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  #1  
Old 06-02-2013, 12:49 PM
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Default Those humpbacked Bodyguard revolvers...

Back in the early 1950s, law enforcement agencies felt that they needed a concealable pocket revolver that wouldn't snag on clothing when drawn, yet could be thumb-cocked for more precision shooting. Smith & Wesson responded to this demand, and on August 15, 1955, introduced the Model 38 "Bodyguard" lightweight J-frame .38 special revolver. The specially-configured hammer was about 90% shrouded by an unusual "hump backed" frame which protected it from snagging, yet allowed careful cocking for single-action shooting. These first models were of the "four screw" type and flat cylinder releases were used for a while. The Model 38 continued in production until 1999.

The Massachusetts State Police made a special request for a more rugged steel-frame version of this gun, and Smith complied by crafting the Model 49 and placing it on the market on July 15, 1959. Both the Model 38 and the Model 49 were available with a blued or nickel finish. Both had 2" barrels, although some 3" models were produced. To meet the requirements of the Michigan State Police, some stainless steel cylinder Model 49s and Model 38s were made. Model 49s continued to be made until 1996.

Here is a Model 49, a nickeled "no dash," shipped in February, 1976:


Image copyrighted 2015 - JLM

In late 1984, with the growing popularity of stainless steel guns, Smith introduced the Model 649, which was essentially a duplicate of the Model 49 in stainless. These were produced through the "dash 2" variation through 1996. In 1996, with a strengthened frame, a lengthened cylinder and a 2 1/8" barrel, the 649-3 was also made in .357 magnum. The .38 special models then also used the new frame and cylinder and could easily accommodate +P loads. The Airweight Stainless Model 638 was specially produced for a distributor in 1989. It was re-introduced in 1996 with the newer frame and cylinder, and continues in the line.

This is a .38 special Model 649-4, shipped in 1997:



Although many regard the Bodyguard revolvers as the ugly cousins of the Centennial ("hammerless") models, many prefer them for the utility they were designed for - the ability to provide single action shots at longer distances than a pure belly gun might. Some will say that the opening for the hammer provides an entrance for dirt and pocket lint, but in actual practice, this has not proven to be a particular problem. They are interesting guns, very practical, and are becoming more collectible now. They should not be overlooked as viable personal defense J-frames.

If you have one or more of these, feel free to post pictures and your experiences with them!

John
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  #2  
Old 06-02-2013, 12:59 PM
Matt Hooper Matt Hooper is offline
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Here's my new version of the classic! Modern 649! Most accurate snub nosed I have ever shot and the weight tames recoil perfectly!

Here with a classic Don Hume pancake and some Ahrends grips.

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Old 06-02-2013, 01:07 PM
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Nice write-up John! Like you said I've always been one of those to lean more toward the Centennial for J-frames, but I have been keeping my eye open for a Bodyguard as well.
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Old 06-02-2013, 01:12 PM
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I love mine. It's my current EDC carried IWB. Carry load is 135 grain Speer Gold Dot "Short Barrel."

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Old 06-02-2013, 01:18 PM
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I think the Bodyguard series was a great idea and I wish they made new 638s without the internal lock.

The only difficulty with the Bodyguard is that decocking one safely is a little harder than with the Chief's Special. The need to decock would probably rarely occur, so I do not see it as a disadvantage. On the other hand, the need for a single action shot might occur, but given gunfight distances, it is also not likely. The ability to cock it when you need it, yet still have the protected hammer so drawing from a pocket is easy is a great compromise.
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Old 06-02-2013, 01:26 PM
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PS The lint in the hammer area issue is easily resolved by a daily spray of compressed C02 from a can.
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Old 06-02-2013, 01:37 PM
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Several years before S&W was making the humpback Colt was selling a hammer shroud attachment for their D frames.
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Old 06-02-2013, 01:39 PM
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You guys have me jonesing for a 49 or a 649. Is the cylinder bulge uncomfortable for iwb carry? I'm used to flat sided pistolas.
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Old 06-02-2013, 01:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoptoad View Post
You guys have me jonesing for a 49 or a 649. Is the cylinder bulge uncomfortable for iwb carry? I'm used to flat sided pistolas.
Depends on the wearer. For me, no - I carry with Barami Hip-Grips in my right front Levi's pocket - no holster required, and totally unnoticeable with a covering shirt.

John
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Old 06-02-2013, 01:43 PM
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My 1963 49
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Old 06-02-2013, 01:49 PM
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Default Great Guns!

649-3 .357 mag



A little heavy for pants pocket carry, but not impossible. Great in a jacket or heavy coat. A lot of security in a small package!
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Old 06-02-2013, 02:12 PM
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Default Another dedicated Bodyguard fan..............

one of S&W's better ideas in my opinion.

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Old 06-02-2013, 03:03 PM
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Default Me Too........

I've had this model 38 about 25 years.


Ned
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Old 06-02-2013, 03:50 PM
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Another great thread John. Love these snubbies.

I bought my first “Humpy” in ’73 (shipped from S&W 10/72):

I still have it and now it is my wife’s CCW

Picked this one LNIB in ’78 (shipped from S&W 11/63):

A safe queen kept as a backup in case the M38 above “retired”. Sold to fund an 11/47 M&P.
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Old 06-02-2013, 04:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoptoad View Post
You guys have me jonesing for a 49 or a 649. Is the cylinder bulge uncomfortable for iwb carry? I'm used to flat sided pistolas.
Not at all. It's a five rounder, so it's pretty narrow. In a properly designed IWB (I use a Milt Spark Versa Max II), you can hardly tell if you're carrying a handgun without feeling back there to confirm it. Even after carrying all day.
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Old 06-02-2013, 04:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsfricks View Post
My 1963 49
Sweet! Looks like it came from the factory yesterday.
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Old 06-02-2013, 04:15 PM
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my S&W model 649 (no dash)...........
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Old 06-02-2013, 04:53 PM
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Had mine out today. 2" groups at 10 yards double action.







Shot my own loads of 160g SWC over 4.5g W231.

I'd consider myself well armed with this revolver.

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Old 06-02-2013, 04:53 PM
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Found this like new no dash last year. With box and goodies. Late 1984, S/N 0656 of production.




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Old 06-02-2013, 05:06 PM
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Default Model 49

I have a 49 no dash that I bought in the early 70's and carried as a "bug" from 73 until my retirement in 08.....that gun stayed with me through several job changes, and was always my constant companion in my slash pocket of my duty jacket( there were many times when I walked up on a traffic stop with my right hand in my jacket pocket wrapped around that 49), or in a pocket holster or sometimes in an ankle holster.....I saw a lot of changes in my profession, equipment, training, procedures, and my life in general, but one constant was my "bodyguard"..Over the years I have acquired several J frames...but nothing has replaced that 49...I still carry it daily when I am walked around the block by my dogs.....

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Old 06-02-2013, 05:20 PM
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I worked with MSP Troopers in the late 70s and remember well the Bodyguards that lived in their right uniform jacket pockets for 3 seasons and pants pocket in summer. Since their Model 10s were buttoned down tight in a cross-draw flap holster, these were more than BUGs.
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Old 06-02-2013, 05:24 PM
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Quote:
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I worked with MSP Troopers in the late 70s and remember well the Bodyguards that lived in their right uniform jacket pockets for 3 seasons and pants pocket in summer. Since their Model 10s were buttoned down tight in a cross-draw flap holster, these were more than BUGs.
Yeah, I can imagine.
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Old 06-02-2013, 05:29 PM
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I am moving in the morning and cant drag the camera out. Here's a few different humpbacks. I carry one daily. There are my favorite J frame.

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Old 06-02-2013, 08:41 PM
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A pair of pre model 38s from 1956... Note the box label


Model 49 circa 1970




649-3 .357 mag...my EDC & only Pic ..I carry it with LG105 CTs ... For those impossible around the corner shots. I will never sell this gem.



Nickel 49 circa 1983...my latest trade. What a beauty!

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Old 06-02-2013, 10:33 PM
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Mod 38 around 1975-76 by the SN

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Old 06-02-2013, 11:13 PM
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Late 1950's everyday carry/backup.
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Old 06-03-2013, 12:33 AM
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I don't know how you guys do it...............
Clean as a whistle, no scratches nice and shiny SS 49's.

I guess I used my two way too much ? Gave one to my daughter in-law with a pink Hogue grip , she loves it.

Best standard "short cylinder", 22 oz. snub nose, S&W ever made, for +P loads, in my book. 40 boxes of FBI and still ticking..............
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Old 06-03-2013, 07:11 AM
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Had a 49 purchased in 1971 I think...was stolen from my apartment in Boston in 1974....really accurate gun...like hitting 1 quart Hi-C drink cans at 50 yards accurate...

This was a friends...Michigan State Police Airweight with stainless cylinder...





Picked this one up a few months ago for short money..also an excellent shooter....







Don't know why I like these over the hammerless Centennials as I naver shoot SA with DA snubbies....

Bob
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Old 06-03-2013, 08:13 AM
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My go to pocket gun is my pre-lock 2 1/8" barrel 357 mag model 649-3:


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Old 06-03-2013, 07:15 PM
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my well used 38 no dash from 1957



and a 49 from 1981
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Old 06-03-2013, 08:30 PM
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Old 06-03-2013, 08:38 PM
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I'm WAAAAY jealous of all these real humpbacks....but I guess ill have to deal with my 638 till I can locate a nickel 49 to replace it with.....
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Old 06-04-2013, 01:29 AM
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..........
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Old 06-04-2013, 04:58 AM
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I've always loved the humpbacked Smiths'. This is my BUG a 638 w/ 2 1/2" barrel. I really like that the cases come out fully. Don't care to much for the grips, just haven't got around to replacing them.
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Old 06-04-2013, 09:35 AM
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Default Bodyguard

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pilgrim View Post
my well used 38 no dash from 1957



.
Those old model 38's like yours and mine make me think that nearly every mark on them has a story to go with it. I look at those grips and just wonder about the sweat that's soaked into them. I can only account for the last five years for mine, and it's over fifty years old.

These were never pretty little show pieces- they were concieved, built and bought to be hidden until the owners life was on the line.
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Old 06-04-2013, 11:37 AM
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I think this was Rico Tubbs' daily carry on Miami Vice.
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  #37  
Old 06-04-2013, 11:55 AM
BearBio BearBio is offline
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I like to say that my carry piece is a Colt Commander but I reach for one of these just as often, if not more so.

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  #38  
Old 06-04-2013, 12:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoptoad View Post
You guys have me jonesing for a 49 or a 649. Is the cylinder bulge uncomfortable for iwb carry? I'm used to flat sided pistolas.
For me anyway, the j-fame revolver is much more comfortable & less visible IWB than a "flatter" semi-auto. Everything on the revolver aside from the cylinder is flatter, and the irregular shape prints less.
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  #39  
Old 06-04-2013, 01:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PALADIN85020 View Post
...... I carry with Barami Hip-Grips in my right front Levi's pocket - no holster required, and totally unnoticeable with a covering shirt.
I carry my Chiefs A-IWB but I might have to give that a try. I bought a gun a while back from a guy who told me he carried like that and that it was comfortable & concealed well. The Barami grips are great for those who like magna-type grips-- I would probably go with a Desantis Clip-Grip, about $30 to the Barami's $26 but with a boot grip configuration. S&W puts them on the model 637 PC "Wyatt" gun.
I need a holster for A-IWB though-- the problem isn't keeping the gun from sliding down into my pants, but to keep it from squeezing up and out of my waistband.
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  #40  
Old 06-04-2013, 01:24 PM
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"These were never pretty little show pieces- they were concieved, built and bought to be hidden until the owners life was on the line."

I think this is one reason I like them so much. My model 58 is a similar weapon in this respect.
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  #41  
Old 06-04-2013, 03:18 PM
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Here's my Model 38 Airweight sporting some Grasshorn stags and a t-grip. Sorry for the poor quality photograph.



This gun is my default carry gun -- either pocket, briefcase or ankle -- and goes with me when a bigger service size gun isn't an option.
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  #42  
Old 06-04-2013, 03:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mesinge2 View Post
My go to pocket gun is my pre-lock 2 1/8" barrel 357 mag model 649-3:


Turn down those grips!!!!! LOL, great gun.
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  #43  
Old 06-04-2013, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Matt Hooper View Post
Turn down those grips!!!!! LOL, great gun.
Ha, I call it my Limey 649

I actually got them because the black ones were on back-order but they grew on me, so they stayed.
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  #44  
Old 06-04-2013, 11:04 PM
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Should be especially useful against the Zombie hordes! But, you're gonna HAVE to get some Hornady Zombie Max ammo for it.
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  #45  
Old 06-05-2013, 08:24 AM
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Great thread! That hump was a visual turn-off for a long time, but after I swapped an airweight nickeled Centennial for this Mdl 49, I have come to find it quite attractive. Mine is my constant pocket carry, and is minute-of-bad-guy accurate to 100yd--the gun that is, not necessarily the shooter...
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  #46  
Old 06-05-2013, 09:49 AM
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July 1971, about to head back to RVN for my second and then my 3rd tour as a MACV adv (Phoenix) as a Cpt. Advised by friends to have a BUG for those 'social occasions' I purchased a new M49 no dash,nickel, with a S&W holster. I was in VN until after the cease-fire, and was never without the pretty lady. I still have her, the box,and the holster. She looks a little rough around the edges, finish and a few buggered screws (probably from a P38). When Illinois finally gets concealed carry, she will be my carry gun. I did stray however and bought a nickel lightweight humpback to keep her company. Sort of like a little sister.
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  #47  
Old 06-05-2013, 11:31 AM
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This M38 belonged to my Dad and has been retired to my safe. It has too much sentimental value to shoot or carry.

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  #48  
Old 06-05-2013, 10:55 PM
Double-O-Dave Double-O-Dave is offline
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Excellent thread! I always thought the humpbacks were the UGLIEST gun ever made. Imagine my surprise to find I absolutely love them, and they are my favorite J-frame revolver. I regularly carry my Model 38-0 along with my Model 638-1. Both wear CT LG-405 laser grips, and are loaded with standard velocity ammo (preferably 158gr LSWC). The Model 38-0 has a nickeled cylinder from a "parts gun kit" Model 38 that evidently went kaboom. The prior owner sold me everything but the frame at a good price, so I now have my version of the MSP (Michigan State Police) bodyguard. I have a Model 649-0 I just purchased, and am waiting for it to arrive at the LGS. Finally, here's a photo of my Model 64-3 that thinks it's a Bodyguard on steroids. It's too big for pocket carry, but is comfortable IWB even without a holster.

Regards,

Dave
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  #49  
Old 06-06-2013, 12:28 AM
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This my 438. Made in 2009 I believe but S&W discontinued them sooner after for some reason.
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  #50  
Old 06-06-2013, 11:04 AM
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Default matt hooper/loc n load messages

A Bodyguard thread? Incredible, cannot be! I did not realize there were other BG fans. I didn't even know we were allowed to be BG fans, all those Centennial folks (Bless them, they also like J-frames) out there. I own several Centennials, yet when I visit a casino, my BG accompanies me.

Matt Hooper: Nice 649. Looks like a good gun for sharks. (remember me?)

loc n load: Your 49 goes with you when you walk the dogs. What do the dogs carry? Is that the J you used on those snub PPC courses? Remember you still owe me a snub PPC course!
Stay safe, partner!

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Last edited by kaaskop49; 06-06-2013 at 11:06 AM. Reason: mis-spelling
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