Rekindling an Old Flame

I must have been about 12 years old when I first became aware of her. My dad—who had absolutely no interest in guns or the outdoors—would occasionally relent to my incessant pleas to go shooting and take me to Red Larsen’s Indoor Range behind the hospital in Torrance, Calif., where for a couple of bucks I could borrow a .22 and shoot a hundred rounds or so. Most of the loaner guns were worn out .22 rifles, but on one visit none of the rifles were available, so Red let me shoot a revolver. I vividly recall seeing Smith & Wesson stamped along the long barrel. Even at that innocent time I knew Smith & Wesson meant quality.

Fast forward about 20 years, and I found a new K-22 sitting in a gun shop in Afton, Wyo. By then it was known as the Model 17. At that point in time I already had a Colt New Frontier .22 LR/.22 WMR revolver, a Model 27 and 29 Smith and a Colt 1911. I simply had to get that K-22. The gun shop owner knew I was enthusiastic about guns and let me put the revolver on layaway. When I finally paid it off and took it out and shot it, I found it to be the most accurate handgun I owned. So I shot the hell out of it, and it helped me become a passable shot with a handgun for a whole lot less money than I had been spending on reloading .38 Specials and .45 ACPs. For some unexplainable reason, I’ve never had a holster for it.

More guns came, and as I became what I thought was a firearms’ sophisticate, the little K-22 languished in closets and eventually my gun safe. Oh I’d take it out once in a blue moon and shoot it a bit, but it was largely ignored.

I’ve just returned from a two-day outing with Matt Rice and Greg Duncan of Blue Heron Communications—the PR firm for Smith & Wesson—at their annual prairie dog shoot on the Silver Spur Ranch near Encampment, Wyo. As usual, Matt brought a boatload of Smith & Wessons and T/C guns. Predictably, most of the writers were interested in the latest iterations of ARs, although J.D. Donnellon said he shoots ARs all the time with his LE gig, so he opted for the bolt guns. On the second day of the shoot I spotted a Model 17 Classic languishing in the case, forlorn by all the others. Plain and blue with laminated walnut stocks in the classic Magna style, six shots instead of the eight or ten shots in the modern version of the Model 17 and with plain black Patridge sights instead of the sexy fiber optics or scopes on other handguns, the old gal just didn’t have the pizzazz the new girls have. If she had eyelashes, I swear she would have batted them at me coyly.

Resistance was futile, and I scooped her up along with a brick of CCI Mini Mag hollow points and joined Dick Williams in the truck with hunt manager Dave Sturm. Early on that morning we pounded the pasture poodles with centerfires and the occasional pistol. After lunch we retired to a couple of pivot fields where the ground squirrels held court. That’s when this classic lady showed why she was once called the K-22 Masterpiece. From five to 75 yards the little K-22 was relentless in popping chiselers. Sure, I had to reload more often than Dick or Dave, who were shooting more modern versions of the Model 17, but the Classic was busy making me look a whole lot better than I am as a field shot. I’m in love again, and I’ll be shooting my own personal K-22 a lot more. She’s just too classy of a lady to let sit idle.

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3 Responses to Rekindling an Old Flame

Robert Hall wrote:
August 06, 2012

I have two Model 17's and You are so right Dave

Tom wrote:
August 06, 2012

Of all the guns that have passed thru my collection, a K22 Masterpiece I owned while stationed in Alaska has to be the one that I miss the most.

Dale wrote:
August 03, 2012

There's just something special about an old Smith & Wesson revolver. Nothing fancy but, it sure works everytime.