But neither of these is how it started.
The original barrel was 7" long and had a Keng rear sight. The gun also had some curvy, almost “pudgy” grips that fit my hand very nicely.
I shot it just as Smith and Wesson made it for a while but, since it was pre-drilled for a Weaver rib and almost all the Bullseye guys were shooting a dot, the first modification was easy. I screwed on a rib and bolted down a 1" Ultradot.
I was a Bullseye shooter now!
And my scores went up.
With no big money left, I figured I’d just shoot. That lasted until a set of used Herrett Nationals showed up on the for sale or swap table at the range.
Grips? Thirty bucks? Yeah, I can do that!
Again, my scores took a small step up.
My S&W Model 41’s configuration stayed like that for a couple of years.
Another change a lot of shooters use in Bullseye are custom grips. They’re all expensive and it was quite a while before I got my Nills grips but, yes, they eventually arrived and replaced the Herretts.
My scores again went up - most of the time. But I also noticed that when things went bad, they tended to go really bad.
Custom grips let you be sloppy. They fit so tightly to my hand that I would forget to grip them right back and when I do that, it goes to Hell in a handbasket real fast.
It’s called limp-wrist and no amount of trigger control that I can muster will overrule it.
But I paid $240 bucks for the darn grips so I’m gonna damn well shoot ’em, you know?
My scores tended to get better and better but the lapses still occasionally reminded me that not everything was well.
Phoenix Rod and Gun Club has a Tuesday evening group, Nighthawks, that alternate between Bullseye and International. An L Match is also in the mix occasionally. Trying all three, I quickly discovered that International’s Dueling form was harder with a dot. So I changed the scope rings to Warne’s quick release style making it almost instantaneous to switch between red dot and irons.
But the 41 was too long and the grips too wide to be 100% legal for the International events. No one complained, mind you, but my scores always had to be marked as “Illegal gun”. They didn’t count.
International has a box that’s used to qualify firearms. My 7" barrel and Nills grips blew it. In fact, the original grips from S&W were also too wide.
By this time, I had also started to notice that immediately after a shot, the end of the barrel tended to waggle. In Rapid Fire, it was enough that I had trouble getting back on the center and starting the next shot in time. Trying out another shooter’s 41 with a 5.5" barrel, the waggle was almost nonexistent.
So I ordered that shorter barrel from S&W with the cut for a Bomar rear sight. That barrel was also drilled for a rib but needed a hacksaw and aluminum blacking to take both the rib and the Bomar sight at the same time.
A set of Herrett trainer grips completed the modifications. Those grips, the 5.5" barrel, and with dot removed will now fit the International box.
In that configuration, the gun is 100% ready for International events such as their version of Rapid Fire - five shots in eight seconds onto five adjacent targets. Then do it again in six seconds. And then in four. Hoo-boy, that’s tough! I only get the last shot off about half the time at four seconds and good luck hitting that fifth target anywhere at all!
But then drop on the red dot, tighten the rings and, voila, I’m ready for Bullseye.
And I’ve discovered that, with the trainer grips, I always grip them hard. I simply never relax my grip as I would occasionally do with the custom Nills grips. So, at least for now, I’m staying with the trainers.
That’s my convertible.
Will I go back to the Nills custom grips someday? And what about the 7" barrel?
Who knows, maybe I’ll actually learn how to shoot them as well.
But not until I master what I’ve got now.