This month we lost Denny Reichard of Rochester, Indiana, who has been mentioned in these pages many times. He was a cop for 36 years, the last decade of that on an artificial leg due to a line-of-duty injury.  As a street cop and as a man in general, he gave a new meaning to the old saying, “A one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.”

Denny Reichard

A lifelong gun guy, Denny was a young cop when he went to Smith & Wesson Armorer’s School and studied in depth under the great Johnny Contro.  As a result Reichard was unexcelled in his ability to slick up and fine tune any S&W revolver.

His signature gun for both duty and competition was a six-inch barreled .44 Magnum, which he was known to carry two at a time.  Denny won matches up to State Champion titles with those guns and his powerful Elmer Keith Memorial loads against competitors with target pistols and close to powder-puff ammo.  Once he’d scored six center hits with one, he’d drop it and go to the backup Magnum, earning the nickname “Rolling Thunder.”

I got to visit him a few days before he passed, sharing memories and checking out one of his latest projects, a super-slick .500 Magnum. 

His gun shop and shooting park, Sand Burr Gun Ranch, will continue under the supervision of his wonderful wife Cindy, and his daughter Ashley and son-in-law Austin Gibbons.  Info is at  Austin and Ash will continue to offer classes there – they are particularly famous for their snub-nose revolver course – and they will continue to host John Farnam, Frank Sharpe, me, and others to teach every year.

Denny was a super cop, a wizard with both tuning revolvers and shooting them, and a loving husband, dad, and grandfather.  I cherished our nearly three and a half decades of friendship. I like to think that somewhere, he’s having a smoke with Elmer Keith and Skeeter Skelton, and discussing their favorites Smith & Wessons.

Denny uses his 500 Magnum to blast pins 14 feet back at The Pin Shoot 2017.

Or click here for video:


  1. Wow, truly a gift that you and Denny had so many years as fast friends. Condolences to all in his family, extended family and those in the firearms and law enforcement communities. Rest well Mr. Reichard.

  2. Thanks for the rememberance Mas. So glad I got to meet him and train with him before he passed.

    Dan Marucci
    MAG-120 Oct 2013 Rochester

  3. I remember meeting and speaking (briefly) to Denny Reichard back in 2011. I was at the Sand Burr Gun Ranch to take the MAG-40 Course.

    While I am a big fan of revolvers, particularly Smith & Wesson’s, there is no doubt that my enthusiasm pales compared to Denny’s. It is like comparing a flickering candle to the midday sun!

    Anyone who doubts that a revolver is an effective tool, for defense, target shooting or hunting, only needed to see Denny shoot one. We only briefly met but I wish I hand known him better. He was in the mold of men like Elmer Keith, Skeeter Skelton and Bill Jordan. It is sad to see all that old revolver knowledge die out. At lot of the newer generation, even of gun folks, have never even held a revolver in their hands!

    • Role models live on in the lessons and skills they passed down to the next generation.
      Legends live on in those that aspire to be as great.
      Friends will live on in the hearts and minds of those who shared their friendship with an influence like the stones ripples in the pond.
      It sounds like Mr. Reichard indeed hit all three pins.

  4. I’ll miss Denny at this upcoming pin shoot. My condolences to his family. I was helping him and his wife load their trolly cart into his car when I snagged my hand on some sheet metal and I still have the scar.
    I’ll always remember him as the guy with expensive S&W revolvers carried in a metal pail!

  5. The secret angst of man is that he continually asks himself if he mattered is this life, D.O. Reichard was under so such delusion. Like a rock in a pond he touched unknown tens of thousands.

    He was a cranky, sarcastic cop but he was my friend. I will miss him.

  6. I will be forever grateful to have met and shot along side Denny at our “Big Dogs” class that you and I put together at the Chapman Academy. I remember showing him my wheel gun and with a few quick adjustments with his tiny screwdriver it was as smooth as butter. I had the best time when he handed me his 44 on the range and told me to put a few rounds in the target. Figuring that 44 would knock me on my ass, I was surprised to see that it had less kick then my 38.
    I have incredibly fond memories of Denny and I am so glad to have passed through his life.

    A truly honorable Gentleman. God is lucky to have him now.

    God speed and God bless Denny and thank you for your service and the knowledge that you have passed on to many people. God broke the mold when he made you….

    RIP Old Friend…

  7. My condolences to his family and friends. RIP Denny. I had the pleasure to spend an afternoon at his shop a few years ago. I left my daughter’s Model 65 Lady Smith w/3″ barrel for him to smooth up. He did a fantastic job.

  8. I am rather new to this blog, and I wish I heard of D. Reichard before he passed. I must go up to Rochester and take a snub course at a minimum.

  9. Truly saddened to read of Denny’s death. As a 40 year cop (retired Jan 8th) and lead firearms instructor in two agencies for 28 years during that stretch, I really appreciated the talented men and women who work so hard to set that high bar for achievement and success! God speed Denny. Thanks Mas, Ron Bruce (3 terms Hinsdale County, CO Sheriff and 28+ years AZ DPS State Trooper)

  10. You wrote that he carried two 6-inch barreled .44 Magnums for duty. Those are heavy guns, and I would say that qualifies him to be a real-life “Dirty” Harry Callahan. I wonder if those guns were loaded with .44 Special instead of .44 Magnum. Still a lot of weight to carry around.

    • .44 Magnum, 180 grain at 1600 foot-seconds. They didn’t call him “Rolling Thunder” for nothing.

      • Thanks Mas for the tribute. I was fortunate enough to call Denny a friend and mentor for 40+ years. Btw, in the beginning he carried 240gr jhp loaded with 21grn of 2400. Hope to see you on the 22nd. Smitty.

  11. Had the pleasure meeting him a few years back at Sand Burr. Was in Rochester, visiting my grandkids, and stopped by the shop. Great guy, and I am the proud owner of one of the business cards he shot in two with one of his revolvers!!!

  12. He was a great man and very inspirational in the firearm world. He will be miss greatly

  13. As young men in Rochester we used to go out in the fields and take turns
    Throwing clods of clay dirt in the air and drawing our 29’s from our real leather holsters and busting them in mid air. Kids don’t try this at home. Denny was the first shooter to introduce me to buckets of ammo rather than boxes. Jack Daniels on my bar and 2400 on my bench. Don’t get any better than that.

  14. Denny once gave my six year old son one of his business cards. He told him, if he split it on edge he’d give him a a brick of .22! Within a couple hours the little $,h!t had done it! Denny was proud as ever to gift that little boy a brick, and almost 10 years later that kid is proud of that. RIP Denny, One of a kind..

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