Dallas Stoudenmire, a former Texas Ranger, became a legendary gunfighter in five seconds on April 14, 1881. In El Paso, Texas, a local cattle rustler shot and killed the El Paso County constable. Arriving on the scene, Stoudenmire, the city marshal, fired at the shooter, killing a Mexican bystander. His second shot killed the rustler. Former City Marshal George Campbell made the fatal mistake of drawing and pointing his sixgun at Stoudenmire while saying he was not involved. Stoudenmire’s third shot killed Campbell. And so, four men were dead in five seconds.
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While there are several documented handguns that belonged to Stoudenmire, the sixgun that he always had on him while marshal of El Paso was a Colt 1860 Army with the Richards-Mason conversion to fire .44 caliber cartridges. It was further modified to be a “belly gun” carried in a hip pocket. Ironically, Dallas Stoudenmire was killed in 1882 while intoxicated by a gunfighter/gambler/saloon-owner using a Colt SAA “belly gun.”
I enjoy replicating and shooting genuine gunfighter guns. I recently obtained a high-quality replica of a Richards-Mason-converted Colt 1860 Army in the original .44 Colt caliber from Cimarron Firearms. Like the originals, this Uberti-manufactured copy has the rear sight notch in the top of the hammer as well as a hammer-mounted firing pin. Richards-Mason conversions used newly manufactured barrels after Colt ran out of surplus 1860 Army barrels.
Copying Stoudenmire’s pocket pistol was relatively easy, as it had the ejector assembly discarded and the barrel cut back to approximately 3 inches. I simply removed the ejector assembly of my Cimarron sixgun by removing a single screw and used a hacksaw to shorten the barrel. Stoudenmire had not bothered with a front sight on his belly gun, so no machining was needed. I cleaned up the new muzzle with a file and crowned it with 600-grade emery paper on the ball of my thumb. Stoudenmire’s Colt had the ejector-mounting hole in the barrel plugged with the original screw and a special nut for the ejector side of the barrel. I was able to fabricate the required nut by cutting the ejector housing mount off of the housing and filing it flush with the barrel. A bit of cold bluing on the fitted nut and my Stoudenmire Colt was finished.
I prefer to personalize my sixguns, so I replaced the one-piece walnut grips with a set of Buffalo Brothers synthetic aged ivory, one-piece grips with fake cracks. I found that Black Hills Ammunition produces .44 Colt ammunition, and I obtained a 50-round box for testing. My new snub-nose single action is easily soda-can accurate at 10 to 15 feet. And after shooting up my 50 rounds of .44 Colt ammunition, I was delighted to find that Winchester’s .44 Special CAS loads chamber and shoot well in this powerful pocket gun. We’ll take another look at my special El Paso gunfighter’s gun after I get it back from the engraver.
Spyderco Bradley Bowie
Spyderco has a reputation for producing high-quality, state-of-the-art folding knives that open easily and quickly with one hand using a signature thumbhole in the blade spine. While I have used several of the company’s knives for many years, I have been anxiously awaiting a fixed-blade Bowie knife from Spyderco. New for 2015, the Bradley Bowie, designed for Spyderco by custom knifemaker Gayle Bradley, is just what I have been waiting for.
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The full-tang blade is produced from PSF27 carbon steel. This steel is described by Spyderco as “an incredibly tough spray-formed tool steel…spray forming rapidly solidifies the molten steel into small particles so its component alloys cannot ‘segregate’ or settle. The result is a steel with an ultra-fine, extremely homogenous grain structure.” It should be noted that PSF27 is not a stainless steel, so care should be taken to ensure that the blade is not damaged by rust. The 5-inch, clip-point blade has a long false edge along the top and a noticeable belly. It is flat ground of 3/16-inch steel for maximum strength while providing superior edge geometry for low-friction cutting.
The handle has a sizeable integral lower guard to anchor one’s hand. The handle scales are made from black G10, which will last several lifetimes. The scales are secured with heavy-duty tubular rivets to reduce weight in the handle and improve balance. The tubular rivets also allow one to easily attach a lanyard. This new Spyderco fixed blade measures 9-7/8 inches long overall and comes with a custom synthetic sheath.
Atlanta Cutlery Push Dagger
Atlanta Cutlery’s recent catalog included the Windlass Push Dagger, a historically correct copy of a 19th century push dagger. The 3-7/8-inch, double-edge, hollow-ground, spear-point blade is constructed of 3/16-inch, high-carbon tool steel. The T-shaped handle, 3½ inches long, is constructed of genuine, high-polished Buffalo horn. The overall length of the push dagger is 7-3/16 inches. Unusual with modern copies is the period-correct steel sheath, which has steel shim to secure the blade. The sheath includes a period-correct, adjustable-tension belt clip.
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This article originally published in the Winter 2016 issue of GUNS OF THE OLD WEST®, print and digital subscriptions to GUNS OF THE OLD WEST are available here.