Interesting gun shop find of the day!


September 22, 2011, 10:17 PM
I was browsing on the inventory page of a favorite gun shop, late last night, and I noticed a newly-listed Colt Super .38 Automatic for sale for $899 with the serial number 121xx. I have always wanted a .38 super, and being sort of a numbers guy, I happened to remember that John Dillinger's Colt .38 super was "12187" Take a look at this "Interesting Firearms" page from Vince for reference and good reading:

Anyway, I thought I'd stop in today to my local gun shop to get some .45 acp ball, and I figured I would take a look to see how close the serial number was to the Dillinger gun and to see if it was of any interest to me. I was both happy and perplexed at the gun in the case. The serial number was just one digit after the famed Dilinger .38 Super! However, it was highly customized with some tall target sights, a squared-off trigger guard, and some questionable (to me) engraving. There were proof marks stamped in various places on the slide, and the length had been altered at some point in time to a commander length, despite the 1931 serial number.

The name "Nackey S. Loeb" engraved on the slide had somewhat familiar ring, and I figured that, no matter what, it would be a nice platform to work off of, figuring the name on the slide was going to be and unknown or insignificant and a (as it usually is...). I haggled the gun down almost $100 (due to those engravings!) and took the gun home.

After I got home, a quick google search of the name revealed that Mrs. Loeb was a respected, conservative, N. H. publisher of the Union Leader most known for running a headline, calling former President Bill Clinton a "disgrace" during the impeachment scandal. She was paralyzed in a car accident in '77, possibly right after having the bicentennial dates commemorated on her pistol:

Discussing Regan, Bush, and the Republican Party on CSPAN in the '80's:

The trigger is a tad heavy for such a custom piece, but it is crisp, with a glass-rod-break feel. The fit and finish are phenomenal, and the re-blue is so good that I had a hard time figuring out how it was done without compromising the crisp, Colt roll marks on the slide. Now to find some .38 super to run through it this weekend!

Here a few pics of my most recent acquisition, but now that the history is known, the wifey has declared that it should be kept as-is (and her's!). Also, Mrs. Loeb must have really loved her cat Sheldon, because she had him engraved on the slide, too. :rolleyes:

I lucked out today! :D

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September 22, 2011, 10:27 PM
Did you seriously haggle the price down from 899 to almost 100? That is some very impressive work! Great deal!

September 22, 2011, 10:39 PM
He said he haggled him down $100, not haggled him down to $100.

$899 -> $799


Baba Louie
September 22, 2011, 10:42 PM
Haggled price down 1 bill reads to me.

That is a rare find. Someone put some effort into that Colt (noticing the squared trigger guard and trigger as well as the sights) and had good taste in selecting the .38 Super. (maybe they got lucky)

1976 eh? Loeb was quite a woman, married to quite a man.

I'd say you got a keeper there. Have you shot it yet?

I'd name it "Sheldon del Gato" t'were it mine. :D

September 22, 2011, 11:07 PM
I wish it was $100 total, but yes, to be clear, $800 was the out the door price. I look forward to finding some .38 super and bringing it out to the range. It has been a long time, and Sheldon del Gato (thank you Baba Louie :cool:) has inspired me to get out there and punch some holes in some paper this weekend. I'll post a range report if I get to it. Maybe the missus will beat me to it!

Baba Louie
September 23, 2011, 10:02 AM
You know you have to remain very very "conservative" when shooting Sheldon del Gato (I smile :D) to honor the old Loeb familial values and our nations 200th.

Range report from either thee or your better half... great!

Looking at the photos of that Colt again, really a superb acquisition. But they didn't make Commanders back in '31 did they? It'd be nice to know which smith did the work. Maybe Colt?

September 23, 2011, 04:19 PM
You had me up until "Sheldon". Just don't think I could own a gun with a cat engraved on the side... unless maybe the .38 is/was for hunting cats?

September 23, 2011, 04:39 PM
You had me up until "Sheldon". Just don't think I could own a gun with a cat engraved on the side... unless maybe the .38 is/was for hunting cats?

I agree totally, Nullcone. Sheldon's smug mug engraved on that nice Colt almost made me walk away. My guess is that the cat and names were engraved more recently, when Mrs. Loeb was up there in years, and that the 1776 - 1976 was done at the bicentennial when that was the craze. The style/wear is a little different between the engravings.

My 86-year-old aunt really loves her cat, too, and if she was more of a gun person I could totally picture her doing something like this. I am a dog person, not a cat person, but I am definitely not a big fan of engraving stuff like this on anything. The number of times I have walked away from a really nice old firearm, because of someone's name emblazoned across it in permanent engraving.

I initially thought I'd hold out for a .38 super slide in gov't length, but now that I know the history, I think that I would feel weird altering it. Doesn't matter anyway, since my wife seems to have taken a special interest to it, the way it is. Seems like I will have a partner at the range again, soon!

Now to find some .38 super on the shelf in Massachusetts... I wish I knew who did the work. Anyone recognize the sights? There are no names on them. Looks like it was heat treated and proofed because of all of the "S" marks and "5" but I am not familiar with this type of thing. When I took the pics, I can see some change in where the slide was cut down. Maybe someone has some ideas/theories...

September 23, 2011, 05:44 PM
Ah, it was late when I read it.

September 23, 2011, 11:58 PM
Fast forward to around 46 minutes into the Loeb memorial service from CSPAN's archives, where the Union Leader's President is saying a few words about Mrs. Loeb:

In it, he explains that she went to visit her friend Ronald Reagan at an event, and because she was a paraplegic in a wheelchair, the Secret Service waved her through the metal detectors. According to McQuaid, she allegedly happened to have her pistol with her while chatting with him, which she revealed on the ride home!

Something tells me it was this gun... and I thought being a digit away from Dillenger's piece was the cool thing about it. This is getting better with every turn!

Baba Louie
September 24, 2011, 08:40 AM
It might be worth while to get a letter from Colt on that little Gato and perhaps start or keep a file on the provenance, i.e. the CSpan Loeb comment, etc. Of course the letter will cost... and probably add nothing to the "value", unless you could get them to comment on the proximity to Dillingers piece, they did the custom work (or not), etc

Very few of us actually ever get to own something quite like that for the short time we're alive (I know others have rare and/or 'famous' guns, but it ain't the run o the mill occurance) and if you pass it down, might be nice to have all the info available.

Or not.

I still want to know how it shoots :D

September 28, 2011, 10:01 PM
I had some business near my old stomping grounds in New Hampshire today, and I took the opportunity to stop into the new facility at the Manchester Firing Line Range before leaving the area. This is really a great facility, and I would recommend it to anyone who has never been. I felt that it would be an appropriate place to try out this custom Colt for the first time, since this is it's old stomping ground, too.

I brought along some 130 Gr. FMJ Remington UMC yellow box that a friend found for me last weekend, and I also had a box of defensive, 129 Gr. Winchester Silver Tips that I reluctantly bought at the Marlboro gun show for $47 for 50 count. The range also had a couple of boxes of Fiocchi 129 gr. copper-plated RN, 38 super on the shelf, which I happily purchased to spare the expensive stuff.

Well, the sights were really off, as I started out shooting at 25 yards and hitting far below the bottom edge of the 10.5" x 12" target. However, all was well after backing out/raising the click adjustable target sight by 27 clicks. (on a side-note, I identified the rear sight as a "Tringle" standard rear)

The recoil is very different than my other 1911 .45's, and this is my first 1911-pattern pistol with an M1 arched mainspring housing. While I never felt this way when handling them out of a case at the local stores, shooting today, I felt that the combination of the long trigger and the arched housing, did help my natural point of aim in comparison to flat, and I am considering making the switch on one of my Kimbers that still has the plastic unit. I initially had the impression that there was more of a "snap" to shooting "El Gato", but that initial feeling went away after the first magazine. Recoil-wise, it felt to be far less than a 9mm, perhaps due to the great control and recoil-absorbing heft that the all-steel Colt provided. I have shot all-steel 9mm's before via a Mauser p-38, but the thinner profile of Browning's design was much more comfortable in the super for my hand. The trigger broke cleanly at around 4 lbs, which is a little heavier than my other 1911's, but just fine by me with no creep or anticipation of when the sear would let off.

Before bringing up the rear sight screw, I wanted to make certain that I was not flinching. I have not had the time to shoot pistols for a couple of years (how time flies! :uhoh:) so I put the Colt away and pulled out my other recent acquisition, a Dan Wesson 15-2 with a 4" half-lug barrel in .357 Magnum. After a few normal-for-me groups at 2" to 2.5", I went back to the Colt and started raising the sight until I was grouping in and around the black. After this, I tried some very controlled, slow, and deliberate fire with the rest of the UMC before moving on to the Fiocchi stuff. The first thing that I noticed was that the Fiocchi seemed to have a sharper report, but I was hitting pretty well at this point, emptying the 9-round magazine into the black, with an occasional flyer here and there. One such flyer was the result of being distracted by a woman to the lane to my left, shrieking from the hot brass that went down her shirt from her's or someone's bottom-feeder. (ladies, no low-cut at the range... It is a distraction!!... wait, what am I saying, never mind, carry on :p ) I knew that it was not my brass, as my spent cartridges were ejecting pretty consistently, 90 degrees right, at a 45 degree angle up, bouncing into my range bag, for the most part. A few times, the brass bounced from the wall of my lane, back at the pistol, and hit the slide in the same spot.

I often find that the cheaper target ammo that I buy is usually more accurate than my hotter defensive loads. However, the Winchester Silvertips were pretty good in the two instances I decided to try some of the expensive, carry-load. The best group of the day was at the very end of my range session, with the Fiocchi, putting all 9 rounds into the black The target on the left is of the first, on-target group of UMC, 9 rounds of Fiocchi on the right, and 9 rounds of the Silvertips in the center, when I finally had the sights pretty well adjusted.

There were no FTF's, FTE's, or any other problems, whatsoever. Needless to say, I am very happy with my purchase.

Finding leather for a square-trigger-guard, 1911 is proving challenging, but I have a homemade custom IWB that fits like a glove except that it is for a government length. If anyone has any suggestions, I am open to ideas, but I think that this one is going to require some high end custom leather :evil:. I feel that this is a unique and deserving weapon for custom leather, but I will have to look around online for something appropriate. Now I am wondering what Mrs. Loeb carried it in when it was hers. Being in a wheel chair, I would imagine perhaps IWB or shoulder holster, but (like Reagan's Secret Service in '83) I will never know.

September 29, 2011, 06:36 AM
A gun with history is very cool. :) I'll give a thumbs up to the winchester Silvertips, I've managed a 1.5 inch 5 shot group at 25 meters out of my .38 Super Bul M5 1911.

September 29, 2011, 06:54 AM
I just recently traded into an older Colt 1911 full size in .38 super. Now that is one smooth shooting gun! You can shoot it all day without fatigue.

Mine is totally un-messed with but has some honest wear to the finish, etc. I like the thing a lot. The .38 super caliber is new to me but seems to be quite a good option for the 1911.

October 7, 2011, 01:55 PM
That is a "bobcat" pistol by Gunsmith George Sheldon. Notice it has been cut down from full size or "bobbed".

451 Detonics
October 7, 2011, 06:19 PM
There is a reference to Bob Sheldon in this article

He was the east coast equivalent to Armand Swenson...both were pioneers in 1911 modifications. I would say that gun is worth at least double what you paid...great find and what a steal!

Baba Louie
October 7, 2011, 10:06 PM
Iso, It just gets better and better. Nice shooting.

Good find on George Sheldon's BobCat Blade. Wonder if he left any records? Isn't that something else... wow.

September 2, 2012, 09:59 PM
I know this is an old thread but I just picked up the mate to this gun. It is a sheldon bobcat as well and engraved William Loeb (Nackey's Husband). This custom is done off a remington rand .45 ACP.

September 3, 2012, 09:07 AM
Wow. Cool thread.

September 3, 2012, 12:42 PM
Pretty neat stuff indeed finding the mate to the Nackey Loebs customized gun!

Very interesting thread, especially with the latest addition from howitzer11. When I saw the shortened Colt the first thing I thought of was this sort of reminds me of something Armand Swenson would have built. The only difference that I could see is that I think Swenson used a rear sight assembly from a S&W K frame versus what Sheldon used.

October 6, 2012, 12:33 PM
I have not logged in for almost a year, and to come back to learn about George Sheldon and the original Bobcat that he pioneered is truly amazing. I tried finding more info on Sheldon, but there is not much out there except for the mentions by Masaad Ayoob. I really had no idea what I had, it seems! I have a few PM's to respond to about this pistol, too.

Howitzer11, would you kindly post a pic of the mate to mine? It would be really fun to see. I had a more knowledgable gun collector/past gun store owner take a look at mine, and he seems convinced that I might have one of the only .38 super Bobcats in existence. The marks on all of the parts of the pistol that were added were "S" and the number 5, which he felt was Sheldon's serial number, but perhaps someone here knows for sure. He remembered that George Sheldon was a big name among custom gunsmiths in New England in the '60's and '70's and also recalled seeing a few of them through his hands at his gun store, but that was in the early 80's and they were both .45's. However, this guy is pushing 90 and might have Sheldon confused with Armand Swenson's work, which seems a little more common.

If anyone has any info on George Sheldon, or any info on his production/modification numbers, please chime-in.

Awesome thread!!

Old Dog
October 6, 2012, 01:42 PM
A truly great thread! Hope you guys can keep it going with even more history -- and some more pics! (Howitzer11) ...

November 22, 2012, 10:43 AM
I just found this thread. George Sheldon was my neighbor when I was younger. He told me of how he had worked on shortening the 1911 while he was in the military durning WWII. The Sheldon bobcat was a series of 6 or 10 pistols (if i remember correctly) he personally made for specific people. He also wrote letters of authenticity that accompanied each one. He also wrote articles in the local paper. He used the name Iguana Jack. He got the nickname Iguana Jack Roo while in Australia during WWII. He lived in Franklin NH. His wife allways called him Shell. He also competed at camp Perry's 1000 yard open sight competition while in the military. He showed me one bobcat and I remember thinking it was beautiful. You have a very rare firearm In Your hands and I was privileged to know the very rare man who made it. Take good care of it.

November 22, 2012, 12:38 PM
Those engravings ruin the gun for me...what a shame. I'm allergic to cats too...hachoo...cant even look at the pic anymore.

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