Last night on the new episode of American Guns on the Discovery Channel, Rich Wyatt and his Gunsmoke team do two custom builds. For Jason, a member of the American Zoot Shooters Association, a .45 caliber Thompson submachinegun with plenty of special features. Another client, Henry, wants to upgrade for big game hunting with a .50 caliber rifle that weighs no more than 20 pounds. Most factory-fresh .50 cal rifles weigh between 40 to 50 lb.s. So the gang has its work cut out for them.
Jason is a competition shooter. The Zoot Shooters are much like the Cowboy Action Shooters we met last episode. This time, they wear clothing from the gangster era of the 1920s and their competitions are based on a Prohibition theme. Kurt takes the lead in the sale, suggesting that they machine a whole new receiver for the Tommy Gun out of titanium. This would cut half the weight. Also, they will shorten the barrel and the stock as well as construct a musical carrying case from which the ′chopper′ can be fired from covertly. The price for the work is $12,500.
For Henry, he arrives with a classic Weatherby hunting rifle and a Smith & Wesson .44 magnum Model 29 pistol with the full length 6-inch barrel, a la Dirty Harry. Henry wants $3,000 for his guns to ease the pinch on his wallet for the .50 cal rifle, which Rich quotes a firm $10,000 on. But Rich is only willing to go as high as $2,500 for Henry′s guns, and Henry reluctantly agrees. Work on the rifle hits a big snag when a special barrel, made of carbon fiber and costing $4,000 does not fit in the shop′s lathe. Scott takes the barrel to another machine shop to thread the barrel for fitting into the receiver, but the barrel jerks in the jig, messing up the threading. Oh-Oh!
While Paige Wyatt is tasked to track down a special die cutter to correct the threading for Scott, work progresses on the Thompson. Scott does not think they should shorten the barrel as the bullets would lose velocity, but Jon argues that just clipping 2 inches off would increase the muzzle velocity. So they run a test to see who is correct and for once, Jon guessed right. Jason′s Tommy gun will have a 16-inch barrel, as well as a shorten stock that is adjustable. The next hitch comes when Brian does a custom trigger job, shaving too much off. During a test fire, the weapon goes into full-auto and breaks the firing pin and the bolt. Oh-Oh!
Rich takes a break flying off to meet Tom, a retired gold executive who has an awesome collection of firearms. He is looking to sell ten very rare rifles and shotguns, all double-barrel and mostly made in Europe. Tom wants $100,000 for the guns but Rich is only offering $60,000 in cash. Rich sweetens the deal with a matched set of Colt pistols and a solid gold railroad spike. Tom agrees and the deal is done!
With the die cutter, thanks to Paige, Scott completes work on the .50 cal barrel. The rest of the rifle is completed and Rich delivers it to Henry. Even with a large scope, a 12×52mm, the weapon weighs just under 20 pounds. Henry is very happy with the results! Meanwhile, Brian finishes rebuilding the Thompson with the new trigger parts and this time it works perfectly. The gun is delivered to Jason, who first tries firing it while it rests inside a modified guitar case. The he blasts away at a ′bootlegger′ truck with his tricked-out Chicago typewriter, including one barrel of ′booze′ that is packed with explosives. So ends another happy day at American Guns!