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Old February 13, 2011, 07:46 AM   #1
Bill Akins
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Black powder Harmonica guns.

Some of these are percussion and some are pinfire cartridge and the Yul Brenner rifle is also a cartridge. But all are black powder. The fictional "Adios Sabata" cartridge harmonica Winchester type that Yul Brenner is using was a prop gun and if you saw the movie, you will notice he had to advance the harmonica block manually by hand. He would operate the lever, but push in on the harmonica block by hand. The lever did not advance the block.

The pinfire one has a cutout for the harmonica block that reminds me of a cutout for a belt feed. In a very real way, these harmonica blocks were precursors to a belt feed. Since a black powder percussion weapon is not regulated by the ATF, imagine if someone made one of these today to be full auto with say a tripod supported 50 or 100 rd harmonica block that used black powder substitutes to preclude fouling and smoke. They would have the equivalent of a percussion black powder (or black powder substitute) machine gun without it being classified as a machine gun and totally unregulated as long as it was percussion and didn't use separate individual cartridges. That would be a fun range toy. I wonder if the SASS would allow that? Lol. Just kidding. But seriously, I do wonder why the SASS has no provision for cowboy era harmonica pistols and rifles? After all, they ARE cowboy era and they fit more into the cowboy era than the "Wild bunch" SASS category that uses the 1911 semi auto pistol.

Anyway, I thought you'd all like to see some of these because you don't see them that often. Just like the 32 round revolvers I have pics of.

General Sam Houston's percussion harmonica rifle in National museum of American History, Smithsonian.


This one is a sliding multibarrel percussion harmonica pistol.


The next three pics are of the same pinfire cartridge pistol.
Doesn't the frame cutout for the block remind you of a belt feed cutout?
Imagine this same type design only bigger, with a bigger harmonica percussion block and with a longer barrel (maybe even water cooled) on a tripod either hand cranked or full auto with a self advancing block. A full auto unregulated percussion rifle using pyrodex or goex or 777 to preclude fouling and smoke. Can you see that? I'd love to have one.







Here's Yul Brenner's "Adios Sabata" movie prop, Winchester lever type, either rimfire or centerfire cartridge harmonica gun. This gun never existed in real life but is an interesting idea.


And here's a couple of links to interesting Harmonica guns you might find interesting.

http://www.cascity.com/forumhall/ind...?topic=33895.0

http://underhammers.blogspot.com/200...derhammer.html


.
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"This is my Remy and this is my Colt. Remy loads easy and topstrap strong, Colt balances better and never feels wrong. A repro black powder revolver gun, they smoke and shoot lead and give me much fun. I can't figure out which one I like better, they're both fine revolvers that fit in my leather".
"To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target".

Last edited by Bill Akins; February 13, 2011 at 09:15 AM.
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Old February 13, 2011, 08:54 AM   #2
c.robertson
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Bet a chain fire would be a fun experience.
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Old February 13, 2011, 09:06 AM   #3
Bill Akins
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Perhaps with the first two percussion guns like the Sam Houston rifle and the sliding multibarrel pistol they could chainfire. But only the Sam Houston one would hurt you in a chainfire with your left hand forward of the harmonica block. The sliding multibarrel pistol wouldn't hurt you at all if it chainfired since your hand is to the rear of the barrels/chambers. I doubt the sliding barrel pistol would be able to chainfire from the end of the barrels. Too far for the flame to have to travel down the barrel to ignite the charge. It could only chainfire via the nipples if it did at all.

The last two are a pinfire cartridge in that neat removable block pistol and (supposedly) either a rimfire or centerfire cartridge in the "Adios Sabata" modified Winchester type. With cartridges you don't have to worry about chain fires.

In all four of those pictured guns, only two could chainfire and only one of those could hurt you if it did chainfire. The Sam Houston rifle. Much in the same way the old Colt revolving rifle could blow fingers off your hand holding the fore end if it chainfired. If memory serves me, I believe that Sam Houston rifle was built by John Browning's father Jonathan Browning.

Now the underhammer percussion rifle in one of my links could hurt you if it chainfired. It's basically a smaller version of the Sam Houston rifle.

.
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"This is my Remy and this is my Colt. Remy loads easy and topstrap strong, Colt balances better and never feels wrong. A repro black powder revolver gun, they smoke and shoot lead and give me much fun. I can't figure out which one I like better, they're both fine revolvers that fit in my leather".
"To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target".

Last edited by Bill Akins; February 13, 2011 at 09:20 AM.
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Old February 13, 2011, 11:33 AM   #4
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I'm guessing the big draw back to the pistols was "how do I carry it?". Hard to envision any kind of practical holster.

Interesting to see the various repeating firearm concepts though.
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Old February 13, 2011, 12:52 PM   #5
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John Moses Browning's father was quite an intrepid manufacturer of harmonica guns. On the trek to Utah, he made quite a few of them.
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Old February 13, 2011, 01:09 PM   #6
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Visits to gun museums reveal many attempts at unique firearms design. When someone says "so and so is authentic" it is hard to dispute that, maybe, at least, one 'so and so' was built at some period in history. Few of those designs succeeded. They are only good as items of historical interest.
I think the most interesting one I have ever seen is kept in the vaults of a gun museum, as I recall, called a Smith. It is a Civil War era muzzle loading bolt action rifle. Complex design where several rounds could be loaded, shot and advanced to the next round with the bolt action. Of course a new cap had to be put on each time.
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Old February 13, 2011, 03:18 PM   #7
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Like Hardcase says, Jonathan Browning made a number of these guns himself. If what Elmer Keith says about loose percussion caps is right, I wouldn't worry too much about chain fires.
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Old February 13, 2011, 10:57 PM   #8
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When were they made? They look pre-cowboy to me. Why, after the advent of the revolver, would anyone want to carry such a contraption? They are very cool, but I don't think cool was a factor when they were actually being made.
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Old February 13, 2011, 11:09 PM   #9
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Browning started making his in the mid 1830s until sometime around 1850 or so.
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Old February 14, 2011, 12:37 AM   #10
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Quote:
Model-P wrote:
When were they made? They look pre-cowboy to me. Why, after the advent of the revolver, would anyone want to carry such a contraption? They are very cool, but I don't think cool was a factor when they were actually being made.

General Sam Houston is the famous U.S. general who captured Mexican generalismo Santa Ana and won Texas its independence from Mexico after Travis's holdout at the Alamo gave Houston time to get his army together.
The Mexican war started in 1847 although I do not know exactly when that harmonica rifle was made for Houston by Jonathan Browning. I don't know if the Mexican war era would qualify as "pre cowboy" but I doubt it would or else 1847 Colt Walker BP revolvers would not be allowed in SASS cowboy action shooting matches and would also then be considered as "pre cowboy". So I don't think the percussion Sam Houston harmonica rifle is pre-cowboy.

I also don't think the percussion sliding barrel harmonica pistol is pre-cowboy either. I suspect the sliding barrel percussion pistol might have been made concurrently or a little later than the Sam Houston harmonica rifle. It says "late 1840's to early 1850's" to my eye. Kind of like a straightened out pepperbox cylinder in a way. It also has a European look about it although I couldn't say for certain.

The removable block pinfire cartridge pistol must not be pre-cowboy or else it wouldn't be a pinfire cartridge gun. Since cartridges started being used as early as the late 1850's. The pinfire cartridge existed concurrently with the early rimfire and centerfire cartridges. All cartridge types being used during the cowboy era.

The fictional movie prop "Adios Sabata" lever action harmonica gun, supposedly used cartridges, although in the movie it never showed if they were rimfire or centerfire. But even though that is a fictional gun, the time period that the movie is set in, along with the fact that it supposedly used cartridges, would definitely put the Yul Brenner gun into the cowboy era. The Yul Brenner gun, except for cartridges, isn't much different from the Sam Houston rifle. Both had to have the block advanced manually by the shooter. The lever action of Yul Brenner's gun only cocked the hammer, he had to advance the block by hand. (I carefully watched him doing this in the movie).
This was a movie prop gadget gun. There were quite a few gadget guns in that movie. It is worth watching just to see the banjo gun, the rear firing derringer various gadget guns.

Quote:
Model-P wrote:
Why, after the advent of the revolver, would anyone want to carry such a contraption?
I assume you are referring to carrying the percussion sliding barrel harmonica pistol and the sliding block pinfire cartridge harmonica pistol rather than referring to the two harmonica rifles pictured and the one harmonica rifle in the link. Who knows why anyone would want to carry them. Perhaps because the sliding block pinfire cartridge version pistol had a higher capacity than 6 cartridges. Perhaps because they had special holsters made for them that made them carry easier. Holster carrying that sliding block pinfire cartridge pistol wouldn't be much different from holster carrying a mini Uzi with its magazine sticking out. Perhaps they had a holster made to where the top of the pistol faced the body so the sliding block faced either the rear of the person or forward. That way it wouldn't stick out to the side. But again, who really knows.

Holster carrying the percussion sliding barrel pistol wouldn't be much different from holster carrying a ship's captain's mutiny dissuading percussion ducksfoot pistol, which the sliding barrel pistol kind of reminds me of, only the ducksfoot pistol would fire all barrels at once.

Quote:
Model-P wrote:
They are very cool, but I don't think cool was a factor when they were actually being made.
I agree. I think they were made in early attempts to increase shot capacity.
They were so darn close to being a belt feed. They also remind me of early Hotchkiss cartridge tray fed machine guns.

If you think those pistols were ungainly, wait until you see the Victorian black powder cartridge, extreme high capacity, revolvers I have studied and collected pictures of that I will post about. HUGE cylinders.

.
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"This is my Remy and this is my Colt. Remy loads easy and topstrap strong, Colt balances better and never feels wrong. A repro black powder revolver gun, they smoke and shoot lead and give me much fun. I can't figure out which one I like better, they're both fine revolvers that fit in my leather".
"To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target".

Last edited by Bill Akins; February 14, 2011 at 12:47 AM.
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Old February 14, 2011, 01:23 AM   #11
Bill Akins
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More harmonica pistols....

This one is a percussion pistol that operates similar to the ducksfoot pistol in that it fires all its chambers/barrels at once. Only this one has a removable communal chamber block that you load out of the gun and then fires all the chambers with one percussion cap. Basically a removable chamber ducksfoot pistol. It appears that a chamber block retaining pin comes in from the front of what appears to be a 7th barrel but isn't.












Continued next post due to six pics per post limit.....



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"This is my Remy and this is my Colt. Remy loads easy and topstrap strong, Colt balances better and never feels wrong. A repro black powder revolver gun, they smoke and shoot lead and give me much fun. I can't figure out which one I like better, they're both fine revolvers that fit in my leather".
"To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target".

Last edited by Bill Akins; February 14, 2011 at 01:49 AM.
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Old February 14, 2011, 01:26 AM   #12
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O.K. I misunderstood your meaning of the "cowboy era". I consider the cowboy era to have begun with the first railheads being established in 1866. To each his own.

Interesting read. I never even knew these existed. Thanks for sharing!
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Old February 14, 2011, 01:36 AM   #13
Bill Akins
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Continued from previous post.....



Either the chambers were misaligned with the barrels, or the barrels were misaligned to each other and the chambers made to match the barrels. Either way, kind of bad workmanship but still an interesting piece. I sure wouldn't want to be in front of it with all six barrels going off at once!




And here's a few more pics of that pinfire cartridge sliding block pistol that I showed in my earlier post. This pic shows it with its 10 rodded cartridge ejector and pinfire cartridges.


And this one shows it with extra pinfire cartridge sliding blocks of different capacities of 6 and 10 cartridges. Notice the cutouts for the cartridge pins above each cartridge hole. That's where the pin of the cartridge sat. The hammer fell on the pin and the pin was situated above a mercury fulminite pellet in the bottom of the cartridge. Does make me wonder what kept the pin from flying out of the case when it went off. I guess the weight of the hammer kept the pin in kind of like it does a percussion cap on a nipple.



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"This is my Remy and this is my Colt. Remy loads easy and topstrap strong, Colt balances better and never feels wrong. A repro black powder revolver gun, they smoke and shoot lead and give me much fun. I can't figure out which one I like better, they're both fine revolvers that fit in my leather".
"To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target".

Last edited by Bill Akins; February 14, 2011 at 01:53 AM.
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Old February 14, 2011, 02:03 AM   #14
Bill Akins
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Quote:
Model-P wrote:
O.K. I misunderstood your meaning of the "cowboy era". I consider the cowboy era to have begun with the first railheads being established in 1866. To each his own.
There were cattle drives before the railways. But if you consider 1866 to be the start of the cowboy era because of the railways to more easily transport the cattle, then the Sam Houston rifle and the percussion sliding barrel pistols along with the percussion "ducksfoot" type pistol, would indeed be considered "pre-cowboy". It just depends on when one considers the cowboy era to have begun. One thing to consider is that even if some of them did pre-date what we normally think of as the cowboy era, many cowboys didn't have much money and a percussion harmonica gun given to you by your father who fought in the Mexican war would still be used well into the cowboy cartridge era. Just like Bill Hickock used his percussion 1851 revolvers into the 1870's. Guns usage extends over a long period and era of time. Just like the 1903 Springfield rifle being used from 1903 all the way through to Korea and Vietnam as sniper rifles. And our M16 being used for the past 40 years plus. So even if a gun pre-dated the cowboy era, it could still have been very probably used during the cowboy era. There are records of flintlock rifles still being used in the civil war, (and even beyond), particularly in the south. (When you really think about it, a flintlock rifle is just about as easy to use as percussion. You just prime the pan instead of inserting a cap.)

Quote:
Model-P wrote:
Interesting read. I never even knew these existed. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks and you're welcome. I love the old guns especially the unusual and esoteric ones. Studying them helps me to think out of the box.


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"This is my Remy and this is my Colt. Remy loads easy and topstrap strong, Colt balances better and never feels wrong. A repro black powder revolver gun, they smoke and shoot lead and give me much fun. I can't figure out which one I like better, they're both fine revolvers that fit in my leather".
"To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target".

Last edited by Bill Akins; February 14, 2011 at 02:35 AM.
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Old February 14, 2011, 02:18 AM   #15
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The Wade Ingrham Harmonica Rifle

The Underhammer Society has a blog page about a contemporary convertible underhammer harmonica rifle. It breaks down to convert from being a single shot underhammer into a 5 shot harmonica repeater.
It's a 5 shot .36 and there's a 33 second video of it being fired that's located about 1/2 way down the page. What slows down its rate of fire is the indexing system for the sliding chamber block.

http://underhammers.blogspot.com/search?q=harmonica

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Old February 14, 2011, 06:56 AM   #16
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Quote:
I don't know if the Mexican war era would qualify as "pre cowboy" but I doubt it would or else 1847 Colt Walker BP revolvers would not be allowed in SASS cowboy action shooting matches and would also then be considered as "pre cowboy".
SASS is supposed to be the period from 1860-1899 but they don't follow their own rules. They allow Rugers and the new Henry's but not a lot of the guns that were actually used.
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Old February 14, 2011, 08:15 AM   #17
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I agree Hawg.

And Hawg, don't forget them allowing the "Wild Bunch" SASS category where they can use 1911 semi auto pistols. If SASS is going to allow semi auto 1911 pistols in their "wild bunch" category, then why not allow 1900 Browning pistols, 1910 Mauser pistols, 1900 lugers, 1897 borcharts, bergmans, etc, etc, or heck, even a 1886 Maxim machine gun? Heck, the luger was first made in 1900 as was an early Browning semi-auto pistol, so they pre-date the 1911's. The Borchart pre-dates the luger and the bergman pre-dates the luger too as does the early 1886 Maxim machine guns. All of them pre-date the 1911. I left a lot out like the 1902 Browning pistol and the Steyr model 1905 pistol etc, etc, etc, but even though they all pre-date the 1911's, they aren't SASS allowed! Doesn't make sense. Discrimination I say! Power to the pistols! Equal opportunity for all early automatics! We must start a march.

I think it is a mistake for SASS to allow the 1911's and any gun made after say....1885 if it is going to be a truly pure "cowboy" single action shooting society shoot. I mean heck, we have ranch hand cowboys today, so is SASS going to eventually allow sig's and glocks and AR15's or Ruger mini 14 ranch rifles? The SASS "wild bunch" category is a huge mistake that is going to be the camel's nose under the tent to move cowboy action shooting ever more forward in time until it isn't cowboy action shooting anymore but becomes reenactment shooting in different eras. And that's okay, but you can't call it cowboy action shooting anymore then, because it no longer is.

I mean seriously, how can you have an organization that calls itself the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) when they are allowing a semi-automatic 1911 to be used. The 1911 isn't single action anymore after the first shot is fired. Another thing I don't understand is how SASS allows early double action Colts. I mean is it the single action shooting society or the double action shooting society? Or maybe it's the single action/double action/semi-auto shooting society. Or SADASASS for short. Sheeez.

Just doesn't make sense to me. Just my opinion.



.
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"This is my Remy and this is my Colt. Remy loads easy and topstrap strong, Colt balances better and never feels wrong. A repro black powder revolver gun, they smoke and shoot lead and give me much fun. I can't figure out which one I like better, they're both fine revolvers that fit in my leather".
"To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target".

Last edited by Bill Akins; February 14, 2011 at 08:48 AM.
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Old February 14, 2011, 09:19 AM   #18
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great thread on the evolution of guns...

thanx for sharing.......


s.m.
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Old February 14, 2011, 10:22 AM   #19
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Quote:
The 1911 isn't single action anymore after the first shot is fired.
I don't want to derail this thread too much (although I think I may be the king of thread derailers), but the 1911 is a single action pistol from first shot to last. All the trigger does is release the hammer - it does not cock it.

As to whether it belongs in cowboy action shooting, well, I kind of sit on the fence. The answer I give probably depends on the time of day, phase of the moon and how strong my coffee was in the morning.
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Old February 14, 2011, 12:47 PM   #20
Model-P
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Well, it's 0947 Pacific, with a waxing gibbous moon, my coffeee is pretty strong, and I'm not even involved in CAS but I know that 1911s in a cowboy action shoot are just plain ridiculous.

Quote:
The SASS "wild bunch" category is a huge mistake that is going to be the camel's nose under the tent to move cowboy action shooting ever more forward in time until it isn't cowboy action shooting anymore but becomes reenactment shooting in different eras.
I think that's it in a nut shell.
When I first moved here our local radio station was playing swing and Big Band from the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. I used to listen to them all the time. A couple years later they were playing music from the 30s, 40s and 50s, still pretty good stuff. I kept on listening. Then they moved it on up to the 40s, 50s, and 60s. Weird mix of Big Band and hippie music. Hhhhmmmm. Next was the 50's, 60s and 70s and I started losing interest. Now it is the 60s, 70s, and 80s and I listen to my CDs.
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Old February 14, 2011, 03:40 PM   #21
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Quote:
Hardcase wrote:
the 1911 is a single action pistol from first shot to last. All the trigger does is release the hammer - it does not cock it.
Think about it Hardcase. Yes the 1911 is a single action at first if you have a round chambered and the hammer on half cock and then you SINGLE ACTION thumb the hammer back the rest of the way. But....after that, if you aren't MANUALLY thumbing the hammer back for each shot like a single action revolver, that 1911 isn't single action anymore. AFTER the first shot it is a semi-automatic, NOT a single action. Understand what I meant now?


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"To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target".
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Old February 14, 2011, 04:49 PM   #22
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Well, it may be getting into the semantics of pistol versus revolver, but traditionally, when referring to single versus double action, we're talking triggers. Yes, the slide cocks the hammer, but the trigger can do one thing and one thing only - release the hammer.

The 1911 is a single action semi-auto pistol. The 1860 is a single action revolver.

And I guess the coffee has worn off because I'm leaning toward the "Well of course it's not a cowboy gun."
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Old February 14, 2011, 05:57 PM   #23
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I agree that the 1911 is a single action semi auto, in fact it is single action only.
Other semiautos are double action only, the slide does not recock the hammer.
And then there's a class of semiautos that are double action for the first shot and then are single action for the rest of the shots.

So, I think that the 1911 does not contradict the name of the group.
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Old February 14, 2011, 08:15 PM   #24
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This is my first post, but I've really enjoyed reading this forum for months.
I've been a BP fan for a long time, just didn't know this place was around, but have had a great time. Thanks for these interesting posts and topics.

I have a book on this, and this particular match idea is from the move-The Wild Bunch. So, I don't think it has anything actually do with the 1911, but the movie idea. In the book, they have the guys dressed like the characters from that last gun fight.

But, I'm sure all y'all know that already.

OJW
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Old February 14, 2011, 11:11 PM   #25
Bill Akins
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Welcome Josey. Yes the SASS "Wild bunch" action shooting category is a result of the movie of that name. But....SASS does allows the use of the 1911 semi-auto pistol in that match category. Just like the 1911 William Holden used in the movie. Go on YouTube and you can see them using the 1911 semi-auto pistol in the SASS "Wild bunch" match category. So it actually does have everything to do with the 1911 pistol Josey.
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"This is my Remy and this is my Colt. Remy loads easy and topstrap strong, Colt balances better and never feels wrong. A repro black powder revolver gun, they smoke and shoot lead and give me much fun. I can't figure out which one I like better, they're both fine revolvers that fit in my leather".
"To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target".

Last edited by Bill Akins; February 14, 2011 at 11:41 PM.
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