Recently I’ve been fooling about with some rarely-encountered but nonetheless very cool guns:
Both are aristocratic hand cannons from a different era. We call it the 1970s and 80s.
With that in mind, I’ll be in Las Vegas for SHOT Show all week, so stay tuned for updates on cool guy stuff.
Invented about the same time as The Jetsons were a hit TV show, nuclear weapons researcher Bob Mainhardt and arms designer Art Biehl came together to form MB Associates (after their initials) to explore rocket projects. In addition to a reasonably popular handheld flare projector, they also looked to produce a series or rocket-firing weapons with an eye towards military contracts.
I give you, the Gyrojet Rocket Pistol, which is a real thing that actually saw some limited use in Vietnam.
More in my column at Guns.com
How about a rare Japanese Type 2 Hamada pistol, up for grabs at RIAC?
Designed by Bunji Hamada’s Japanese Firearms Manufacturing Company as a low-cost substitute for the Imperial Japanese military’s Type 94 pistol, the Hamada ended up as one of Tokoyo’s simplified “last-ditch” weapons fielded in the final days of WWII. After a two-year R&D period, just 2,200~ early Hamadas were cranked out in 1944 until production shifted to the even simpler Type 2.
Essentially a bare-bones copy of the Browning Model 1910 with a minimum of machining and internal parts fitment, these blowback action pistols were made in Hamada’s Notobe factory with tooling supplied by the Nagoya Arsenal and then shipped unfinished to Nagoya’s Toriimatsu factory for final inspection, finishing, and acceptance. It should be noted that the FN 1910/22 was popular with Japanese officers, with no less than 3,000 commercial Brownings shipped to the country prior to 1940.
Some 500 Type 2 Hamadas were contracted although it is not thought all of those were completed.
It is believed just 10 of these six-shot 8mm Nambu-chambered pistols are floating around today.
Back in 1982, New Orleans area collector Robert Melancon got a tip from a fellow enthusiast that an esteemed local antique shop had a beautiful and historic firearm up for grabs. The early 19th Century Kentucky long rifle, engraved with information about the former owner, became his after trading the shop $18,000 worth of other antique guns and Melancon and his wife Linda spent decades on the trail of discovering the rifle’s backstory.
Then, last November, the FBI came calling and raided the couple’s home, recovering the gun for the rightful owner and returning it in a very public ceremony last week. It turns out that the gun, the only one in existence with a provenance that ties it to the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, was stolen and from an area museum, maybe as far back as the 1960s, and is worth upwards today of $650,000.
The rub? The museum that it was donated to in 1884 by the original owner’s grandson only found that it was missing and where it was from a historical article on the piece and Melancon, who has been extremely open about the piece for decades.
He is reportedly “heartbroken,” but glad to see it go back to the museum.
Rock Island Auction has over 500 Colts up for their September Auction including 40 Pythons (!) and a bunch of really nice rares such as a Third Model Hartford London Dragoon, “D Company” Walker Model 1847, and a set of Model 1851 Navy “Squarebacks.”
This is my favorite, though:
Stamped with “U.S.” marks and a silver-gray patina, this Single Action Army in .45LC includes a rare “Ropes” type flap holster of the type used during the Spanish-American War. If a gun could talk…
In the darkest days of WWII, 24-year-old Pvt. Evelyn Ernest Owen, with 2/17 Battalion of the Australian Army, from Wollongong, New South Wales, submitted a homemade gun he made to the Army for testing.
His handy burp gun used a gramophone spring, was chambered in .22 rimfire, and was rejected.
But he kept working on the design, and, in full production by 1943, proved one of the most popular of WWII submachine guns– at least in Commonwealth service in the Pacific.
More in my column at Guns.com.