Crimson Trace

December 3, 2012

Restorative Powers of the Performance Center

Editor's Note: This piece appeared in our companion service, The Tactical Wire, July 10, 2012

This gun, S&W 586-1, originally blue was "rented" to a guard by a security company. The return of the gun was delayed and this is how it came back: the finish was destroyed by some chemical agent which went so far as to etch the steel.
My involvement in Revolver Rescue has extended over the past 15 or so years. I've been involved in interventions recovered revolvers from fates horrible to contemplate: sitting in pawn shops and waiting for the "wrong type" to buy, dusty and rusting away in glove compartments or sock drawers. Along with others similarly situated, such guns are taken and given care. Some are in such bad shape, they require restoration.

It was about three years ago that a security director was telling me about a revolver he used to "rent" out to employees who couldn't afford to buy a guy for their job duties. He'd rented this thing out and, when the employee left the job, it was quite a chore to get it back according to the story. It was eventually returned in ugly condition; he thought it'd been in a fire. The former co-worker said he'd stored it in automatic transmission fluid to minimize the chance it'd rust. In any event, the result was a scarred, gray mess. The former employee was afraid to return it until he was made to fear failing to return it more. I told him I'd look at it, but if it'd been in a fire I held out little hope.

The uneven scarring and pitting appear as though the gun was in a fire. This was denied by the perpetrator of the vandalism.
The security director brought this thing in. It was a Smith and Wesson Model 586-1. Apparently it was originally blue, though now it was gray with some brown patches. There was some pitting. The chambers and bore were surprisingly clean. The red ramp in the front sight was darkened. Likewise, I found no debris under the sideplate. The stocks he had on it were in remarkably good shape. He'd apparently put rubber on it before loaning it out. The stocks that came in with it were rubber but had a white film.

He told me he didn't want to mess with it. I threw him an offer, which he took. I figured I could turn it into an article someday. Fast-forward to the present.

I arrived at the S&W Booth at SHOT 2012 and immediately ran into Tony Miele, boss of the Performance Center and the S&W Pro Series guns. He was anxious to show me something - the Classic Series has added the Model 586 Distinguished Combat Magnum to the line.

Aside from the modern lock, MIM parts and red ramp, this gun is indistinguishable from new manufacture.
A couple of things stood out about this new 586: the blue was deeper, darker than on some of the earlier Classic series guns. This told me the metal polishing was getting perfected. Tony pointed out the new stocks. The earlier Classic stocks weren't enough like the old S&W Target Stocks to suit him; the new ones come closer.

I told Tony about the 586-1 I'd received in NRA-Very Sad Condition. "Send it to me," he said. "We'll make it brand new."

That'll be the day, I thought. Wait'll he gets a load of this!

I'd taken the gun out and fired it. The action was a little stiff, but there was no problem with accuracy and the springs still had their full snap. I filled out the paperwork, let Tony know it was coming and shipped it out. I sent the tracking number along to him. I knew he'd want to watch the restoration.

Well, the gun's back. Wrapped in S&W oil paper, the deep blue steel had not a mark on it. The original rollmarks were still there. The end of the underlug has an ever-so-slight taper - was the scarring so bad there, they had to do some surgery? The chamber mouths are lightly chamfered - what else do you expect from the PC?

A brand new 1980s era Model 586 - courtesy of the Performance Center.
The stocks, not original to the gun, are in some ways an improvement over the earlier S&W Targets. They look far better than the rubber stocks supplied. The action actually feels lighter than it did when the gun was sent. That could simply be cleanliness and lubrication. I haven't opened it up to look and I may not.

No, I haven't fired it yet. But I look into that deep pool of blue black and see the work of craftsmen. This thing is a work of art. Can anyone else make an original S&W revolver from the 1980s?

Have you got a Smith and Wesson that needs restoration? The Performance Center is one option. From the looks of this example, it's a classy option indeed.

For more information, look to http://www.smith-wesson.com .

Photos courtesy of Smith and Wesson Performance Center.