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Guns of the Old West

Guns of the Old West Spring 2017

Guns of the Old West is for the tens of thousands of Americans involved in our fastest growing shooting sport, Cowboy Action Shooting, the Old West is as alive today as it ever was, and especially so in any number of competition shooting matches East and West,

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United States
Athlon Media Group
4 Issues

in this issue

4 min
timeless classics

When the calendar page turned over to January 1900, the Old West didn’t disappear. In fact, it was very much alive and almost unchanged along the Mexican border towns with Texas, in the Oklahoma oil fields, throughout Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado, just for a beginning. Thus, the new century was met head on by the old, and cowboys, lawman and outlaws were mostly indifferent to the new year or the years ahead well into the 1920s. One of the things that changed by the early 1900s, however, was guns—not to the exception of traditional arms like the Colt Peacemaker and Winchester lever action, but rather the acceptance of new, more innovative guns like the Colt Models 1903 and 1908 Pocket Hammerless semiautos, and the Model 1911. Of course,…

5 min
unusual old west steel

Semi-automatic handguns were unusual, but not unknown, in the latter days of the Old West. Colt was marketing the predecessors of the classic Model 1911, and foreign semiauto handguns were making their way westward. If Tom Horn’s jail guard had been carrying a revolver rather than a state-of-the-art semi-auto, Horn might have been successful in his attempted jail break and escape. However, he was run down and captured as he attempted to fire his jail guard’s semi-auto pistol— he didn’t know about safety catches and was unable to fire the fully loaded, “on safe” pistol. One of the earliest successful European autopistols was the Mauser C96, or “Broomhandle.” It earned this nickname because of its unusual pistol grip which was round and tapered toward the top with horizontal grooves for a…

5 min
scrapers, conchos & cleaning strips

Raised by a firearms-enthusiastic father, I acquired my first magnum handgun at the age of 14. To feed my relatively new to the market Ruger .357 Magnum Blackhawk (known today as the Flattop model), I became the “chief bullet caster” for my dad, his shooting buddy and myself. Although we all owned .357 Magnum handguns, I don’t think we possessed a single .357 Magnum cartridge case between us, as we preferred to fuel our guns with reloads assembled with much more prevalent and inexpensive .38 Special cases. Some 50-plus years later, I’ve owned a number of .357 Magnum firearms to date, but only a few have been subjected to much of a diet of .357 Magnum ammunition. Although I started competing in Cowboy Action Shooting (CAS) matches in the early 1990s…

9 min
the legend lives on

Back in the days of black-and-white television, our heroes were larger than life, despite being confined to the small screen. In our house, our TV was a Packard Bell in a mahogany cabinet. It was a handsomelooking time machine that could, on a given night, travel back to Dodge City and follow the exploits of a man who represented law and order in a lawless town—Bat Masterson. The real William Barclay “Bat” Masterson was a gentleman honed from frontier life as a roughneck, buckskinclad buffalo hunter, skinner and cavalry scout—a life Masterson lived long before his days as sheriff in the Queen of Cowtowns. The Bat Masterson of TV fame was a song-and-dance man named Gene Barry who had the look, demeanor and style that the real-life Bat Masterson had publicized…

8 min
keep it clean

People come up to me all the time to talk about cap-and-ball revolvers. Surprisingly, despite their obvious interest, a lot of them say they don’t own any. When I ask them why not, the main reason they give me is anxiety over disassembling and cleaning them. For many smokeless-powder shooters, cleaning only involves removing the cylinder, swabbing the chambers and bore, and squirting a little oil on the base pin. In fact, there are a few people I know, who, when the subject of gun cleaning comes up, give me a puzzled look that says, “Cleaning?” Even though you can’t be that cavalier about cleaning a blackpowder gun, it isn’t as onerous a task as some people would have you believe. A lot of people think that you have to clean a…

10 min
the life & times buffalo bill

One hundred years ago, the first great theater of the American West ended. It did not end because the world was changing, though it was. It ended because the man who had created it died. William F. Cody, more commonly known as Buffalo Bill, invented the American West we all treasure today with his traveling Wild West shows from 1883 to 1917. Much of what Cody portrayed on the stage, and later in open arenas around the world, was a theatrical version of his real life on the frontier. A true cowboy in the tradition of the American West, he was forced to grow up fast. Born in 1846, by age 11 Bill Cody was herding cattle and driving wagons across the Great Plains. In 1860, after a brief try at…