The Dove Custom Smolt — Smith & Wesson/Colt hybrid revolver — is not only a beauty to behold, it’s mesmerizing to shoot.
What is the custom S&W/Colt hybrid:
- Combination of Smith & Wesson Revolver and Colt Python Barrel.
- This type of hybrid was popular in the 1970s for PPC matches.
- It is built off a S&W Model 66 fitted with a 4-inch Pyton Barrel.
- It has a crane ball lock, a bobbed hammer and chamfered chambers.
- The cyinder release is machined so its compatible with speed loaders.
- It is 9-inches long and weighs 36 ounces.
- The conversion cost around $1,400.
You never hear about a lot of cool, custom handguns because they don’t often appear in a magazine or on the internet. This is partly because there’s lots of competition for page space in both, and partly because the bigger custom shops have an employee dedicated to securing that coverage. These media relations experts make sure gun writers know about what’s new, and that they always have something to write about.
Fortunately, I have one of the most talented gunsmiths in the country in my hometown. Jerry Dove of Dove’s Custom Guns has been plying his trade for a long time. He can make a 1911 run like a Swiss watch, is rapidly becoming a premier source for scout rifles, and can tweak the trigger on a lever action rifle so well that I’ll bet Timney Triggers is jealous.
But Jerry also takes on one-of-a-kind projects, like the “Smolt” he built for fellow Gunsite Academy graduate Nick Rukavina. A Smolt is the combination of a Smith & Wesson revolver and a Colt Python barrel. These hybrid creations were popular in the ‘70s when PPC (Precision Pistol Competition or Police Pistol Combat) was at the height of its popularity. Smolts had a revered reputation for accuracy but were difficult to create because the threads on the Colt barrel and Smith & Wesson frame were different.
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During a visit to Dove’s shop, he showed me the Smolt he’d built for Rukavina. The revolver immediately mesmerized me. It balanced incredibly well, the trigger was exquisite, and it had a righteous, business-like look about it. I sent Nick a text and asked if I might try the gun out before Jerry shipped it to him. He agreed, I imagine because he wanted to make me jealous. It worked.
Dove started with a S&W Model 66. He fit the Colt 4-inch Python barrel, and hand-crafted his own gold bead front and rear sight. He then installed a crane ball lock, machined the cylinder release so it was compatible with speed loaders, bobbed the hammer, polished the trigger face, and chamfered the chambers of the cylinder. He also converted the frame to a round butt, stippled the back-strap and tastefully melted all the sharp edges on the gun. When he was done with all the metal work, he coated the pistol in sniper grey Cerakote.
This finished work of gun-fighting art weighs 36 ounces, is 9 inches long, has a six-round capacity, and the double-action trigger glides through its cycle with only 6.5 pounds of pressure. With a box of +P 38 Special ammunition, I stepped out on my range and, after the first six rounds, I began scheming as to how I might talk Nick out of this exquisite hog’s leg.
I ran the revolver through my standard test drill, where I attempt to put five rounds, in a 5-inch circle, at 5 yards, in less than 5 seconds (the Forty-Five Drill), while drawing from concealment. My average time was 3.55 seconds, and I only missed one shot — the first shot. That’s only a few tenths of a second slower than my best runs on this drill with my custom Browning HiPower or Wilson Combat EDC X9. You’re a fool if you think a revolver is an antiquated weapon.
There’s always a downside with a weapon this wondrous: With a Smolt — a Smolt done right —it’s price. The conversion takes time and it takes the skills of a master gunsmith. Time always costs, and master gunsmiths have this seemingly unbreakable rule that they don’t do anything unless there’s a piece of gold attached to it. A similar conversion on your Smith & Wesson will cost about $1,400, and you’ll have to provide the Python barrel.
You’re probably thinking spending that much money on a revolver might be an indication of insanity. You would be wrong. I know Nick Rukavina. And while he might be a bit odd, he’s far from insane. I also got to shoot the Dove Custom Smolt, so I have what you might say is an inside look. Since then I’ve had dreams about it. If gun-lust is a sin, my outlook on eternity is bleak.
For more information on the Smolt, please visit: www.DoveGuns.com.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.