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March 13, 2006

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Imagine This: If old guns could talk, what stories would they tell us?

One of the things my Navy-officer uncle brought home from World War II was an M-1 carbine (one of the most useless firearms ever issued to the military, but that’s another blog) with a hammer and sickle carved in the stock. The hammer and sickle, you may recall, was the symbol of the now-vanished Communist Party, and I always wondered why an American soldier, sailor, or Marine would cut such a thing into his weapon.

My uncle could shed no light on it; the gun was not issued to him and he never did say whether he found it or traded for it. And that carbine is probably still out there somewhere, its mysterious symbol forever unexplained.

All this was brought up by my trip to the Las Vegas Knife and Gun Show in February, where all sorts of old guns were on sale. Unless you have less imagination than the beasts of the field, you can’t pick up an old gun—especially a military one—and wonder who carried it, and what became of the man, and what trail the gun took to end up on your hands on this day in this place.

Fine guns—there were some gorgeous old Winchesters there—have their own aura. They were worth big money even when new, and were someone’s true pride and joy. What stories could they tell if they had voices? We will never know. A paleontologist I met years ago told me that every time he looks on an ancient skeleton, he asks: “What was your name? You had a name. What did your voice sound like? How did you come to lie here for 10,000 years?”

But the bones cannot answer any more than the guns can.

Comments

Shawn Schwensen

"Uncle Gordy" was a friend of the family who was a flight engineer on a large Navy flying boat in the Pacific during WWII. He "aquired" an M1 Carbine and brought it home with him after the war. Soon after, muscle damage due to an auto accident left one of his arms very weak, so he began using self-loading rifles for the pacific coast deer hunting he enjoyed. His wife bought him a Remington 81, but the thing weighed a ton and he always prefered the M1 carbine, not doubt due to its handiness. With soft point ammunition, it was probably adequate for the tiny coastal deer.

Thanks for the memories, Gordy

ranger Nick

Dave,

That little carbine is a handy little gun for it intended purpose. For service personnel like cooks,mechanics,and clerks. The little Jap soldiers envied it. Would try to kill to get one. Great walk-about rifle as long as you don't go to War.

FMJ bullets not real good deal. But, you load soft-nose ones, and it's more than adequite. I carry one on long walks and don't feel out gunned. At 50 yards or less, those soft-nosed or hollow-pointed bullets can put the hurt on four or two-legged critters.

Ruger's 30 carbine pistol is one of the loudest weapon you ever heard. Fast too. Try one. It's fun to shoot. To understand the carbine round and gun, one must read Ken Waters "Pet Loads" article. Ken pretty much somes it up.

It's light for War, but great for plinking. There are still being manufactured to this day! Ken says it just fun to shoot.




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