In June of 1976 I bought my first handgun from Esman’s in Pitcairn, PA. It was a new S&W Model 10 (.38 Special) with blued finish, pencil thin 4-inch barrel and round butt. The price was $113.50. I quickly discovered that I would not shoot it as much as I had planned due to the price of .38 Special ammo being beyond my budget. But I wanted to learn to shoot a handgun and would not be deterred. I had become a regular customer of Export Sporting Goods, having purchased a few long guns from them. They treated me well on prices and allowed me to make payments on layaway purchases. I bought my second handgun from them in June 1978; a new Ruger Single-Six in .22 LR caliber, with blued finish, 5.5-inch barrel and a spare .22 WMR cylinder. The price was $114. I could afford .22 LR ammo. So I shot the hell out of it. This is the revolver that I used when studying Jeff Cooper’s section on handgun shooting in Outdoor Life’s book ‘Complete Guide of Shooting.’ Firing thousands of rounds through this revolver is how I learned sight alignment and trigger control.
Fast forward to November 1994; I was vending at a local gun show located in the old Greengate Mall in Greensburg, PA. I had not fired that Ruger Single-Six for many years. I had long wanted an S&W Model 63. A Murrysville dealer friend by the name of Jan Carey had a used M63 with box on his table on Friday afternoon. That was my first year of fulltime self-employment and if I wanted to buy a gun, I had to sell a gun. So I approached Jan with an offer to trade my Ruger and cash for his 63. He agreed and said he would hold it for me. I brought my Ruger in on Saturday and we did the deal before the show opened.
It turned out that I owned that M63 for many years without firing it. When I did finally get around to shooting it, I discovered that someone had butchered the coil springs and the gun fired only about half the time. I replaced the springs and that revolver now went BANG each and every time. However, I rarely fired it after that. It was nothing more than a cool safe queen. So in March 2019 I sold my S&W Model 63 to my good friend Nathan Carey owner of The Gun Vault in New Alexandria, PA and grandson of Jan Carey.
That left me with my only .22 LR revolver being the Iver Johnson that I had inherited upon the passing of my Father. It is the first handgun that I ever shot when I was 12 years old. I cherish it because of that memory with my Dad, but sadly it is not of very high quality and is a bit of a pain to load and unload. Since I sold the 63, I have thought I should not have sold it or at the least should have bought a lower end but decent revolver in .22 LR for plinking and predator control. I don’t seem to shoot .22s enough to merit spending a lot of money to purchase one.
In February 2020 I was in Nathan’s office for a lengthy BS session when he bought a lightly used Ruger Single-Six, with blued finish, 5.5-inch barrel and with spare .22 WMR cylinder. He offered it to me for what he had paid for it. I decided the backstory was too good to pass up and bought it on the spot.
So I went full circle from Ruger to S&W to Ruger with two generations of Carey gun dealers. I proved that you can go home again, but only on rare occasions!