Thursday, August 29, 2019

Guns Lost to History

This post is along the same vein as two previous posts, If These Guns Could Talk and History's Most Notorious Guns.

I felt there existed a gap, what about the guns that we know of their contribution to history, but we don't know if they still exist?

So here is a list of the ones I was thinking about, if you have something to contribute, please comment below.

#1. The Rifles/Muskets of Lexington & Concord

The date was April 19th, 1775. The American Colonists were not about to let the Red Coats take their guns.

The men, now revolutionaries, used their privately owned hunting rifles to repel the British Soldiers in what was to be called "The Shot heard 'round the World". Their actions help ignite the fire of freedom which ultimately created the greatest, most powerful country the World has ever seen.

The rifles were probably a mixture of the Kentucky Long Rifle and other rifled or smoothbore muskets.

I am quite sure there are guns in museums with provenance that traces them back to the shot heard 'round the World? Are there others that exist in a collection or family attic somewhere, with the owners possibly unaware of their history?

#2 Carlos Hathcock's Sniper Rifle and captured counter sniper rifle.

Marine Gunnery Sergeant Carlos 'white feather" Norman Hathcock II enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1959, at the time he had never even heard of Vietnam. 
Before being deployed to Vietnam, Hathcock had won several shooting matches as part of the Marine Corps shooting team (including the coveted Wimbledon Cup). There was no doubt he was a good shot. 
When Hathcock arrived in Vietnam he was assigned MP duty, later he was promoted to platoon sniper....

Before leaving his tours of duty he had racked up an impressive confirmed kill count and even set a record kill shot of 2500 yards using an M2 .50 caliber machine gun.....but his most impressive shot was the one described below

Sometime in 1967 Hathcock and his spotter, John Roland Burke, were sent to find and kill an NVA counter sniper. While in position on Hill 55, Hathcock caught the glimmer of light coming from the brush in the distance. He suspected it was sun light bouncing of the lens of the counter sniper's scope.

He took aim and killed the sniper, upon examination of the kill scene, Hathcock had shot the sniper right through the scope. the shot was estimated to be at 500 yards +/-.
Hathcock returned to base with the counter sniper's rifle as a war trophy. He stashed it in the armory. Sometime later, a dirty rat stole it, for who knows what purpose. If they had planned on selling it or displaying it, that never happened.....The counter sniper's rifle was probably a Mosin-Nagant, but it could also have been a captured K-98 Mauser or Japanese Arisaka…..

While in Vietnam Hathcock used a Winchester model 70 in .30-'06. His rifle could be one of the original 373 rifles purchased during WWII or one of the new 200 rifles purchased between 1954 & 1957. So what happened to his Winchester rifle and the NVA sniper rifle???

#3. Billy Dixon's Borrowed Rifle from the Second Battle of Adobe Walls.

Billy Dixon was a civilian scout and hunter that made a legendary shot at the Second Battle of Adobe Walls.

Adobe Walls was an encampment and trading post in the northern tip of Texas. He along with some other hunters established a fort there and on June 27th, 1874 the fort was attacked by 700-1200 Native Americans. The 29 civilians (included Dixon) in the Fort did their best to hold them off for the first two days. On the third day a group of Native Americans (presumably tribal leaders) were on a ridge about a mile away, perhaps planning their next attack. Billy borrowed a .50-90 Sharps from another hunter and began zeroing in on the men, on the third shot, he killed one of them, knocking him off his horse. The other warriors fled, ending the battle.


Billy Dixon is one of only eight U.S. civilians to ever be awarded the Medal of Honor. 
I wonder who owned the Sharps rifle and is it still around in someone's collection? 

#4. Elfego Baca's Colt Single Action Army Revolvers from the Frisco Shootout

A gunfight with more combatants and more rounds fired has never garnered the attention of the one at the OK Corral, but as they say the truth is often stranger than fiction.
19 year old Deputy Sheriff Elfeco Baca arrested a drunken cowboy for shooting his gun inside a saloon. He stepped in because the local Sheriff was too big of a pussy to do his job.

The Cowboys were not happy about someone committing acts of justice in their county and wanted revenge. During the melee Baca took refuge in a house and the ensuing 33 hours saw some 4000 rounds (give or take) fired. The door to the house had 367 bullet holes and the handle of a broom inside the house had 8 bullet strikes.

Elfego left the house unharmed while at least two of the cowboys lay dead (stories differ on the number that were killed vs wounded).
The Cowboys pressed to have Elfego tried for murder, not once, but twice and both times he was exonerated.
For his prowess and "9-lives" the Mexican's dubbed him "El Gato" (the cat).

Elfego is said to have had two Colt Single Action Army revolvers with him in that shootout, I wonder what ever became of them?

#5. Davy Crockett's rifle from the Alamo

David "Davy" Crockett was 49 years old when he took up the cause of Texian Independence. There is no question that he took one of his rifles with him. His prowess with a rifle was so legendary that he had been given the nickname "King of the Wild Frontier".

One of Crockett's rifles, this one named "Pretty Betsy"

Rumor has it that on March 6th, 1836 when the Mexicans breached the walls of the Alamo, he fired off his last round and then used 'ol Betsy (he named all of his rifles "Betsy") and swung it like a club, crushing at least a few Mexican cabezas. Testimony from a witness says that Crockett's body was surrounded by "no less than sixteen Mexican corpses".

Betsy's stock was rumored to have been broken in the mele.
The whereabouts of the rifle now are unknown. It is possible a Mexican soldier took it with him and rebuilt/repurposed the rifle?.....hell who knows, it could have been sold as a souvenir to a visiting American who didn't really believe the story about it being from the Alamo, but figured it looked cool.....

#6. Sergeant Alvin York's M1911 pistol & M1903 Rifle

During The Great War (WWI) U.S. Army Sergeant Alvin Cullum York captured 132 German prisoners with his empty (or almost empty) M1911 pistol. It was empty because he used it along with his M1903 rifle to kill 25 or more of the Krauts, the rest gave up out of shear terror. The story goes that the Germans could not believe that the man who had ended their fight was an American,  I guess those Jerrys had never heard of the Spanish-American War.....

For his heroism he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. While returning home on a troop ship, his M1911 pistol, serial number 25468, was absconded with, presumably by another service member. 
His rifle was probably turned into the armory, then leased to another country after the war or sold into surplus. 
The serial number of the rifle is unknown, in fact it is often debated which rifle he used in the famous battle as he mentioned that he hated the peep site on the M1917 and preferred the M1903. We know his unit was issued the M1917, but legend has it he swapped to the M1903 after arriving in Europe.

Let's hope and pray that these guns were not melted down by some leftist gun trade-in program.

a typical WWI vintage M1911 pistol

#7. General George Custer's Little Big Horn Rifle & Pistols

General George Armstrong Custer, who initially gained fame during the Civil War, is most famous for his foolish attack on a band of Native American Tribes who were gathering along the banks of the Little Big Horn River in Montana.
The battle is said to be one of the most written about in history and as such researchers are pretty sure that Custer did not go into battle with the typical Army issue of the day (the 1873 Springfield Trapdoor), but instead was armed with his customized Remington Rolling Block in .50-70.

The battle began on June 26, 1876, when it was over General Custer along with pretty much his entire 7th Calvary was KIA. The mystery of what happened to his rifle and Webley Fosbury revolvers has yet to be solved. The guns were no doubt captured by the Native American warriors, but are they still around?

Larry Potterfield went to great pains to duplicate Custer's Rolling Block, see the video below 

#8. Wyatt Earp's Revolver from the Gunfight at the OK Corral

Another gun battle that has been written about and portrayed in more movies than one can count was the shootout or gunfight at the OK Corral. The location was Tombstone, Arizona Territory, the date was October 26th, 1881. The shootout was between the Clantons and their gang of "Cowboys" and the Earps (along with Doc Holiday) who were (for the most part) Lawmen.

Most portrayals show Wyatt using a Colt Single Action Army, often a long barreled one known as a "Buntline Special". This is pure fiction. See my post on this myth here.

There was even an enterprising person who convinced some people that he had the revolver used in the famous gun battle and sold it at auction for $225,000, although his documentation did prove that it was once owned by Earp.

The consensus is that Wyatt actually used a Smith & Wesson model 3 with an 8" barrel. This gun was a gift from John Clum the then mayor of Tombstone, so the question remains, what ever happened to the S&W?

#9. Adolf Hitler's Suicide Pistol

In the final hours of World War II in Europe, the Red Army was closing in on Berlin and Hitler knew his time was short. The date was April 30th, 1945, Hitler had his dog poisoned with one of the cyanide capsules and he had his new bride Eva Braun bite into one. History states that Hitler didn't trust the cyanide capsules and after Eva took her medicine, decided to self administer a dose of lead poisoning via his Walther PP in 7.65 mm.
The rest of the story is a bit murky, word has it that the pistol was picked up by Artur Axman, head of the Hitler Youth, who shortly thereafter dressed in civilian garb and slipped out of the bunker with the pistol and promptly fled Berlin.
Contrary to popular belief Hitler's personal side arm was not engraved and gold plated, it was a standard police issue. I wonder where the gun ended up?

#10. Roza Shanina's 91/30 Mosin-Nagant Sniper Rifle

Roza Shanina was a young college student in the early days of WWII. When the Nazis decided to invade the Motherland, she was pressed into sniper duty. As a civilian she protected the schools with a rifle from the rooftops.

Roza in 1944 at the age of 19

When her brothers were killed in battle by the Germans, she decided to enlist. After graduating sniper school with honors she saw her first combat duty on April 2nd, 1944.
She was a skilled shooter and piled up a confirmed body count of 59. 
In 1944 a Canadian newspaper described her as "the unseen terror of East Prussia". While she wasn't the most successful female sniper from Russia, she is perhaps the most famous (and most beautiful), in part because her diary was published after she perished.

She died on January 20, 1945 from wounds caused by a German artillery round as she attempted to shield an officer from the blast. She was just 20 years old. No one knows what happened to her 91/30 Mosin-Nagant PU Sniper rifle.....It is presumed that it was recovered and re-issued to another soldier as at that point in the war the Russians still had more soldiers then rifles.

the Soviet 91/30 Mosin-Nagant PU sniper rifle


Gary Powers Hi Standard HD Military Silenced pistol.

United States Air Force pilot Francis Gary Powers was flying a U2 spy plane on a special reconnaissance flight over the former Soviet Union on May 1st 1960, when he was shot down.

With him was a special issue Hi Standard pistol. This pistol was one of 2600 or so supplied to the OSS and other agencies. It was an HD Military model that had been modified by Bell Labs with a silencer. 

The pistol, serial number 120046, was confiscated by the Soviets and later put on display at the museum in the former KGB run Lubyanka Prison in Moscow's Red Square. This is the only gun on this post in which we know the whereabouts, but are not likely to get our hands on again.


American Rifleman
Rock Island Auction
Loadout Room
The Vintage News

Sunday, August 25, 2019

A Few Quick Repairs

Repair #1: a new to me Ruger P90 pistol had an odd burr on the top of the magazine well where it transitions to the feed ramp

I removed the slide and inserted the magazine to make sure this was really a problem, you can see the burr is right at the top of the magazine. The case rim might never touch this, but it won't take long to fix.

a little work with a stone and some oil

then polish with the Dremel, I also polished the barrel feed ramp while I was at it

No more burr

Repair #2: My Daughter's boyfriend had purchased this late production model 94 Trapper (saddle ring carbine) and it came with the butt plate that looked like it was installed on a Friday at 4:59pm...

After looking at other model 94s and several Winchester butt plates we came to the conclusion that we were better off re-installing this butt plate and fitting the wood to it.

First step is to plug the old holes, which were stripped out anyway due to the use of the wrong screws by a previous owner

After the glue cures we cut the dowels and sand them flush

Then do our best to get the butt plate as close to centered as possible

We used the heel as the top point and decided to remove wood from the toe, it is easier to blend than the comb 

After several coats of Tru-oil, it is finished

I even found some correct slotted oval head screws....

Before and after picture

Repair #3: I had made a repair earlier to this cool old canvas gun case. The plastic handle had gotten brittle and broke. I used a steel roll pin and some JB weld to make the repair.

Well it broke up higher, the plastic is too far gone to save

So I ordered up some replacements on ebay

The new ones were a little on the short side, but they were only a couple of bucks each, so I thought I would take the gamble.

I drilled out the rivets 

Then removed the steel rings from the gun case and opened them up a little

The first one installed, but it is a little tight

So I turned the rings side ways, I lost a little finger room, but it will only be tight if I am wearing gloves.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Custom Themed Magazines

We have been profiling themed guns for a while now, but I have yet to show you some of the custom themed magazines that people are creating.

So here is a sample of some I found online....if you have some of your own you would like me to include, email me at: tincanbandit at comcast dot net

Here are a couple of AR contract mags that I painted up with the Punisher logo. I painted the mags in an FDE color, then applied some mylar decals, then painted the satin black. See the project here

The Banana theme is really popular

At one time Magpul was offering shirts and stickers with a mock banana logo

Here are a bunch from the guys at Shark Coast Tactical, see their website here

Special Thanks to:
Cerakote Coatings
Shark Coast Tactical
My Southern Tactical
The pictures above were found freely on the world wide web and are used under the guidelines of Fair Use, per Title 17 of the U.S. Code. Where possible the source has been credited. If you own the copyright to any of these images and wish them to be credited or removed, please contact me immediately.