My ultimate sixgun - A dream becomes reality
A special sixgun, paired with a special knife, deserves some special leather to complete the package. In keeping with the African theme, several choices came to mind. Cape buffalo, hippo and crocodile were all viable and appropriate options but in the end, elephant hide was deemed mandatory. Nothing sings Africa like elephant hide and it was only fitting, considering the use of ivory on both the sixgun and knife. I still had plenty of what the importer calls “vintage bark” from previous projects, which is a darker brown color with light brown wrinkles. It’s a beautiful material and the texture is very distinctive. This special rig was to include a full flap holster, for maximum protection of a cherished custom sixgun, a knife sheath and a new design for a safari rifle cartridge pouch. The belt is comprised of a straight 3” length of 14oz vegetable tanned cowhide along with the full elephant overlay on all components, 1½” billets and a brass clipped corner buckle. Copper #12 rivets are used for reinforcement throughout. All the polished brass metalwork was stripped of its clearcoat and given a hand burnished finish to reduce glare and lend a bit of an aged appearance. The copper rivets will turn in time. The hand stitched edge alone took many hours to complete and required approximately 45ft of thread. The right hand, crossdraw flap holster has elements of both my Indiana and Sentinel designs. It fully encloses the sixgun, except for the tip of the butt and also incorporates a sewn toe plug. Silent retention is by way of a slotted strap and Sam Browne button.
This is to be a special, oft-used rig and to maximize its utility, a design for a rifle cartridge box was drawn up so that different cartridge boxes can be used with the same belt, in lieu of cartridge loops woven directly into the belt, dedicating the belt to one cartridge or small group of cartridges. The cartridge box is designed to hold four rounds on the exterior so that the magazine can be quickly and easily topped off when there is a pressing need. There are another five rounds carried on the inside, fully protected from the elements, for when speed is not needed. Our prototype box here is designed to handle cartridges for the .416 Rigby and some improvements will be seen in future work. We may also need to reload our sixgun in the field. A full cartridge box isn’t really necessary for handgun rounds so, in keeping with the modular theme, a simple, yet elegant interchangeable panel system was made that accommodates both six shot .44/.45 panels and five shot .475/.500 panels. These are held in place with hand finished brass Chicago screws and easily changed, depending on which of my 4 5/8” Ruger Bisley sixguns is being carried. These could also be done in 10-12 shot versions across the back. The knife sheath is a simple stacked design utilizing an elephant hide thong with a toggle made from a warthog tusk.
Time passed as time does and before I knew it, it was running out. Things were progressing as I would receive news that the gun was finished and sent off to the engraver. Then from the engraver to Turnbull. The race was on! I worked on the rig as I could, taking extra care in the design phase to get things just right. Since I was working around customer projects, it took longer than expected. The knife was the first part of this endeavor to be completed and I picked it up from Russell’s shop shortly before the ivory ban became law. He delivered in fine fashion, the knife is gorgeous! The blade is hand forged ladder pattern damascus and it is brilliant when the sun hits it. The guard is also damascus, with damascus and coin stainless spacers. The ivory is also stunning, with plenty of grain showing and a pleasing creamy color. Mighty impressive work from this journeyman bladesmith!
Huntington sent the ivory grips before the deadline but the sixgun was not yet finished. After some long days and late nights, the rig was completed shortly after the Bisley came home in September 2016. To say that I am pleased would be a profound understatement. I was dumbfounded by what I found in the package from Nevada! The sixgun was absolutely stunning and even better than I’d hoped for. The custom touches such as the basepin and front sight base were perfectly executed. The engraving very well done. Gouse perfectly executed my vision and combined the use of scrollwork and negative space on the barrel and cylinder to perfection. The entire sixgun is carefully hand-finished, with special care taken to maintain flat surfaces and crisp edges. Turnbull’s carbona blue, coupled with the color case hardened hammer and trigger, plus the fire blued screws, pins and various other small parts all come together to stunning effect. The grips are perfectly fitted and very comfortable in the hand. The grip frame has been decked to ensure perfect fitment of the grips. It is also very slightly reshaped to match the contour of the grip panels. This beauty is not only skin deep. Huntington builds cylinders and machines octagon barrels in-house, with utmost care taken as to the quality and precision of each part. The oversized five-shot cylinder maximizes strength. Recessed chambers also use as much of the frame window as possible, ensuring full support of the loading gate. The chambers are linebored for perfect chamber/bore alignment, which maximizes accuracy. Lock-up is like the proverbial bank vault with zero rotational slack or endshake. The action is blocked to increase longevity. This sixgun is as serious as it is beautiful and it will be depended upon as serious sixguns often are. It is a truly a one-of-a-kind sixgun that I will shoot, hunt with, carry and cherish for the rest of my days. Everyone has their own ideas for what would constitute the ultimate custom revolver. This is my take on the subject but surely there is room for more than one.