Mighty Pretty

posted on April 11, 2015
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There is no doubt that fashions change, even for men. Of course, I'm not talking about clothes—I'm talking about gun fashions. You see, there was a time in our not-too-distant past when the mark of a serious pistolian was an engraved handgun sporting a set of fancy stocks.

Nowadays, folks call them barbecue guns or parade guns. For many handgunners, however, it was a gun (or guns) they wore and used every day. James Butler Hickok favored a set of factory engraved Colt Navy revolvers with ivory stocks. Ranger Captain Frank Hamer's choice was an engraved Colt Peacemaker with carved pearl stocks. General George Patton was another fan of an engraved Colt single action, though his sixgun sported ivory stocks. And, by the way, General Patton never made his famous "New Orleans pimp" remark in front of Capt. Hamer, though they were both stationed in El Paso, TX, for a time. You can count on that.

I suppose Elmer Keith had the right idea about pretty guns. You see, he would have a gun engraved and fitted with fancy stocks only after the gun had proven itself accurate and dependable. And, of course, he was best known for his 4-inch Smith & Wesson .44 Mag., covered with scroll engraving and adorned with carved ivory.

In my case, I treasure two engraved guns. The first is a second-generation Colt Single Action Army in .45 Colt, with a 4.75-inch barrel. It came with a set of one-piece ivory stocks and I had it scroll engraved by the late Weldon Bledsoe of Ft. Worth, TX.  The second gun is my factory "D" engraved .45 Colt Government Model. I had the old Gun-Art company carve a set of nice elephant ivory stocks for it and wore the gun every day while I was a Texas sheriff.

But, times change. Today's handgunners are mostly interested—and rightly so—in fitting-out their handguns with proper defensive sights, stocks that fit their hands and other accessories to make the pistol a better defensive proposition. All of that is as it should be, but I hope the younger crowd will be a little understanding of some of us gun geezers who still like to admire a nicely engraved pistol, especially one with a fancy set of stocks.


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