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Old 03-22-2020, 02:01 PM
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I was given a bunch of pistols and pistol parts by a friend of mine a few months ago. He used to run a pawn shop that closed in 2007, and he had a bunch of pistols after closing that needed parts for them to be functional. In the grpup were these two pieces of junk. They were complete pistols and function fine.

The top one is an RG 23 in 22LR. The bottom is a Clerke 1st in 32 S&W.

I knew that Clerke made starter pistols, but had no idea they actually made this thing. Reading up on it I found that it sold new in 1973 for $15.00! I have to say that it is the WORST pistol I have ever handled. I don't think I will even shoot it it's so bad. Pot metal frame of course. Only steel parts are the cylinder, barrel liner and some of the internal parts. I have read you might be able to shoot 100 rounds through it before the firing pin either breaks of gets worn out.

The RG 23 is a step above the Clerke! It is one of the later ones made in the early 80s when RG started assembling them in the U.S., not one of the original German imports that came in before the 1968 gun contol act made them illegal to import. I actually took this one to the range a few weeks ago and it worked fine, but I don't think it has a long service life. Pot metal frame with steel cylinder and barrel. Interesting way to add a top strap to the barrel. This one is a step up from the RG 10 or 14, which I have handeled each of those and they are dangerous to say the least.

Fit and finish on both pistols leave a lot to be desired to say the least!

Not shown here is the Bryco Jennings 9 that also came with the group. Next to these two pistols, the Bryco seems like a well made pistol!

So, what are your thoughts on these two Saturday Night Special examples? What do you think is the worst modern pistol ever made? For me, it is hands down the Clerke 1st. Thank goodness Clerke didn't make a 2nd!


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Old 03-22-2020, 02:16 PM
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These are your Saturday night specials
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Old 03-22-2020, 02:21 PM
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Wait for a buy back program and get rid of them
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Old 03-22-2020, 02:26 PM
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The Clerkes were made somewhat like cap guns and certainly look like cap guns. But apparently they filled the need for a cheap gun. No question that they were far better than throwing rocks. This goes way back, but I did once fire a box of ammo through one of them owned by a friend, I don't remember any difficulties. I think they may also have been made in .32.

I haven't seen one for a very long time.
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Old 03-22-2020, 02:27 PM
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Interesting that the Saturday Night Special term has faded into obscurity, assault weapons of war and ghost guns are the current rage.
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Old 03-22-2020, 02:28 PM
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The Rohm RG14 with 1.75" barrel was used by John Hinkley Jr. in his
failed attempt to assassinate President Reagan. He used .22 HPs called
"Devastators". Hinkley was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
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Old 03-22-2020, 02:43 PM
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I would have voted for the Davis Derringer with the 20 pound trigger pull until you reminded me of these. I agree - worst guns ever.
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Old 03-22-2020, 02:54 PM
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I ran across a lot of them in my days as an LEO.
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Old 03-22-2020, 03:17 PM
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Family used to have an RG22.

Proof that not EVERYTHING made in Germany is good. That gun was a JOKE. Not even safe to shoot. Since destroyed on a bench grinder and thrown in the garbage where it belongs.
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Old 03-22-2020, 03:39 PM
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The worst pistol of modern manufacture would probably be the Gen 1 Remington R51, considering that it might fire once before it locks up, and if not then there's a good chance that the second shot will go off out of battery.

At least an RG can get through an entire cylinder without locking up or a KABOOM.

Granted that the Gen 2 R51 has seemingly corrected these issues, but still, if we can consider a Clerke from 1973 or an RG from the early 80s as modern, then we can most certainly call the Gen 1 R51 circa 2014 modern as well.
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Old 03-22-2020, 03:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sigp220.45 View Post
I would have voted for the Davis Derringer with the 20 pound trigger pull until you reminded me of these. I agree - worst guns ever.
I got a Davis chrome .32 derringer for $39.95, I didn't have much money on me and if I can go in a gun store and walk out with a new gun I've had a good day so I grabbed it. If I was lucky I could hit a pie plate at 20 feet, I think one barrel shot low and the other shot high but at 15 feet I could hit it every time and it was perfectly reliable, not much to go wrong. It would fit up a sleeve or in small places no .380 could go and I carried it in my van under the removable ash tray. I would buy another one for 40 bucks
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Old 03-22-2020, 03:50 PM
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Maybe they just need to be spruced up a bit with some hand engraving and a set of Keith Brown’s masterpiece stocks.
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Old 03-22-2020, 03:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old_Cop View Post
Interesting that the Saturday Night Special term has faded into obscurity, ...
Sorta like "zip guns" - which IIRC were sometimes made with those old hollow car radio antennas.
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Old 03-22-2020, 04:03 PM
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It would fit up a sleeve or in small places no .380 could go


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Old 03-22-2020, 04:24 PM
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I remember when the first of those cheap .22s appeared in my general store. This was about 1960, and I believe were $15 and I could have bought one if I'd had the money back then, and I was 15 YOA. Never wanted one, anyway.
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Old 03-22-2020, 04:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyphil View Post
The Rohm RG14 with 1.75" barrel was used by John Hinkley Jr. in his
failed attempt to assassinate President Reagan. He used .22 HPs called
"Devastators".
Hinkley was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
I just happen to have an old box of those that have been laying around for years. They are a HP but have some type of explosive 'primer' in the HP cavity.


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Old 03-22-2020, 04:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by federali View Post
These are your Saturday night specials
It's gotta barrel that's blue and cold. It ain't good for nuthin' but put a man six feet in a hole.

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Old 03-22-2020, 04:54 PM
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Those two could be a good start on a collection of “Worst Guns”, if one were so inclined. I will say a Clerke is about the worst *** I have ever handled.
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Old 03-22-2020, 05:14 PM
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Remember John Hinkley ?? He darn near took out the US Gov't using one of those ( A Rohem RG 14) in .22 cal.
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Old 03-22-2020, 05:28 PM
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Don't forget the RG10, 22 Short. Junk gun and not the most powerful caliber in the world.
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Old 03-22-2020, 05:35 PM
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This changed my perspective on Taurus
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Old 03-22-2020, 05:40 PM
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They would be good guns for your opponent to have in a "gun fight".
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Old 03-22-2020, 05:47 PM
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We saw a lot of Arminius "Titan Tiger" revolvers when I was on the job.
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Old 03-22-2020, 05:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyphil View Post
The Rohm RG14 with 1.75" barrel was used by John Hinkley Jr. in his
failed attempt to assassinate President Reagan. He used .22 HPs called
"Devastators". Hinkley was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
"Hinkley was found not guilty by reason of insanity."

Yes, simply for his taste in guns, in addition to his actions.
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Old 03-22-2020, 05:50 PM
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I have one with pearl grips on it. It was my grandpas gun. Other then that it might shoot. I wouldn’t though. It has beer can shims in front of the cylinder
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Old 03-22-2020, 05:53 PM
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We always said RG stood for Rotten Gun.
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Old 03-22-2020, 06:23 PM
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If those guns were so cheap and crappy why did a lot of cops I've known keep one, or one very similar to it, very clean, except for the bore which looked like a fired bore, in the trunk of their car for a back-up piece? These guns quite often had a fired case or two in the cylinder as well as live rounds but I never quite caught on why. I guess it was unreliable hammer-down-on-a-live-round technology.
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Old 03-22-2020, 06:46 PM
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The cops were better off when punks had junk guns of mostly 22,25 and 32. Today’s junk is more dangerous. The RG & Clerke revolvers make the Saturday night specials like H&R and IJ look like custom target guns.
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Old 03-22-2020, 06:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6string View Post
"Hinkley was found not guilty by reason of insanity."

Yes, simply for his taste in guns, in addition to his actions.
Great taste in women however. Jody Foster. Hubba hubba!
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Old 03-22-2020, 07:03 PM
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Never seen a Clerke. Looks like a cap gun!
Have seen the RGs. Junk for sure!
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Old 03-22-2020, 07:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nutsforsmiths View Post
So, what are your thoughts on these two Saturday Night Special examples?
Quote:
Originally Posted by clang444 View Post
Wait for a buy back program and get rid of them
This is the correct answer. Locally, Boston was paying as much as $200 for working handguns and quality wasn't a criteria.
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Old 03-22-2020, 07:42 PM
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Worst ever made? If not, then they are certainly in the running.
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Old 03-22-2020, 08:16 PM
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Heres my RG
Yes its a vented rib, just like a Python, almost similar, somewhat the same, almost quality. Its made of Zamac, a zinc alloy, with a steel, maybe, cylinder and a steel, here we are again, lined barrel. I did a trigger job on it and its pretty good, really! Inside is a zillion parts, which acts like a Rube Goldberg machine, Google it. I think it was 89.00 in the 80s. Its quite accurate, sight picture is good, with an adjustable screw adjustable slide and no elevation. You pull the cylinder pin forward to swing out cylinder. The cylinder is has a recessed rim to contain the enormous power of this cartridge. Cylinder gap is .005 and has a square wide target hammer, just like, I have no idea. The grips are modified Houge k frames, nothing but the best for this baby. I did have to fill in the top of the grip with brown Acraglass and drill a new screw hole, also filled in with Acraglass, I only use quality products otherwise it would diminish the total value package. So this is the total package that holds my high esteem. Triple lock, registered got nothing on this Baby. Ok now I have to go delude my self on my self esteem for writing this. And this only one of the many varied Quality arms I am holding instead of a 401k.
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Old 03-22-2020, 09:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old_Cop View Post
Interesting that the Saturday Night Special term has faded into obscurity, assault weapons of war and ghost guns are the current rage.
It faded away along with the firearms the term was used to describe.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 import banned pretty much everything outside the United States that fit the term, and the American "Ring of Fire" companies which also produced cheap zinc diecast firearms sometimes referred to as Saturday Night Specials were systematically sued into oblivion, mostly because their guns were unsafe and ended up hurting people by going off unintentionally due to design defects or the cheap safeties breaking.

Some of them still technically exist like Phoenix Arms, but they've all started using industry standard alloys like ZAMAK and are careful that the guns they make are safe. However, their prices typically aren't much lower than bargain-priced firearms by major manufacturers, so they don't sell all that well, and criminals are either willing to spend a little bit more for something better or black market gun-runners don't bother to steal/sell them anymore.

According to the guys of Iraqveteran8888 on YouTube, the most common gun found in evidence lockers these days are Smith & Wesson Sigma Series firearms.
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Old 03-22-2020, 10:42 PM
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Had a RG 10 years ago. Sucker was loud.
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Old 03-23-2020, 12:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ExRanger714 View Post
If those guns were so cheap and crappy why did a lot of cops I've known keep one, or one very similar to it, very clean, except for the bore which looked like a fired bore, in the trunk of their car for a back-up piece? These guns quite often had a fired case or two in the cylinder as well as live rounds but I never quite caught on why. I guess it was unreliable hammer-down-on-a-live-round technology.
If they kept it in the trunk, it was for a throw-down piece. As in: Look, I told you he had a gun!
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Old 03-23-2020, 02:44 AM
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Old 03-23-2020, 03:07 AM
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I inherited a Clerke from my FIL.

Feels, in hand, like a cap gun.

Needs a bit of work, and it will then be set aside.....and, I will not shoot it.

Not because it is a perfect unfired example, but due to fear of what it may do to me!
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Old 03-23-2020, 03:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric300 View Post
It's gotta barrel that's blue and cold. It ain't good for nuthin' but put a man six feet in a hole.
I have a friend (who's not a shooter), who thought the lyrics were, "It's got a barrel that's blue and gold"!
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Old 03-23-2020, 06:53 AM
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I believe Sam Cooke was shot and killed with an RG10. Died wearing one shoe and a sport coat. I have one that I use blanks in to keep the barn cats away from the bird feeder.
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Old 03-23-2020, 07:20 AM
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I almost bought a RG 22 LR about like the one the OP pictured. It showed up at my dealers one day, some years ago, probably in a collection they bought. I wanted it for nostalgia reasons. When I was young, dumb, and broke, I wanted one desperately. I didn't have a handgun of any kind, and wanted one for those things that go bump in the night.

I was never able to come up with the $30 or so it would have cost to buy one back then. The lest expensive "good gun" I saw was a Smith and Wesson something or other (probably a Model 10) for around $100. Might as well have been a million.

I passed on that RG. They were asking something like $79 for it. Shoot it was like new, still in the box. I thought about offering $20, but I was afraid they'd take it. It was gone the next time I was in.
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Old 03-23-2020, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by sigp220.45 View Post
If they kept it in the trunk, it was for a throw-down piece. As in: Look, I told you he had a gun!
THANK YOU Brad.....Geeze....Back up kept in the trunk??????? Gimme a break
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Old 03-23-2020, 10:59 AM
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Family used to have an RG22.

Proof that not EVERYTHING made in Germany is good. That gun was a JOKE. Not even safe to shoot. Since destroyed on a bench grinder and thrown in the garbage where it belongs.
Actually, it might not even be “made in Germany”.

Heinrich Röhm has an interesting history. He founded his company originally in Zella-Mehlis, where Walther used to be, but made machine parts, not guns. Those became part of his new diversified re-start in the West after evacuating in 1945.

In Germany his brand is more known for starter pistols and flare launchers, since handguns are much more restricted. After the GCA of 1968, the company built a plant in Miami to produce real guns for the US market. I know nothing about those, but according to Wiki the plant, RG Industries, closed in 1986.

i would suspect that unless it says Made in Germany somewhere on the gun, that’s where the OP’s gun was manufactured.
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Old 03-23-2020, 01:03 PM
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I could never figure why John Clerke got involved in mfg'r those cheap little revolvers,,just a $$ maker perhaps.
But they seem completely contrary to everything else he did in his firearms and gunsmithing career.
Those revolvers don't even look like they'd meet Mattel standards.

He made some fine single shot target and Varmit rifles, the actions were his own design but based on the Winchester HighWall.
There were 2 or 3 different versions of the action itself.

He was probably best known or at least his name clicks with many as the innovator behind the 38-45acp round back in the 60's.
It was quite popular with the 1911 crowd. Commercial die mfg'rs offered their products for case forming and reloading.

The single shot rifles are often marked 'J.M.Clerke'
Earliest are w/o ser#.
Later guns are marked w/a company name of 'Serrifle',,Another corp under his name was Clerke TechniCorp.
Clerk Technicorp had some connection to the old EIG Cutlery Corp IIRC. It is somewhere in that arrangement that the cheap revolvers became a company item for sale I believe.

There is a full color brochure that was put out by Clerke that showed 3 or 4 of his single shot rifles in different forms,
Then below them on the same page is one of those chrome plated $10 cheap revolvers along with a likewise cheapy semiauto pistol.
Talk about a confusing mix of offerings..

The cheap Clerke revolvers came to be after the GCA68 went into effect which stopped their importation from Europe.
Parts continued to be imported but the those cap pistol looking frames were made in the USA and the guns assembled here.
EIG Cutlery imported just about everything they sold so perhaps that's where the importation connection for the revolvers small parts came from. Just a guess.

Colt was doing the same thing with the Astra Cub as the Colt Junior,,Importing the small parts from Spain and mfg'g the frame & assembling the gun in the USA;
A bit of difference in quality though I'd say.

I don't know when Clerke stopped offering the completed single shot rifles but somewhere in the mix of company name changes those went away. They then switched to offering bbl'd actions only.
Later still, some Rifle parts that were left over from Clerk were purchased by an outsider and also sold as 'Kits' to build a rifle. Those still show up here and there. Some parts are finished, others in various stages.

John M. Clerk was known by most as 'Bo' Clerk. Most magazine articles used the nickname instead of his real name. Lots of gun rags ran articles about him and his gunsmithing work in the 60's and 70's.
I think he ran a gunshop in SoCal (Burbank?) in that time.

Clerke is pronounced Clark. But most still pronounce it Clerk.
I think he died in the early 2000's.
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Old 03-23-2020, 01:36 PM
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I've owned two RGs in my time.

The first one was a RG .22. I bought it from a co-worker back in the early 90s for $10. I actually shot it. On average, usually 4 of the 6 rounds would fire and they were scattered all over the target.
The next week I took it to a gun buyback in Memphis and traded it for $75 worth of gas and grocery gift cards.

The second one belonged to a disabled lady friend of mine. It was a RG .38 Special LNIB that she had bought from some ex-cop she knew. She asked me to teach her how to shoot it. I examined the gun and found the timing to be way off and the cylinder would only advance if you held it at a weird angle. I wouldn't dare try to shoot this junker.
I traded her a finish worn, but very serviceable Model 10 for it.
I intended to just destroy that junker, but a dealer friend offered to buy it even after I told him how bad it was. He said there are actually collectors for these things and gave me $75 for it.
He later actually did sell it for a decent profit.
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Old 03-23-2020, 02:23 PM
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To those who were kind enough to try to enlighten me above

ExRanger says "Well it took you long enough. Have you always had such a gift at pointing out the obvious"?
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Old 03-23-2020, 03:58 PM
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If those guns were so cheap and crappy why did a lot of cops I've known keep one, or one very similar to it, very clean, except for the bore which looked like a fired bore, in the trunk of their car for a back-up piece? These guns quite often had a fired case or two in the cylinder as well as live rounds but I never quite caught on why. I guess it was unreliable hammer-down-on-a-live-round technology.
I'll let you in on a dirty little secret. Those were not backup guns. Their purpose was to be "planted" next a gunned down suspect if found that he was not armed afterall.

Edit. I missed sigp220.45 post #36.
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Old 03-23-2020, 04:29 PM
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Bo Clerke was once asked how many of his guns were ever used. He said about 15%, How did he arrive at that number? He said that approximately 15% of his guns were returned for repair.

My nomination for the worst pistol ever made is the USFA Zip Gun. I will never understand how Doug Donnelly went from making the finest Single Action revolvers in the world to making a plastic piece of junk.

Rohm RG14. Many years ago I had a case where a woman shot her boyfriend six times with an RG14. She called the police to come over. Her boyfriend was still alive. While waiting for the police, she reloaded and shot him six more times. When the police got there, she was reloading again to shoot him another six times, just to make sure. As it turned out, the second 6 shots were sufficient.
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Old 03-23-2020, 04:54 PM
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I had an RG24 (I think that was the model) 22 cal. 6" barrel. It was actually a pretty good shooter, fairly accurate. Bought it in 1972 for 29.95. Had it until 1989. Moved to Upstate NY. Gave it to the local PD. I used to shoot rats at the local dump with it. Never had a problem, not even a misfire.
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Old 03-23-2020, 07:58 PM
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Davis derringer, in .38. Bought it at a pawn shop for less than $40, took it to the outdoor range and fired four rounds. Aiming just ten feet at a paper target, it put two in the ground and two over the target. Had a ball peen in my car trunk. It ended up in pieces down an abandoned gas well pipe.
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