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Favorite Firearms: A Long-Barreled Dan Wesson

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As a kid who grew up in the country, I got my first .22-cal. Remington single-shot rifle by age 12. I moved up to a .22-cal. Glenfield semi-automatic by age 20 for clearing out squirrels and rabbits from our vegetable garden. Years later, while watching the original “Miami Vice” television show, I realized that I had never held or fired a handgun before. A few months later, I walked into a gun store and saw a pistol that I knew was right for me: a clean, sharp-looking Dan Wesson Model 15 in .357 Mag., with beautiful wood stocks and a 12″ barrel that stuck out of a hole cut in the side of the original box.

The feel of the revolver in my hands was just perfect, and it even balanced nicely. There wasn’t a range to test-fire it at, and I had no idea how old it was. So, I bought it right there and had it shipped home to my local gun dealer. I was pleased to learn that Dan Wesson revolvers are well-built and have easily interchangeable barrels and stocks. Plus, there’s the convenient ability to use less-expensive .38 Spl. ammunition. By adding a handgun scope on top, I could easily hit targets from 100 yards out when resting the barrel on sandbags.

For more convenient carry use, I purchased a compact rubber grip and a 4″ barrel. This made for a total difference in appearance, without the wood stocks, big barrel and scope. Over the last 35 years, I’ve had more fun with this old wheelgun than with most of the 9 mm semi-automatic pistols I’ve bought since then. It still impresses people who see it at the range to this day. I’ve received many offers on it but could never part with this gem of a revolver; it’s a pistol that will stay in the family for another generation to enjoy.

—Mark Petnuch


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