Sometimes you have to cull the herd. Maybe you’re on hard times and have to sell your superfluous guns. Or, having finally retired and finding that that Tahiti doesn’t have an IPSC club, you have to settle for someplace else but don’t want to move the entire tonnage. We’ve all bought something because it was a great deal or we thought it would be cool. Heck, on one occasion I almost bought a left-handed Weatherby Mark V in .300 Weatherby Magnum, even though I’m right-handed, see no need for a .300 anything and wasn’t hunting at the time. I almost bought it because it was a beautiful rifle. If you stick in this biz, or just hang around gun clubs enough, you’ll end up with a rack of “When did I last use that?” firearms.
Sometimes you’ve got to lower the inventory. That’s what I’m talking about here. The ones that are left, the ones I’ll keep even if it means I have to walk the roads picking up deposit bottles and cans for cash. Or to put in another way, these are the handguns I want on the boat with me if I opt for a Viking funeral.
<h2>Custom Ithaca 1911</h2>I bought my first 1911—a 1943-vintage <a href="http://www.ithacagun.com/" target="_blank">Ithaca</a>—in 1978 for $179. It didn’t take me long to discover that Jeff Cooper was right. It had its shortcomings, but I quickly had it built up by the late Frank Paris for IPSC competition. It’s now on its second slide, second compensator and third barrel. I used it for more than a decade of weekly IPSC, Steel Challenge and local indoor league competitions. I took it with me for 13 of my 14 trips to Second Chance, where it won me more than my fair share of loot and glory. It went with me to IPSC and USPSA Nationals eight times. The rear sight is a tough-as-nails Bo-Mar (the sights lasted longer than the company). The barrel is my personal gold standard—Bar-Sto—and this one was fitted by Dan McDonald, the gunsmith who taught me the basics. A build of the early 1980s, it is not as well fitted as modern custom 1911s and lacks some refinements. And along the way, one of the mag funnel well additions fell off. (I’ll have to have Stan Chen fit a new one one of these days.) But it has served me well, reliably and long. Alone among my 1911s, this is the one I protect as much as it protected me.