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Thread: handguns in history

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    Senior Member randyt's Avatar
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    Default handguns in history

    I've been reading books lately about woodsrunners and such. It seems to me that Americans are fond of their handguns. The Aussies, Canadians and Brits probably come in second or maybe use to. It seems like other cultures handguns were of limited use. For example in the book Dersu the trapper, a true account of a 1900 survey of the Russian taiga. Everyone carried a rifle, no mention of a handgun. African hunters mention very little use of a handgun, a howdah pistol are mentioned. The middle east? not sure historically where they fit.

    not really talking militarily but private citizens.

    I'm thinking we are such a young country, a well off country, folks could afford a handgun.

    any thoughts?
    so the definition of a criminal is someone who breaks the law and you want me to believe that somehow more laws make less criminals?


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    Senior Member Manwithnoname's Avatar
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    I read a book a couple three yrs ago. I can't remember the title or the author, (was one of those journal style autobiographies). He lived through the fur trade days for the big fur companies. At least in his writing, the men carried as many pistols as they could get their hands on in the event of Indian attack.

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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    You are covering a lot of history, a lot of geography and a lot of economy there Randy.

    Development of the "pistol" came very soon after the development of man carried firearms. That was due to the desire of rich people for a smaller defensive firearm. Pistols became popular all over the world and very rapidly. Most of the examples that have survived are very ornate and carefully made, but that is normal. Folks do not spend much time trying to save old beater guns for the museum.

    I have seen pistols from the mid-east, from the orient, from all parts of Europe and north and south America and spanning all eras of time.

    Since it cost as much to make a pistol as a long gun, sometimes more, people that could afford only one gun usually bought a long gun.

    There were also legal problems with commoners owning pistols since much of the world has always been under heavy weapons control, so the plain pistols of the common folk are scarce.

    In the U.S. pistols were more common. They were the second shot emergency gun and the protection of the traveling people.

    They were big! And being single shot weapons it required several to provide any firepower, so they were usually made in pairs or "braces". They were also normally carried on horseback, by the horse, not by the person.

    That was the norm all the way up until the development of the 36 Colt Navy belt gun. The Colt Walker and the Colt Dragoon models were all built to be carried by the horse in saddle mounted holsters, just like the single shot pistols of the past. The Colt Walkers and Dragoons were issued in pairs.

    The .36 Navy Colt changed everything and is of greater historical merit than most people realize. It gave the average person a six shot pistol they could carry on their belt and that the average person could afford as a mass produced item.

    It was so important that when the wagon trains of the 1850s assembled to travel west, among the required items that were considered a NECESSITY was a Colt Navy revolver for every adult male.

    Due to the high firepower of the wagons in defensive lager there were more people killed by Indian attack on television than were killed in real life. Historically there were fewer than 200 people killed by Indian attack during the entire western migration.

    In fact, there were more people killed by accidental discharge of their firearms than by Indian attack. Every journal I have read about the western migrations includes remarks about someone being shot or killed by their own firearm due to mishandling of weapons.

    It might be noted that while the U.S. was being settled from east to west Africa was being settled from south to north. We do not study that history much here in the U.S. It parallels our own experiences to a great extent.

    Colt, Adams and other revolvers were popular. Colt even had a factory in London to provide for their export market. The surplus dealers after the American Civil War shipped a fortune in surplus guns to Africa. Spencers were very popular as were surplus Sharps carbines. No way to tell how many Colt 1860 and Colt Navy revolvers were shipped to Africa by Bannerman and others.

    It should be remembered that there were settlers in Africa as well as professional hunters and military men. They farmed just like the Americans farmed the frontier areas and they needed guns for protection from man and beast, especially beast! But they were not seriously "rich", and the good quality of the American surplus rifle or pistol appealed to them.

    Late in the 1800s all the European nations were shipping pistols to their colonists in Africa. They were very common and very popular, but only among the colonists, the native pistol or firearm ownership was severely controlled.
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    Senior Member randyt's Avatar
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    thanks for the replies. There are probably many shades of gray when it comes to all this. I've been noticing as I've been reading different accounts that it seems like it's different in other areas compared to the good old USA. Even the rat river trapper didn't carry a handgun. He did carry a cut down 22 rifle though. I doubt a Finnish woodsman carried a handgun during the late 1800s and early 1900s. None of this really matters but I find it all interesting.
    so the definition of a criminal is someone who breaks the law and you want me to believe that somehow more laws make less criminals?

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Growing up.....just in my family and circle of friends....the only hand guy was a .32 Colt semi auto.....MF kept it in the safe at the ranger station where he worked.
    Brought it home when he retired...

    Seems handguns were not real popular? ....of course no one locked their house back then.
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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    The only handgun in my extended family was a broomhandle mauser dad brought home from the war.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    The only handgun in my extended family was a broomhandle mauser dad brought home from the war.
    Have you made that into a Han Solo blaster?
    "The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play." Jim Kirk

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnLeePettimore View Post
    Have you made that into a Han Solo blaster?
    Yeah, You would have thought the new/old blasters wouldn't look like past handguns would ya?

    Fighters with wings?....No air in space....and no sounds...?????
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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    There were probably more pistols around than you guys realize.

    Lots of families had a handgun that never saw daylight and lived in Dad's sock drawer or grandmas' top drawer of the dresser. No one ever talked about it and it just stayed there out of sight for 50 years.

    I know that both of my grandfathers had .38 revolvers that stayed in their bedroom and never came out. They had owned the all their lives but I had never seen either of them carry or shoot either gun.

    Many WW2 vets had a captured German pistol like Rick was speaking of. Almost half the German army was issued a pistol of some sort. There are still thousands of them in "foot lockers" in attics all over the world. Every kid I grew up with that had a Dad in the war had one. They were the ultimate war trophy and many GIs in combat were in a constant search for that prize of prizes, a Luger!
    Come to the dark side, we have pudding.

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    Senior Member randyt's Avatar
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    I owned at least 5 handguns before the age of 15. A couple of them was from my granddad, I think he seen his time slipping away because he traded them to me without any real effort on my part. It's a awesome feeling for a kid to have a S&W triple lock in 45 auto rim. It was my woodsrunning gun at the time. Still have it.
    so the definition of a criminal is someone who breaks the law and you want me to believe that somehow more laws make less criminals?

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Dad said every town they came to they cleaned out all the guns they found and stacked them in a pile. Any that anybody wanted they could take. He said there were some beautiful, ornate shotguns scarfed up out of those piles.

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