After 43 years in law enforcement I’ve purchased my share of equipment. Probably tens of thousands of dollars worth I’m sure. I’ve got the usual boxes of gear (and scrapbooks) in the attic, public storage and the garage.
I could fill a museum with it, especially the holsters, flashlights, knives and guns. If I don’t have it, it’s on the way or I sold it. Some equipment (mace, flashlights, belts & holsters) just wore out or got replaced with the newer models. Never had the heart to toss out the old holsters because they might come in handy someday, Right? Over the years there was equipment I bonded with, like my handcuffs, badge and most importantly my gun(s).
I never understood officers that only carried the gun they were issued for duty. They never bought one for off duty or under-cover work. You’re going to do your entire career “schlopping” around a beretta 92-F or something similar while off duty? Yep. That’s exactly what they did. Some never even bought a holster. Shoved it down their pants and called it macaroni. Not me. I had something for every day and every occasion. As I added years to my career, these guns went to different homes and owners. Only the guns that I considered my best companions were still in my safe for EDC (Every Day Carry).
The gun pictured in this post is one of the survivors that still has a place in my EDC. It’s a Smith and Wesson model 642, 38 Special. I know what you’re thinking. What’s that two tone design doing on that 642 (that ain’t original)? That’s the story here, read on.
I purchased the 642 in early 1990’s as a replacement for a couple of bulky semi-automatics I was carrying. I was in the market for a back-up weapon with some reliability, versatility and respectable power (be nice, please). I carried it religiously until the end of my law enforcement career in 2015. It was a perfect fit for my needs then and it still serves me well today in my semi-retirement mode of life.
Back to the story. I tend to shoot a lot these days. Maybe 3 time a week on average. I’m with clients throughout the week (at the private 805CCW range) and I try to stay up to date (skill) with my EDC guns. Recently at the range I was having a conversation with a local gunsmith. The topic was focused on cleaning guns. His advice to me was to purchase a sonic cleaner to help expedite the laborious process of cleaning multiple guns at one time. Didn’t cost too much, was available locally and recommended by a gunsmith. Sounded great. What could go wrong? Well the answer is … PLENTY!
So I purchased said “Sonic Cleaner” and some strong cleaning solution concentrate. Drove home with the new machine and proceeded to perform the necessary setting up and reading of the user manual. Very brief manual it was. Must be quite intuitive to use. Dilute cleaning concentrate with distilled water and turn on the unit for a specified time. Turn on the heating element, check. Turn on the sonic waves, check, the sonic waves will magically loosen the crud built up and the time saved should be something to get excited about.
About eight minutes passed. Time for the results. I was ready to be impressed. As I slowly opened the lid of the sonic unit a warm vapor cloud formed and rose past my nose. A strong chemical odor was present and it smelled potent. Looking into the murky liquid I could see the beloved 642. Strange dark discolorations were covering the alloy frame. The stainless parts were clean and shiny but something was definitely wrong with the airweight frame. I’ll cut to the chase, it was toast. Pitted, potted, scared and ruined. No getting around it, I screwed up. I felt like I had backed over my own dog. Killed a friend if you will. I may need a therapist.
I removed the 642 from the solution and could not believe the damage that was done. Crystals of some sort had formed all over the alloy frame. It looked like a relic just lifted from the Titanic. The image (upper right) is what it looked like after a brushing with a brass brush. Not wanting to face the possibility of having to retire the 642, I decided to wrap it in that micro fiber green towel and put it in the back of the safe. Deal with it when I stumble across it in who knows how long.
After a month or so I began to miss the old 642. After all it was my trusted companion for a long time. I tried shopping to replace it with something newer but I live in California. Options are few, and getting less every day. I decided to check out options of getting it sandblasted a new action job and Cerakoting with a theme. Sandblasting & action work by Cris Corcino gunsmith at Lock Stock & Barrel Investments, Simi Valley, California. Apex spring replacements and firing pin plus a little honing resulted in a smooth chain reaction of the internal parts, better than new. Cerakoting completed by my friends at FNG Precision Coatings in Camarillo, California. Oh yes and a set of grips from Houge of course.
Feeling better these days. Have my friend back and I’ve mastered the sonic cleaner. My dilution formula was way off and I use it quite often now with great results. By the way this is my first attempt at writing in this format so thank you for reading it if you got this far.