I have been interested in guns, particularly handguns, since I was a little kid. Evidently, this became known in my fathers extended family (with 8 bothers and sisters and the families they married into). After an older relative died and a cheap handgun was found in a dresser drawer, it made its way to my father (if there were any more expensive guns found, they were kept or sold; I never saw them). When I was old enough, he gave them to me one or two at a time, with suitable restrictions attached. I was surprised how many of them there were. All in all, I was given approximately 10 to 12 of them during my mid-teenage to mid-20’s years.
The guns were what were called “Saturday Night Specials” in those days. The name was intended to be derogatory and for good reason. They were not made to last and they are not the kind of gun that is eagerly sought out or preserved by collectors. Because of this, they are rarely seen nowadays. My guess is that most of them were probably manufactured between the turn of the last century (1900) through the depression years of the 1930’s, although at least one of them was from the mid-1880’s. I saw similar guns in the reprint of an old Sears catalog from the early part of that era for sale at $1.00 to $2.50 each. I made it a point to try all of them and got a pretty good education on cheap handguns.
I have always had a healthy respect for the M-1 Garand. I just never saw the need to own one. Many years ago, one of my sons convinced me otherwise, so we bought one. Now I know firsthand why they can be so addictive. This article is not a history or technical analysis of the finest battle rifle of WWII (if anyone disagrees with that, take it up with General Patton). There are many other articles and books out there that do that better than I could. It is about the effect that gun had on us – and why it was just the first of several.
My younger son was more interested in firearms than his older brother and attended many gunshows with me through the years. From early on, he wanted a collection of WWII weapons. We bought a number of handguns and a few bolt action rifles from the era before he decided that we had to have a Garand. He was right, of course. However, Garands have never been cheap. I looked around the gunsafe and decided that I could trade a Thompson Contender with two barrels and a 4x-Leupold pistol scope. I was no longer interested in it and hadn’t shot it in years. We took it to the next gunshow.
I hadn’t originally planned to carry a mousegun for self defense (one with a considerably smaller caliber than a 9mm Luger), but there was a reason for it. Whether or not that is a good enough reason is yet to be seen.
North American Arms (NAA) .22 Magnum mini-revolver
My original mousegun was a North American Arms (NAA) .22 Magnum mini-revolver with the 1-5/8” barrel. I got it many years ago, before I had a reason to carry it.
Back when I was a kid, I read a small soft-cover book about the history of the Remington Arms company. The thing that most impressed me in the book was the story of the Remington Rolling Block rifle and the vivid descriptions of many of the battles it had been in. After reading about it, I wanted one. Coincidently, they were being sold back then through the mail for as little as $6 to $8 for the action only; for $10 to $12 for junkers that were missing a few major parts; for $15 to $20 for ones that were complete, but in poor to fair condition; to as much as $25 to $30 for those in fair to good condition. I don’t recall seeing any of them being advertised as being in better than NRA good condition, which is not very desirable. Some were simply described as “wall hangers” without any specific condition. My guess was that they were less than NRA poor condition. None of the firearms previous owners (Spain, Mexico, or Egypt) were known for taking good care of their surplus firearms.
I learned from the gun magazines at the time that most of the RB’s being offered were No. 1’s (with black powder actions), but a few were No. 5’s (the same size, but they were smokeless powder actions with better steel). The majority were chambered in odd calibers. There originally was a lot of confusion between the .43 Spanish and .43 Egyptian calibers, but it was eventually agreed that they were completely different cartridges, even to the diameter of the bullet. Some of the RB’s were advertised as being in 11mm caliber. I never did find out if that referred to one of the previously mentioned .43’s or whether it was a different caliber altogether. Significantly, there was no surplus ammunition advertised with either of them like there was with the other surplus guns being sold at the time.