All posts by James

Dealing with 90 year old glue, starring: Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless

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Well, I intend to do a more in depth review and teardown guide on this handgun, but since an issue came up that required a quick fix, I thought I’d document and share.

First some background on this firearm.  This little Colt is yet another marvel of turn-of-the-century design by John Moses Browning, predating the 1911 by a couple of years, but sharing some design features and having ergonomics very similar to the later Colt Government.  Though mechanically different (striker vs. hammer), you can see the relation between this handgun and the FN 1910/22, a later model by the same legendary designer (which I’ll be featuring at a later time).  This was basically the one of the first Concealed Carry autoloaders, with a very slim profile, “hammerless” (internal hammer) so as to not snag, low-profile rounded sights, and higher capacity and more firepower than an equal sized revolver.   This role was well embraced by characters throughout history such as Al Capone who was said to always have one in his coat pocket, and Bonny used one to break Clyde out of jail by getting one in taped to her thigh.  John dillinger was carrying one when he was shot by the FBI, and those very agents that shot him were likely carrying these as BUGs.  This didn’t go unnoticed by the government either, and the OSS and later CIA used these as concealed carry guns all the way until the 1970s.

Anyhow, if there’s interest, I’ll go into more detail in a later post.  As for this one, the S/N puts it’s production in 1920, making it a type III.  It’s my significant other’s current favorite range gun, because it fits her tiny hands perfectly, is lightweight, firing a lightweight but still useable round (.32 ACP / 7.65, get the Fiocci, europeans load it hot), and it’s got that extra bit of history and panache that her Colt Government lacks.  …part of which led to our problem.

I like to imagine this thing was carried by a gangster in the roaring 20’s, as it was ordered from Colt with custom mother-of-pearl grip panels.  Unlike the wooden or hard rubber grip panels of the period, these were simply flat backed, and didn’t have a raised area that fit into the frame.  This meant that simply screwing them in would not hold them in place, so they were glued in place.  I’m not quite sure what kind of glue was used on firearms furniture in the 1920’s, but I do know that they clearly weren’t taking into consideration how disgusting and inconvenient it would be to future owners in 90 years.  After this piece of history’s long slumber was awoke by the report of several hundred Fiocci 7.65 FMJ rounds, the glue decided to finally give out, forcing me to clean and reattach the grips.

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Now… this may not be the BEST way to handle this as I was risking the finish under those grips, but this thing’s no museum piece so I wasn’t going to baby it, the main concern was getting the grips back on and still in one piece, and making sure they’d stay that way for a couple more decades.

After unscrewing and GENTLY rocking them back and forth, freeing from the remaining glue, both the grips and frame needed that ancient gunk removed.  Enter my new best friend (which will be featured in the next post about proper cleaning supplies), Mil-Comm MC25, sprayed on the back of the grips and on the frame and allowed to soak for a bit.

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A makeshift scraper out of a cloth-wrapped mini flathead and some (very careful) elbow grease later, and that evil crud has been removed.  It didn’t bind very well to the pearl, and was very easy to remove (practically wiped off with cloth after the MC25 got to it).  I’d have preferred to use a wooden or plastic scraper of some sort, but with the effort required to get some of this buildup off, it would’ve likely bent or cracked.  I still managed to get this stuff off with minimal scratching to the finish, all in areas that will be covered by grips anyway.  Just to be a bit anal and not want to leave unprotected scratches, even under the grips, I filled in the couple scratches I did make with a Birchwood Casey Presto Gun Blue Touch-Up Pen
(sorry, not pictured, stopped taking pictures at the point that I had funky old glue residue on my hands).

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A fine bead of Locktite Super Control Gel and 2 screws later, and we’re back in business.  I’ll be sure to update with how well this holds up, but I’d like to think that super glue technology has gotten better in the last century.

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(Also, regarding this last picture, I never really noticed the difference in grip size on either side, odd.  It does fit the hands really well though, and I’ve been told they’re at least period correct if not originals, so I’ll just chalk up another one to turn-of-the-century ergonomics)

Online Ammunition Shopping Made Easy

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Let’s face it- sometimes, the local WalMart isn’t going to have the ammunition you need, especially with the current shortage we’ve got going on.  Even when the local big-box store is in stock, you’re normally subject to purchase limits, either on certain calibers (.22lr comes to mind), or on total.  So off we go, to the internets, to find the cartridges we crave.

There are a couple of old standbys I used to use quite a bit, like Ammunition-to-go (still a pretty good choice), and of course Cabela’s / Bass Pro / Academy’s online stores are usually pretty well stocked, if pricier.

But, a few months ago, I found the ultimate place to find the best deals on ammunition, and a new go-to even if just to see what a particular cartridge is going for at the moment.

Seriously, Gunbot is where it’s at.  It’s not a store, but rather an aggregator, whose creater I would like to buy several beers (though he can likely afford his own through the money I’m sure he raked in on affiliate deals).  Basically, you go there, choose your caliber, and you’ll get lists that you can sort by price-per-round, age of offer, brand, and store.  The site will link you to the website making the offer, and you go there to do the buying.

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They have some additional features if you create an account and donate ($20/yr at the moment) such as email alerts based on price thresholds you can set.  THIS feature, wins.  Back during the darkest months of the current shortage, when .22lr was impossible to find anywhere besides price gougers on gunbroker, you could set email alerts when it was available.  More than a few times, I’d get a ping, get online ASAP, see a few boxes available somewhere, add to cart, and it would be gone in mere minutes of being listed in stock, so apparently I wasn’t the only one using this feature.

Things have calmed down a bit since then, and by watching trends on here, much like watching stocks, you can see the prices slowly settling back down.

Anyhow, just wanted to share this tool, hope it helps!  Next week, I’ll try to have an introduction to cleaning post that’ll help the newbies know what their bare bones cleaning kit should look like.

Getting Started!

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Welcome to Grey Arsenal

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Right, so I’m new at blogging- cut me some slack for the first little bit while I get things up and running here.  First order of business, getting myself a decent set up for taking pictures.  This I promise:  No more terrible on-the-bed or carpet pictures like the ones I’ve taken above.

I also promise that I don’t even own that comforter any longer.  Not sure what I was thinking there.   Anyway- as soon as I’m good to go with getting some non-distracting pictures on here, I’ll probably kick this thing off with some quick ‘n dirty takedown guides.  Honestly, all of these will be available elsewhere, but as mentioned on the About page, these will be partially existing as guides by me for my friends and family, and I’ll try to make them as clear and detailed as possible.

Later on, I’ll get into some slightly more exotic ones that may not be as easy to find, ones I know I had to dig around for a bit to find (anyone in the audience need to know how how to disassemble their FN Model 1922 or DWM P08 Luger?  Stay tuned.)

Disclaimer: I’ll be handling some fun stuff here, and as much as I’d like to laugh evilly whilst twirling my waxed mustache and claim that everything you see belongs to me, I’ll likely be showing firearms belonging to friends/family here too, generally for the purposes of doing a tear down guide or review on something to which I wouldn’t otherwise have access.  Also, the information here is for, well, information purposes only, don’t rely solely on what’s posted here, especially if you’re having an issue with your firearm, and especially ESPECIALLY if it’s an immediate safety issue.  I’m just giving a guiding hand, and am not liable for you ruining your brand new boomstick.  For any problems/issues that can’t be addressed by a basic strip-n-clean, it’s always best to either contact the manufacturer to check for warranty, or a local well-reviewed gunsmith.