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Clint Smith of Thunder Ranch is a gun guru extraordinaire. The gravelly voiced trainer is famous for his take-no-prisoners take on armed self-defense.

From his Oregon Eagle’s Nest (I’m Jewish, don’t judge), Mr. Smith unleashes a fantastic farrago of firearms videos. So, you wonder, what does Mr. Smith carry for personal protection? And the survey says! . . .

A Jason Burton custom 1911 built on a co-branded Colt Series 70 pistol. Ironically enough –given the popularity of a certain Austrian handgun — Mr. Burton’s company is dedicated to perfection. Like this:

There is a sign that hangs in my shop with the following quote:

“Strive for perfection in everything. Take the best that exists and make it better. If it doesn’t exist, create it. Accept nothing nearly right or good enough.”

Sir Henry Royce, co-founder of Rolls Royce

That quote, the sentiment behind it, and the desire to create something perfect speaks to me. My desire and passion to constantly strive for perfection drives my work and vision for my craft.

I believe that with every gun I build I have a duty to contribute to the tradition of exceptional handcrafted custom guns and the goal of perfection is the guiding light for everything I do.

Well he certainly brings the noise to Thunder Ranch’s jefe, creating the The Clint Smith Signature Government Model. It’s an all steel 5” Government Model chambered in 45ACP. Here are the specs:

Colt Commercial style thumb safety
Kart match grade barrel with stainless barrel bushing
Hand-cut 30lpi checkering front and rear
Beavertail grip safety
Standard length magazine release
Short length solid aluminum trigger
Lanyard loop
Beveled magazine well
Rear sight modified for one-handed operations
Heirloom Precision Gold Line front sight
Polished blue finish
Thin-line VZ Diamondback stock panels (ivory stocks optional)

What’s more . . .

These pistols are further enhanced with modifications such as a weld-up frame and slide fit, flattened and serrated slide top with 3-point curved arrow pattern, detailed frame and slide with all lines straighten and trued, rear slide serrations, best quality trigger job, and bordered slide amongst many others.

This is not the first time Mr. Smith or his proxies have created a gun.

Smith & Wesson sells the PERFORMANCE CENTER® Model 325 Thunder Ranch: a matte black .45-caliber Scandium-framed revolver, complete with a gold bead sight and undersnout picatinny rail (not shown for some reason). That bad boy msrps at an eye-watering $1,329.00.

As for the price of Mr. Smith’s carry gun, if you have to ask you can’t afford it. (Think $10k and up.) And if you can afford Mr. Burton’s Thunder Ranch 1911, you’re going to have to wait. A long time.

Such is life.

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    • Me too. I had to trade two older S&W .357s and Glock 19 gen 4 to get my Performance Center 627. I have no regrets in doing so, but it still stung to do it.

    • That’s a pricey revolver for the average folks. I fell in love with the Performance Center S&W 629 V-Comp years ago but dang they are expensive. Lucky for me, my sister bought me one for Christmas a few years ago. Absolutely worth every penny though, now I just need a 627 V-Comp to go with it. Expensive yes, but far cheaper than any of the “custom” revolvers out there.

  1. Curious, would the felt recoil in that featherweight .45ACP be less than it in .357?

    “From his Oregon Eagle’s Nest (I’m Jewish, don’t judge)”

    What’s the issue with Jews and eagle nests? I’m kinda baffled on that one…

    • Uncle Adolf commanded his Riech from a castle nicknamed “the Eagles nest” a top a mountain in Bavaria for much of The War.

      • He was also a vegetarian and hated tobacco, so all you vegetarians & anti-smokers are ‘nazis’, mmmmmk?

        Also, if you like dogs you’re probably a nazi. See how this works? Being a progressive is fun!

      • Eagle meat, in German “Teller Fleisch,” is the phrase in restaurants for “special of the day.” I recall ordering it in a lovely old-style Bavarian restaurant about 23 years ago, one located on Sankta Anna Strasse in München. They brought out Goat Face with freshly ground horse radish.

        • I doubt that you’ve received goat face. But calf head is a very delicious part of southern Germany’s or eastern France cuisine. Usually the face mask, after removing the hairs of course, and tongue rolled together into a packet and cooked in broth.

    • My guess would be yes, the 45 should kick less, I am only basing this on my 5″ Coonan having a little more felt recoil than a 5″ 45 1911.

      • I’m curious as to the physics on that, is the .45ACP powder a slower burn? Would a slower acceleration down the barrel of the heavier slug change the ‘feel’ of the recoil impulse?

        (Yeah, I contemplate weird things after 10 pm…)

        • It’s simple. The .45 ACP is a low-pressure cartridge, compared to just about any modern pistol cartridge. Compared to the .357 Magnum, it’s an exceeding low pressure cartridge, even in .45 ACP +P loadings.

          So, yes, the .357 Mag will accelerate its bullet down the bore much more quickly than the .45 ACP.

        • It is a reality little discussed, that the recoil velocity always plays a big role in felt recoil, together with the calculated total lb. measure of recoil.

          There is a reason firing a 1 1/5 ounce high brass slug from a 12 gauge feels very much like firing a 300 grain bullet (standard charge) from a .300 H&H Magnum rifle. Shotguns have a very high velocity of recoil.

        • Which is why a .357 rapidly loses velocity and muzzle energy when the barrel length drops below 4″. You just end up wasting a lot of energy because the bullet exited the barrel before the propulsive force is fully expended. Most revolver cartridges, including 38 Special, are designed for long barrels and lose a higher percentage of their energy than a automatic when barrel length falls below the reference length.

  2. So, an old curmudgeonly gun guy with an abrasive attitude and no shortages of opinions carries a 1911…. this is, in fact, my shocked face.

  3. ….a pill container full of Prozac ? ( oh, what “GUN” does Clint Smith carry every day. Read the headline too quickly. )

  4. Finally, someone who times their screws – and doesn’t resort to such hackneyed nonsense as allen-head grip screws.

    The stainless barrel bushing on a blued barrel/slide/frame – I’m not so sure about the visual appearance of that – I’m going to go off and think about that.

    The rest of his work is very, very nice.

  5. I guess if one really has to keep up appearances, that would be a way to do it… I’m guessing he probably didn’t pay north of $10K for it, either… two companies that make extraordinary products tend to combine to make extremely extraordinarily priced items. For the mere mortals, I can get away with a gun less than a thousand. Easily. I have much better things to use ten grand on.

  6. I just don’t get a ten grand 1911.

    I really don’t get a ten grand handgun of any stripe, barring the extraordinarily rare or the extremely enhanced/decorated, in which case you’re paying for the engraver’s painstaking time and skill.

    • Ummm, for those of us that don’t create the kind resources that Clint Smith does with his training facility, I’m sure a $10,000 dollar carry gun doesn’t make much sense, but if you or I were making probably at least a six figure income, like Clint does, it probably would be different.

      As it is, buying a high end firearm that just goes up in value, makes a lot more sense than many people that buy a new automobile or truck that loses most of it’s value within 5 to 7 years. Now that makes absolutely no sense.

      • “High end” firearms are like project cars. You put 5 time as much into it then what it cost new (in this case, closer to 7) and you are lucky if you get half the money back when you go sell it. Yes, every once in a while you get lucky and purchase a Yenko Mustang, but that is the exception, not the rule. In this case, someone dumped 9000 worth of work into a $1300 gun, so…..

  7. And? Don’t know who Clint Smith is and don’t give a rats ass what he carries. My gently used, $400.00 G17 will kill an asshole just as dead as a $10,000 whatever.

  8. $10K for a pistol??? (head down, hands in pockets and dragging feet) I guess I’ll just have to stick with my XDS and make do…

    Didn’t somebody once say that one should not carry a pistol he can’t afford to replace if it gets seized as evidence after a self-defense use? A $10K pistol says something about Mr. Smith’s bottom line up there at Thunder Ranch.

    • Mike Pannone of CTT Carries a CZ.
      Jim Smith of Spartan Tactical Carries a Sphinx, a CZ clone.
      Those gentlemen have my respect more than Clint, given the more recent tenure both had in active combat zones, and they have the most extreme level of military special ops training, and i ‘m even from Oregon, so nothing against Thunder Ranch.
      So i carry a CZ, if its good enough for a Delta Team member missing his right eye, i can submit myself to learn from him..
      But I have tried others. Tried a Glock, did not like it, could not shoot it well and stove piped all the time. and that was before all the news about “negligent discharge” Tried the Walther P-99 in 40, liked it but could not shoot it to high competency, ditto for the Browning Hi Power, really wanted to like it, but could not shoot it well.
      But i do shoot a Kimber 1911 very well. So i respect Clint’s choice for that.
      However i have seen the real need for more than 8+1 even if it is a .45
      But my first reaction was, No light, no light rail, and no RMR.
      Suarez has the RMR topic dialed in.
      and I really like having the light.
      Bad Schtuff tends to happen at night, and we are accountable for where very round goes.
      This Clint Smith 1911 item is a VERY nice glamor piece. white grips, custom checkering, $10k tag. its a showing off item, because he can, he can shoot anything well, so choose what makes him feel good.
      Mere mortals need to make do with what they can.
      If you are as poor a pistol competitor as i am, you’ll quickly find out what training and equipment can fix that problem.
      The CZ SP-01 Shadow wins most of the IPSC competitions for good reason. Its a heavy beast, but i can’t afford to miss as my protection detail has me in crowds and around children. so i suck it up and carry heavy. lives depend on me not missing.
      I can train a novice to shoot well with a heavy steel 9mm (or .38 revolver), in FAR fewer rounds than a polymer auto, ESPECIALLY if the poly auto a .40 or .45..
      Ammo is not cheap, range time is not cheap, training is not cheap. Do you want to shoot really well in 800 rounds with a $900 gun or 2400 rounds with a $500 gun?
      That’s what the CZ SP-01 Shadow (or a Jericho 941 on an EAA Witness or a Sphynx ) offers. Novice to deadly competent with good training in under 1,000 rounds.
      The Police buy a ton of Glocks really cheap. and they get tons of ammo cheap, and lots of training at no cost to the officers.
      so after 3k rounds, the officers ALL shoot Glocks really well.
      Some even shoot well in just a few rounds. lucky genetics.
      I would contend they and all Poly auto owners would ALL shoot even better with an SP-01, and probably a good 1911 like a $1500 Kimber.
      Your mileage may vary.

  9. Striving for perfection and never releasing your work until it is 100% perfect actually means that you will never finish and never produce a product.

    It is all a matter of degrees. A fingerprint or smudge or spec of dust negates 100% perfection.

  10. Yes, I know the gun wasn’t loaded, but I’m not too much on the way he kept moving his fingers in front of the barrel, with the hammer cocked.

  11. Mr. Smith also have Les Baer make a line of 1911 with his ‘Thunder Ranch’ name on them. Was a bit surprised by this article that Clint isn’t carrying one of those anymore actually. And that the author didn’t know about the Baer guns…


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