Strange title for a shooting feature – but based on recent events and my curiosity, apt.
For Merriam-Webster, the artifact is something that makes humans unique, fashioning tools to accomplish objectives. Going back around 700,000 years, early populations sharpened stone to use as axes. To quote –
The roots of artifact mean basically "something made with skill;" thus, a mere stone that was used for pounding isn't an artifact, since it wasn't shaped by humans for its purpose—unlike a ram's horn that was polished and given a brass mouthpiece and was blown as part of a religious ritual.
The definition is a simple object showing human workmanship or modification as distinguished from a natural object; something characteristic of or resulting from a particular human institution, period, trend, or individual; something or someone arising from or associated with an earlier time especially when regarded as no longer appropriate, relevant, or important …
And I add: something from that earlier time that’s revered.
I’ve received gifts over my life and I’m grateful. One of my too-often related stories, tells of a Smith & Wesson Model 28 Highway Patrolman received from a close friend many years ago. I’d complained long and loud about a six-inch M28 I’d shot years before – belonging to someone I consider close as well, a brother-in-law.
The “brother-in-law” Highway Patrolman.
A certified good dude, he’d liked guns before from a distance but I think I was the first handgunner to make a dent. To summarize, he’d vastly overpaid for a used M28 at a retail outlet (they have to make a living too). He was anxious to have me shoot it. I did.
I’d seldom had a gun that I could shoot so well with no previous contact. For me, it takes practice and considerable effort. This was effortless.
As the years passed, I’d gotten handy with other guns but my friend never forgot that complaint of mine: the brother-in-law wouldn’t sell and I’d have given him what he had in it.
I’ve told the story before about Mike’s gun show find and I was surprised to be given the Highway Patrolman that I covered here.
Time goes on, as it always seems to, and we get older if we don’t step off. My particular ‘grail’ revolver has come home to me. He tried to ‘gift’ it, but I wasn’t having any of that. It came with a Bianchi belt holster, a high-ride thumb-break, unlined – unlike current production. The leading edge of the holster is left high to protect the adjustable rear sight. It’s a high riding holster with a combination loop; the main belt tunnel is for 2 ¼” duty belts and the slots cut into the belt tunnel fit the 1 3/4” trouser belt.
I wore a holster like this for a four-inch Model 58 41 Magnum and a six-inch Model 19 while on duty.
Top, the M28 received from a friend decades ago, with stocks from Ajax Grips. The recent arrival is below it.
These things aren’t what they are; they’re not what they cost. Perhaps they’re more mementos, something that invokes memories of friends.
That’s what this is. It’s not the thing, it’s who the thing represents.
So what about the brother in law’s Model 28? Like the previously gifted cannon, the serial number comes from a manufacture date range of 1974-1977. Can I ‘guess’ closer?
I could request a factory letter, but I likely won’t. It doesn’t matter. The previously received six-inch M28 arrived fitted with a Pachmayr “Gripper” style stock – I put the nice-looking lumber from Ajax Grips on it. This one has stocks that look like S&W targets – complete with S&W medallions – that someone worked finger grooves into.
Like the other gun, people spoiled by polymer autos and very light snubs would be loath to carry this cannon. It weighs almost 2 ¾ pounds empty. I knew officers who carried guns like this on 2 ¼” duty belts 8-12 hours a day.
The Highway Patrolman revolvers are indeed artifacts – in the sense they are simple objects featuring human workmanship (and, in both cases, very light modification). They’re characteristic of an earlier time, one I remember.
We shouldn’t forget our past. It contains lessons to guide our future. And, while our predecessors had faults, their shoulders are the ones upon which we stand. Failure to learn from them leads to tragic outcomes.
I may never fire this gun, but I’ll remain fond of the friend who entrusted me with it and be just as happy.
Darryl Bolke (above) and Bryan Eastridge announce a new Patreon page, American Fighting Revolver.
In other news, if you like content like this – everyday can be #wheelgunwednesday. We were worried about the old knowledge being lost, but a pair of young law enforcement retirees, Darryl “DB” Bolke and Bryan “With a Y” Eastridge have joined to form a new page on Patreon called American Fighting Revolver. With their combined experience – usage, competition, consulting and gunsmithing knowledge – of over half a century, they provide revolver content to help retain the way of the wheelgun.
The Patreon platform allows posting “in depth articles with great photos, videos, a podcast, chats, and technical information in one location. This should be an invaluable and entertaining resource for the diehard revolver enthusiast and novices alike.” In a message, Bryan said “Darryl and I both are committed to preserve the history, lineage and technical knowledge of the Fighting Revolver for all generations.”
That’s a good thing, one worth doing.
— Rich Grassi