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Old 01-15-2005, 05:24 PM   #1
Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 446
Al Dinan and I

Many of you olde guys have asked about Al Dinan. I was always very friendly with Al and visited him many times. He was always willing to share ideas and would test fire a half dozen of my pistols for me in his unique rest. This pic was taken at the range in Pougkeepse, N>Y where he was always a competitor. The other fellow was the range caretaker and lived in the house trailer in the rear. A real funny one with Al at Attleboro Mass range once. Son Frank was watching Al shoot a string while sitting behind the line. Al had a failure to feed a round and Frank told Al to see his father, gunsmith, me and I would fix it. The shooters really enjoyed that remark. I wound up with Als machine rest after he died

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Old 02-15-2005, 11:49 AM   #2
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 5
Hi Austin,
New member here. Back in my younger years while shooting in NRA Bullseye competition (1967-74), I bought a commercial 1911 .45 from an ex-Navy shooter. He said it had been accurized by Al Dinan. I added a Bo-Mar low profile rib and shot the gun for several years until work and other circumstances caused me to sell my comp guns and quit shooting in competition. Ex-Navy said Dinan was from New England area. Can you fill me/us in on some more background about him and his work? Thanks!

Good shooting and be safe.

ps: Also shot a .38 Super that had been converted to .38 Special by Jim Clark. That was a real tackholer! With WinWes factory wadcutter ammo, the gun just shot one hole group at 25 yds from rest. Unfortunately I wasn't quite that good offhand.
Old 02-15-2005, 05:50 PM   #3
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 74
Hi Austin,

Did Al have a brother Ray who worked for IBM.

Old 02-16-2005, 09:12 AM   #4
Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 446
Al Dinan

Al lived in Caanan, Conn all the while I knew him. He and his wife lived on a quiet street and he had a 50 yd machine rest setup, Which he shot out of a small room added on the house. I have told about his machine rest and bbl tester a few times on the forum. He was killed while backing out of his driveway onto the street one day. He was a terrific toolmaker and built some of the best pistols of the day and will also shoot as well as most today.
Old 02-16-2005, 01:28 PM   #5
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 5
Hi Austin,
Thanks for that bit of info on Al Dinan. Sorry to hear of his untimely death. Wish I still owned that pistol. I have many pleasant memories of another time and place shooting it with good friends who are now also gone.

Good shooting and be safe.
Old 03-26-2005, 08:50 PM   #6
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 12
Dinan Machine Rest

Iattach a copy of an article from the 1961 American Rifleman which describes Al's barrel testing fixture. I knew him in the mid-70's and have a 1911 he built for me.
Old 06-30-2005, 06:17 PM   #7
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 14
Dinan and headspace and Jim Collins

Dear Austin,

Glad to see you are still alive. You sure sound better than you look. I was up to visit Leckie and saw you unloading the trunk next door from a flea market. I hope that you and your wife are doing well. I am that steel mill guy from Tuscaloosa, Alabama that bought so many of your fine guns over the years. I have that cased chrome HP with holster and about 10 chromed mags and holders., a GC .45 comp longslide, and I think one of your son's .38 super race guns with the T front sight and compound trigger. Even has a rest for your left thumb.

Jim Collins is happily retired in Tuscaloosa and has recently recovered from a big time heart attack. He can still shoot like the world record holder that he is. When he quit shooting 10 years or so ago he took up golfing and in typical fashion would practice until his hands would bleed. Needless to say in short order he was a scratch golfer. He even ended up being an instructor/pro at a local course. He went to a pistol match in B'ham a few month ago and without having fired a round in 10 years took HOA in Master class. He has formed a local pistol club and is back into reffing and shooting with all of his determination and skills intact. He would want me to say "Hi" to the 'Butcher' when I tell him about your participation in this forum.

I also have a heavy slide Dinan and drove up to meet with Alton to have it built when I was at Penn State in 1969 or 70. I think I showed you the gun once when trying to do a trade with you. Bought the 70 series gun for the grand sum of $80 bucks on sale from the match equipment supplier out of Chicago Gil Hebard. I fondly remember Alton showing me his range and describing to me how I was to reload for the new Wad gun. I had to use the 200 GR. H&G SWC bullet with a 4.5 Gr of Bullseye and be sure to give it a uniform medium ROLL crimp. He explained that Browning designed the gun to headspace on the rim not the front of the case. He went over a book with his test results for roll vs. unrolled crimps. He showed me his pistol test rig. He insisted and convinced me that roll crimp was the way to go. He was right and still is but no one's around who would agree nowadays. He spent a lot of time adjusting and fitting the extractor to ensure that the round would slide under during feeding and be held tight against the breech. It would also leave the cases in a nice little pile on the right side about 3 feet away.

The gun has had about 400,000 to 500,000 round through it since then and shoots today as well as it shot then. Kids nowadays cannot believe the groups at 50 yards when I do my job. Still roll crimping after all these years. Jaeger's in Jenkintown, Pa did a dress up to replace the dragon cloth front strap with hand checkering and plated the lower. When the action was checked all it need in 1985 was a Hammer pin and light dressing to get it back to its normal fine condition. I can still find all of the empties in that little pile after shooting and one big hole in the X-ring.

I look forward to visiting with you when I next visit my in-laws in Quakertown, Pa. Stay well.
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Old 09-12-2019, 05:24 AM   #8
Junior Member
Join Date: Sep 2019
Posts: 1
Al Dinan; Family Friend and Gunsmith

Al Dinan grew up in New Marlborough, MA in the same very small community as my father. Al's mailing address was Canaan, CT; however, his shop was on Clayton Rd in Ashley Falls, MA just over the state line from Canaan (Canaan is in NW CT; New Canaan is in SW CT near Long Island Sound). My Dad knew Al his entire life...Al was nine years older. Al's younger brother John (Skip) was my Dad's age. I believe Skip and sister Dorothy were Al's only siblings.

Al was our family's gunsmith. Because he and my dad they grew up together, Al would usually drop what he was doing to take care of problem. I bought a new Ithaca 37 in 1967, which wouldn't feed right out of the box...Al had it disassembled in about 30 seconds, put the shell stop in his vice, a few taps with a hammer, reassembled it and it functioned perfectly from that point.

Al loved to see kids interested in guns and shooting. He did a 1911 for my brother when he was about 18 years old. Al mostly worked the exterior...nice fixed sights, matte slide top, re-profiled backstrap and his signature stippling on the front strap. As I remember he charged my brother $100. I went in the Army in early 1973 as an MP, so a 1911A1 became my every day carry. Al gave me two boxes of 45 ACP, 1960 National Match, which he apparently had squirreled away somewhere.

Al was also tremendous bird hunter (mostly grouse). He always had a couple of Gordon Setters, which he hunted routinely. As a kid I thought they were the prettiest dogs ever.

Al passed too early at 60 years-old. He left a huge void locally. In our small community he was the only gunsmith anyone knew; we didn't realize what a treasure we had. Al is buried in Southfield MA Lee Memorial Cemetery with his father (Alton Sr) as well as my grandparents and great grandparents.

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