My Kinda' Gun

If It Could Only Talk...

The “Frankengun” was built by Tyler Gun Works for museum curator Robbie Roberts.
It’s a perfect packing size and bears brilliant case colors along with the beauty of ram horn stocks.

I knew the grin all too well and it usually led to trouble for me. He knows I’m hooked, before ever presenting the bait. That’s how it is with Bobby Tyler, head honcho at Tyler Gun Works (TGW), and me. The familiar friendly voice asks, “Hey Tank, how’s it going?” I start calculating how many Benjamins I have in my wallet, as I’ve been through this scenario many times.

Besides being extremely talented, Bobby is one of the nicest people I know, a true gentleman. Opening the lid, he shows me one of his latest builds. I slam it shut, not allowing anyone the chance to see it. “How much?” I utter weakly? “Well, let me tell you about it…” He was going to torture me — as if I needed it. Did I mention it was a .45 Colt? Bobby says “I call it the ‘Frankengun’.”

Made with a Vaquero frame, the fixed-sight gun sports a beautifully-machined
ejector rod button and base-pin head to allow full case extraction.

The Monster Lives

The heart of this beast is a ’70s Ruger original brass grip-frame. It made the circuit, passing from ’smith to ’smith, no one knowing what to do with it.” Bobby being Bobby, he saw the beauty in the brass grip-frame, mentally building a gun around it. After sandblasting, Bobby sealed it with his own concoction so the brass would never tarnish. Chalk it up to imagination, vision, or know-how, Bobby puts it to good use. The shape kinda’ resembles a round-butted Bisley/birds-head grip. Call it what you may, I love it, especially with the fitted rams-horn grips with Ruger medallions.

The ram horn is full of texture, looking rugged yet is smooth to touch. Bobby fits them flush to the frame, the way I like. Knowing rams bash horns during yearly courting rituals, I know they’re strong and durable. Gripping them is like shaking hands with a long-lost friend.

The frame is from an older Vaquero with a 3¾” barrel, kinda’ looking like a Colt Sheriff’s model. Yet, this gun has its ejector rod housing trimmed back, with ejector rod button and base-pin skillfully machined by Bobby to provide positive case extraction. It’s the dandiest packing piece ever, chambered in my favorite caliber!

If this isn’t enough to induce a severe case of gun lust, the frame, hammer and trigger are beautifully color cased. The gun was given a TGW action job, making it a symphony of harmonic clicks, locking up tightly when cocked. Trigger pull measures an honest 2 lbs. Bobby also administered his Accuracy package, consisting of re-cutting the forcing cone to 11 degrees, followed by a polish and lapping of the barrel face, ensuring it’s square, and lastly setting cylinder gap so tight barely any sunlight can pass.

A target barrel crown completed the job. The barrel and cylinder were then re-blued after removing the warning label from the barrel. Talk about a full workover!

Tank’s friend and first owner of the “Frankengun” was Robbie Roberts, curator
of the Frank Brownell Museum of the Southwest at the NRA Whittington Center near Raton, N. Mex.

Remembering Robbie

After the deal is made, Bobby tells me the clincher. The gun was from a beloved mutual friend who was curator of the NRA Whittington Center’s Museum — Robbie Roberts. Knowing he died this spring, I was hoping to get one of his guns to remember him by and the ‘Frankengun’ fills the need wonderfully. Bobby tells me it was in rough shape, meaning it was a favorite of Robbie’s.

Sentimental Sixgun

I’ll miss the yearly conversations, usually out back, with Robbie sitting at the picnic table, coffee and cigarette in hand. We’d talk guns, or simply sit enjoying each other’s company, words not necessary. With our paths crossing several times during the week, a simple wave was the only thing needed to acknowledge our friendship.

Having this gun from Robbie gives me the opportunity to talk of the fine man he was, how his gun was used for this project, making it special.

Whether strapping it on, showing it off, or surely shooting it, it’ll be like shaking hands with my old amigo. This is especially true while sending lead downrange, the way Robbie would want it. I picture him above — smiling, nodding approval, watching and hearing his old gun speak once again.

Robbie once wrote an article in the Whittington Center’s The Bulletin titled, “If this Old Gun Could Talk.” Gunmen never die when their shooters are passed on, to be enjoyed, shot; it only continues the cycle and causes someone down the trail to wonder, “if this old gun could talk,” what stories would it tell?

Yes sir, this is my kinda’ gun.

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