Jeff Quinn was unmistakable with his long, braided, gray beard. I’d seen his videos on YouTube, so when he and his brother Boge exited their vehicle, I walked up to Jeff with my hand extended and he shook it readily as I introduced myself. This was several years ago at the SHOT Show Industry Day at the Range and I said, “I’ve got a question for you.”
Thinking back on that day, I can’t help but wonder how many times Jeff had been asked a gun related question by his fellow firearms enthusiasts. It must have been literally thousands of times. He smiled at me and said, “Go ahead.”
He was probably expecting a common firearms related query, but I asked him, “How much do you like your 2012 Boss 302 compared to your 1973 Mustang Mach I?” His eyes lit up since he wasn’t expecting a question about his orange and black, 444 horsepower Ford. He would probably have had the same excited reaction if I had asked about the cattle he raised, the peppers he grew for his signature hot sauce, his Harley Davidson motorcycles, his favorite charity (Bikers Who Care), or his grandkids that all meant so much to him.
But he also answered gun questions from his legions of fans just as heartily.
Each year I would see the Quinns at the SHOT Show and say a quick hello. They even filmed me shooting a rifle for their Gunblast website at one of the SHOT Show range days and I considered that an honor. Jeff has told his story many times of how he decided to write about some of his guns and “send them to Boge and somehow he’d get it on the internet.” A little over twenty years ago, Gunblast forged a new frontier by pairing firearms reviews with internet video. Gunblast had Jeff as the personality, Boge as the director, producer, and cameraman, and their brother Greg working the advertising.
It seemed everyone I knew logged on to Gunblast’s website during the week of the SHOT Show to watch the Quinn’s video reviews of new products. Each evening, Boge would edit and upload the video he had taken during the day, featuring Jeff at the various firearms manufacturers’ booths. No one else was uploading same-day video to the internet from their hotel room. Gunblast had the scoop on the entire print media and the few other online firearms sites. Gunblast also had video, which translated well to the internet because it was visually stimulating and interesting. And it was interesting because of Jeff.
Jeff’s persona was real. He hadn’t shaved since he was a very young man and his wife braided his beard for him. He lived in rural Tennessee and loved his home and his family and his church and his friends. His southern drawl and cutoff t-shirts were his trademarks, along with that beard of his. No one else looked like Jeff Quinn.
Jeff’s firearms knowledge was immense because he was a true enthusiast. He said that he liked guns because of how well they were made. He appreciated their engineering and his accuracy testing was extensive. He utilized a Ransom Rest to remove human error from the equation and allow a firearm to reach its greatest potential. Jeff’s gun reviews were honest and detailed, straightforward and informative. When you read a Gunblast review or watched one of their videos, knowledge was imparted and all questions were answered. Jeff often mentioned that his reviews were almost always positive because he chose what guns he wanted to test. If he didn’t test a particular gun, it was because the review would have been negative. Why would he review a lousy gun anyway?
One of the major reasons Gunblast was so successful was because the Quinn brothers knew who they were and they never felt a need to try and be anything more than that. Their appreciation of finely blued steel and walnut stocks on a revolver was evident. Add in some tasteful engraving and ivory and case hardening and their admiration for a gun showed in their smiles.
Jeff never talked down to his audience. He never came across as lecturing or as a know-it- all. Jeff’s Gunblast persona was genuine excitement about his firearms subject matter and watching him was like hanging out at your grandfather’s or uncle’s or even your father’s backyard gun range when they bought a new gun.
Jeff Quinn was not tactical. He was not military and he was not law enforcement. Newer gun owners are sometimes intimidated by those in the firearms community who talk tough and are perhaps a bit too serious. Guns are a serious business and safety is a must, but a fine line must be walked to teach the safe handling of weapons while still having a good time. Learning takes place best when the student respects the instructor instead of fearing him or her. Jeff Quinn had a natural ease about him that didn’t intimidate anyone. His jokes were self deprecating and he came across as a regular guy who knew what he was talking about.
Gunblast reviewed the Smith & Wesson Governor, a .410 shotshell/.45 Colt revolver, when it first came out. Jeff and Boge had a watermelon set up to take a shotshell hit from the Governor’s barrel and they knew the slow-motion video of that watermelon blowing up would look great. Jeff patted the watermelon and said that he would, “…shoot this old boy today… for dramatic effect.” The video ends with Jeff picking out some busted up pieces of his target and saying, “Mmm mmm mmm, that’s some good watermelon.” This scene epitomized Jeff Quinn.
Boge Quinn is an accomplished musician and his own music led the intro of most of Gunblast’s videos and played out at the end. While Boge can play and sing, his firearms interests mimic his brother Jeff’s and Boge’s knowledge is incredible as well.
On a Personal Note
I was at the Melody Lane Motel in Raton, New Mexico during the Shootists Holiday three years ago, talking with Jeff and Boge one evening, along with their cousin Butch, and Jeff’s grandson Ethan. I asked them some questions about Tennessee since my wife and I were planning to retire there. We received lots of useful information and we eventually purchased a log cabin about an hour south of the Quinns.
My wife and I actually visited Jeff and Boge at Jeff’s house (also known as Gunblast HQ) on the day we toured our eventual cabin with a realtor and put in our bid to buy it. I toured the Gunblast range and visited with the two Quinns for awhile, talking guns and cars. It’s a terrific memory I will forever cherish, along with Jeff replying to my Facebook posts about our cabin with an animated GIF of a waving Tennessee flag.
Jeff Quinn passed away on July 27, 2020.
I reget that Jeff was not able to visit our cabin in Tennessee. Boge has been by a couple times and I have had the pleasure of enjoying his band play live music nearby. They both made me feel welcome in their home state. The outpouring of support from Jeff’s fans in the gun world has been extraordinary. It has meant a lot to his family.
While Gunblast reviewed firearms from just about every gun maker over the last two decades, Ruger was one of the first gun companies to fully appreciate the internet and Gunblast’s early contributions and they made sure that Jeff and Boge were first to have new Ruger products for review. A special relationship formed between Sturm, Ruger and Company and the Quinns.
Ruger’s Tribute to Jeff Quinn
John Wayne, Elmer Keith, Skeeter Skelton, and Bill Jordan have had commemorative firearms made in their honor that were adorned with their likeness. Jeff Quinn joined this rare legacy of respected and revered men with Ruger’s limited edition release of a GP100 revolver chambered in .44 Special. Only 500 were produced and distributed by Lipsey’s.
These special guns are serial numbered JQ-001 through JQ-500. Jeff’s widow has the first, because Ruger and Lipsey’s have class and made sure that happened. The guns are five shots, since they are medium frame revolvers. Originally chambered as six shot .357 Magnums, the .44 caliber cylinder chambers take up a bit more room. This also means the gun balances differently with its .44 caliber bore since it has less carbon steel as well. Many consider this difference to be better.
The Jeff Quinn Memorial has a 4.2-inch barrel (many revolvers currently made have slightly longer-than-4-inch barrels today because Canada does not allow barrels shorter than 4.17- inches in length) topped with a brass bead front sight. The muzzle is nicely crowned to protect the rifling. Ruger had previously released .44 Special chambered GP100 revolvers in stainless steel with a 3-inch barrel and in blued steel with a 5-inch barrel (which was a Lipsey’s Exclusive along with matching .327 Magnum and .357 Magnum versions with handsome walnut stocks).
I had purchased the 3-inch GP100 (previously reviewed here) and had it professionally polished by Patriot Gun Polishing. That .44 Special came with Hogue rubber grips and a green fiber optic front sight. I swapped the grips for a set of Ruger Match Champion stocks. The 5-inch version’s wood stocks feature Ruger medallions and all of Ruger’s grip decisions fit the hand well.
But the Jeff Quinn Memorial revolver’s stocks are extra special. They’re etched with Jeff’s signature and his likeness, including his braided beard. They’re made by Hogue and are the same contour as the Match Champion’s, but without the stippling. Their smooth design fits my big hands like I squeezed a lump of Play-Doh for a perfect grip. The grip angle is more straight downward than angled and therefore positions the shooter’s trigger finger at an excellent position to pull the trigger straight back.
Ejecting spent cases is fluid and the ejection rod is long enough to positively kick the empties out. They clear the indentation in the left side of the wood stocks without hanging up and the stocks will clear the use of a speed loader too.
In addition to these features, the finish of the entire revolver is highly polished. The blue is truly blue instead of black and the stainless steel hammer and trigger are also highly polished. The caliber designation of .44 Special stands out on the right lower side of the barrel and was one of Jeff’s favorites.
The double action trigger pull measured just over 12 pounds and the single action pull was just over 4 pounds. The single action broke without creep and exhibited no over travel. Like many RevolverGuys, I could be blindfolded and tell the difference between a Colt, S&W, and Ruger double action trigger pull. The GP100’s trigger is smooth through its entire travel, as long as it is continuously moved quickly throughout its arc. It can be staged to rotate the cylinder chamber into position, while also cocking the hammer, before pausing to let the sights settle. This particular gun would lock up if I pulled the trigger very slowly. The hammer transfer bar allows safe carry of all five loaded chambers but I think a burr was causing it to hang up when the trigger wasn’t stroked properly. A whole bunch of dry fire and live fire cured the hiccup.
The front sight brass bead stands out in bright sunlight and the standard GP100 adjustable rear sight is excellent. I did need to lower the rear sight as far as I could without the screw protruding through the frame and touching the cylinder to hit at fifty feet with Skeeter Skelton’s recipe of an all-purpose handload (7.5 grains of Unique and a 240-grain Keith bullet). For some reason, many of these 500 limited editions came with the rear sight moved to the left and, sure enough, mine needed to be re-centered. Whoever test fired them at the Ruger factory must have been left handed like Jeff (that would have made Jeff laugh and he was known for his constant sense of humor).
Once the sights were on, the Memorial GP100 grouped well for me with a six o’clock hold at fifty feet. At further distances, my revolver would easily hit steel as the heavy .44 caliber chunks of lead travelled and lost their battle with gravity.
Jeff would be pleased that handling all three barrel lengths proves his favorite 4-inch barrel length (or 4.2-inch actually) to be the most packable in a holster. The 3-inch puts its weight in your hand while the 5-inch puts its weight out at the muzzle. The 5-inch points quicker than the 3-inch for me. But the Jeff Quinn Ruger seems just perfect, quick out of the holster and an intuitive pointer.
Simply Rugged Holster
Rob Leahy’s gun leather company is called Simply Rugged Holsters. He credits his company’s name to Jeff Quinn, who reviewed one of Rob’s first holsters and described it as simple and rugged. I have one of Simply Rugged’s “Sourdough” holsters for my 3-inch GP100 and it protects the revolver’s finish with generous coverage, while also retaining the gun without the need for a strap. I’ve found the Sourdough to be an excellent field holster that will last several lifetimes. Rob also makes a small version of this holster called the Silver Dollar, and a style for semi-automatics (the Cuda). If he doesn’t have a pattern for a gun already (very rare), he’ll likely make one custom for you. He also creates his masterpieces from material other than cowhide, including shark and alligator. He even made me a holster from the tail of a beaver I shot!
Rob offers his Sourdough and his Eldorado holsters for the Jeff Quinn Memorial .44 stamped with a likeness of Jeff shooting a Ruger. The likeness was taken from one of Boge Quinn’s photos of Jeff and Rob stamps the serial number of the particular memorial handgun on the back. I chose the Eldorado because I already had a couple of his Sourdoughs. Mine is stamped JQ-017 to match my special Ruger. The Eldorado features a single belt loop and is more of a western cowboy style field holster than the Sourdough (which also works well as a concealed carry holster and is available as outside waistband or with inside waistband straps). It also protects the gun’s finish and completely covers the trigger.
I think Rob’s work is excellent and Simply Rugged should be considered by anyone looking for a quality leather holster of any kind.
I wish I had known Jeff better. While I accumulated numerous memories that still make me smile (the tour of his cement basement vault was incredible), I wish there had been more time for opportunities to be around him. Because when you were around Jeff, that time was exciting and his stories and his humor and his generosity were wonderful.
I have found myself watching Gunblast’s video reviews on my TV. Their library of firearms related videos is staggering, as they accomplished so much over the last twenty years. Jeff will make you smile while passing on his firearms expertise in an enjoyable manner.
Bikers Who Care
Artist Lorin Michki created a drawing of Jeff Quinn and the Memorial Ruger GP100 which he is selling as limited edition prints for $40. Owners of the Memorial revolvers can request their print be numbered to match their gun (of course I had to have number 17). But for those who just want to remember Jeff and didn’t get to buy one of the limited edition Memorial revolvers, a print can still be ordered without the serial number. Michki can be found at etsy.com under his user name of Lorin21.
Bikers Who Care is a charity in Tennessee that Jeff Supported in many ways. A quarter of the sale of Michki’s prints will be donated to BWC and it should be noted that Ruger, Lipsey’s (the distributor), and Simply Rugged Holsters donated proceeds from the Jeff Quinn Memorial Ruger GP100 .44 Special to Bikers Who Care.
In addition, each Memorial revolver comes with a certificate signed by Jeff’s brother Boge that explains Ruger and Lipsey’s involvement with Bikers Who Care through this special revolver.
Supporting the kids charity that Jeff loved makes me even more proud to own one of these .44 Specials. I’m proud to have been friends with Jeff and sad for his close knit family that he is gone. But I’ll carry his Memorial revolver on my hip in the Eldorado holster (loaded with a CCI shotshell snake load, and four Skeeter load cartridges) around our property in Tennessee, and I’ll remember Jeff every day I do.
I’ve already had a neighbor ask me, “What is that image carved on the holster and on the grips of your gun?” It gave me the opportunity to talk about Jeff Quinn and that made me happy. I hope it happens again and again.