Rare Indian Katarr dagger with dual flintlock pistols, early 19th century.
The Legend of Stagecoach Mary,
Also known as Mary Fields, Stagecoach Mary was one of the toughest ladies of the Old West. Born as a slave on a Tennessee plantation in 1832, she gained her freedom after the Civil War and the resulting abolition of slavery. After the Civil War Mary made her way west where she eventually settled in Cascade County, Montana.
In Montana Mary would gain a reputation as one of the toughest characters in the territory. Unlike most women of the Victorian Era, Mary had a penchant for whiskey, cheap cigars, and brawling. It was not uncommon for men to harass her because of her race or her gender. Those who earned her disfavor did so at their own risk, as the six foot tall two hundred pound woman served up a mean knuckle sandwich. According to her obituary in Great Falls Examiner “she broke more noses than any other woman in Central Montana”.
In Montana Mary made a living doing heavy labor for a Roman Catholic convent. She did work such as carpentry, chopping wood, and stone work. However it was her job of transporting supplies to the convent by wagon that would earn her the name “Stagecoach Mary”. The job was certainly dangerous, as she braved fierce weather, bandits, robbers, and wild animals. In one instance her wagon was attacked by wolves, causing the horses to panic and overturn the wagon. Throughout the night Stagecoach Mary fought off several wolf attacks with a rifle, a ten gauge shotgun, and a pair of revolvers.
Mary’s job with the convent ended when another hired hand complained it was not fair that she made more money than him to the townspeople and the local bishop. When the bishop dismissed his claims, he went to a local saloon, saying that it was not fair that he should have to work with a black woman (he said something much more obscene). In response, Mary shot him in the bum. The bishop fired Mary, and she was out of a job.
After a failed attempt at running a restaurant, Stagecoach Mary was hired to run freight for the US Postal Service. Today she holds the distinction of being the first African American postal employee. Despite delivering parcels to some of the most remote and rugged areas of Montana, Mary gained a reputation for always delivering on time regardless of the weather or terrain.
At the age of seventy, Stagecoach Mary retired from the parcel business and opened a laundry. In one incident when a customer refused to pay, the 72 year old woman knocked out one of his teeth. For the remainder of her life Mary settled down to peace and quiet, drinking whiskey and smoking cheap cigars. She passed away in 1914 at the age of 82.
Hickok45 demonstrates why you load 5 rounds in a six shot single action revolver.
The Classic Ruger Blackhawk,
First produced in 1955, the Ruger Blackhawk was a result of the popularity of cowboy revolvers in the 1950’s. This arose as a result of popular westerns that dominated both film and television. In an era when John Wayne was one of the most popular actors on the big screen, Americans were certainly western crazy and shooters in particular demanded western style guns. Unfortunately the single action revolver market was drying up as Colt had discontinued production of its single action revolvers before World War II. At that time most manufacturers were producing double action revolvers.
In 1955 the recently founded Sturm Ruger Company introduced the Ruger Blackhawk, a six shot single action revolver that was a modernized take on the old Colt Single Action Army “Peacemaker” design. To update the Colt SAA design, a number of modifications were made. Perhaps the most important was the introduction of a transfer bar mechanism. The older Colt SAA had a simple firing pin attached to the hammer which struck the primer and discharged the round. The problem was that if a person carried a Colt SAA with the hammer resting on a loaded chamber, a small bump or nudge could easily cause the revolver to accidentally discharge. Many a lawman, villain, and cowbow learned to carry their single action revolvers loaded with only 5 rounds, with the hammer resting on the empty chamber. Those who didn’t sometimes shot themselves on the foot.
Ruger upgraded the Colt SAA by adding a transfer bar to its firing mechanism. A transfer bar is simple a bar located in between the hammer and firing pin.
Rather than directly striking the firing pin, the hammer hits the transfer bar, which then transfers the energy of the hammer to the firing pin. The transfer bar will only be in position when the hammer is cocked, if uncocked it rests tucked away below the firing pin. The revolver can only be fired with the hammer striking the transfer bar. Thus when uncocked it will not fire, prevent bumps and jolts from discharging it.
The addition of a transfer bar made the Ruger Blackhawk much safer than the older Colt SAA. However there were some other important modifications as well. One important modification was the addition of adjustable front and rear sites, whereas the Colt SAA only had a simple fixed front sight. The flat leaf springs of the Colt SAA were replaced with more durable coils springs. Rather than spinning the cylinder when the hammer was at half cock like on the Colt SAA, the cylinder on the Blackhawk only spins when the loading gate is opened.
Perhaps the most important feature of the Ruger Blackhawk is its caliber. Rather than chambering it for the old cowboy cartridges like .44-40 and .45 colt, the Blackhawk was originally chambered for the popular .357 magnum, which meant that it could also chamber the popular .38 special. In 1956 Ruger introduced the “Superblackhawk” chambered for .44 magnum. The choice of caliber was what made the Blackhawk one of the most popular single action revolvers of the 20th century, as it used ammo that was popular for the times and plentiful. Later the Blackhawk would be produced in .30 carbine, .32 H&R Magnum/.32-20 Winchester convertible, .327 Federal magnum, 9mm luger/.357 magnum convertible, 10mm auto/.38-40 Winchester convertible, .41 magnum, .44 special, .45 colt, and .45 acp/.45 colt convertible.
Iranian M49 Bolt Action carbine gifted to Commander Eric Pollard from the Shah of Iran.
In the 1950’s Commander Eric Pollard worked with the CIA and was involved in the overthrow of the democratically elected Iranian government for an autocratic in 1953. This was done to prevent Iran from nationalizing its petroleum resources.
This rifle was produced by the Iranian State Factory and presented to a Commander Pollard as a gift for his efforts in the coup.
Winchester Model 1866 Third Model “Musket” lever action rifle.
Sold at auction: $3,883.75
Japanese single shot Murata bolt action shotgun, set in an older Japanese matchlock stock. Late 19th century.
Germany’s Last Ditch Effort —- The Volksgewehr,
In 1945, the last year of World War II, German ordinance began production of these pieces of crap. With the Russians approaching from the east and the Yanks and Brits closing in from the west, the Germans began mass production of the Volksgewehr (people’s rifle) in a desperate attempt to defend the fatherland. The Volksgewehr was a simple bolt action rifle manufactered to be extremely cheap and easy to produce. Unlike the venerable K98k Mauser, this rifle was stripped down to its most basic functional parts. It had cheap, crude sights that could not be adjusted, notice how the front sight is roughly soldered to the muzzle. The barrel was quickly and crudely machined, notice the visible tool marks. The stock was left unfinished and often lacked butt plates. It also lacked an internal magazine, being single shot only. Due to Allied bombing many of the rifles were produced by cottage industry—In small shops, garages, even people’s homes and back yards. The purpose of this gun was to arm the newly formed Volksturm (People’s Militia), recruited mostly from old men and children. It was hoped that by mass producing these cheap rifles the Nazi’s could arm and mobilize the entire populace of Germany, and drive back the Allies through sheer numbers.
Some models did have a box magazine, called the VG-1, but lacked a knob on the bolt. Very few were produced and they are extremely rare. (Bottom Picture)
Also rare, VK-98 Models chambered in 7.92 Kurz, the shortened cartridge used for the Sturmgewehr 44 assualt rifle.
Today there are few surviving examples of the Volksgewehr. Allied soldiers did not take them as war trophies and most were used for scrap metal.
Chambered in 7.92 Kurz: $4,000-$7,000.
VG-1 Value: $6,000-$12,000
Set of ivory veneered Dutch wheel-lock pistols, 17th century.
Estimated Value: $10,000 - $20,000
Masterfully carved and engraved German Schuetzen target rifle, late 19th century.
Finely decorated flintlock musket produced by Tretyakov of the Tula Arsenal in Russia. Late 18th century.