Lots of folks have planned what gun(s) they’re going to buy this year.  An Internet friend on a closed forum has taken a different approach: his new year’s resolution is to spiff up the guns he already has.

I can march to that. Shortly before the end of the last year, I picked up a new Glock 17 with the RTF2 grip frame treatment. RTF stands for Rough Textured Finish, and this one is so aggressive that Glock is only making it now for police holster guns. I found it uncomfortable to wear in an inside the belt holster against bare skin under an un-tucked T-shirt; it’s much more abrasive than the standard RTF treatment on the current Generation 4 Glock pistols.  Significant Other likes the way it sits in her hand, though, and she enjoys Glock matches, so this one got some Dawson adjustable sights with bright fiber optic on the front post.  She is partial to light trigger pulls on match guns, and this will be a dedicated tournament-shooting pistol, so we’ve installed a 3.5-pound connector from Lone Wolf.

My favorite pistol since I was twelve has been the 1911 Colt .45 auto. Back in the Time of the Ancient Ones, as my children would call my prime of life years, I tested a then-new Colt Enhanced Lightweight Commander .45. It grouped about two inches for five shots with just about anything at 25 yards, and I don’t recall it jamming. I liked it enough to buy it, and set about making a project gun out of it for carry.  I figured I’d have the best masters do each bit of work. The legendary Dick Heinie installed one of his street-concealable speed-reload magazine chutes. Pete Single, perhaps the best checkering artisan in the business, checkered the frame for traction.

Time went by, and the project slid further and further toward the back burners. I won a Commander-length Bar-Sto barrel and bushing at a match, and will send that to Irv Stone IV for his masterful installation, which should bring it from a two-inch grouper to a “one-inch gun” at 25 yards, without sacrificing reliability.  I’m still trying to decide who I’ll ask to do the trigger – it’s pretty decent right now, but a plastic trigger is just not esthetically acceptable – and I’m trying to decide between Dave Lauck at D&L Sports and Hilton Yam at 10-8 for the heavy duty fixed night sights. When all that is done, it will go to Robbie Barrkman at Robar for a finish that’s impervious to weather and sweat.

When it’s done, it’ll be my “geezerhood gun” for retirement if I ever get that far. Light to carry, hard hitting, something I’m comfortable with…and, yes, there IS a nostalgia factor at work there.

I don’t usually give my guns nicknames, but I may call this one “Freddy the .45.” In the “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies, the monstrous Freddie was said to be “the bastard child of a thousand madmen.” This pistol will kinda be the bastard child of a thousand madly good gunsmiths.  (Well…maybe not a thousand…but writers are allowed poetic license, aren’t we?)

But, enough about my stuff. What’s your “grail gun” you intend to buy for 2012, or your project to customize a firearm you already have in your possession?  Share it here!

9mm GLock 17 RTF2 out of the box…





 …and same pistol retrofitted with Dawson adjustable rear sight and fiber optic front. Lighter trigger connector and oversize slide lock lever have also been added.


  1. I have 4 projects in mind for the blog this year that I think fit this concept…

    1) My everyday carry gun is a RTF2 Glock 19 with Warren/Sevigny carry sights and a T.H.E. Accessories magazine release. I plan on making it my idea of the perfect carry gun by filling in cavity in the grip frame to add a ramp to it and add a small beaver tail to eliminate my issues with slide bite.

    2) I want to build a Appleseed training rifle out of a 10/22 with a Mannlicher stock, tech sights, sling, Kidd trigger, and MAYBE an internally suppressed barrel.

    3) Last week I talked with Mossburg and Hans Vang about doing an ultimate home defense shotgun project, but I am undecided about pump or auto and 12 vs 20ga.

    4) I want to build a ruger rimfire/steel challenge pistol with Tactical Solutions and/or Volquartsen

    I would think that is a successful project year!

  2. Mas, greetings again from Omaha. I truly enjoyed your post. I have my own ‘Freddie’ in the works and have had much work done on it over the years. It is being finished by my gunsmith, although it is taking WAYYYY longer than I want. To curb my appetite I have purchased one of the new Browning 1911-22A1 pistols. It is 85% the size of a full size .45ACP, and the cutest thing you’ve ever seen.

  3. I’m pining for a Spanish hand made Ugartachea side-by-side 12 ga. but I might have to settle for an Ithaca pump. I’m also wanting to get a Swiss Arms Green Special but I’ll have to eat pretty thin soup to afford either, so I’ll just restock a couple old bubbafied Lee Enfields with military wood. I was also thinking that a CZ 550 Lux in 6.5x55mm Swedish Mauser would be the ultimate finesse hunting rifle.

  4. Mass – The Glock 17 RTF2 is the first fire arm I ever purchased. I bought it new in July of 08′ and it now has about approximately 5k rounds through it. It is my competition gun as well as my carry gun. (I’ve only done half a dozen or so competitions as the round count would indicate.) I would definitely agree with your assessment of the RTF2 treatment being extremely aggressive, almost too aggressive for bare hands. One thing it does really well, though, is hold a grip sleeve in place. My personal preference leans towards the Hogue Handall grip sleeve. And once in place, it doesn’t move. Plus, it won’t effect the classing of the pistol at Glock matches or any other match for that matter. If you wife finds herself with sore hands after shooting the RTF2, a grip sleeve may be just what she needs.

    Keep up the great work, Mass. I always enjoy reading your blog.

  5. Mas,

    Very interesting topic. Also quite disturbing because earlier today I was at the county clerk’s office getting my license amended to include another recently purchased handgun.

    Please, get out of my head!

    Anyway, I have a lot of guns on my “must have” list. Some are for hard use, some are for the historical value and some…well…I just gotta have!

    My latest purchase, not 24 hours ago, was a Ruger Blackhawk 45LC with the extra 45ACP cylinder. Fun to shoot and a rock solid piece.

    Next on the list (probably in 2 weeks or so) will be a North American Arms in 22LR. I honestly have no use for this at all. I won’t be carrying it…I won’t be target shooting with it…but I just have to have it!

    I really want to buy a Chiappa Rhino with the 6” barrel. Again, this is something I would never carry and there are much better choices for target or plinking…but that damn thing is the closest I’ll ever get to owning a working Klingon Disrupter pistol.

    I’m also interested in buying this year (hopefully, fingers crossed!) an M1A with the match barrel and walnut stock, a Marlin 30-30 with the big-loop lever, a PPK and a Sharps in 45-70.

    Yeah, I know…big eyes, big dreams…small wallet. But I’m trying.

  6. As an additional point to my previous post…

    I reserve the right to make these exact, same resolutions this time next year!

  7. I too have four project guns under way. The first one is a .50 Beowulf upper for my AR-15. It is complete except for opening up the ejection port. I have not screwed up the courage to drag out the dremel yet. The second is a 1911 in .38 Super. I am buying parts and tools as I go along and intend to learn how to do as much of the ‘smith work as possible myself. The third is an Armalite AR-10. Right now I only have a stripped lower, but intend to build a sweet shooting 7.62×51. The last is also still at the stripped lower state, a FAL ‘inch’ lower. I intend to buy the tools and parts to finish this one, also.
    I am pretty sure that I will get the Beowulf done this year and probably the AR-10. The other two will certainly be longer term.

  8. Wolvie,
    Buy a Springfield ‘Loaded’. It is exactly what you described and a great shooting rifle!! I can’t afford a real M14, so the M1A is the substitute.

  9. Mass,
    I’m not as old as all of you(50) still have a 14yrs old daughter and a 7yrs old son so I can’t do any custome projects. I should have enough rattted holed back to buy the S&W MP15-22 I want. I just had to replace the slide on my Walther P22 after about 12000 rds the slide broke in half. New recoil spring and slide and its up and running. Even with reloading I still shoot more 22s than anything.I try my best to shoot once a week, just about go into withdrawals if it turn into 2 week.
    Just wanted to say I enjoy everything I have read of yours. Still have a few left but the list is geting shorter.

  10. Have you heard anything about HR 822? When is the senate going to hear this bill and do you think it has a chance of passing?

  11. My resolution is to shoot the guns I have more often. (Not that a few additions would be out of line. That new Mossberg MVP is intriguing and I really like the Ruger MKIII with the threaded barrel for a suppressor at some point.)

  12. My resolution is not to buy any more guns for the next couple of years, unless a really good deal comes along. Instead I will sell off some excess firearms and use the money to improve what I already have and buy more ammunition, magazines, and reloading components. This way, I can practice more and have a larger stock of ammo in case of any bad situations occuring, such as a Zombie attack/Liberal insurrection. Except for a couple of handguns and some rifles in not very popular calibers, all my firearms will eventually be in military and police calibers, and .22 LR. I have an adequate number of guns now, but need more ammo to feed them and possibly useful accessories to make them better, such as scopes, low light sights, and durable finishes. My main calibers will be .45 ACP, .308 Win., and .22 LR. Secondary calibers will include .223 Rem, .40 S&W, and 12 gauge. In my humble opinion, every serious, defensive oriented shooter should have a 1911 in .45 ACP with a reliable .22 rimfire conversion unit and a good bolt action or semi-auto .308 Win. calibered rifle, both with lots of spare magazines and ammo.

    Now, if an excellent condition, non-lock, blued S&W 29 with 6 1/2″ barrel like I used to have popped up at a decent price, I will have to take a hammer to my piggy bank.

  13. I’m on the waiting list at a local firearms store for a Kimber Solo which will be my new carry gun, and replace a S&W Sigma .380 which I use now.

    I’m SO glad that Oregon doesn’t require us to list a carry gun on our permit.

  14. Like wolvie says, big eyes, big dreams, small wallet. I’ll be satisfied with putting a couple thousand rounds through the handguns I now have and getting my girlfriend well enough to go shooting with me again. And she’s the most important part. Any purchases or improvements can wait. My SIG M1911 Scorpion is fine just the way it is, my Glocks are all, well, Glocks, and her SP-101 has a CT laser. Not much more needed here.

  15. This year I’m hoping to find a Dan Wesson Bobtail Commander in 10mm. Picked up a Kimber Eclipse in 10mm last year and liking it but want something a little smaller for carry. Looking forward to having some fun with either at some local IDPA club matches even if I will be shooting against the 9mm crowd in ESP!

  16. Another from Omaha (that’s probably a first). I’m hoping for two things this year. A short barreled AR and a suppressor for it. I may start with getting the suppressor for my current AR then start working towards the SBR. With the $200 tax on each it definitely pushes the budget.

  17. At the moment I’ve got plans for two. Taking my 870 to the ‘next’ level with a ShurShot stock and fore end, light rail and EOtech sight along with a slug barrel and sidesaddle ammo carrier (probably have to modify the fore end to allow for the carrier).

    My second project is to upgrade my Rock River Arms LAR-8 with their Operator adjustable stock and a free float handguard.

  18. I am refinishing my first year Delta Elite.
    I had the slide to frame fit tightened up a little bit last month.
    Earlier last year I went with a GI guide rod, a 20 lb recoil spring, and a flat bottom firing pin stop.
    It will be getting a good durable finish, as it is my carry pistol.
    It is the sidearm I lusted after as a high school student when it was new… and it only took me 23 years to get it.
    I had high hopes and it surpassed them.
    My first box of vintage Norma 170 gr HPs through it put a grin on my face that lingers still.
    It is a handgun that calls to a hand loader.
    I will also be getting my first ever handgun spruced up.
    1948 Star Modelo Super in 9mm Largo.
    She is at about 5% of the bluing left.
    It holds a special place in my heart, so I do want to treat it right.


  19. Nothing exciting for me. I’d like to get some range time in, and pick up a Henry US Survival Rifle for the G.O.O.D. box.
    If I can find a gunsmith I trust (haven’t looked yet), I have a Wolfe spring set for a S&W 3953 Tactical that needs installed. No it’s not a great weapon, but it’s the one I have, so I want to make it as efficient and accurate as I can afford.

  20. Instead of any gun mods, I’m actually shopping for spare parts for the M-4, 1911, and Sig 226: spring kits, pins, etc…all the stuff that’l wear out. The way I look at it, civilians don’t usually have an armory to turn their guns over to for repairs!

    I’m way too hard on my gear, guns included, to want any fine tuning, but having an expensive gun go belly up because I didn’t have a $1 replacement spring isn’t something I want to deal with.

  21. I don’t want to burst any bubble,Mas,but unless that connector from Lone Wolf is made by Glock the piece just went into the unlimited div. The regs. 40.40 Sub#8 specifically States ” CONNECTORS ( modified/aftermarket) is illegal. Regs. 170.120 for Competition div. says stock also. 🙂

  22. I bought a Ruger GP100 over the summer. After taking it out a few times I’ve decided I don’t like the grips or the front sight post. I’ll be switching them out for Hogue Tamer grips and a new front sight with some paint on it or a hiviz front sight.

  23. Terry mentioned a Henry Survival Rifle.

    Many years ago I bought and still have a Savage Camper’s Companion in over/under .22LR/20 gauge. It breaks down into 3 pieces and stores in a soft leather carrying pouch that has handles, and a number of leather thongs for tying onto things such as a backpack or a horse saddle.

    The stock holds some rounds of both the .22LR and 20 guage.

    They have long been discontinued.

    Conversation about them here:

  24. My #1 goal gun for the year is a Glock 19 and a few spare mags. Maybe I’ll even pick up one of those “evil” 33 round mags for kicks and giggles. Other than that, most of my gun money will go toward ammo, SASS match entry fees, and maybe a few odds and ends. If it’s an especially good year, I may find myself looking for a nice Ruger Redhawk or Super Blackhawk, but hey, one thing at a time…

  25. Randy, thanks for the catch. We had been thinking International Defensive Pistol Association rules, not Glock Sport Shooting Foundation rules. The Lone Wolf connector will migrate today into the princess’s Glock 17L “fun gun,” and the Glock 3.5 connector from that pistol will go into the RTF2 G17 for IDPA and GSSF match shooting. Your sharp eye is appreciated!

  26. Colt Series 80 Gold Cup National Match being overhauled with Wilson “innards”, Wilson Combat commander style hammer, Ed Brown grip safety, getting rid of the stupid collett (sp?) bushing. Replacing the factory front site with a Trijicon night site. And since I am in the procees of “ruining” the collector value…carry melt treatment, then Cerama-Kote.

    Picked up police buy back G19 RTF which I think spent its service life in the armory and enjoying it companionship.

  27. I’ve got my eye on more ammo and magazines, a couple of Ruger SR9’s for the kids and maybe another 1911and most of all one of those new Ruger SP-101 8 shot .22’s with the fiber optic front sight. One look at the pictures in American Handgunner and the drooling started. Mas, know any good gunsmiths in Michigan who do a primo trigger job on Rugers?

  28. William, no one in Michigan springs to mind. However, my friend Bill Pfeil does gunsmithing for ProArms in Live Oak, FL and has done some way cool work on double action Ruger revolvers for competitive shooters. Leave a message for him at the ProArms Gun Shop, at 386 364 GUNS. I doubt that you’ll be sorry.


  29. Mas,

    This is off-subject, but it is good news. You probably already know this, but I just found out. NJ law does not consider bullet cavities filled with plastic to be hollow points. This means Pow’r Ball and flex tip bullets could legally be carried by retired LEOs and those with CCWs. I am overjoyed, but I should still move to a free state anyway. I’m working on it.

    {It might be better not to post this, why give any NJ legislators ideas for more laws?} Nevertheless, I leave that up to your judgment.

  30. Mas, I intend to pick up something small and light this spring, prob in .380 caliber for ccw in light clothing and then go looking for a compact 9mm for next fall/winter and heavier clothing. Might retire my s&w 442 to home defense back-up status.

  31. I carry the same Glock 17 RTF2 daily in the waistband but I do agree it’s not very comfortable. I like the RTF2 so much I bought a G19 RTF2, and a G21SF RTF2.

    I will see y’all at the Polite Society Conference with my G17 RTF2!

    See y’all soon,

  32. This year I intend to go Kel-tec crazy. I am hoping to get a good deal on their new shotgun once it’s finally out in force, and my dealer is searching around to see if it’s still possible to get a good deal (or any deal, period) on their RFB. I also have fickle interest in getting a P-11 and Sub 2000 that accepts Glock 9mm mags, but they’re little fish compared to the newer offerings.

    The Mec-Tech CCU (carbine conversion) for the Glock G21 has really caught my eye, I bet it’d work nicely with the 27-rd mags I got earlier last year!

    Gun upgrades are always worthy of consideration, too. Night sights and judiciously-applied laser mounts are among the most practical upgrades I’m considering. Maybe a couple of (expensive) scopes- and mounts- for my .308 rifles.

    …and heck, might as well fantasize about a nice stainless Colt Anaconda while I’m at it. =)

  33. On modifying boomthings…

    OK, but do you have a single action revolver that spits out it’s shells backwards under gas pressure as you shoot? With a two-stage loading gate that auto-opens after the first shot, so that “shot six” will stay in the gun until the first firing and second cock, at which point the first empty 357 shell is in the auto-eject position (one right of the hammer from the shooter’s POV)? And then the only empty you have to manually eject is the last one?

    Yes, I actually got that running reliably – on a New Vaquero. Hope to God I never have to shoot anybody, because the DA’s office is gonna be seriously puzzled…

    Dunno if I can post a youtube link but you can search on gas-eject Ruger and find it easily enough…spits shells straight back into a wrist-mounted brass catcher…

  34. Thank you for the article Mas! I am in the process of fulfilling my NYR right now by purchasing my first 1911 platform. In 40 years of shooting, I have yet to own one…might have to purchase a second Commander length to keep the Government sized model happy. Looking to be a decent year for keeping resolution.

    You bring up the fear I have always had regarding the 1911. No end to the work in sight 😉

  35. I have two projects that are ongoing.

    1. Mossberg 500 – I just finished a 4 day shotgun class with a sporting store dual barrel (28″ fixed mod choke; 18.5″ cyl bore) Mossberg 500 using the 28″ barrel. I bought it about 2 or 3 years ago for $260. It did very well in class but I don’t care for the synthetic furniture. I bought some used Mossberg 500 wood furniture and am in the process of installing it. Personally, I’d rather have beat up wood (some call it patina or character) than pristine synthetic.

    2. In the summer of 2011, after I year of looking hard, my local gun store was able to find a Marlin 1895 SBL. This was one of those built in the Remington factory. Unfortunately, it has about 6 defects that should have been caught at the factory before it left. They didn’t, such is life. I have it at a Grizzly Custom and it should be a very nice shooter when I get it back. After I live with it for a while, I plan to send it to Robar and have them “blue” it. Techincally, it’s not blueing as it satinless but they have a process for stainless that will give it a dark color similar to blueing.

    3. My wife grew up shooting her dad’s Glenfield 22 LR. She’s a crack shot with it. She grew up in the country and her dad would hand her it and have her kill the birds that were eating the crops and grapes (they make home made wine). I’d like to have it restored to “as new.” I know it’s not worth putting the money into it but it will put a smile on her face.

  36. I plan to convert my second Ruger Charger 10/22 to a rifle with a Tactical Solutions stock & quality barrel. Also finaly get some good sights on my Glock 34 & 17L.

    Gonna switch to a compact GP100 grip on my pet SRH Alaskan that I fire mostly with .45 LC.

  37. I just got a Glock 17 Gen 3 sent off to TSD Combat Systems to have the slide milled for a Trijicon RMR, suppressor sights, and an extended/threaded match barrel. It will also get a 3.5 lbs connector, and go perfectly with the Dale Fricke Seraphim AIWB holster that is designed specifically for those RMR-equipped Glocks from TSD and One Source Tactical. That’s my holy grail and it’s on its way back to me right now.


  38. I completed my New Year’s resolution in January when I bought a 6-inch Python. I had a toy one 35 years ago, fell in love with it, have acquired a lot of real guns since then, but this, finally, is The One. Somehow I suspect that there might be more…

    And Mas, I read chapter 6 in _Greatest Guns_ so many times last year that I memorized it. That was my inspiration to make it a goal for 2012.

  39. I put a TAC2 kit together with an AR15 receiver that I bought last year. One 300 Blackout barrel and one .223 barrel. Easy barrel switch.

    Put Dawson adjustable rear on my XD .45 Tactical, and red fiber front sight, along with a magwell.

    Coming up will be learning some tuneup tricks for my Marlin 1894 .45LC and my Rossie 92 .45LC just to see which one becomes my favorite. I would like to find a nice S&W Model 25 to carry with one of these rifles. Maybe send the Marlin out to make it a takedown version to fit in a backpack.