Crafted in a shop founded by one of the most legendary handgun competitors that America ever produced, the Clark Long Slide is bona fide firearms history.
Who was Clark?
James E. Clark was one of the great American competition shooters and pistolsmiths of the 20th Century. Full stop.
In 1953, Clark won the National Championship for .22 caliber with a Ruger Mark I fitted with one of his muzzle brakes. Five years later, he became the first and only full-time civilian to win the U.S. National Pistol Championships, a title normally earned by a military service member or LE competitor. In all, he would rack up no less than 64 national pistol records, including the national championship a full half-dozen times, before he retired from the competition circuit in 1975.
As a smith, he pioneered the Bowling Pin model of 1911, created the first ramped 1911 barrel, customized Ruger Mk Is and High Standard .22s, and did combat revolver work. All this on top of making some exquisite National Match and Long Slide 1911s. In 1983, he was one of the first people to make an aluminum M1911 mount for Aimpoints, an optic that at the time was about the size of a soup can.
Clark's guns were mentioned in over a dozen issues of American Handgunner magazine between 1980 and 1989, usually referencing them in the hands of Steel Challenge and Bianchi Cup finishers. About the same time, Magnaport International, the household name in metering ports for handguns, featured a Clark Custom Pin Gun in their ads for a half-decade. Going further back, issues of Guns magazine dating as far back as the Eisenhower administration spoke often about Clark and his various customized configurations of handguns, rifles, and shotguns.
In 1985, when he was named Outstanding American Pistolsmith by the American Pistolsmiths Guild, it was noted that "he has done more experimenting on the .45 auto than any other pistolsmith in existence," and went on to point out that competition shooters who knew, went with one of Clark's build, saying as many as four national champions had used one or more of his custom guns in the same year.
"Clark guns are not loaded down with gadgets nor are they prettied up just to look fancy. They are built with one purpose: to shoot with supreme accuracy and dependability," wrote George Wessinger in the Nov./Dec. 1985 issue of American Handgunner.
A Vintage Clark Long Slide
The legendary James E. Clark Sr. passed away in 2000, but his family has kept his shop in operation in Princeton, Louisiana, and today they make new custom gun builds and customizations and repairs of the 1911, S&W Model 41, and Ruger 22 rifles.