Sometimes it’s all it takes to
turn a frog into a Prince.

Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away I was a professional frog kisser. My two bosses were also frog kissers and they encouraged me to be one also. Frog kissin’ can be rewarding or disappointing.

Sometimes when we kiss a frog we find we still have a frog, however sometimes that frog becomes a beautiful princess or handsome prince. In my frog kissin’ career, it was very rare to find a frog, which remained a frog. I spent 31 years teaching ninth graders and had the opportunity to kiss hundreds of frogs. To this day, my part of the country is filled with princes and princesses.

Several of “my frogs” were at the last local gun show and one of my very early princesses who is now a grandmother purchased one of my books. Several other frogs had tables or just came by and visited. Sadly, frog kissin’ is pretty much banished from what was my vocation. I put my arm around dozens upon dozens of male frogs and hugged hundreds of female frogs.

No More

It was not unusual for me to come home with a shirt all stained with frog tears. Kissin’ frogs simply refers to seeing the potential or hurt or both in a teenager and letting them know you really care. This is no longer allowed. Students may not be touched in any way, shape or form. I just purchased a .44 Special from a former teacher back east who retired when he was told he could no longer even high-five his students. Sad!

Once a month I have breakfast with my formal principal, who is now 86, and we always talk over “the good old days” in education and last month he said to me, “You know John if we were back in school we would both be in jail before the day was out!” Educators are no longer allowed to be frog kissers. I remember one “frog” who checked into my classroom one afternoon. She obviously had a chip on her shoulder and looked like trouble. In fact, she had been expelled from her former school.

As the kids were working on their assignment, I took a calculated risk. I actually sat down in her seat with her, put my arm around her and said, “You don’t have to prove anything to me.” She melted, soon became one of my best students, and I never had a bit of trouble with her. Today, what I did would get me fired or worse.

Years later she ran into my wife and told her she would not have stayed in school if I had not believed in her. That was one of the great rewards of teaching and it no longer exists at least not the way I did it. There must still be teachers who can touch students even if they can’t literally touch them. It must be awfully difficult.

Sometimes a little TLC goes a long way. A barrel here, a set of grips there, maybe a tweak or two and Perfecto!

Frog Kissin’ Sixgun Style

I’m no longer involved with ninth graders, however I am still kissin’ frogs. Today’s frogs are sixguns, not students. I hesitate to label the excellent .357 Magnum Ruger 3-Screw Flattop and Old Model Blackhawks manufactured from 1955 to 1972 as “frogs.” However, in a sense they are, in that they have great potential to become true big-bore sixguns. Over the past three decades I’ve kissed close to two dozen Blackhawk frogs and, from my mail, it seems I have obviously encouraged many other sixgunners to do the same. Apparently, this has had a great effect on the price of .357 Blackhawks as the $150 to $250 specimen of just five years ago is now more in the neighborhood of $450 to $600 today. Frog kissin’ can be expensive.

Most of my conversions on the Colt Single Action-sized 3-Screw .357 Blackhawks have been to .44 Special with versions from Bob Baer, Hamilton Bowen, David Clements, Ben Forkin, John Gallagher, Bill Grover and Andy Horvath. However, there is also the .41 Special by Bowen, a .45 Colt by Jim Stroh and a Brian Cosby .44-40, all now living life as handsome princes. A few years ago I decided to turn a frog into a different kind of the prince, that is, leaving the Flattop Blackhawk as a .357 Magnum while completely transforming it.

From Frog To Perfection

About 10 years ago, I had Ben Forkin build me a .445 SuperMag on a Ruger .357 Maximum and I was left with the 10-1/2” .357 Maximum Ruger barrel in my parts box. I looked at a less than perfect 357 Flattop and that 10-1/2″ barrel and decided they would make a grand combination for a long-range sixgun. I had my local gunsmith, Mike Rainey of Shapel’s Gun Shop, polish the warning label from the side of the barrel and install it on the Flattop. The original 4-5/8″ barrel of the Flattop was put away and was recently installed on a .357 New Vaquero along with a Bowen front sight and a Power Custom Bisley Model hammer and trigger. Both sixguns are used almost exclusively with an LBT 187-grain gas-checked, flatnose bullet over 12.5 grains of H110. Potent, but pleasant shooting.

The long barreled .357 was sent off to Gary Reeder for his frog kissin’ duties. Gary polished the whole gun, finished it in a deep bright blue, and added my name to the side of the barrel. The alloy grip frame was polished bright and the whole thing was finished off with a pair of original factory stag stocks. I soon stole the grip frame and stocks to use on a 3-Screw .22 Super Single-Six and replaced them on the .357 with another great find, a factory Super Blackhawk brass grip frame and custom checkered stocks. The Super Blackhawk grip frame and I simply do not get along well on big-bore sixguns as it raps my knuckle unmercifully, however, it works just fine with this long barreled .357 Ruger, which has now been frog kissed into perfection.

Former Frogs turned into Perfectly Princely Pistols.

Fix This Frog!

Sometimes even I have been guilty of ignoring frogs. For several years, actually several decades, I have had a 7-1/2″ 2nd Generation Colt New Frontier .45. The last 2nd Generation New Frontier left Hartford in 1974 and my example was manufactured in 1970. Someone was definitely not paying attention when this beautifully appearing sixgun was put together as the barrel/cylinder gap was excessively excessive. So much so, in fact, it shot much slower than several 4-3/4″ examples, often as much as 100 fps slower. I don’t know why I put up with this unacceptable situation for so long except to say I just never get around to having it appropriately “kissed.”

One of the premier frog kissers, sixgun style, is Hamilton Bowen. He can even turn a toad into a prince. Last year he needed to borrow a 2nd generation Colt New Frontier for measuring to make replacement barrels for someone in another country. The large gapped .45 Colt New Frontier was sent off to Hamilton with a request to set the barrel back to a minimum gap while he had it.

What a difference! This New Frontier is now one of my faster shooters instead of being as slow as they come. Never again will it be embarrassed to shoot alongside a 4-3/4” sixgun or even any other 7-1/2″ example. In addition to picking up muzzle velocity, it is also quieter, and even seems to shoot better. The latter may simply be due to my change of attitude towards it. It has now been properly dressed with custom stag stocks and is an excellent example of a beautifully appearing and shooting .45 Colt.

New Frog Heart

One of the problems with not only Colt but some other manufacturer’s .45 Colt sixguns are found in the oversize chambers. This just mentioned Colt New Frontier came from the factory with .454″ chamber throats so it is no great problem at least for one who loads his own to tailor .45 Colt loads accordingly. Cast bullets are simply sized to .454″ and the problem ends. Unfortunately, it is not unusual to find Colt cylinder throats as large as .456″ to .457″.

The only way to kiss these into perfection is to replace the cylinder with properly re-chambered .357 Magnum Colt cylinders or a totally custom cylinder. A perfect example is a 4-3/4″ .45 Colt New Frontier with a .357 cylinder tightly chambered by John Linebaugh. With Lyman 454424 Keith .45 SWC 260-grain bullets over 20 grains of H4227, it places five shots into one hole at 25 yards. Another sixgun frog kissed into pistol perfection.

Everyone who has more than a few firearms probably has at least one frog hiding in the back recesses of the gun safe. We are faced with three choices, selling it, ignoring it or kissin’ it into perfection. What handsome prince awaits you?

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