Soldiers & Lawmen: American Warriors

soliders painting

This painting depicting the death of Captain Samuel H. Walker in the Battle of Humantala on October 9, 1847, is a graphic footnote to this issue’s Collector’s Corner, which traces the development of the Colt Walker revolver and other U.S. military sidearms in the 1840s and 1850s.
Photo Courtesy by: Dennis Levett/Colt Single Action: From Patersons to Peacemakers

Bringing you the stories and guns that helped shape America’s warriors!

It would be safe to call this issue of Guns of the Old West a historical review of some of the most important “original” firearms used by American soldiers and frontier lawmen from the 1840s to the early 1900s. Our tales begin in the 1840s with author Donald J. Mihalek’s story, “Brave Rifles,” about arming U.S. soldiers during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), and the various long arms and pistols that were brought into use by the infantry and cavalry. Interestingly, politics and federal spending cuts played no small role in how our troops went to war even then. At the same time, author Stephen C. Small parallels “Brave Rifles” with an historic tale of how the Colt Walker revolver came into use during the war with Mexico in this issue’s Collector’s Corner. Resident historian Todd Lofgren wraps up the treatise on prominent American firearms with his analysis and a full range test of the .52 caliber Hall Model 1819. The world’s first military breechloading rifle, the Hall was not only used in the war with Mexico, but by Union and Confederate troops during the Civil War!

From border wars and civil wars to range wars, it seems we have it all, and “La Vista” Bill Bell recounts the latter in his tales of “Stock Detectives & Rangers.” During the 1870s and well into the early 1900s, rustlers were one of the biggest problems that plagued ranchers on the frontier, and often times the men they hired to track down and kill cattle and horse thieves walked a very thin line between lawman and lawbreaker. This could not be said of legendary Deputy U.S. Marshal Heck Thomas, who is profiled in this issue’s Guns of the Gunfighters. One of the famous Three Guardsmen of Oklahoma, Thomas spent his entire adult life as a lawman. And a tip of the hat to author Phil Spangenberger, who regales readers with another historical tale of the American West, and what cattlemen’s headwear really looked like. Rounding out the historical side is my own story about Remington’s triumph over Colt in producing the very first cartridge conversion revolvers after the Civil War in “Remington Conversions.”

New gun tests in this issue also cover some historical territory, with Mike Beliveau’s reviews of the EMF Liberty .45 Colt Single Action and Taylor’s & Co.’s new 1911 .45 ACP. Author Brad Fitzpatrick reviews the Model 1885 High Wall and Denis Prisbrey wraps things up with a test of the .22 caliber, Pedersoli-made Dixie Mississippi Rolling Block rifle. And we debut what’s new for 2014 in Cowboy Guns & Gear. So saddle up! There’s a long trail ahead.✪

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