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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been trying to put together some photos of Swenson pistols for a section we are thinking about adding here. If any of you have any pics or even just some stories about Armand to share, we would appreciate you posting them.



1973 Colt Series 70 Gold Cup Customized by Armand Swenson

DD

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Desert Dog on 2001-03-31 15:35 ]</font>
 

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DD,

That's a beautiful peace. Swenson sure knew how to build them didn't he? I've had the pleasure of shooting one, but never had the luck of purchasing one. No one seems to be willing to give up their's. Oh well, one can dream.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yes indeeed, people tend to hang onto their Swensons. Interestingly, when I bought mine, my phone call was followed by Walt Rauch trying to buy the very same pistol. The Gun God's must have thought Walt owned enough Swensons' already and decided to spread it around some. :smile:

Stephen is correct about the Swenson guns grouping well. Accuracy was important to him and he made it point only to ship guns that met his standards for accuracy. Given that most of his guns were factory barrels that he accurized himself, it is all the more noteable. BTW, according to the original shop receipt that came with my Swenson, he did the accurizing for the princely sum of $75.

Here is a photo of the barrel from my Swenson, which shows the Prussian blue still visible from the barrel fitting. The only rounds that have been fired in this pistol, are those Armand Swenson fired into the test target.



DD
 

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DD, are those welded or brazed fitting pads in the rear lug slot with the Prussian blue? Looks like it but hard to tell for sure from the pic.
For those that don't know, that was a standard fitting technique used by the old masters, along with welding the hood, to create a match grade performer from a stock barrel. It's amazing how accurate a stock barrel can be when fitted by someone who knows how. With the proliferation of match barrels today, not really worth the effort though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Good eye Bill! You are seeing it correctly. Ditto on the methods used by the old masters. Do note, this is a National Match barrel, so he was starting off with something pretty darn good. Swenson just made it fit better.

I dunno if I agree with not bothering to do this anymore. Brian Bilby used to save customers money, by not always recommending they automatically switch out barrels. Dane has also commented that some of the Kimber barrels are really pretty nice from the factory. It would be nice to see these skills not lost to the next generation of smiths.

DD
 

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Well there I go being guilty of the same thing I've mumbled under my breath about so often. I was just regurgitating the same old line I've heard so often. I myself have had a good welder add material to the hood, bottom lugs, and top rear lug so that I could refit it. I'm not capable of welding like that myself and I've just gotten accustomed to putting in match barrels. I always pride myself at not taking anything at face value and I just violated that rule. Thanks for reminding me.
I've coveted a Swenson for 25 years. Passed up an opportunity for one at a gun show across the state line due to the logistics of the transfer. I kick myself every time I think of it. We need to get some examples of Clark, Behlert, Sabo, Dinan, etc. up to look at. The Pachmayr Combat Specials were nice too. Used to drool over them quite a bit.
 

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This is exactly the type of exchange that makes these forums so valuable.

Question. Did these smiths, Swenson, Behlert,
Jim Clark, Sr,, etc, do mundane work...
just trigger jobs, replacing grip safeties, etc. or were they so highly sought after
that they only built custom guns. I'm
referring to their period as big name smiths.

If one had, say, a Swenson worked gun, but
not a Swenson built gun, would it have any colloctors' value?
 

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Can't reply re: the others, but about Mr.Clark Sr...

I do have a 629 that he did a service action and tune job on and he did a similar tune-up of a Model 66 for me...
I know the shop does all kinds of things...Mr. Clark made Ruger 22 pistols sing, and I hear the shop is doing 10/22s and Mini-14s now...

The actions on the S&Ws( these are older revolvers BTW) are nothing special...I think breaking glass might be a little dull compared to the 66 though...I have yet to have anyone shoot the 629 that didn't want it after the first shot...The cases don't really feel like they are touching anything...Tilt the barrel up and out they come...
I think I remember 140. on the 66 and 120. on the 629...It's been quite a while...

Seems like I remember racks with all kinds of customers long arms on it...Shotguns, Rifles, etc...and I have a cousin that had some things done on his LEO weapons...
:wink:

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>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>g2<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

..!MOLON LABE!..

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: gyp_c2 on 2001-04-03 01:19 ]</font>
 

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I thought I would add this after reading some of the posts about Swenson. I noticed someone
mentioned Grip Safties. Beavertail or wide grip safties weren't common until about 1980-1981. Just for the hell of it I went back into my old records and found that I started installing Wide Grip safties in 1980. I used the ones that were made by Jim Hoag. I still have some. Fact is Dane talked me out of a couple. The other more common one was made by MS Safari Arms.
How many Swenson Pistols have you seen with a beavertail Grip Safety?
Many of my early Pistols used the Factory Barrel. You would either weld up the hood or Silver Solder small pieces of Tool Steel to the Hood. Another thing you will see in a Swenson Pistol is a Barrel Positioner. This is a small piece of metal Silver Soldered in the Slide opposite of the Ejection Port. This limited the Barrel from locking up high in the lugs.
Maybe this post should be in a different place, but I thought some of you may be interested, since you were talking about Swenson.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Dane is quite the silver-tongued devil when he chooses to be, eh Dick? :grin: But, I do know you really made the guy very happy with your generosity and few would appreciate them as much as Dane. Personally, I can't wait to see one of his finished retro guns that some of those beavertails will be appearing on. They should be VERY cool guns.



Here is a pic of Dane's Colt National Match Swenson paired with his own customized Colt Lightweight Commander. I think it is interesting to contrast the vintage combat mods with the newer standards. I will say this, as much as I appreciate owning a Swenson, it does make you aware of how much the state of the art has been advanced by modern pistolsmithing pioneers such as yourself. This is why Dane's idea of retro styling built with todays higher standards of excellence is so intersting to me. BTW, do you still get any requests for squared trigger guards? :smile:

DD

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Desert Dog on 2001-04-03 23:17 ]</font>
 

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Damn DD,
If you don't stop posting all these pictures, I swear to God I'll do everything in my power to have you booted outta here, too !!! :wink:

Excuse me while I wipe the drool off my keyboard..... :smile:
 

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Desert Dog,
I still get requests for Squared Guards, not
very many. I am doing two now. I have been trying to build myself one for display for the last two years. I hope to have it done for next years Shot Show.
 

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This SwenGun was built with an original 1911 frame (not 1911A1) using a new (at the time, 1987) Colt Commander slide. It has the "barrel positioner," Bar-Sto, K-frame sights, French Border, squared/checkered trigger guard, and other signature Swenson touches.

Shown with original work order paperwork.
Check the prices!

The pistol shows no sign that it has ever been in a holster. I also managed to come up with a new Bruce Nelson #1 Professional holster and mag pouch which have never been worn and have never had a pistol inserted.
The pistol and holster reside separated but together in a case in my safe. A vintage setup.





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http://www.guntactics.com




<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Randy Cain on 2001-04-04 14:20 ]</font>
 

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Sheesh...that's a NICE one...:eek:
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Randy,

Thanks for posting those two pics. Dang that sure is a sweet Commander. :smile: I see the stocks were changed for the Ahrends tacticals. Is everything else original Swenson? Interesting to see that style of grip safety again. Terry Tussey took a similar approach on an OM he builds. Are you shooting this gun? It is so pristine looking. I appreciated getting to see the original shop receipt too. The handwriting is the definitely from the very same hand that wrote mine. Prices were considerably cheaper in '73. Did you get a test target with the gun? I want one of his Commanders, but I would REALLY like to find a mint Bobcat. :smile:
Thanks again for posting your pics.

DD
 

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DD,

I am not the original owner. When I acquired the piece I couldn't resist running ONE 7-round magazine through it. I then detail stripped and meticulously cleaned it and put it away. It lives in the dark. :sad:

The Ahrends were on it when I got it but I'm in the market for some genuine ivory. :smile:
Otherwise, I believe it to be in exactly the same condition as the day it left Swenson's shop. I literally cannot detect that it has ever been in a holster.

I'm currently having a pistol built by John Jardine. (Armand Swenson's nephew who spent time working in the Swenson shop.) He says that his elderly aunt still has meticulous records on every gun that went through the shop. I may try to get him to obtain copies.

This is the only piece I own which I will not shoot.
 

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Randy,

Beautiful pics. Is John still taking work from the public. I know he can be hard to get a hold of.
 

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John does have lots of irons in the fire with the Valtro project and all. But as far as I know, he's taking work. He took mine. But then again, I haven't received my pistol back yet either. :wink:

I suppose good things come to those who wait.
 

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Randy, could you let us know what the particular makeup of your Jardine 1911 will be? John is in my neck of the woods (when he's not in Italy) and I have a .45acp cmbt. cmdr. he worked on years ago. He's a great guy and does particularily clean, artful work. So, what sights, modifications, etc. are you having done?
EricO
 
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