A Single-Seven Salute

Special gun to honor John Taffin

The Shootists’ 35th Anniversary gun rightfully honors the founder of the organization, John Taffin.
As you can see, Tank has been a Taffin fan for a long time.

Admittedly, it was John Taffin (JT) who roped me into reading American Handgunner and GUNS Magazine so many years ago. I’ll bet he lassoed you the same way, cinching you tightly into his world of articles and pictures featuring his sixguns, cast bullets and handloading. He understands people like you and me by having the same interests and obsessions as we do.

By bridging the gap of the past, JT keeps the words of Elmer, Skeeter and Bill Jordan alive, as well as a host of other industry giants. JT entertains while informing us by keeping the stories flowing.

Sporting well-fitted stag stocks, The Shootists’ Anniversary gun has its creed etched into the back of the grip-frame.

The Shootists

In 1985, John put into motion an idea he’d been gnawing on for years. What if he invited a handful of knowledgeable friends as consumed by sixguns, handloads, gun leather, and any other adornment, for a holiday of sorts? Of course, there’d be shooting, but more importantly, there’d be fellowship, followed by the exchange of ideas, stories, hopes and dreams.

John had one dubious, yet brain-wracking requirement. Attendees could only bring two handguns, semi-autos would be allowed, only if chambered in .45 ACP, .38 Super, or 9mm. Talk about torturous! The two guns would have to be capable of handling any unknown task, hunt or situation. The event was a huge success and continues to this very day.


What started as a few handpicked amigos has grown into a 100-plus like-minded, invitation-only members, displaying high character and fortitude. Today, The Shootists meet every year at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, NM to continue the tradition JT started.

Besides exchanging gun-related ideas, The Shootists sponsor the Whittington Center Adventure Camp, giving teenagers who love the outdoors a chance to learn all shooting disciplines, archery, camping, cooking and survival skills. A winter gun raffle is also held, supporting St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Custom tuned and accurized by Tyler Gun Works from Friona, Texas, the Ruger Single-Seven is a shooter.

A Special Gun

Since 1990, The Shootists have a commemorative gun made every five years. This year’s gun was rightfully influenced by none other than John Taffin. Consisting of a stainless Ruger Bisley single-seven, chambered in .327 Federal Magnum, this hot-rodded, small-bore packs a lot of punch, yet is easy-shooting, recoil wise.

John’s showing his wisdom here, as he’s learned what decades of testing/shooting every big-bore boomer can do to your body. He shared this knowledge with us in these very pages. The pounding of thousands of rounds caused micro-fractures in his wrists, later developing into arthritis.

Barrel length is 4-5/8" and sports a Fermin Garza serrated-faced front sight. Handsome stag stocks add a rustic flair. “Shootists 35 Years 1985-2020” is etched on the barrel, as well as “Men Who Stand in the Gap” on the rear grip-frame. My favorite adornment is the silhouette of John, complete with Stetson, aiming his sixgun, etched into the top strap.

A beautifully machined Belt Mountain oversized #5 base-pin replaces the factory pin. Its multi-stepped, hourglass shape mimics Elmer’s famous #5 sixgun base-pin and has the number 35 etched in the end of it. The stainless Bisley hammer and trigger are blue-blacked, the action/trigger tuned/timed, barrel crowned and cylinder gap tightened by Tyler Gun Works.

Bobby and his crew at Tyler really outdid themselves on this special project honoring JT on The Shootists’ 35th Anniversary gun.

A front sight designed by Fermin Garza, as well as a Belt Mountain #5 base-pin by
Kelye Schlepp makes the 35th Shootists’ Anniversary gun well represented.

Shootist Shuck

The holster accompanying this gun was built by Doc Barranti, honoring JT. Called his Mountain Companion, it has JT’s famous (iconic?) pose fittingly applied to the holster. A minimalist design shuck, the Mountain Companion can be made for either strong, or weakside wearing. The simple hammer thong securely keeps your shooter in place.

A Doc Barranti Mountain Companion shuck is shown, complete with Taffin’s likeness,
further honoring the founding Shootist.

The JT Special

There’s only a handful of men deserving of a gun made in their honor. Those who are worthy usually protest modestly. Thankfully, groups like The Shootists do it anyway — no matter how much the person doth protest!

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