Category Archives: Maintenance

Fouled Cylinder Chambers from using .38 in .357

DSCN1676It’s fairly common to shoot .38 Spl from a .357 Magnum revolver for practice or competitive shooting events, as it’s cheaper, and has significantly less recoil, without much difference in accuracy (despite the “jump” it has to make).  This leads to an often brought up topic of fouling making it difficult to load .357 Magnum cartridges after prolonged bouts of shooting .38 Spl.

The problem comes from the fact that the .357 Magnum cartridge is a bit longer (and miniscule bit wider) than a .38 Spl cartridge.


This means the .38 Spl bullet has to jump a bit through the cylinder chamber to get to the forcing cone and into the bore.  This means there will be fouling at a lower point in the cylinder, and that build up and burn in over time (sometimes even after a hundred or so rounds during one session) and make loading of .357 Magnum cartridges difficult to impossible.  See the image below to see a ring of where this buildup was removed from the chambers.


What you end up with is a .357 Magnum Revolver that doesn’t seem to want to accept .357 Magnum cartridges.  Not cool.


Luckily, it’s not permanent.  Even if cleaned normally after shooting .38 Spl, you still may need to go a bit further to remove this fouling.  You could use a slightly oversized brass brush (for instance, a .40 S&W brush in a .357 Cylinder) soaked in solvent and just have at it for a while.  A serious while.  It takes A LOT of effort to remove this fouling this way.  Luckily for you, I’m going to show you the easy (well, easy-ish, more on that at the end) way.

Things you’ll need:


  • Electric Drill (preferably newer than the one pictured)
  • Brass brush of required size (in this case a .40 S&W sized one)
  • Solvent (Hoppe’s 9 / CLP work well, MC25 doesn’t break up the lead as well)
  • Tools for disassembly of your firearm

Naturally this will vary by firearm, but what you’re going to need to do is remove the Cylinder.  My sample here is a Colt Python, so here you’ll get a bonus Colt Python Cylinder Removal quick-guide.

  • Carefully LOOSEN this screw enough to easily turn by hand:
  • DSCN1682
  • Remove by hand while minding that a very tiny spring and plunger sit inside of it.  It’s not under pressure, but may fall out and be a PITA to find.
  • DSCN1683
  • Use spur to open the cylinder action, and slide forward off of the frame.
  • DSCN1685
  • Unscrew the Extractor Rod and remove, along with the parts that are now freed up by this.
  • DSCN1687
  • Complete.

Yes, that cylinder has some serious burn rings on the front as well.  This Python may have the appearance of a safe queen, but she gets worked out quite a lot thanks to being such a pleasure to shoot.  If there’s interest, I’ll do another quick article on getting THOSE rings off, but the long and short- lead remover cloth, or scotch pads and Hoppe’s 9.

So, what we’re going to do here next is go ahead and chock that brush into your drill.


Soak the brush in the solvent of your choice, and holding your cylinder in one hand and the drill in the other, get that brush in there and let ‘er rip.  This may seem harsh, but the brass stands no chance against the steel inside of your chambers, you’re not going to damage it, but you will break up the fouling like a boss.  For extra-bad fouling, you may want to tilt the drill a touch in circles to apply extra pressure, but not too much or you’ll bend up your brush too much.


When this is done, you’ll have A LOT of dirty solvent all over that cylinder.  Give it a good wipe and normal cleaning.  Once that’s done, move to your test area (because I KNOW you didn’t have ammunition near your work space, right?) and let’s see what happens.


Ta-da!  Your .357 Magnum is back to being a .357 Magnum.

Now, about the EASIEST way of doing this that doesn’t involve jury-rigged powertools.  Just buy this.  Brass screen over a rubber piece will get that fouling out in one pass.  Also works very well at cleaning bores and getting your forcing cone clean.  As a bonus, this is a 9mm size, it works for .38 / .357 / 9mm just like brushes / bore snakes, and one tool for multiple guns is always the way to go.

Cleaning for beginners, Cleaning Kit How-To


Well, I said I would get to this eventually so here goes.  How to get a new shooter up and running with a basic cleaning kit.  I’m not going to go into detail here on the cleaning process, that would best be covered in individual guides- but we’ll do a basic overview of the process and what bits and pieces you’ll want in your kit to let you do so.


So first off, basic break down of the process you should be following as soon as possible after shooting.

  1. ALWAYS Verify firearms are unloaded and remove any ammunition from the workspace.
  2. Field Strip (or as far down as you’re personally comfortable with and feel is necessary at the time, the deeper the better) firearms used one at a time.
  3. Give all parts a brief wipe down with a clean and dry rag (or cloth patch if you like).
  4. Spray parts and surfaces down with MC25 Solvent (my preference, plus it smells nice) and allow to set briefly, or, if you like, simply spray or wipe with a rag/patch soaked with CLP.
  5. Spray chamber and inside of barrel liberally with solvent of choice.
  6. Wipe Solvent / CLP soaked parts with clean rag / patch to remove initial fouling.  Repeat above steps until rag / patches return clean results.
  7. Use CLP soaked (followed by dry) Q-tips (seriously, click link, way better than the ones for your ears) to detail clean Chamber, Breechface,  Lugs, and other detailed areas.  Use pipe cleaners (the absorbent kind, not craft pipe cleaners) to get into harder to reach spots.  Additionally, a toothpick or dental pick wrapped in one layer of thin cloth works pretty well for buildup in tight crevices.  Use solvent-soaked toothbrush for very fouled areas, especially fouling on intricate areas.
  8. Run calibercorrect Boresnake through barrel at least 3 times, ALWAYS from Chamber -> Muzzle.  NEVER pull through from Muzzle end to Chamber.  Wipe down the feed ramp with CLP soaked rag / patch again, just for good measure.
  9. Wipe all parts down with dry rag / patches.  At this point, there should be minimal to no fouling showing on any cleaning material after wipes.
  10. Lubricate per needs of your firearm with oil and/or grease*
  11. Reassemble firearm and wipe off excess oils.  You may elect to SPARINGLY apply a bit of CLP to a rag and rub a protective coating on the exterior metal surfaces of the firearm.  This will depend on storage and intended further use, but can be of benefit when the firearm is going back in a safe for a while.
  12. Cycle the weapon’s action liberally to distribute lubricants.

*Opinions on lubricants is another hot-button issue.  My personal theory here: If you have the money to spend, by all means, Mil-Comm makes great products, and my friends who’ve used their stuff where their life depended on it swear by it.  BUT, on a budget, I figure any jackoff in their basement can slap a cool logo and guarantee on a bottle of mineral oil and come up with a story on how long they spent researching it, then charge an arm and leg for it.  Know who does spend a ton of verified money on high-performance lubricants that need to hold up to a variety of environmental conditions for thousands of hours of intense use?  Automotive lubricant companies, that’s who.  Enter the cheapest-per-volume high-performance firearm lubricant you’ll find, and likely one purchase will keep you lubing for years:


That’s right.  It’s good enough for moving parts in a metal box full of explosions driving a shaft to several thousand revolutions per minute for ~450,000 hours before you should replace it, in nearly any environment you’ll find on Earth.  I think it’ll hold up just fine keeping a couple of surfaces and moving parts slick over the course of a few hundred cycles before it’s wiped off and reapplied.  Similar logic applies to grease- Mil-Comm stuff is the shit, and recommended by SIG for their products.  But Lucas Oil White Lithium Grease is hard to beat with it’s track record and price point.

Additional thoughts-

  • A brass brush, and traditional steel rod with brush attachments are still good to have on hand in case of heavy fouling.
  • A bottle of Windex (or generic ammonia based glass cleaner) is good to have if you’re planning on shooting corrosive surplus ammunition.  Just be sure to clean properly afterwards.  The ammonia doesn’t replace a step in the process, only adds one before you do the first round of solvent.
  • Seriously CLP is awesome.  Have some.  Have extra.  This stuff works for all kinds of stuff, from sticky door locks, to bicycle maintenance.
  • A box of some sort is nice.  I honestly can’t remember from where mine originally came into being.  I believe it was a hard case for one of my father’s old electric grooming devices.  Perfect size for the range bag though, so it just kind of stuck.  Small tool or tackle boxes work pretty well though.
  • DSCN1658
  • Medical exam gloves are awesome to use while cleaning.  You will get fouling all over your hands.  You will get solvent all over your hands.  You will get lubricant all over your hands.  The pleasant smelling MC25 isn’t too bad to get on yourself, but still best to avoid getting most of these chemicals all over yourself.  Use protection my friends.
  • A Bore Light, such as the one mentioned in a previous post, is a great additional tool to have in the kit, so you can have a look in tight places, and check how spic & span your barrel interior is after running those boresnakes through.
  • As far as a toothbrush, a military-style one that has the large and small bristle area is awesome, but what do I always have around?  Worn out former dental toothbrush, after good cleaning of course.  They last about the same interval anyway.
  • Additionally, a small screwdriver set and punches (as needed by your particular firearms) are good to keep on hand in your kit.

Enjoy, and shoot clean.

“Unique” Model 17, “7.65 Court 9 Coups” Field Strip


So, we’ll go ahead and continue with the series on don’t-build-them-like-they-used-to handguns, and this time, we’ll be moving from Belgium to France.  Specifically, Hendaye, France- as this was home to Manufacture D’Armes Des Pyrenees (MAPF) from ~1923 to 2001.  From 1928 to 1944, they produced this handy little shooter, the Unique Model 17.DSCN1434

As you can see, the markings on the slide state 7.65 COURT 9 COUPS “UNIQUE” which, I have to admit, made identification of exact model a tad difficult.  What the markings on the slide are indicating is “7.65 Short (7.54 Browning), 9 Cartridge” and then the type of weapon “Unique” which referred to the brand.


As I said, it’s pretty handy, and though it has quite a bit of heft to it, it’s very well balanced.  Functionally, it’s fairly similar to a handgun I’ve previously talked about on this blog, the Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless (misnomer, as the Colt simply had a hidden hammer).  That said, the craftsmanship is no where near as fine as on the Colts or FNs from this era.  The tolerances are very loose, and though when assembled and shooting it feels fine, are very noticeable when you break it down.  The finish work throughout is also pretty terrible, and it shows when looking at the condition of many surviving examples.

So, on to the guide.

  • Remove magazine and ensure firearm is unloaded.
  • Retract slide to the point that the safety lever can be swung forward and catch the slide.
  • DSCN1436
  • Similar to the Colt, rotate the barrel 90^ clockwise (from front)
  • Disengage catch and withdrawl the slide from the frame.
  • Rotate barrel 90^ counter clockwise and remove from slide.
  • Remove Guide Rod from Frame and pull the Spring off of it.
  • DSCN1437
  • This is as far as you need to go for a basic cleaning.  Grip panels can be removed easily with a flathead screwdriver to access the Trigger Bar and clean out the Magazine Well if required.
  • Clean thoroughly and oil all contact surfaces.  These include the Barrel Lugs (frame and barrel), slide rails, and a light coating on the barrel itself and the Guide Rod.  Basically, if it looks like something rubs it, get a light coat of something on there.
  • DSCN1440
  • Reassembly can be a bit tricky due to the loose-as-hell tolerances I mentioned.  Getting the Barrel to re-engage with the Barrel Lugs in the frame can be a PITA since there aren’t any markings as some others (Colt) include.  But, I’ll give you the foolproof method here at Grey Arsenal
  • Reinsert Guide Rod into Spring, and reinsert the assembly into the hold in the Frame below the barrel, in the orientation it was originally (see earlier pictures if needed)
  • Replace the Barrel into the Slide, and when able, rotate 90^ Clockwise to lock it into the slide (term used VERY loosely).
  • Begin to replace Slide onto the Frame, taking care to line up the Guide Rod with it’s place in the Slide.
  • DSCN1442
  • At this point, things get fun, and by that I mean extremely frustrating if you haven’t done this before and aren’t using an awesome guide like mine.  You’ll want to move the slide back to the point where you can engage the safety/slide lock again, but be sure to move the barrel with the slide with one of your fingers.  If not, the loosey goosey tolerances will cause the Barrel to move around in there and you wont get it to engage the lugs.
  • DSCN1436
  • Once you have it locked up, Rotate the Barrel 90^ Counter Clockwise, which may be tough depending on the level of lubrication you gave it, and your particular Model 17.  Once you’ve rotated it properly, you should be able to disengage the Safety and the slide won’t be able to be pulled off.  Give it a try- if it comes off, try again.  If it stays put, Congratulations.


For most owners, this handgun is the definition of a Curios & Relics class firearm, it’s an odd, storied little French autoloader that was probably handed down and down from a relative who brought it back as a WWII trophy.  Although it’s a “small” caliber, as I’ve mentioned before, some hot-loaded 7.65 rounds are still no joke, especially when you have a small package like this that can have 9+1 of them being carried Condition One.  Given the choice between this and a contemporary sub-compact concealed carry such as LCP or Sig P238 in .380, I’d readily choose the one that probably saw a WWII battlefield, or the mean, baguette-scented, streets of 1930’s Paris in the hands of a LEO.  Did I mentioned how nicely it fits in your palm?

FN Model 1910/22: John Browning goes to Europe


In a previous post, I covered the Colt Model 1903, now we’ll move on to another John Moses Browning .32/.380 design which, just as before, and as always, was ahead of it’s time.  Except this time, Colt didn’t want to make it, and looking back with that 20/20 hindsight, that was probably a poor choice, since the FN Model 1910 was in production all the way until 1983.


Innovations in this model included a new type of recoil system, wherein the recoil spring surrounds the barrel.  This made for the handgun’s signature slim design and light weight, as it removed the need for a guide rod.  This style was later used in the Walther PPK and made standard in the Makarov.  It also incorporated a Striker firing mechanism, included a grip safety similar to the earlier Colt 1903 and later 1911, a magazine safety (no trigger activation without a magazine inserted), and an external safety lever at the rear.  This made up what was referred to as the “triple safety.”  Hmm, an innovative striker fired handgun with triple safety features… can we get some photo comparisons between JM Browning and Gaston Glock, we may have an immortal engineer on our hands.

DSCN1395Anyhow, in 1922, some modifications to the design were made, lengthening the barrel, slide, and handgrip, lending to increased accuracy and an additional 2 rounds in magazine capacity.  This was done for the purpose of military contracts.  Sadly, the military they’re most associated with would be the German army, as they were produced by the Nazis after Belgium was occupied.

This guide is specific to the  Model 1922 or 1910/22, but for a Model 1910, simply ignore the steps involving the Front Barrel Cover.  Obviously (but I’ll say it every time) make sure the weapon is unloaded, and no ammunition is in your workspace.

  • Remove magazine from weapon by pressing the magazine release on the bottom of the grip to the rear, and withdrawling.  Also, disengage the thumb safety if it’s engaged.DSCN1397
  • Find the lever on the front lower left of the slide, this is used to release the front barrel cover on the 1922 model.DSCN1398
  • Twist so that you’re twisting the front sight blade towards the right side of the weapon.  When it’s at 90^ from it’s original position, the front barrel cover should pop off revealing the front of the barrel and spring.DSCN1399DSCN1400
  • This is the only tricky part, as unlike the Colt 1903 and other handguns that use a rotating barrel design, there’s no mark showing you how far you have to pull the slide back to free the barrel to rotate.  See picture for approximation, but basically slide it back slowly and keep attempting to twist the barrel (same direction you turned the barrel cover).  Once you have rotated it as far as you can, you should be able to withdrawl the slide forward off of the frame.DSCN1401DSCN1402
  • Rotate the barrel the rest of the way in that direction until it’s lugs are no longer locked into the slide, and withdrawl it from the front of the slide.  Remove spring for cleaning.DSCN1403 DSCN1404
  • Remove the firing pin from the rear of the slide.
  • Clean, then reapply lubrication to obvious contact surfaces (groves, barrel lugs, etc.) remembering that a little goes a long way.DSCN1405DSCN1408


  • Reinsert firing pin into channel, observing how the post fits into the grove.DSCN1406
  • After replacing the recoil spring, reinsert barrel into slide from the front with the lugs facing down.  When the lugs are lined up with the gap where they engage with the slide, rotate the barrel 90^ into them.
  • Replace the slide onto the frame and again begin feeling for that spot.  When you’ve found it, rotate barrel the opposite way as before until it locks in place.
  • Attach front barrel cover with the front sight blade 90^ from center to the right (same direction as when it popped off).  Push flush with the frame and twist so that you’re moving the sight blade back up into position, it will click into place.  Be sure not to do this backwards, or you’ll end up with a front sight post on the bottom :pDSCN1409


Glock 19 Gen 3 Erratic Ejection, a/k/a Brass To Face. *FIXED 5/20/2014


So, yet again, I’d intended to do a primer on getting a maintenance kit up and running with all kinds of fun links, opinions on products, and pictures- but yet again, something came up that I thought I’d address immediately.  I still may make this a bonus post, however, and still do the post I’d orginially planned, especially as this one will likely be a to-be-continued as I wait for parts and test solutions at the range.

Right, so on to business- I’ve fallen victim to a problem that seems pretty widespread in late Gen 3 (~2013) and Gen 4 Glock 17s and 19s.  Begin typing “Glock 19 er” into google, and it’ll go ahead and complete that thought for you.

It would seem that many people with these guns are getting the original Glock Perfection(tm) experience for the first 600-1000 rounds, but then, startingly, began experiencing extremely erratic ejection behavior along with several flavors of FTEs.  Mine began at about 600 rounds right on the nose- opened the box of the same PMC Bronze that I’d had zero problems with for more than half of the previous 600 rounds (I’ve been talking this G19 up like crazy, seriously, 0 issues with anything I wanted to feed it, it felt like this thing was magic up until this point).  Was all poised to take this thing up to 650 rounds, and within the first 2 magazines I experienced 2 FTEs and noticed some brass marks on the front of the ejection port.  Made it through 40 rounds with no additional problems before handing the Glock off my lady friend, who, upon commencing firing, was greeted by a hot case-mouth to the cheek, followed by a strike to the forehead.  After clearing and checking the weapon, nothing seemed broken or out of place (aside from previously noticed brass marks on the front of the ejection port), so I loaded another magazine and tested it.  4 of the 15 rounds struck me in the forehead or landed on the top of my head.  1 of the rounds FTEd, and they all seemed to be ejecting fairly weakly.

For reference, here’s the information on this weapon:
Glock 19 gen 3
S/N range: VEX***
Test Fire Date: 6/5/13

So, after taking it down and having a look, then quite a bit of research, and quite a bit of ignoring the fanboys at Glock Talk who will blame any and all malfunctions on sissy wrists and not shooting like a man, I’ve learned the following:

  • At or around Oct. 2010, Glock began to use a different process to manufacture internal parts including the locking block, firing pin, and of note to us here, the extractor.
  • The manufacturing process in question is “MIM” or Metal Injection Molding.  This is in contrast to the previous machined/tooled parts which were of much higher quality.  This was clearly done as a cost-cutting measure.  There have been cases of other manufacturers switching to MIM parts and also having severe quality problems.
  • The QC on the LCI (loaded chamber indicator) extractors, specifically the 9mm ones, seems to have suffered to the point that they’re out of spec, though Glock wont admit it, and many of them have been measured and shown increased distance between the Breech Face and Extractor Claw, allowing too much play with the case as it’s being extracted.
  • This problem, combined with the fine-pointed shape of the original ejector pin (marked 336), has caused the erratic ejection pattern, mostely due to the round bouncing around haphazadly around between the breech face and interior of the slide before finding it’s way out, or not, in the case of the FTEs experienced.
  • Glock has been rather cautious to not put out any direct statements about the problem, but have redesigned the ejector to a more broad shape (now marked 30274), and have been replacing the older ejector on Gen 4 pistols sent in for service that were having this problem.  Sadly, it usually takes a couple of round trips before any progress is made, and even after all that, many people report the problem is not solved.

So, that being said, I’m going to work this out myself, and avoid several months of thumb twiddling each time wondering if my gun is going to come back from Smyrna, GA in working condition, or if it’s just going to nail me in the forehead and/or try to burn my SO’s cheek off again.  I’ll start with the cheap (and in this case, the most widely reported solution), and work my way from there.  First stop, replacing the 336 ejector with the newer 30274 ejector.  Now, since you can’t just buy the ejector, as that would be WAY too easy, you have to buy a replacement trigger housing.  But- they don’t make a gen3 trigger housing with the 30274 ejector (they probably they don’t want to admit there’s a problem), we need to order a gen 4 trigger housing, extract the ejector pin, and swap it into my gen3 trigger housing.  Luckily, it’s an easy enough job, and the new trigger housing is only $9.95.  You may want to go ahead and order a new gen3 housing with the 336 pin in it, and swap those, just so you’re not altering your original in any way, but I’m not going to worry about that.

*UPDATES TO COME*  The first part is in the mail, later updates will come.  Just in case you’re following along and want to go ahead and get all parts in one go and not have to play the waiting game in case the ejector doesn’t fix your problem- my plan B is either swapping in a Lone Wolf Extractor or (more interestingly) swapping in a .45ACP extractor used on the G21/30.  This has reports of being a good fix, because the parts are dimensionally similar enough to fit, and the .45 extractor has a slightly shorter gap between breech face and claw.  It also holds the case at a slightly different angle, more reminicent of the older non-LCI (loaded chamber indicator) extrators on gen 2 Glocks (back when they worked like a charm).


Thanks to Mr. Humke at, LLC, I received my new Gen4 Trigger Housing with the 30274 ejector within 3 days.  The difference between the new one and the older 336 ejector was pretty huge.


Sadly, due to my schedule, I haven’t been able to get back to the range to test it just yet, but hand-cycling snapcaps produced a perfect pile at the weapon’s 4 ‘o clock, so we’ll see.  *UPDATES TO FOLLOW*

As for the installation, I’d say if you’re comfortable field stripping, this isn’t too much of a stretch.  The Glock is easier to work on than I thought, they weren’t kidding when they say how few parts there are.  The only tools you’ll need are a punch, preferrably a Glock Disassembly Tool (pictured below) and a tiny flathead screwdriver. After removing the slide from the frame, you’ll need to use the tool to push out the marked pins from the frame.  These are different sizes, so be sure to keep track of which one’s which (though it’s easy, big, medium, small, from front to back).

glock toolpins

After this, you’ll need to use something to pry up the Locking Block (pictured below).  It should come right out rather easily.  When removing this, note the position of the Slide Catch Lever, you’ll need to put this back in afterwards.

Locking BlockAfter the Locking Block is out, you’ll be able to remove the Trigger (along with the Slide Catch Lever) and Trigger Housing out of the frame.  You can disassemble further, but this is really as far down as you need to go.  The Ejector pin simply pulls forward out of the Trigger Housing, though you’ll likely need to use the flathead to push it from the rear to get it started (you can see rear of the Ejector pin at the rear of the Housing).  After getting it far enough out, either pull out with your hand, CAREFULLY use the screwdriver to pry it out from the front, or use a pair of needle nosed pliers (you’ll want to wrap cloth or electrical tape so as to not scratch) to pull the pin out the rest of the way.

Once you have both pins out, push the 30274 ejector into the Gen3 housing, making sure it’s fully seated, and reassemble your weapon in reverse order.  The only tip I have here is to get the Slide Catch Lever in place after the trigger, then put on the Locking Block, which compresses the spring.  Use your Glock Disassembly Tool to help align things when reinserting the roll pins.


UPDATE #2: Confirmed Fixed.


Well, there we have it folks.  Fired 65 rounds today, nearly all perfect 4-5 o’clock ejections with one stray towards 6 o’clock, but soared a few feet over my head.  I think we have a winner.  Time (well, a few hundred more rounds) will tell, but based on how miserable the last 35 rounds were prior to replacing the ejector, compared to how it performed today, I’m going to have to call this one a win.  GLOCK- please start using the 30274 ejector in all current production 9mm models, not just the Gen4 models.  That is all.

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


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.


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.


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).


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.


(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)