I recently received a call from a fellow gun-crank about my age. He’d seen on social media a mention that Herrett’s Stocks, Inc. was headed out of business. I followed up with a call to the company. The response I got was that the owner is 70 years old, feels the need to retire. The company had been for sale for a year and there had been no serious inquiries.
I responded that I’d hoped someone would at least negotiate an arrangement licensing the designs for alternative manufacture or sale of the production facility.
The original call I’d gotten was from someone like me who’s been watching the brands from our youth go extinct. In an industry founded by individuals who made their mark and didn’t sell their companies but flourished anyway, the time comes when the entrepreneur (or family of the founder) needs to step out. That’s happening again.
My experience with Herrett’s was, sadly, limited to only a few samples of the art. I have a set of Shooting Stars on a Smith & Wesson 4” M10 round-butt and a set similar to Herrett’s -- but a different maker -- on a vintage Colt Python. These American Walnut open-back stocks – they are stocks, not “grips,” grip being something you do – have hand filling swells on both sides and a butt extended below the revolver frame. The stocks on the old Model 10 feature Herrett’s high relief skip checkering.
Herrett’s is also known for making the Jordan “Trooper” stock to the specification of Border Patrol Inspector/USMC-R Colonel Bill Jordan as well as revolver stocks designed by Walter Roper.
Another company, now long-gone, was mentioned on the call: Gil Hebard Guns of Illinois. I knew the company only as the vendor who really accelerated my move into handgun shooting. He sold guns – one of the few places in those days you could get Smith & Wesson revolvers without paying “retail PLUS” – but also parts, shooting and reloading gear, even holsters. I’d not known, until I read this editorial in Shooting Times, that Gil was not only a world-class shooter but an innovator in the shooting sports. I read his book Pistol Shooter’s Treasury years ago, using it as a source to learn about actually shooting well.
The Shooting Times piece mentions his innovations, like the use of over-the-head ear muffs for hearing protection (early 1950s) and his contact with the David Clark Company that led to their investment in ear pro for shooters, the “Straightaway” earmuffs. Another bit of genius was the use of optics on pistols . . . at Camp Perry . . . in the mid-1960s.
Yep, back in the LBJ days, someone had already discovered the use of optics for shooting match advantage using 22, “midrange” (38, wadcutter) and “hardball” (45, ‘service’) pistols.
While youngsters (those under age 50) decry all of us old-timers as “fudds,” they’re forgetting – just like we did at their age – that they’re standing on the shoulders of giants.
Giants like Steve Herrett, Gil Hebard, Bill Jordan, Charles A. Skelton, Jr., Elmer Keith, John Wooters, Jeff Cooper – and more. They are the parents of this legacy and we the beneficiaries.
It’s something to keep in mind as we watch yet another great company go. I can only hope that someone will pick that product line up and run with it.
- - Rich Grassi