It’s The Little Things

Now And Then, We’re Reminded How Nice It Is To Have Friends
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That’s Ace Fernandez, celebrating a win at one of the past Elmer Keith Long
Range handgun shoots. He’s holding a vintage Ruger Super Blackhawk in .44
Magnum, and he knows how to use it! He is flanked by Guy Maakad (left),
Ed Parry (right) and Bob Toppen to the rear.

Ace Fernandez is walking proof one should never compete with a guy named “Ace,” and never, ever, underestimate anybody on a shooting range who has a snow white beard, mild demeanor, affable disposition and a great, big hogleg.

I’ve known Ace for at least a decade and then some, and I can say without fear of contradiction — because he’s done it in front of witnesses — he is one of the most remarkable and annoyingly proficient long-range handgunners anywhere. Perhaps what I like most about this old gentleman is that he hasn’t made a career of running around bragging about it. Guys like Ace do what they do and then go about their business.

Fernandez is, or we should say was, a mainstay at the annual Elmer Keith Memorial Long Range Handgun Shoot, which I wrote about a few months ago under the headline “The Last Dance,” (add internal link to previous story) because after 20 years, this wonderful little gathering of handgunners from around the Northwest came to an end this year. I will miss watching him shoot.

So, when a nondescript padded envelope with something inside appeared in my office mail recently, with his return address label on the corner, it got my immediate attention. It felt kinda like a pocketknife, but wasn’t quite heavy enough. Out came my dangerously sharp Spyderco and with a quick swipe or two through layers of tape, what came out of an inner package was a stunner.

There, in my greasy little palm, was a pistol magazine for an original Ruger Standard semi-auto, about which I also wrote recently. Original magazines are fairly rare anymore, so a couple of days later, while taking a break from house painting (yeah, even writers have “normal” chores during the summer!), I called Ace to thank him and see what I owed him for this little treasure.

From the ‘Old School’

Me: “Do I owe you anything?”

Ace: “For what?”

Now there’s a guy from “the old school” with whom you could sit at a campfire, reminisce, share a tall tale or two, and burn powder most of an afternoon in the farmlands south of Spokane and never get tired. It is, after all, the “little things that count” in life, and guys like Ace are to be treasured, only if for the sake of saying you met them.

Ace Fernandez may look like an old guy who might shoot a little,
but don’t kid yourself. This particular old guy is one of the best long-range
handgunners I’ve ever seen. And he’s generous!

According to his brief narrative, Ace was sifting through some boxes of stuff (that’s what we call junk out here in the wilds) and came across this Ruger magazine. Apparently, there was no longer a gun for it in his safe, and I can only presume he had read my earlier piece on shooting grouse with .22 pistols — a horrid habit us westerners have developed over several generations, much to the chagrin I presume of haughty New Englanders who sit around the fireplace at the hunting lodge in the fall, reminiscing about all the great missed shots they’ve fired through their 28-gauge Purdeys, but at least we folks in the settlements eat well — and decided the magazine needed a new home.

It evidently occurred to Ace he knew this cantankerous, and frequently obnoxious gun scribe upon whom charity is probably a wasted effort. So, he explained, “I needed to get rid of some stuff.” Thus, his package with the treat inside landed on my desk. Well, it wasn’t my birthday and it wasn’t Christmas (in my case, they fall on the same day in December), so being the pitiful wretch that I am, I gratefully and most humbly accepted his generosity.

See the difference in follower buttons? The one on the left was sent to
Dave by Fernandez, who found it in a box of “stuff” and it fits an original
Ruger Standard pistol.

Now, this particular specimen must have been a really old original. I reached that conclusion because instead of a rounded head on the magazine follower button, the “Ace model” has a flat button. I cannot recall ever having previously seen one of those, but everything else about this magazine was true to form. The first thing I did was insert it into my pistol and it fit like a glove.

However, I quickly discovered the follower didn’t descend and rise smoothly, and it turned out the magazine was so dry inside — likely from sitting idle for years — I had to lube it up with some gun oil and Gunslick graphite compound. Works good, now! By the time you read this, I’ll have likely capped off a few rounds at fool hens, and hopefully will be dining this evening on grouse, barbecued or fried in a cast iron skillet, remembering Ace helped put it there.

The Moral

I guess the moral to this story is that one can never take for granted the friendships that spawn on a gun range, or around a campfire or any other place where camaraderie is always on the agenda.

Little gestures make big impressions because they are the sort of thing nobody ever has to do, but does so anyway. That is the sort of fellow Ace is, and there is usually somebody just like him in any fellowship. You know the type. The older guy with wrinkles he earned, probably the hard way, to whom there is much more than meets the eye.

But be wary of the ones called Ace. They can probably shoot rings around you on their worst day, and do it with such nonchalance it may drive you nuts.

How Stupid Is This?

It’s quiz time, and the question for this week is “How Stupid Is This?”

Late last month, at an apartment complex in Parkland, Wash., a pair of teens pulled handguns and pointed them at a 10-year-old girl. Fortunately, adults in the apartments were observing. They called the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and shortly thereafter, the little punks were in custody, according to an entry on the sheriff’s Facebook page.

Now, it’s dumb enough to be packing hardware at the age of 17, but one of these boneheads was armed with (wait for it) a handgun that had been reported stolen in 2021. Both of these guys got a free ride in a public vehicle to the juvenile detention center, and are now facing charges of unlawful possession of a firearm. The kid with the hot gun has an additional charge of possession of a stolen firearm. Both were also charged with felony harassment.

You guessed correctly. This was pretty stupid.

But Wait, There’s More!

In Philadelphia last month, a would-be robber was not only captured, but during a physical confrontation with his intended victim, was shot with his own gun.

According to Fox News, the suspect approached the intended victim in broad daylight while the man was unloading groceries from his car. The perpetrator candidly advised the fellow with the grocery bags, “This is a robbery,” and aimed a gun at him.

Surprise of surprises, the victim quickly demonstrated it wasn’t a robbery, but a shooting. He grabbed for the gun, a nasty struggle ensued during which the would-be robber was “grazed” in the mid-section. He went to the hospital.

The intended victim’s hand was injured, apparently when the suspect bit him. Is that what they call “taking a bite out of crime?”

‘Justin Case’ Response

The following note from a reader was sent in response to my previous column titled “Justin Case: Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau Hates Handguns.”

I have my 12(6) on my gun license, as I owned prohibited handguns prior to changes in 1996. I can buy prohibited short barrel handguns and have been doing so because I can give my son any that were made before 1946. I have transferred a bunch to him and he now has his 12(7).  He can only acquire pre-1946 guns from me.

I have some post-1945 guns that have to get munched when I die or sold to someone else with a 12(6).  There are getting to be fewer and fewer of us and soon all the newer handguns will be destroyed.

My son and I can take these prohibs to the range and shoot them. There are a bunch of other prohibs like the FNFAL and machine guns etc. You can only look at those in your home.

Hopefully, that pansy Trudope gets voted out next election and Conservatives roll back the rules. I fear my four AR’s will be crushed before then. My son also has one. They have been sitting in my safe since May 1, 2020. They haven’t been on the streets as the Liberals say.

Dave, Our gun laws are stupid you have no idea … Love watching the Gun Cranks!

Dave Jones
Royal Canadian Mounted Police retired 35 years
Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Thanks for trying to clear up confusing Canadian gun control laws. The more I learn about what constitutes firearm regulation in your country, the more I’m inclined to agree with your assessment the laws are, as you state,“stupid.” Thanks so much for reading American Handgunner’s Insider Online.