Let the Buyer Beware

Or, “Caveat emptor,” if Latin is your first language. Years ago, a gunsmith friend of mine got hold of one of the Colt New Service revolvers in .45 Colt that had been carried by the New York State Police and made a belly gun out of it. He chopped back the barrel to 2 inches and installed a huge gold bead as a front sight. He slicked up the action and the trigger and carved a set of grips that fit his hand. The result was totally cool, and ever since I’ve been looking for a short-barreled d.a. revolver in .45 Colt.

The other day I thought I found it. It was a new gun with a 4-inch barrel, which is fine, and because it had a factory blemish it carried a very good price. But it was made by a company whose firearms I have used and often found flawed, so I went on the Internet and looked for other shooters’ experiences with that gun.

Turns out there was plenty of negative comment. People wrote about cylinders that failed to turn; heavy, rough trigger pulls; failures to eject due to undersize chambers; small parts breaking; and one guy who had the barrel on his revolver shatter where it screwed into the frame and go flying 50 feet down range. He sent it back for repair; the company fixed it; and he’s fine with it. I would not have reacted that way.

There were comments that typically read: “I sent it back for repair and after 9 [an average figure] weeks it was returned in perfect working order. They were very nice about it.”

Call me old-fashioned, but if I spend $700 bucks on a gun, I expect it to work. I don’t expect to have to take it to a gunsmith, or send it back to the maker for two months, or spend money just to get it functioning properly. Usually, I read these comments with a certain amount of caution, because you never know if the problem was caused by the owner, and not the maker. (The service manager at Marlin when they were in New Haven once told me that people yanked the bullets on .22 rimfires, dumped in a double load of powder, fired the altered shells, and then tried to sue when their guns were damaged.)

But since the comments tally with my own experience, I think I shall pass. Somewhere out there is a short-barreled .45 Colt with my name on it. But not this one.