Smith & Wesson Forum

Go Back   Smith & Wesson Forum > >

The Lounge A Catch-All Area for non-gun topics that don’t fit elsewhere. Keep it Family Friendly. See The Rules for Banned Topics!
Put gun topics in the gun forums.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 12-20-2011, 04:16 PM
PALADIN85020's Avatar
PALADIN85020 PALADIN85020 is offline
US Veteran
First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol!  
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Arizona
Posts: 8,038
Likes: 2,126
Liked 31,490 Times in 3,957 Posts
Default First pistol!



The year was 1950. I was a boy then, and the proud owner of a brand new .22 Winchester Model 69A bolt action repeating rifle. My dad and I loved to go shooting with it, and I practiced often enough to be able to shoot the center out of a penny at 25 yards using the rifle’s open sights. Showing those disemboweled pennies to my friends at school moved me up a lot of notches on the “cool guy” scale, for sure! The place we most often chose to shoot was a range created by nature. Just north of Phoenix was a prominent peak known today as Lookout Mountain. Although today subdivisions cluster about its base, at that time it was out in untouched desert. Its slopes made for natural backstops and an ideal place to target shoot undisturbed. But one day another shooter was there when we arrived. We started to turn the family car around to find another suitable spot, but the stranger waved to us and beckoned us to come join him. When we approached, he grinned and said, “Wanted to show ya somethin’ special!”

With that, he removed the magazine from the pistol he was pointing down range, and locked its action open. Now I had read about the new Ruger .22 semiauto pistols in the American Rifleman magazines I was fond of reading in the school library (yes!), but I had yet to see one. Now the stranger was proudly displaying one that he had just bought (in those days for $37.50). He demonstrated how it worked and proceeded to let loose nine rounds, emptying the magazine. He locked the bolt back after the last round. “Ain’t she a hoot?” he asked. Dad agreed, but all I could do was to stand there bug-eyed and think ‘Wow, you can fire off 9 shots just by pulling the trigger! And it looks so neat! Just like a Luger!’ All my nerves were screaming “I really wanna shoot that gun!” Wonder of wonders, the stranger said that if my dad agreed, I was welcome to try it out. Dad nodded his head, and I was shown how to load the magazine. I loaded it up with nine rounds and inserted the magazine into the grip frame until it clicked home. The stranger showed me how to load one into the chamber by pressing down on the safety that also doubled as a bolt hold-open latch. Pointing the pistol downrange with one hand and aligning the sights, I carefully squeezed the trigger and let fly with 9 rounds in quick succession. Good news and bad news. Good news: the little gun was FUN to shoot. Bad news: I was missing the target all over the place! Being used to a rifle that could be held steady in a variety of ways for accuracy, I was unaware of how much skill it took to suspend a pistol in midair with one hand and get it to shoot anywhere near the target. We all allowed that target shooting with a pistol required a lot of practice. Be that as it may, on that day, I hungered for a Ruger .22 pistol of my own. It was to be 10 years before that came to pass.

Fast forward to 1960. I turned 21 years old in that year, and had just completed college ROTC summer camp at Fort Lewis, Washington. We shot a familiarization course with the issue sidearm of the time, the .45 caliber 1911A1 pistol, and it whetted my desire to own a pistol of my own. Upon my return to Phoenix, I had gone shopping at the local FedMart store, and had spotted a number of bright red boxes emblazoned with a black eagle. Sure enough, the store was offering Ruger .22 pistols with barrel lengths of either 6 or 4 ¾ inches. The price was still $37.50 for either one. Being old enough to own a pistol and buy it myself then, I chose the 6-inch model, reasoning that the added barrel length would give the bullet more velocity and make it a bit more accurate with its longer sight radius. As I had been a member of the Arizona State University rifle team and was a senior in ROTC, I had access to the school rifle range. I could hardly wait to get down there and try out my new purchase. When I arrived, the old retired Army Master Sergeant who supervised the range gave me some valued pointers on pistol shooting, and we set up a target at 25 feet. Now ear protection in those days meant stuffing rifle patches or pieces of Kleenex in your ears…if you wanted to. We were not then aware that permanent damage to your hearing was possible when shooting in an unprotected manner. At any rate, on that concrete-enclosed range, shooting a .22 pistol instead of a rifle was a shock. The muzzle report was LOUD! I promptly got a couple of rifle patches and put them to use. As I shot more and more with that little Ruger, I got better and better with it, learning the fundamentals of grip, sight alignment and trigger control. Unlike my first showing with a Ruger .22 ten years prior, I was actually proficient!

I cleaned and kept my pistol in my college fraternity house. It was not unusual then to keep firearms around on campus. In fact, my first exposure to a number of other firearm types was back then on campus, courtesy of friends who owned them. It was legal then (as it still is in Arizona) to openly carry a handgun in a holster. I remember specifically going into a bank with one of my friends to withdraw some cash on our way to go shooting in the desert. I carried that Ruger on my hip, thought nothing about it, and it didn’t raise an eyebrow among the bank staff. How things have changed.

It became my habit to carry the Ruger in the glove compartment of my car when I was out and about. When this was done, the magazine was loaded but not the chamber, making it perfectly safe yet instantly ready by retracting and releasing the bolt. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to have a gun available…just in case. That attitude paid off late in 1960.

My girlfriend and I were parked one evening out on the desert. The moon was full and beautiful. All was tranquil and pleasant. And then it happened. Like a bolt of lightning, a truck loaded with several men came roaring up to my car, its headlights and auxiliary light rack bathing us in brilliant illumination on my side. I think these guys were four sheets to the wind, and I could hear empty beer cans rattling around in the truck bed. “Let’s get ‘em!” exclaimed one as he dismounted from the truck. Still in the bright lights of the truck, I quickly reached into the glove compartment and withdrew the Ruger. Holding it up so they could see plainly, I jacked a round into the chamber. “Hold it!” yelled one of the thugs. “He’s got a gun!” The guy who had jumped from the truck jumped back in it. “Come on, let’s go!” shouted another of them, and the truck peeled out in a cloud of dust. As the dust settled and we found ourselves alone again, my girlfriend and I heaved sighs of relief. I hate to think what might have happened had I not had that pistol available.

Early in 1961, approaching graduation, marriage and induction into the Army, I decided that I wanted a pistol with more power. Trained on the 1911A1 pistol, I thought that if I could find a surplus specimen, it would be just the ticket. On a visit to the Pinney and Robinson sporting goods store in Phoenix, I spotted a decent condition 1911A1 made by Ithaca during WWII. Interestingly, it had British proofs, giving it a bit more historical color. The only problem was that I didn’t have enough money for the purchase. The store clerk asked me if I had anything to trade. I uttered the words I regret to this day, explaining that yes, I had a Ruger .22 pistol, and could that work as trading material? In a few minutes, the deal was done. My Ruger and a bit of cash were traded for that 1911A1 and a box of war-surplus .45 ACP ammo. Alas, my first pistol disappeared into the morass of the marketplace, never to be seen again.

In later years, as my finances allowed, I bought a number of other Ruger .22s, including one (illustrated here) that closely duplicates that first pistol. My favorite was a Mark I bull barrel target pistol that I shot for many years in competition. I also found a 1950-vintage “red eagle” pistol, a duplicate of the first one I ever shot out by Lookout Mountain so many years ago. But in my heart of hearts, I wish I had kept that first pistol. I learned a bunch about pistol shooting and life by having it. It was fun and economical to shoot, and it probably saved a couple of skins just by being available. I’m glad I bought it, and I’ll regret forever that I let it go. Only the memories remain.

John
__________________
- Cogito, ergo armatus sum -
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 12-20-2011, 04:25 PM
Bill_inBouse Bill_inBouse is offline
US Veteran
First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol!  
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 438
Likes: 212
Liked 471 Times in 149 Posts
Default

Nice story. I too let a pistol get away from me in my younger years that I wish I still had. I still have the girlfriend been my wife (boss) for over 41 years now...how bout you John, the girl still around?
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 12-20-2011, 04:41 PM
Indiana George Indiana George is offline
US Veteran
Absent Comrade
First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol!  
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Central Indiana
Posts: 1,174
Likes: 463
Liked 128 Times in 62 Posts
Talking

Great story, John. I always enjoy them.

My first pistol was also a brand new Ruger MK I, but I paid $96.00 for mine!
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 12-20-2011, 04:52 PM
papajohn428's Avatar
papajohn428 papajohn428 is offline
Member
First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol!  
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Coastal Missouri
Posts: 1,892
Likes: 881
Liked 943 Times in 456 Posts
Default

Ah, the memories our of First Pistol.........and the sadness of knowing that we let it get away. Mine was a sweet little Colt 22 Single-action with dual cylinders, and it shot lights-out with the 22 Mag cylinder in place, not quite as well with the 22LR cylinder. It had a wonderful Colt Eliasson rear sight with a white outlined bar, and was easy to shoot well, given my awesome eyesight when I was younger. I bought and sold that gun three times before trading it to a fellow cop to give to a sergeant who had done some roof-work for him for free. It never saved anyone's bacon but I sure wish I had it back!
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 12-20-2011, 05:18 PM
deanodog deanodog is offline
US Veteran
First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol!  
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: KY
Posts: 3,554
Likes: 3,508
Liked 1,153 Times in 502 Posts
Default

Good story and pistol. I have owned several Rugers over the years and loved them all . Here is the first gun I owned, A High Standard double nine. I still own it after 1000s of rounds.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 12-20-2011, 05:42 PM
PALADIN85020's Avatar
PALADIN85020 PALADIN85020 is offline
US Veteran
First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol!  
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Arizona
Posts: 8,038
Likes: 2,126
Liked 31,490 Times in 3,957 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill_inBouse View Post
Nice story. I too let a pistol get away from me in my younger years that I wish I still had. I still have the girlfriend been my wife (boss) for over 41 years now...how bout you John, the girl still around?
That girl is still around, but I didn't marry her. I decided not long after that the girl I really wanted to spend the rest of my life with was my high school sweetheart whom I had known since the third grade - I never got over loving her. A year later she consented with joy to become my bride, and 50 years later we are still together. Sometimes you aim true and hit the mark.

John
__________________
- Cogito, ergo armatus sum -
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 12-20-2011, 05:46 PM
Will Carry's Avatar
Will Carry Will Carry is offline
Member
First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol!  
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 762
Likes: 411
Liked 597 Times in 239 Posts
Default

Have Gun Will Travel said the card of the man. Thanks John! For your service to your country and the very well written story. I like a good story.............
My first pistol was a Ruger Mark II with a 6" Bull Barrel. I didn't like it because it was not as accurate as a rifle and I couldn't see any use for it. Now I own two Ruger Mark II & IIIs.

Last edited by Will Carry; 12-20-2011 at 05:50 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 12-20-2011, 09:06 PM
Texas Star Texas Star is offline
US Veteran
First pistol! First pistol!  
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Texas
Posts: 19,678
Likes: 22,903
Liked 14,619 Times in 6,870 Posts
Default

No pics, but my first was a Webley MK VI that'd been converted to .45 ACP. First auto was a former Lend-Lease Colt M-1911A-1.

First S&W was a MK II .455 Hand Ejector.

Got the Webley at age 13, the others a few years later, a Colt M-1917 .45 in between.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 12-20-2011, 10:58 PM
moosedog moosedog is offline
SWCA Member
First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol!  
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Michigan
Posts: 6,040
Likes: 5,543
Liked 7,957 Times in 2,072 Posts
Default

Great post. Kept your original pistol and sweatheart. Nice.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 01-08-2012, 03:12 AM
Staggolee's Avatar
Staggolee Staggolee is offline
Member
First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol!  
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Mountains of VT
Posts: 10
Likes: 1
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Default

Great story, Paladin. Just out of curiosity, do you still have the 1911 that you traded your Ruger for?

My first handgun was a pietta 1851 in .44 black powder. Cost me $150 complete with a pound of goex and 100 cast .451 diameter balls. it's accurate, loud, smelly, and has fairly light recoil, all fun things. However, the darn thing is a little too complicated to disassemble and reassemble for its frequent cleanings, and the percussion caps keep falling into the gun's insides. With all the bathing, greasing, and smearing of lard that I need to do to keep the gun running, I can't help but wonder how a cowboy out in the middle of nowhere would be able to maintain the original version.

I've considered selling it to help pay for reloading equipment for my other firearms, but...it was my first. That loud black powder revolver comes in handy for scaring black bears away from the beehives.

Pretty amazing to think that you could have brought guns onto a college campus once. I think it's still legal in Michigan to CC on campus, as long as you have a license. Despite my school's atmosphere (campus was half empty during the protests at wall st, if that gives you an idea of the student body) I once woke up to find my neighbor target practicing outside with an air pistol. I came downstairs, chatted with him a bit, took a few shots and then went back inside. Nobody ever raised a fuss about it.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 01-08-2012, 08:18 AM
Jebus35745's Avatar
Jebus35745 Jebus35745 is offline
Member
First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol!  
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Independence, OH, USA
Posts: 5,528
Likes: 21,723
Liked 4,431 Times in 1,808 Posts
Default

Bought my std model MK 1 for abt 43.00 in the early 70's. Really liked the 5 1/2" bull but couldn't afford the few dollars more. Larry
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 01-08-2012, 08:21 AM
Brian41 Brian41 is offline
Member
First pistol! First pistol!  
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Davison, Michigan
Posts: 2,621
Likes: 57
Liked 1,151 Times in 717 Posts
Default

Nice story and one great pistol too. A MKI bull barrel was my first pistol around $100 in the mid 70's. I still have it and added a MKII a couple years ago.
I also have a 1950 Red Eagle that a friend gave me before he died a number of years ago. Jim didn't know how to break it down and never cleaned it other than running a patch down the barrel for all the years he owned it. It was sure dirty inside when I took it down but still was working 100% for him which says something for the design.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 01-08-2012, 10:57 AM
JJEH's Avatar
JJEH JJEH is offline
Member
First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol!  
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Tornado Alley, OK
Posts: 5,824
Likes: 10,029
Liked 4,771 Times in 1,796 Posts
Default

Wow, nice story.

I wasn't even planned in 1950... neither my parents
__________________
Jorge
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 01-08-2012, 11:38 AM
mg357 mg357 is offline
Member
First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol!  
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: washington illinois
Posts: 3,482
Likes: 9,048
Liked 2,655 Times in 1,023 Posts
Default

Great story Sir my first pistol was s&w model 36 i let it got a while back to help my family.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 01-08-2012, 12:34 PM
PALADIN85020's Avatar
PALADIN85020 PALADIN85020 is offline
US Veteran
First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol!  
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Arizona
Posts: 8,038
Likes: 2,126
Liked 31,490 Times in 3,957 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Staggolee View Post
Great story, Paladin. Just out of curiosity, do you still have the 1911 that you traded your Ruger for?
Yes, I still have that war surplus Ithaca 1911A1 pistol. While in the Army, I had it accurized by a gunsmith who really knew what he was doing, and I shot it in bullseye competition a lot. I subsequently had it it reblued. It still is the most accurate .45 I own. I have it in a fitted case with a Colt .22 conversion unit so I can shoot it economically now and again.

John
__________________
- Cogito, ergo armatus sum -
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 01-08-2012, 01:54 PM
slumpy slumpy is offline
Member
First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol! First pistol!  
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: missouri
Posts: 390
Likes: 1
Liked 5 Times in 5 Posts
Default

Mine was a Luger .22, still have it and wouldn't sell it from a million dollars, well maybe, except my youngest son has already laid claim to it, been shooting hedge apples with it since he was 10.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
1911, 22lr, bull barrel, bullseye, colt, ejector, gunsmith, hand ejector, ithaca, model 1917, rifleman, ruger, webley, winchester, wwii

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
CFE pistol powder. Regular small pistol primer Cota357 Reloading 11 12-10-2016 10:01 AM
WTS: Pistol Storage Racks and Otis Pistol Cleaning Kit ***(Prices Reduced)*** Marine Corps Air Accessories/Misc - For Sale or Trade 3 12-08-2015 06:51 PM
Show me your WORK pistol. And I'm not talking about a duty pistol. jbull380 The Lounge 18 08-18-2014 11:02 AM
Stock Service Pistol, Police Pistol Combat SW CQB 45 Smith & Wesson Competitive Shooting 6 04-05-2011 02:06 PM
FS: Flash suppressors, Ambidextrous Safety, pistol grip, pistol holster evnash Accessories/Misc - For Sale or Trade 3 03-18-2010 09:18 AM

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3
smith-wessonforum.com tested by Norton Internet Security smith-wessonforum.com tested by McAfee Internet Security

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 07:26 AM.


Search Engine Optimisation provided by DragonByte SEO v2.0.42 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2020 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
© S-W Forum, LLC 2000-2020
Smith-WessonForum.com is not affiliated with Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (NASDAQ Global Select: SWHC)