You do know the Colt R80 Monitor, yes?

Last week saw the 85th anniversary of the last time Bonnie and Clyde went for a quiet country drive, and I was able, with the help of my friends at the Springfield Armory National Historic Site, to track down an example of the elusive, yet famous, Colt Monitor.

Essentially a commercial variant of the World War I-era M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle made with a few tweaks by Colt, the R80 Monitor Automatic Machine Rifle was pitched for use by police, security and prison guards. Introduced in 1931, Colt only made something like 150 of the guns, with most of those going to the FBI and Treasury Department, who kept them in federal armories through the 1950s.

One was used by legendary Texas Ranger Frank Hamer’s team when they met with Bonnie and Clyde on a dirt road in Louisiana in 1934.

More in my column at

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