One of my interests is firearms. I learned to shoot from my Dad, starting at a very young age. Knowing how to use guns was a pretty good skill set to have while I was on active duty and it served me and my mates very well. While, as a boy, I hunted small game in the fields and woods of Tennessee, by the time I mustered out, the Navy had pretty-much beat the desire to hunt out of me. I do, however, still kill-the-hell out of paper targets, and enjoy a modicum of proficiency at same.
Because I know a little about and appreciate the inherent beauty of firearms, a few years back, I began to collect examples that appealed to me. My strategy was to buy American made guns in new or as new condition. The guns I pursued are no longer produced, and would, in almost every case be Colts, Smith and Wesson, or Ruger. A few long guns caught my eye, but most in my collection are pistols or revolvers.
I have a few guns with, what collectors call “character.” In the parlance of gun collectors, character is an adjective or attribute meaning the gun’s appearance is less-than pristine. It doesn’t mean the weapon won’t shoot. To the contrary, many guns with character have been used quite a lot, but they have been cared for and are some of the smoothest handling, sweetest shooting guns one may ever encounter.
While these guns with character may have seen days when they were better looking, the fact they have seen much use, some in service over a period of a century or more, they certainly must have some history, and, could they talk, may have a few stories to tell. I have some guns I wish I could talk to (well, sometimes, truth be told, I do talk to ‘em…) and ask how they came to have that scratch, or what’s that nick in the wooden grip all about? When I buy old guns, there’s always some gab about the gun for sale that goes on between the seller and me before we “hunker-down” and get to talking money. There’s a saying about buying old guns, “You’re buying the gun, not the story.”
Now a buyer needs to keep that in mind, but while the story that goes with the gun may or may not be exactly factual, sometimes there’s a fantasy-cum-romantic “what-if?” notion.
What if that Type 38 Arisaka rifle spent some time in the tunnels of Mount Suribachi?
What if that Colt 1911 .45 acp went over-the-top of a trench in 1914 France?
Could it be that the .32 acp model of 1903 pistol was carried by Bonnie Parker?
If you’re a student of history, it gets real interesting to wonder how these testaments might dovetail into the past, and the possibilities astound! Could that S&W model 13, 3” barrel .357 have been originally issued by the FBI? …and that Inland .30 carbine with “44” on the barrel, reckon it witnessed the snow-bound hell of the Battle of the Bulge? …what about the old, but flawless 4” Smith and Wesson .44 magnum? Considering the inherent blast and recoil (don’t even bring-up the cost of ammunition) these are very unpleasant to shoot, so did some drugstore cowboy, buy this expensive macho statement, shoot it once, realize “damn, what have I done?” …then put it into the sock drawer for the next 30 years?
Come-on, boys, tell us a story!
As I approach my dodder-age, I no longer see gun collecting as a long-term interest. So it’s coming round to the time where, I suppose, I’ll need to start to auction my guns. From my research, I should reap about 300% in profit over my monetary investment. But, as I study on it, I’ll also lose something intangible in the process.
I think all who collect things that really interest them, come to realize that ownership is not a forever thing. We learn we are just a custodian for the moments we get to hold our treasures. Being, usually, from a bygone time, these fine things will eventually need to go to the next era’s care-taker. It’s good to know there are folks who will treasure these, but, to me, it’s a bitter-sweet parting.
It was the fall of 1967. I was about to be 14 and I’m sitting astride my first motorcycle, a candy-apple red Yamaha Twin Jet 100. This oil injected, twin cylinder, blue smoke belching bike boasted a 10 horsepower motor, instant torque delivery, and the da-ding-ding-ding characteristic of its two stroke goodness. This sexy beauty was the second best thing to happen to me, so far, in my youth.Read More
I began matriculating at Brooks Institute of Photography in the late spring of 1978. It being a private school, students had to actually buy everything needed to meet course requirements.
Two of my first major purchases were a 4x5 view camera and a sturdy tripod. So I ponied-up for a used Omega View (with a very fine 210 mm Schneider Kreuznach lens) and a brandy-new Gitzo tripod and pan/tilt cine head.Read More