Lever action and a revolver, is that all the guns men owned +100 years ago?

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by CaliforniaCanuck, Apr 13, 2019.

  1. CaliforniaCanuck

    CaliforniaCanuck Guide

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    The concept of owning fewer guns isn't working for me but I do wish I new how to be content with only a two or three.

    I just started watching a western and the scene has the cowboy insert his lever gun into the leather scabbard on his saddle, a pistol on his hip and he rode off into the sunset.

    Those two guns are likely all the guns he owned. Maybe he has a shotgun some place but it wasn't on his horse!
     
  2. PaPa K

    PaPa K Supporter Supporter

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    If I was in a situation that required only two I could be comfortable with my Henry steel big boy Carbine and Ruger Vaquero both in .357. Of course my .45-70 Marlin could sub for the Henry, and a scattergun would be handy at times.

    But, fewer does not seem to be working for me either:33:
     
  3. CamoDeafie82

    CamoDeafie82 Guide

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    Movies. Not exactly the most reliable :rolleyes:

    Realistically it could be anywhere from 2 to 4 guns on a person, depending on the models, number of ammo carried, types of guns... for example, a 6 shooter revolver, a carbine or rifle (or two!), a double barrel shotgun and/or a derringer (good for gut shots or calling out swindlers in rigged card games...)


    Edit; ironically, all I own are 4 firearms... a handgun, a 9mm carbine, an AR15 and a nice old trap/huting 12ga pump shotgun..and I usually go out in the woods with only 2 of the 4 on me.


    Same with the idea a cowboy only had a wool blanket or two on his saddle for nights in the deserts when in reality.. there were always chuck wagons, and secondary wagons with impressively big, lofty heavy sleeping systems... likely these wagons also carried ammo, extra guns, parts, and clothing needed.

    Historical pictures of cowboys and their stuff taken from Google Image search... Cowboys-Bedrolls.jpg 10-Things-Cowboys-Carried-With-Them-In-The-Wild-West-To-Survive-890x395_c.jpg CampingBedroll_CowboytyingupbedrollCattleranchnearMarfaTexas.jpg
     
  4. slysir

    slysir Supporter Supporter

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    I'm not comparing Hollywood with real life, but I always liked the gun cabinets bulging with weapons in Bonanza, The Big Valley and all those rifle racks in Sheriffs offices!! :cool:

    -John
     
  5. slysir

    slysir Supporter Supporter

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    double post
     
  6. CSM1970

    CSM1970 Guide

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    Most of the Volunteer Texas Militia owned only one BP rifle or musket though some owned a BP pistol as a last chance. Big knives were also used for the last chance. In fact, ownership of multiple copies of the same item (clothes, shoes, hats, coats, cooking items, horses, etc.) was pretty uncommon among the poor folk. Even food seldom varied except on holidays. Corn bread, salt pork and water was the fare every meal of every day. We have much to be thankful for today.
     
  7. central joe

    central joe All quacked up Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Guns were tools back then, not like today where the availability and style vary widely. Ya used what worked best for the job at hand, not showing off the newest at the shooting range. joe
     
  8. Seacapt.

    Seacapt. Supporter Supporter

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    Actual WORKING cowboys very seldom carried a rifle or revolver, if they even owned one were kept in the chuck or supply wagon. The exception was a possible out rider that carried a rifle for herd protection of dangerous animals depending on area and/or putting down sick or injured livestock in the herd. I don't know about the Westerners but here in Northern New England 100 years ago non city dwelling home owners and farmers just had a 16 or 20 gauge shot gun mostly single shot which helped keeping the larder full of meat and fowl, protected the hen house and put down the livestock at the end of their usefulness.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
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  9. Invictvs138

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    It would be nice to know what kinds of people owned firearms in the post-civil war west. Hollywood & Louis LaAmor have totally distorted our view of the era.

    I’ve read the well researched Allen Eckert series “the frontiersman”, and the average homestead had one long arm. They basically used this firearm for everything - hunting, protection, militia service, etc ....True frontiersman/mountain men (prior to civil war) had muzzle loading long rifles, but I’m totally unsure by about 1880 if the average western small town dweller or Cowboy for that matter even owned a firearm...
     
  10. santaman2000

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    The real cowboys (the ones who drove cattle herds north to the stockyards) often didn’t carry any gun at all. They owned them, but left them at home during cattle drives. Those who did usually carried a long gun.

    On the other hand soldiers carried several handguns. Switching to a fresh gun was much easier and faster on horseback than reloading, especially the back in cap & ball era of the Civil War and before.
     
  11. santaman2000

    santaman2000 Guide

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    Most of them (small towns and rurally) still had at least a long gun and hunted through the Great Depression in the early 2oth Century as well as currently. Larger cities,might vary quite a bit though.
     
  12. drobs

    drobs Guide

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    100 years ago was 1919. Not everyone was poor back then. In my fantasy view of history, I see myself as a wealthy oil baron or cattle rancher. I think a shiny new Thompson would be just the thing to own:

    [​IMG]
     
  13. jstert

    jstert Scout

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    i prefer hollywood over the real west: a lever action rifle in a scabbard, a couple of revolvers on the hip (one crossdraw to be cooler), a derringer tucked away and a double barrel coach shotgun somewhere. oh and an unlimited supply of ammo and perfect aim.
     
  14. woodsranger

    woodsranger Solitude Seeker Supporter

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    My preference would be a scoped bolt action in .308 for long range, an Ar-15 for intermediate and short range, and a 9mm pistol. But I'd could be happy with a Winchester 94 Trapper in .357 mag and a .357 mag revolver. Or even a Ruger PC Carbine and a 9mm pistol. Never was much of a shotgun guy.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
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  15. bosque bob

    bosque bob Guide

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    Grandfather grew up hunting out of necessity more than 100 years ago and all he ever used was a shotgun. It's said he was very good at head shots on small game but sometimes would have to watch out for lead in the larger animals. He grew up on a farm and never went on a cattle drive as far as I know so maybe that doesn't count.
     
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  16. NevadaBlue

    NevadaBlue —- Roughian #7 -— --- Graybeard -— Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    A water cooled Browning and a brace of 1911s would do nicely.
     
  17. scottman

    scottman Bushmaster

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    The Family Survival Gun has some history in the beginning of the book kind of on this subject.

    I'd say some members here are far better off historically then what some had back then
     
  18. Birdman

    Birdman Guide

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    My grandfather was born 1908, in eastern Oregon. He was a field hand, turned mechanic later in life when new fangled automobiles, and tractors became more prevalent.
    His one and only gun, his whole life, was a hand me down 10 guage "long tom".
    Its served all duties, and Dad says it always kept the family fed.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
  19. Birdman

    Birdman Guide

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    Forgot to add, I'd be perfectly content with just a rifle(bolt or lever), a revolver, and a double shotgun.
     
  20. santaman2000

    santaman2000 Guide

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    My Dad was born in 1909 and my Granddad was born in 1888. I still have both of their guns: Granddady’s 20 gauge Winchester Model 12 pump action shotgun, and Daddy’s Remington Model 11-48 semi-auto 12 gauge.
     
  21. GoodPhotos

    GoodPhotos Father, Hustband, Patriot, Entrepreneur Supporter

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    I know a lot of folks are super keen on their black rifles and striker fired plastic fantastic pistols these days, but honestly a Model 73 Winchester in .44-40 and a complimentary .44-40 Colt (Colt copy) revolver...maybe a single or double bbl (or even a nice pump) 12Ga. and what more does anyone need*?

    The Winchester certainly takes longer to reload than an AR, but it also holds 14+1 and is capable of fairly fast ROF with practice.

    *Want and has a right to own are entirely different matters of course.
     
  22. scottman

    scottman Bushmaster

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    Laws ... that caliber wouldn’t be legal for me to hunt deer here in lower part of state .

    And then ammo selection what does good in long gun for your use might not do good in handgun for your use so you have different ammo for each unless you’re plinking or target shooting
     
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  23. GoodPhotos

    GoodPhotos Father, Hustband, Patriot, Entrepreneur Supporter

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    .44-40 wouldn't be legal in your state?
    We have some places (mostly heavily suburban that I'd not hunt in anyhow) that are 'shotgun' only and a few where only bowhunting is allowed, but no other laws that would restrict a .44-40 specifically. In our dense swampy boreal forests .44-40 is decent. I rarely am more than 25ft from any deer I'm going to bother shooting at when I can see one. :)
     
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  24. MAD Punty

    MAD Punty Supporter Supporter

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    I'm pretty sure most everyone had a shotgun...single shot mostly, more wealthy folks had a SXS. A single shot was affordable and low maintenance, easy to clean, could put virtually any sort of game on the dinner table, and fend off bad guys and bears.

    In many ways, I think the west was settled largely with the shotgun.

    Later, once the west was settled more or less, can't say what folks carried or when or if, but I think most of them would at least own a handgun and a long gun in the same caliber, and a shotgun somewhere in the house.

    A handgun for self defense, of course. A rifle to shoot fox or coyotes or whatever was getting into your chicken and rabbits, without shooting your chickens and rabbits. A shotgun to harvest dinner from the land.

    I suspect that the trio was very, very common, but I don't think everyone was strolling around town with guns hanging off them all over the place any more than they might stroll into town with an axe over their shoulder. They might have a pistol at their hip....but I very much doubt people walked around with long guns unless they were the law or something. Long guns were tools for the homestead, just like an axe or shovel.

    I'm no expert by any means...this is just my thought process. People today, even licensed ones, often don't carry their handguns around just because it's kind of a pain sometimes. I'm pretty sure the western settlers and cowboys felt the same way toting around 8 to 10 pound rifles. Constantly picking it up, putting it down, resting it against things...having it fall over accidentally...who needs that crap?
     
  25. santaman2000

    santaman2000 Guide

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    To be fair, the actual “settlers” were there before cartridge guns. I’ve read “The frontier was settled with a musket, but it was tamed with a Colt.”
     
  26. santaman2000

    santaman2000 Guide

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    To be honest even the old photos might not be th most accurate way to tell. Photography was difficult and expensive and the pictures were more likely posed than candid.
     
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  27. NJStricker

    NJStricker Guide

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    I grew up going to farm auctions of families that lived through the Depression. Often they only had a 16 ga single shot and a .22 rifle
     
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  28. x39

    x39 Hyperborean Supporter

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    The fun part being if you had the money, you could get them mail ordered to you, LOL!
     
  29. Akela

    Akela Scout

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    Shotguns were (and still are) versatile.
    With a breech-loader, you could load the brass hulls with birdshot, buckshot, or a big heavy bore-sized single round ball, depending on what you were wanting to do.
     
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  30. Paul Foreman

    Paul Foreman Supporter Supporter

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    my great-grandfather policed the indian territories for judge parker. he carried a double-barrelled shotgun, a lever-action rifle, and at least one six-shooter. i do not know the brands or types. i do know a scabrous grand uncle pawned the firearms ...
     
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  31. CSM1970

    CSM1970 Guide

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    That grinding, groaning sound is the space-time continuum being violently warped!
     
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  32. CaliforniaCanuck

    CaliforniaCanuck Guide

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    My father was born in 1924 and for the time I knew him he owned only one gun which was a Walther PP in 32acp. He said he hunted before we were born but he never owned any long guns after having us.

    I own lets just say "more" than he had plus I bought another one yesterday. If he was alive to count my guns he would think I was nuts!

    My kids have their hunting licenses and most of what I have is allocated for them. Nothing crazy, hunting/trap shotgun, hunting rifle, 22 rifle, and a couple pistols each. They may never need to buy a gun in the future and I'm hoping they can be content with what I leave them.
     
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  33. Bigghoss

    Bigghoss Guide

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    I'm trying to thin out my collection but at the same time I have 3 each of my serious use guns so only owning 2-3 guns total is absolutely out of the question. I suppose I could go down to 5 or 6 different models if I really wanted to.
     
  34. Zach Smith

    Zach Smith Scout

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    I'm the same way multiples of HD/work guns.
     
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  35. drobs

    drobs Guide

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    I just want 1 more.
     
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  36. 66drifter

    66drifter Guide

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    ¿ JUST 1 ?
     
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  37. Dave_Markowitz

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    Pennsylvania is similar in our "special regulations areas." I.e., more heavily populated, mostly SE PA. Legal arms for big game in the SRA are muzzleloaders, shotguns, and archery. Rifles are legal in the rest of the state.

    At least a couple midwestern states only allow straight walled cartridges in rifles for deer. So, while .45 Colt or .45-70 would be legal, .44-40 would not, since it has a bottleneck.
     
  38. scottman

    scottman Bushmaster

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    45-70 is too long for my st ate in "shotgun zone" 45 colt would be ok. 44-40 not because it's bottle necked.

    I c ould use a 9mm luger handgun but not my 9x25 dillon.
     
  39. Bigghoss

    Bigghoss Guide

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    I think he's making a joke. He will always want 1 more than he has.
     
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  40. CaliforniaCanuck

    CaliforniaCanuck Guide

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    It's probably safe to assume everyone wants just one more!
     
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  41. LazyPK

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    I only have a 40sw pistol and a 22 bolt action these days. I have thousands upon thousands of 22, and a few hundred 40sw. I don't think I need anything else. I am not a deer Hunter, I just hunt small game and pigs. I reckon most folks would have ejust had the one
     
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  42. Wasp

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    A lot of people don't realize horses and wagons were used well into the 20th century (mid 1900s+ in rural areas), so there were several options available by then. I know my grandfather's and great grandfathers favorite gun was a pump shotgun in 12 ga, followed by a single shot .22. Money was tight and they were working guns.

    If youre talking cowboys (still into the 20th century) I'm sure a lot depended on whether you were talking at home or on the trail. And whether they carried them at all times depended on where they were going and what they expected to run onto.
     
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  43. PMSteve

    PMSteve Old Timey Outdoorsman Supporter

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    Whatever guns they carried, I want to know where they got those 'sparking' bullets that we see in the movies. The ones that make a spark whenever the bullet struck something hard, like dirt or sumpthin'.

    Steve
     
  44. Seacapt.

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    Those were the tracer rounds of the era which were especially handy after dark.
     
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  45. aaronu

    aaronu Armchair Bushcrafter Bushcraft Friend

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    My great grandfather had only a shotgun. It was sufficient for a multi-year migration (covered wagon) from Wisconsin to the west coast, with detours to Texas and the Dakotas, ~1900.

    My grandfather (b. 1904) had, as far as I know, only a .38 Long Colt revolver. It was sufficient for guarding pack trains up into the mountains of California, basically supply runs from Eureka up to the homestead near Ruth. It was also sufficient protection during the Depression, when he fed his family dealing cards in the back room of a local house of ill repute.

    My dad was a whole 'nuther story. He was born in 1932, bought his first gun at age 7 or 8 with his own money: a used Winchester Model 67. He was a certified, amplified, satisfied, dignified, verified, magnified, bona fide GUN NUT.
     
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  46. santaman2000

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    My uncle was still logging with a team of draft horses in the late 1960s and I was still plowing with a horse until I enlisted in 1976. My cousin’s still plowing with a mule today.
     
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  47. RJM52

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    First I'd ever heard of unarmed cowboys during cattle drives... Most pictures I have seen of them out working, there is usually a handgun on their waist and many times a rifle in a scabbard.

    There was no LE presence out there and the Army wasn't around so most of these guys were on their own when it came to bandits and Indians....

    Bob
     
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  48. santaman2000

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    Put it to a test; try to rope a calf and brand it while wearing a gun. Do that all day long. Pictures were posed.
     
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  49. RJM52

    RJM52 Guide

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    I just did a search question about it and it basically said if they were in a "safe" area they usually stored them but if there was any chance of bandits, Indians or stampedes they then carried them.

    Also said that many ranches banned the possession of their employees privately owned guns "unless needed". Cow towns also prohibited the cowboys from carrying due to past "transgressions"...
     
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  50. chickasaw_hunter

    chickasaw_hunter Scout

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    My grandfather farmed in Indian Territory and later Oklahoma. He had two firearms, one was a Stevens single shot .22 and the other was a single shot 12 ga. I don't know what ever happened to the .22, but my cousin worked for NATO and was living in Belgium. He took my grandfather's shotgun over with him and was able to track down the grandson of the gunsmith who made it. The man was elated to hear about the history of his grandfathers shotgun, he took the shotgun and restored it to original condition. Back in those days gun production in there was a cottage industry and small shops would produce them and sell them to exporters. My grandfather's old shotgun had certainly see better days and had some damage, including a broken trigger. It's still a plain jane shotgun but it has a new life now.
     
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