. It is a great weekend in Monterey Tennessee. Join us.
Til next time, take a youngster or a lady shooting. They are our future.
God bless,