Friday, December 28, 2007

Gun for Christmas

That's right, I got a gun for Christmas. In breach of my normal policy of not announcing what gun(s) I own or whether I'm carrying at any given point in time, I'll say that it's an Auto-Revolver. To be precise, it's a blued Mateba Unica 6 in .44 magnum with an 8 3/8ths inch barrel. Although any gun could be used for self-defense (or crime), this is one that's more useful as a target pistol, possibly useful for hunting (or animal defense), and excels as a conversation piece. When I took it out at the gun store near me a crowd of five guys instantly formed around me.

What's so unique about the gun? Firstly, it fires from the "six o'clock" position, meaning that it's the bottom, rather than the top, chamber in the cylinder which gets fired when you pull the trigger. The other thing is that it's a semi-automatic revolver: that means that when you pull the trigger, the recoil causes the top part of the gun to slide back and rotate the cylinder and recock the hammer like an "automatic" pistol. Traditional revolvers were either single-action or double-action. Single-action is the "Old West" type of gun such as the Colt "Peacemaker" (which revealingly has the official designation of Single Action Army). To fire a single-action revolver, you have to cock the hammer with your thumb before each shot. Double-action revolvers, such as Dirty Harry's, are more modern and are the type you usually see for sale. You can fire them like the single-action revolvers, but you can also simply pull the trigger and it rotates the cylinder and cocks (and then drops) the hammer as part of the process. This sounds like what the Auto-Revolver does, except that the downside to firing double-action is that it's much harder to pull the trigger and so your accuracy suffers.

I first found out about this handgun while reading about Trigun, an anime series that I really liked. One of the things you first notice is that the protagonist's gun is both really big and that it fires from the bottom chamber. Further research led me to discover that a similar gun was made (although the cylinder swings out instead of having a break-open action) and I would occasionally look at pictures of it when the mood caught me. I later found out that Mateba went out of business in 2005 and thus the guns have been discontinued. I sent an email to one company that claimed to sell them and was informed that they were about to receive their very last shipment soon. I figured that it was now or never, and so I'm the proud owner of one.

On one hand, I'm attracted to it's uniqueness and am sure that it will keep its value and perhaps even appreciate. On the other hand, I'm tempted to have it nickled and polished, have a custom black grip made, and saw off the compensator. I probably won't, although it sure is tempting.

The gun itself feels both well-made and delicate. It's got a European complexity to it, and the manual lists at least seventy parts! After getting it home I did what should have been a simple take-down to properly clean and oil things. Instead, the hammer and trigger jammed, the takedown pin would hardly budge, and the tiny screw which secures the takedown pin got lost several times and then wouldn't go in until I lined up things just right. That said, the gun is well-designed; it just has a relatively steep learning curve. One helpful thing that I did notice, however, is the presence of a back-up tiny screw in a little housing in the trigger (don't ask); that's really helpful because I'm sure that at some point I'll lose the first one.

I haven't fired it yet, but hope to within the month. When I do, I'll post a report and let you know how it handles and how many people came over to investigate.

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