Firearms

The Gun that Won the Western

The-Wild-Bunch--Ben-Johnson--Warren-Oates--William-Holden--Ernest-Borgnine--Sam-PeckinpahDuring the “Golden Age” of film, which spanned the 1920s through the early 1960s, moviemakers often relied on the classic lines and smooth action of the 1892 Winchester to depict the archetypal saddle rifle of the Old West. Thanks to the likes of John Wayne and many other movie cowboys, this rifle has probably seen more use in Western and adventure films than any other rifle associated with the American frontier.

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The Other Lone Ranger’s Colt

John-Hart-as-the-Lone-Ranger“Who was that Masked Man?”

That was the question that ended each episode of ABC’s The Lone Ranger, one of the best-liked television series of the 1950s.

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Hideout Hijinks

group-of-men-posing-for-gambling-shot-in-Eureka-South-Dakota-studio-portrait-circa-1890-1900-by-Fallman,-listed-as-working-in-Eureka-in-1890_diminutive-sidearmsSan Francisco, 1853: As traveler John Steele strolled along a bustling thoroughfare, he suddenly found himself being crowded against a doorway and shoved into a small room by a stranger.

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Weapons of the Indian Wars

Touch-The-Clouds_Lakota-LeaderDuring the Great Sioux War of 1876-1877, Touch The Clouds took his band of Minneconjou Teton followers to the Spotted Tail Agency in northwestern Nebraska. When they arrived on April 14, 1877, the chief rode forward and said, “I lay down this gun, as a token of submission to Gen. Crook, to whom I wish to surrender.”

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Davy Crockett’s “Ol’ Betsy” Found

Davey-Crockett__Ol_-Betsy_rifleIn most everyone’s life comes a moment or event that provides the catalyst to their future. In my case, that event was the 1954 TV airing of Disney’s three-part dramatic series on legendary frontiersman Davy Crockett, the Indian fighter, U.S. congressman and Alamo defender. I was utterly fascinated with the original flintlock arms used in that series. As a youth of 14, I had never before seen any real flintlocks in films or anywhere else.

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The Best of Firearms for 2015

Arikara-scout-Bloody-Knife_brass-tacked-1866-Winchester-Yellowboy-rifleThe use of brass or iron tacks to decorate gunstocks, whether for religious or strictly decorative purposes, was a practice of the American Indian as far back as at least the early 1800s.

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Autry’s Pathway to the Past

sfth_annie-oakley_phil-spangenbergerWithout a doubt, firearms were among the most important tools used in the settling of the West.

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The Marvels of Marlin’s Model ’89

Annie-Oakely-and-Marlin-RifleWorld-renowned sharpshooters Annie Oakley, a star of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, and Frank C. Miller, crack shot of the Irwin Bros. Cheyenne Frontier Days Wild West Show, often shot with Marlin rifles in their exhibitions.

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A Courageous Standoff

1887-winchestser-rifle-phil-spagenebergerIn February 15, 1900, as the train slowly steamed to a stop at the Fairbank, Arizona, station, members of the notorious Stiles-Alvord outlaw gang yelled for express messenger Jeff Milton to throw up his hands. As a shoot-out ensued, they fired a volley into the car, shattering Milton’s left arm.

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Six-Gun Safety

Frank-and-jesse-james_1860-Army-Colt-44_Model-1861-Remington-44-Army-revolverAlthough loading blackpowder six-guns, which represent the era of 1840s-70s, require a different way of handling them than do metallic cartridge firearms, one rule is still in play—safety first!

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The Best of Firearms for 2014

best-western-firearms-2014Westward expansion took place during the Industrial Revolution, which was also a time of great evolution in the world of firearms. The development in ignition systems, metallurgy, mechanical design and other arms technology progressed rapidly between 1800 and 1900.

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A New-Old Straight Shooter

Rifle-Match-between-the-Irish-and-the-American-teams_Sharps_s-M-1877_English-ModelIn the firearms world, the name “Shiloh” has come to mean the maker of the finest quality modern reproductions of the famed single-shot Sharps rifles of the mid-to-late 19th century. Especially popular is the company’s 1874 model,

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Home Brewed Gun Show

capt-jack-crawford_colt_poet-scoutHow would you like to attend a gun show and see hundreds of fine Old West guns and accessories—without having to traipse up and down endless, crowded aisles of tables?

You can, simply by gathering some well-written, illustrated gun books and perusing their pages. Here are some valuable firearms books I recommend.

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Fighting Blades of the Frontier

SFTH_bowie-brothers“They say my bowie knife is keen to sliver into halves
The carcass of my enemy, as butchers slay their calves.”

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An Ace in the Hole

sharps-palm-sized-pepperbox-derringerOne frontiersman, threatened with a .22 derringer, slapped it out of his assailant’s hand and said, “If anyone ever shot me with a twenty two…and I found out about it, I’d skin him alive!”

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Single Shot of Southern Comfort

SFTH_Martha-Summerhayes_Southerner-derringer_-spur-trigger-single-shootersIn 1875, when U.S. Army wife Martha Summerhayes’s Army ambulance was being escorted through Arizona Territory, from Camp Apache to Camp Ehrenberg (and ultimately Camp McDowell), she recalled, “I wore a small derringer, with a narrow belt filled with cartridges.

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From Silver Screen to Gun Room

movie-guns_collectables_phil-spangenbergerHave you ever wanted to own a gun used in a Western film by one of your favorite cowboy stars…or even one packed by one of the supporting actors in an Oater that you held in special esteem?

Up until a few years ago, that feat was next to impossible for the average firearms enthusiast.

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A Hunter’s Classic Returns

SFTH_Model-71-lever-action-hunting-rifleTo the hunter in the field, probably the only thing better than a powerful and accurate rifle is an improved version.

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The Edge of Perfection

/bowie-knivesRegardless of whether a frontiersman carried a simple pocket-sized folding knife, a skinner, a camp knife or a full-sized fighting blade, he generally went “heeled” with some sort of cutting tool.

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The “Shoot Today, Kill Tomorrow” Gun

SFTH_Sharps-riflesDuring the June 1874 battle of Adobe Walls in the Texas Panhandle, where an estimated 700 Comanche, Kiowa and Cheyenne warriors attacked nearly 30 hide hunters, young hunter Billy Dixon made a remarkable 1,538-yard shot at a mounted Indian, from his borrowed Model 1874 Sharps, in .50-90 caliber—and he dropped him, thus effectively ending the fight!

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The Herd Decimator

fulton-position-remmington-rifleIn 1887, an official government study of the decimation of the great buffalo herds concluded that, next to the Sharps rifle, the Remington rolling block rifle was the most popular with hide hunters.

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