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ASK THE GUN GUY ARCHIVES
-- Early 2000
Q&A column by Jim Supica, as originally published in Shotgun News.
On this page:
Asian students ask: WHAT'S the DEAL with AMERICANS & GUNS? Featured Essay
WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH AMERICA & GUNS?
(including "Why do we own guns?")
I received an email with a number of interesting questions:
Q -- Hello, we are students from Asia, and now we are doing our homework.
We learn about guns in America. So We want ask some questions,
If you don't mind sending these answer, please tell us your answer.
A -- I will be glad to try. These answers are my opinions only.
Q -- What's the procedure for getting a gun? If the person was born in America, wants to buy a gun,
What is required?
A -- The person goes to a licensed gun dealer & chooses the gun he wants to buy.
Then he completes a form stating that he is not a convicted felon, not mentally incompetent, not a drug addict, not an alcoholic, and other requirements for buying a gun.
He must show the dealer identification papers that show his home address & that he is over age 18 to buy a long gun or over age 21 to buy a handgun.
The dealer then calls the FBI to be sure that the buyer is o.k. to buy a gun. The FBI checks a national computer database of criminals & others who are NOT ok to buy a gun.
If the FBI check comes up ok, the dealer sells the buyer the gun.
These are our national requirements. Some individual states have stricter requirements.
Q -- Before the person buys a gun, does the person have to get a license? After he buys a gun does the person have to carry any certification?
A -- In most states, there is no license needed to buy a gun.
Each state makes it's own laws as to whether or not it's citizens may carry concealed handguns for personal defense. Some state allow any law-abiding citizen to carry. Some states prohibit concealed carry altogether.
Most states have a licensing procedure which allows law-abiding citizens to carry a concealed handgun for personal defense. In most of those states, the licensed citizen must have a background check, and special training in firearms safety.
Q -- Is the waiting period the same for everyone?
A -- In most states, the instant background check has replaced a waiting period. Some states still have waiting periods.
Q -- Is any many training required?
A -- Most states which permit concealed carry require training. There is no training required to purchase a gun in most states.
Q -- There are many kinds of guns, Is there any law or ordinance
A -- Yes, there are literally thousands of laws regulating guns in the U.S.
There are special laws that apply to certain types of guns. Machine guns, other full automatic guns, short barreled shotguns, and certain other special types of guns are very strictly licensed & controlled. Antique guns made prior to 1899 have nearly no restrictions. Special types of semi-automatic firearms that look like military weapons have some restrictions in some states.
It is interesting to note that many of the areas with the fewest gun laws, and the states which allow citizens to carry guns tend to have the lowest crime rates.
Some of the states and areas with the most strict anti-gun laws have the highest crime rates. It seems that criminals are still able to steal or get guns illegally, and only the law-abiding citizens are left unarmed in these areas.
Q -- Do you know the reason why people buy guns?
If you can know and can tell, please tell me their reasons.
A -- There are many reasons. Here are some:
HUNTING - Hunting is a tradition in our country that goes back to it's earliest days. We still have much open country, and many Americans enjoy hunting for sport & for food.
SPORT - There are many shooting sports in America, and they are great fun! In addition to Olympic sports such as Target, Skeet, Trap, & Biathlon, there are many many other types of shooting sports that Americans enjoy - Practical Pistol shooting, Sporting Clays, Silhouette shooting, and others. One of the most popular new shooting sports is Cowboy Action Shooting. The shooters dress in authentic Old West cowboy costumes, and use old time Western guns to shoot targets in situations similar to our "Western" movies & TV shows.
PERSONAL DEFENSE - Most Americans believe that it is a basic human right to have a way to defend yourself & your family against criminal threats, and many own a gun for this purpose. Academic studies have shown that legally owned firearms in the hands of citizens are used literally millions of times each year to stop or prevent crimes.
HISTORY & HERITAGE - Most Americans believe that firearms have played a key role in shaping history, and see our heritage as rich in gun ownership. Many Americans own a gun that has been passed down to them from their family -- perhaps a shotgun that helped feed the family or clear pests from the farm; perhaps a military arm that was carried or captured by an ancestor in service of country; perhaps a small handgun that a great grandmother kept in her purse for personal protection when she had to travel in rough areas.
Traditionally, in most cultures, arms have been powerful totems, symbolizing the best and worst of human nature & the exercise of political or personal power. Few other tools are bound as closely and dramatically to history. Many Americans like to collect guns for these types of historic association. I invite you to visit the NRA National Firearms Museum website at nrahq.org/shooting/museum to view some of these guns.
COLLECTIVE FREEDOM - To me, this is the most important reason that Americans own guns. Our country was founded in a bloody rebellion against a tyrannical foreign colonial government. When the constitution for our new country was drafted, our founders saw that the only way to insure future freedom was for each citizen to have the right to own arms. This was seen both as a deterrent to invasion by a foreign power AND as a means of insuring that the common citizen had the power to resist a tyrannical domestic government should that unfortunate need ever arise. It was seen as a deterrent against the rise of an oppressive central government which would disregard the rights of its citizens.
I believe that the last 225 years of world history has proven the wisdom of this approach. The Americans, Swiss, and Israelis all have strong traditions of armed citizenry, and have remarkable records of political stability, democracy, and protection of individual liberty. Individually armed citizenry has proven effective in resisting foreign intervention in many other areas of the world, with such notable examples as Afghanistan.
On the other hand, the first step of nearly any tyrannical regime that comes to power is the registration, restriction, and eventual confiscation of personally owned firearms. Historically speaking, the prohibition of gun ownership may generally be seen as a predecessor and often predictor of oppression, holocaust, and genocide.
There is a saying in America that our freedom is based on three "boxes" --
THE BALLOT BOX - meaning free elections to choose our representatives.
THE JURY BOX - meaning a trial by one's peers to insure justice and prevent unfairness in the administration of law.
THE CARTRIDGE BOX - meaning that American citizens must always have the ability to resist oppression by force of arms if necessary. Interestingly, having this right & ability seems to mean that it will be much less likely to ever have to use it. It is the presence of this final "last resort" box that insures the continued ability to use the first two boxes in the preservation of personal & collective freedom.
We also have another saying --
An armed man is a citizen. An unarmed man is a subject.
I hope that this has been helpful & of interest. I'd enjoy learning about the gun laws & traditions in your country.
Q - I have the opportunity to purchase a Civil War rifle that I have been told
is a Confederate long arm. I was told that it was a Tanner Texas rifle but I
have not found a reference source for this rifle as having ever existed. I
have, however, found a reference to a Tyler Texas rifle. I have not been
able to inspect this weapon yet and would like any
and all help I can get before I do so. This could be a very expensive
proposition and I want to go into it with both eyes wide open.
A - Confederate firearms are among the most valuable, and most often faked, American antique firearms.
You'll find a reference on Tyler Texas rifles in Flayderman's. He lists the most common values in the $9,000 to $30,000 range. He also lists Tallassee & Tarpley Confederate carbines, but no Tanner.
Both "Confederate Arms" by Albaugh & Simmons and "Arming the Glorious Cause" by Whisker, Hartzler & Yantz list an N.B. Tanner of Bastrop, Texas, as a maker of 264 muskets for the State of Texas. These were apparently called the Model 1841 (per Whisker), marked "Tanner & Co.", 56" overall length, .65 cal., 40.5" barrel (per Albaugh).
I suspect that the value of an authentic example might be similar to that of a Tyler Texas rifle.
I personally would not consider buying a Confederate attributed firearm without a written opinion from one of the few experts in the field. When we were consigned a Confederate Griswold & Gunnison and a Lemat for auction, I consulted John Sexton of Stone Mountain Arms. Accompanied by his letters, they sold for $18,700 and $8,800 respectively. There is a charge for such inspection & authentication opinions, but it is a good investment in light of the risk & expense of these historic firearms.
John can be contacted at 968 Main St., Stone Mountain GA 30083, firstname.lastname@example.org, 770-469-1425. Other Confederate arms experts who have been highly recommended to me are Cliff Sophia of Powder Horn Gun Shop, PO Box 1001, Middleburg, VA 20118, 540-687-6628; & Don Bryan, Box 11725, Roanoke, VA 24022
Hope that helps! - Jim
PHOTO - Confederate revolvers - Griswold & Gunnison and Transitional Model Lemat. The Lemat has two barrels -- the top is for the .42 caliber 9 shot cylinder, while the lower barrel is a .63 caliber smoothbore. The Griswold shows the crude external finish and heavy usage typical of Confederate made firearms.
DRAGOONS, POCKET MODELS, & BABY DRAGOONS
Q - I have a Colt Dragoon - I think. It has a stage coach scene, a 6" barrel and all matching serial numbers. It is a 31 caliber and I don't see very many of these for sale any place - I see a lot of the 36 and 44 calibers. Is this a dragoon or a pocket pistol or both?
Thanks for your help,
A - Early percussion Colts had model designations that corresponded to their caliber. A .31 cal. percussion revolver would generally be called a Pocket Model. Dragoons were huge heavy .44 cal. revolvers -- larger than the biggest of standard production modern revolvers. A lighter weight later .44 caliber revolver was called the Army Model. The .36 caliber revolvers were called Navy Models. There were some further variations -- the small frame five-shot .36 caliber models were called either “Police” or “Pocket Navy” models.
However, in general, the .44 caliber Dragoon or Army, .36 caliber Navy, and .31 caliber Pocket designations apply both to Colts and to many of their early competitors.
There is a .31 cal. Colt that has a “Dragoon” nickname. It’s the 1848 Model, called the "Baby Dragoon" -- with it’s squareback triggerguard & round cylinder stops, it looks much like a miniature version of the First Model Dragoon. If that is what you have, it is scarce and can be quite valuable. I sold two recently at auction & got around $3,000 and $10,000 for them (the latter was in excellent plus condition to justify that price - extremely rare in that condition).
The most common .31 percussion Colt, however, is the Model 1849 Pocket Model. Differences from the Baby Dragoon include roundback triggerguard and rectangular cylinder stops on the cylinder. A very obvious difference is the lack of a loading lever under the barrel on the 1848 Baby Dragoon (along with no hole through the barrel lug for the rammer). Pocket 49’s are still desirable guns, but bring less than Baby Dragoons. There are a number of variations. Most Colt 1849 Pocket Models in average condition sell for me in the $300 to $750 range, although a high condition gun could bring much more.
PHOTOS - Colt Model 1848 Baby Dragoons are valuable guns. Note the squareback triggerguard, round cylinder stops, and lack of provision for a loading lever. Compare to the more common 1849 Pocket Model (this example engraved with ivory grips).
MANUFACTURERS’ ERRORS -
Q - A few years back my husband bought me a small Taurus semi-automatic handgun
(has a removable magazine). When the gun was purchased, we thought that it
was a .25 caliber due to the manufacturer's print on the barrel. However,
when I tried to load the gun, the bullets were too big. Upon inspection of
the barrel, we realized that the gun was a .22 caliber.
Does the manufacturer's misprint on the barrel make the gun a collector's
item? If so, how much would something like this be worth? -- Katrina
A - Katrina, like most major modern manufacturers, Taurus has excellent quality control. However, factory errors do occur from time to time. A manufacturer's error will often bring a small premium from a
collector over what a standard example of the same model would bring.
How much of a premium generally depends on the nature of the mistake, the “collectability” of the make & model involved, and -- probably most importantly -- finding the right collector. I wouldn’t be embarrassed to ask 50% above what the gun would bring as a regular pistol, but suspect it might sell quicker asking 25% above. It’s a small collecting field, and there are no set values.
In the case of your pistol, it would be important to a collector to be able to verify that the barrel had not just been replaced. If your gun is a .22 mis-marked as a .25, it would have the .22 rimfire firing pin rather than the .25 centerfire firing pin. If you bought the gun new, you would feel reasonably certain that it is a
factory error. If bought used, one might wonder whether the caliber had been changed by a previous owner.
PHOTO - Example of a manufacturer’s error. This S&W Model 57 has been marked “Mod. 57-0”. There was no such model, and it appears that the “-0” stamping was used to cover a mis-marking at the factory.
WILD BILL’S NAVY
Q - Jim -- I am in possession of what I think is a Colt 1851 Navy that belonged to James
Butler (Wild Bill ) Hickok.
I think that this pistol is the real thing, and am curious as to what the
value of it may be on the open market.
Thank you for taking the time to read this e-mail and please respond if
you think this is an interesting story worth your time. Thanks. -- Craig
A - Welcome to the often wild world of historically attributed firearms!
A percussion Colt that could be proven to have been owned by Hickock would be an extremely valuable gun. The tough part is the proof. What you are selling is the documentation, more so than the gun.
A proven Hickock 1851 could be a $250,000 gun. An 1851 with a good Hickock story might be a $2,500 gun. The difference is in the provenance, the research, and the marketing.
You might want to look at an article in the 16th & 17th editions of “Blue Book of Gun Values” for a suggested way of evaluating historically attributed arms. It suggests evaluating the historical significance and the credibility of the historic attribution. Obviously, the historical significance of a proven Hickock gun would be high.
In assessing the credibility of the gun’s historical claim, you should consider the timeliness of the attribution, whether the identification is certain, and the credibility of the source. Documentation dating from the era of the gun’s use is more timely, and more persuasive, than documentation originating decades later. To bring full value, it must be apparent that the gun identified in the documentation is certainly the gun in question. Finally, the credibility of the source must be considered -- for example, factory shipping records would carry much more weight than a scribbled note from a previous owner who cannot be identified for sure.
I find historically attributed guns to be one of the most fascinating facets of gun collecting. Regardless of whether it’s Wild Bill or an obscure and otherwise unknown cowboy, soldier, or cop, such history adds much to the appreciation of an old gun. Too often the story accompanying a gun is lost when it changes hands.
I always encourage folks who have such guns to get the gun’s story in writing. It’s best to trace back the story as far as you can, and write it down in a signed and preferably notarized statement. If you just have a family story, with no one else to go back to, write down what you know about the gun. Be sure to note what is hearsay and what is known first hand, and to identify the gun by make, model & serial number. Keep the writing with the gun -- it’s a time capsule to the future, and a way of passing on the history & importance of firearms to future generations.
PHOTO -- A Colt 1851 Navy - but whose? Documentation makes all the difference in evaluating historically attributed arms.
Q - I’m a single mother and am thinking about buying a gun for personal protection. I’m a bit worried about buying a regular gun, and was wondering if you would recommend a stun gun?
A - I am far from expert on personal defense. Some of the individuals who are experts feel that a non-lethal weapon such as a stun gun have legitimate applications in circumstances where lethal force is not justified. I can tell you that the effectiveness of "Stun guns" on determined assailants is highly suspect.
I am a fan of Massad Ayoob, and believe him to be one of the best personal defense trainers in the country. I highly recommend his book "In Gravest Extreme". He teaches various classes in personal defense. An attorney friend who has just completed Ayoob’s intermediate class, Lethal Force Institute II, reports that one of the requirements is for the students to be zapped with a stun gun, and AFTER they've been zapped immediately fire their handguns, hitting the target in a disabling zone. My friend reports that all students in the class were able to do this, although he admitted the zap was unpleasant.
Pepper spray may be a bit more effective as an incapacitating agent, and might be a better choice, although I understand there is a certain failure rate with pepper spray too.
In short, if your life or the life of a loved one is being threatened by an assailant with the immediate ability and intent to carry out the threat, most less than lethal weapons are difficult to rely on to stop an attack.
I'd encourage you to take a handgun familiarization course, and decide whether a handgun is for you after you've had a bit of exposure.
I'd also make two other suggestions -
1. Choose a double action revolver for your first handgun. Sometimes women unfamiliar with guns are attracted to small "purse sized" semi-autos. However, revolvers are generally MUCH easier and safer to use for someone unfamiliar with firearms. They seem less mechanically complicated to new users.
2. Do your first shooting with a .22, using proper eye protection and ear protection. There is virtually no noticeable recoil with a .22, and once they get over their initial concern, most new shooters really have fun shooting them. Even the relatively mild .38 Special load can be disconcerting if the shooter is a bit nervous anyway - start with a .22.
The .22 is not the ideal self-defense round. Cartridges including .38 Special, .357 Magnum, 9 mm, .40 S&W, and .45 acp are much more effective in stopping a criminal assailant. Most men & women can easily handle these more effective rounds.
However, they may present problems for someone who has weak hands, arthritis or other special problems resulting in extreme recoil sensitivity. In those special situations, a .22 is a viable option. I would think that it would be better to have a .22 that you are comfortable with, and will practice with than a larger caliber gun that you are a bit afraid of and find unpleasant to shoot.
Hope that helps - best of luck to you.
POWDER HORNS -
Q - Hi, Jim!
Would you consider lending your expertise to a wimpy old woman who knows zilch about old weaponry? I just bought a battered old bronze powder horn. It is about 13" long, bronze, and engraved with a fleur-de-lis and geometric design. At some point, the poor thing had been smashed flat and crudely repaired. My Kovel's books
are no big help. I only hope I didn't get ripped off too badly!
Thanks for any info you can provide!
Sorry, I’m not that familiar w/ horns, other than to be able to tell you that values can range widely. Sounds like yours may be considered a flask rather than a horn proper? If its any help, we sold a bunch of original antique flasks in good condition at auction recently, with most selling in the $25 to $75 each range, w/ special ones going as high as $500 & more. Original Colt flasks will generally bring good money. Remember that there are also many reproduction flasks out there, some of which are artificially "aged" and passed as original.
If you have a horn, I find that that most plain powder horns do not bring much -- at the auction we sold a lot of four old horns for $125. At the other extreme, original pre-Civil War horns with decorative carving on them (often rather crude "folk art" type) can bring much more. We recently sold post Revolutionary War powder horn carved by the well known Tansel family for over $5,000.
PHOTO -- While most old powder horns don’t bring a lot of money, original old decorated horns can be quite valuable, such as this Tansel carved horn which sold for over $5,000.
Q - Good morning,
I have a question. I bought a Merwin Hulbert marked Calibre 1873 Winchester that was
a dug find. It is in poor condition. The handle grips are missing, the
plating is missing, the trigger guard is missing, and a side plate is
missing. But the trigger still works. Can it be fixed ? And what would the
value be after it was fixed.
This gun was dug in Mississippi just off of the Mississippi river.
And it does have pitting also.
What would it cost me to have it fixed ?
If you can fix it.
Or should I use it as a decoration on my walls with my target balls ,
A - Dug up guns are collected in their own right. Just as some collectors turn up their noses at anything less than “mint” guns, there are other collectors who enjoy the romance & “untold history” inherent in old guns that have been used, lost, and dug up again.
Sometimes such revolvers are found in situations that suggest stories -- for example, you can’t help but wonder what circumstance would lead a revolver to be dropped in the dirt with some fired cartridges, some still remaining, and the hammer rusted frozen at full cock! Of course, you’d want to take special care to be absolutely certain that the old ammo was inert in such situation, but you could make a strong argument that a gun in that condition is likely to have seen more history than a mint piece that had lain unused in a drawer for the last century and a quarter.
In most cases, true dug-ups cannot be restored to proper functioning condition. In addition, they are generally worth more as rusty relics of a by-gone era than they would be as poor restorations. If your gun were mine, I’d enjoy it as is.
PHOTO -- Some collectors specialize in “dug-ups“, such as this Colt Single Action Army dredged out of the Rio Grande river.
Q - Sir.
I have a revolver (5 shot). About a 3" barrel, with what appears to be a mahogany grip. On the left side of the barrel it is stamped, "J.M.Marlin New Haven Ct USA Pat. July 1 1878. Then on top of the barrel it says, "XXXStandard 1872." Their is no guard around the trigger, single action. Has the shape of a derringer, almost, only larger (about 7" in overall length). Other than some stampings of individual numbers on the cylinder, I do not see any other information.
Do you have any information about this revolver. If not, who would you recommend (or what site).. Appreciate any help or insight you could give.
Thank you again.
A - The famous Marlin firm that still makes long guns offered several handguns in the late 1800's, including single shot derringers, spur-trigger revolvers in both solid frame & S&W style tip-up configurations (such as yours), and a double action top-break.
The "XXX" in your revolver's model name represents the caliber -- .30 rimfire. Marlin also offered similar models "XX Standard 1873" in .22 caliber and "32 Standard 1875" in 32 rimfire. Their "38 Standard 1878" in .38 centerfire looks a bit different than the other Marlin tip-ups, with external lines somewhat similar to the top-break S&W Baby Russian model.
The XXX Standard 1872 model was Marlin's first tip-up revolver, and was made from 1872 to 1887, with four variations. The earliest has an octagonal barrel & unfluted cylinder. The others have a round ribbed barrel and vary in cylinder configuration -- unfluted, short fluted, or long fluted. The later fluted cylinder types usually retail in the $150 to $300 range, with the unfluted cylinder versions bringing a bit more. -- Jim
PHOTO - Marlin XXX Standard 1872
Q - Mr. Supica: I was talking with a friend of mine last night about an old handgun he owns, and told him that I would look around online to locate some gun collector sites so we could estimate the value of this gun.
It is a Smith & Wesson... New Century (Triple Lock) NRA Excellent Cond.
Cal. .45 . He was looking in a catalogue recently in Chico California and as he read it there may have only been 17 of these made. We would value your opinion on its worth, and hope to hear from you if you get a chance.
Thank you Greg >>
A - Greg, the Triple-Lock is one of the more desirable S&W revolvers to collectors regardless of caliber. It was the first large frame hand ejector model made by Smith, introduced in 1907. Many gun writers have praised it as one of the finest revolvers ever made.
The S&W .44 Hand Ejector First Model got it's "Triple-Lock" nickname from the fact that the cylinder, when closed, is locked to the frame in three locations -- in addition to the front of the ejector rod and rear of the ejector, there is a locking lug at the front of the cylinder crane. When the cylinder is closed, the end of this lug is visible when looking at the right side of the gun just behind the end of the ejector rod housing. This third locking point was discontinued with the introduction of Second Model in 1915.
The Triple Lock introduced the cult favorite .44 Special cartridge, and the vast majority of production was in this caliber. Any other original chambering would bring a premium from collectors. Other reported chamberings include .44 Russian, .44-40, .38-40, .450 Eley, and .45 Colt. It is believed that only around 20 or so guns were originally made in .45 Colt caliber.
However, there is one caveat before deciding that your gun is one of these rarities. In addition to the 44 Hand Ejector First Model, S&W manufactured another Triple Lock -- the 455 Mark II Hand Ejector First Model, chambered for the British .455 cartridge. There were 5,000 of these made in 1914 & 1915 in their own serial number range.
The .455 cartridge not being particularly popular in the U.S., it is not uncommon to find one of these that has been rechambered to 45 Colt. If your friend's Triplelock has a serial number of under 5000, there's a strong chance that this may be what he has.
Your friend would also want to be certain that his gun was originally produced in .45 Colt, to eliminate the possibility that it had the cylinder & barrel replaced at a later date. He would do well to request an authoritative factory letter on his revolver from the S&W Factory Historian. Letters can be requested from S&W, 2100 Roosevelt Ave., Springfield, MA. Be sure to include make, model, serial number, full description, and any specific questions you have about your gun. The letter will generally indicate original configuration and shipping date and destination. The research fee of $25 for this service is very reasonable for any interesting S&W, and a real bargain in the case of exceptionally rare guns.
As to value, it is always a bit of a guessing game to come up with a value on extraordinarily rare variations of a major model by a major manufacturer. If the gun is truly in NRA Excellent condition, never refinished, I would think it might bring $2,000 up if it's a factory original .45 Colt. If it's a converted .455 Mk. II, it might bring more in the $500 to $700 range.
PHOTO - Pair of S&W Triplelock revolvers, rare Target variation.
EARLIEST SEMI-AUTO PISTOL
Q - Hi, I have a Colt 1903 .32 and several
Browning was probably the inventor of
the semi-auto pistol. Can you tell me if
there are any pre-1898 semi-auto pistols
I've seen old semi-autos at
gun shows etc and owned many over the
years, but I just became interested in the
earliest ones. What can you tell me?
A - Hi Ken,
Semi-auto pistols were introduced in the late 1800's. Browning's designs were early, but they were far from first. The 19th century auto-pistol design to gain most widespread usage was probably the Mauser Model 1896 “Broomhandle“.
Even earlier was the Borchardt pistol first made in 1893. This unusual looking predecessor of the Luger may be considered the first commercially successful semi-auto pistol design, although relatively few were produced. It’s inventor Hugo Borchardt was a naturalized American citizen, but the gun was first produced in Germany.
Ferdinand von Ritter Mannlicher’s pistol designs as produced by Steyr were other early semi-autos. A handful of “Schoenberger” 8mm pistols were actually made in 1892, a year before the Borchardt. Mannlicher’s Model 1894 in 7.6mm as made by Steyr & SIG was a bit more successful, although still quite rare today.
The first commercially successful American made auto-pistol was indeed a John M. Browning design, the Colt Model 1900. -- Jim
PHOTO -- The “Broomhandle” 1896 Mauser was the most successful of the 19th century semi-auto pistol designs. The few that were made prior to 1899 are considered “antiques”.
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