EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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August 30, 2013

Derry gunsmith hits the mark

Local gunsmith is a favorite of state champions

DERRY — Jim McMahon is helping the fastest guns in the West — not to mention the North, South and East.

Champion cowboy-style sport shooters, city slickers and cowpokes alike, call on the Derry gunsmith to provide firearms for their duels in the sun.

McMahon counts 47 state champions among his clientele that now spans the globe.

His Cowboy Gunworks serves customers in all the exotic ports of call: Puerto Rico, Germany, Australia, even Bangor, Maine.

“It’s not bragging,” McMahon said, “if it’s true.”

He is a master of his trade, so much so that at age 49 he is able to make his living as a gunsmith.

“It’s really gratifying,” McMahon said. “I don’t consider it work any more.”

The retired Teamster, a champion snowmobile dragster, fell into the competitive cowboy gun culture one mud season, when a friend suggested they give the sport a try after racing ended.

“I went to my first match and came out wondering why my guns were so much stiffer than everybody else,” McMahon said.

He recalled sitting in his workshop until 3:30 in the morning,pondering that question.

McMahon had to tinker with snowmobiles to join the elite of that sport, so it was natural he would do the same with guns.

“Basically, my background was in machining, performance and efficiency to make things go faster,” he said.

McMahon took his guns apart and went to work on them. Each week, he would go back to competitions, continue asking questions and show off his improvements.

He loved the sport, in which shooters compete under Old West aliases. His is “Jimmy Spurs” and he is a past state champion.

“I’ve been into the cowboy thing my whole life,” he said.

He remembers all the old TV shows like “Bonanza” and couldn’t get enough of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies.

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