Antique and Collectable Firearms and Militaria Headquarters



Antique and Collectable Firearms and Militaria Headquarters
Number 10 -May, 2003
Celebrating Over Six Years Of Service To Our Collector Friends!
Copyright 2003. All rights reserved.


Feature Article:

Colt Exhibit at Cody Firearms Museum
and Your Family's Yellowstone Vacation Trip
(Ending October 6, 2003, so don't procrastinate too long!)

Once again the Cody Firearms Museum (one of five world class museums under a single roof at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming) is the site of a once in a lifetime special exhibit for gun collectors. In 1997 Cody hosted the Remington exhibit with one of every model they made, with loads of information shared by the most advanced collectors and researchers. This was then incorporated into a superb reference book, Roy Marcot's Remington: America's Oldest Gunmaker. Regretably, this books is not widely available, and the limited stocks printed are nearly all sold, so get one before the prices start to climb. We have one copy on our book page and a few are still available from the author via the Remington Society of America page

Billed as " the most historically significant exhibition of Colt firearms presented in the past 100 years" this year's Colt exhibit alone is well worth the trip to Cody. Of course, other family members may be more thrilled by the other great stuff there, and you really need at least two days to adequately explore everything in all the museums.

The Colt exhibit features narration by Tom Selleck, himself a serious gun collector, introducing the exhibit, and explaining the significance of the carved wooden model of the revolving cylinder made by Sam Colt, and also the awesome qualities of artistically engraved Colts. As would be expected, the guns selected for this prestigious event are comprehensive in covering the many variations. The technical significance is matched by the superb condition, and historical provenance of many. Starting with the earliest Paterson Colts, the display continues through the percussion and cartridge eras including the auto loading and full auto weapons.

Collectors with any arms interest will surely find a lot to appreciate, even if not a Colt specialist. If cased Patersons do not trip your trigger, gaze upon the many Single Action Armies, or nearly an equal number of variations of the unsurpassed M1911 series, or the disrespected double action pistols. If handguns are not very exciting, then check out the amazing variety of Colt longarms, sporting and military, from the early days to the present. Berdan rifles, double barrel shotguns, Lightning rifles, Colt brand bolt action sporters, the ubiquitous M16 and the sexy Thompson may raise your pulse rate. If big boys need bigger toys, then check out the variety of crew served machine guns, complete with mounts, and even a WW1 machine gun cart to carry them. Owning a Colt made Browning potato digger, the Vickers and Maxim, and the later water cooled and air cooled .30 and .50 Brownings is the secret fantasy of many collectors. [Just wait until I hit the lottery!]

Overall the exhibit is spectacular, both in content, and presentation. Well lit, with good signs to explain the significance of most things. My only complaint is that several dozen guns deserving of special added information have cards with the info placed at the bottom of the case, but refer to the accession number (such as L02.1476.302B that the curatorial staff likes) instead of a simple, easy to find letter or number to allow the visitor to match the info and the hardware.

While billed as the "most historically significant . . . in the last 100 years" and a truly superb exhibit, the 1962 "Samuel Colt Presents" exhibit at the Connecticut State Library featuring presentation Colts is a close second. As an impoverished high school student gun enthusiast (in the days before that would become grounds for expulsion or worse) I saw the 1962 exhibit. and its memories have been cherished ever since. Those fortunate enough to see this exhibit will have similar fond recollections for decades.

The Colt Collectors Association, whose members provided most of the guns, also arranged for a book to document this exhibit. At $125 it is pricey, but beautifully photographed, and even though I do not care much about Colts, I invested in a copy, and think it will be a useful augment to R.L. Wilson's definitive Book of Colt Firearms..

Remember, the Colt exhibit is a special feature for this summer only, in addition to the awesome regular gun exhibits of the Cody Firearms Museum. Those cover most major models by nearly all major US makers, although the museum began the factory reference collection of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company.

In addition to the Cody Firearms Museum, the other sections of teh Buffalof Bill Historical Center are: the Buffalo Bill Museum; the Western Art Collection; the Museum of the Plains Indian, and the Draper Museum of Natural History.

The Draper Museum of Natural History opened last year and the geology and wildlife exhibits should appeal to many people. In my view, it is badly manured by a politically correct environmentalist bias, which I found disgusting, but be convincing to others. Triggering the gag reflex were such comments as noting that wildlife species are thriving becasue of "government agency programs" but ignoring the funds and efforts of the hunters and sportsmen which are every bit as important as "government agencies." How about "famers and ranchers fear..." stuff about wacky restrictions on their liivelihood, or reintrodcution of predator species, but "scientists and envirionmental studies..." show something or other. Farming, grazing, irrigation, and breathing by white settlers are clearly frowned upon, but Injun activites are okay. Send your mother-in-law to see this section, or breeze through quickly and it may be useful. (Major donor is a former Connecticut state legislator, Ms. Draper, so she who paid the piper probably called the tune on this one.)

Anyone contemplating the trip to Cody should also plan on spending a day or two in Yellowstone National park, just a few hours west of Cody. Yes, summer is tourist season (You would be up to your butt in snow most of the winter, so summer is a better choice!) However, if up to your butt in tourists is not to your liking, a September visit after Labor Day and before the Colt exhibit closes would be a better schedule. Make reservations early, and just accept the fact that everything will be expensive. (Just tell your spouse that if saving money is a concern, you will gladly just take her to the next local gunshow instead of Cody and Yellowstone.)

Our family trip thru Yellowstone last week included seeing hundreds and hundreds of buffalo in various herds, scores of elk, a dozen big horn sheep, several mooses, lots of gooses, and a bald eagle proudly guarding their nest about 50 feet from the road. And, breathtaking scenery, scary bubbly caldrons of sulfery brews, jumping geysers, and an endless variety of the other neat stuff to see. Artist's Point view of the Falls of the Yellowstone is breathtakingly beautiful, so don't miss that.

Lodging in the park facilities is not much more expensive than that in Cody or West Yellowstone, and is conducive to seeing a lot more sights instead of fighting traffic in and out of the park each day. Food at some park restaurants is good, and at others not good, and never cheap. Advance grocery shopping is recommended, or you can stock up on MRE's to share among your passengers.


Special Opportunity for Newsletter Subscribers

We just got done cataloging a lot of different types of guns. Before posting them for the public, we wanted to give our loyal customers and subscribers a shot at them. A bit of everything with some ugly guns ("assault rifles"- that we normally do not carry, but got as part of a collection); some great Enfields, a variety of U.S. military longarms and other WW2 guns, some nice modern handguns, and who knows what else. Go check them out at This page will only be up for a few days and then we will begin posting these on the regular catalog pages for everyone else.

The Newsletter Specials page only has guns, so don't forget to check all the regular catalog pages as we have added a lot of stuff in recent weeks that you may have missed.


Springfield Armory
1903 Springfield Rifle Centennial Exhibit

Opens Saturday May 31, 2003 1:30 PM

The National Park Service invites everyone to Springfield Armory National Historic Site for the opening of a special exhibit "The Centennial of the Model 1903 - A Soldier's Priceless Friend." The guest speaker at this event will be prolific writer and author, Joe Poyer, of the North Cape "For Collectors Only" series. Free Admission. Book signings afterwards.

"No American standard issue rifle was ever held in greater affection and awe or elicited more confidence," states Armory historian, Richard Colton. Poyer's presentation will trace the historical research and development of this famous WWI and early WWII rifle. Poyer's expertise dovetails nicely with the new exhibit that interprets the early prototype (1900 - 1902) rifles based on the German Mauser rifle design, the social history of the 1903 rifle and the influence of President Theodore Roosevelt.

More than 80 rifle have been specially brought out for this exhibit. Many are scarce, some unique, examples showing the evolutionary development of the Model 1903 rifle from some of the concepts of the Mauser rifles. Other special rifles on exhibit will include the "battle ready 1903's."

After the presentation, find out about the opportunities for a second floor Rifle-room Tour. Take yourself, your relatives or friends on a memorable 1 hour guided tour of the firearms storage area! See over 5800 weapons not on exhibit - part of the largest American military firearms collection in the world. (I have been through it and begged to be locked in for a week or two, but they refused.)

Visit the Springfield Armory web site for more information or to browse the collection at

There is an amazing amount of information available at the "Browse collection" link, although it takes a bit of trial and error to figure out how to look through their inventory of guns with historical information and references for each item along with a good photo. (This is a wonderful resource if you need ideas for labels for an exhibit). I could not get into the documents section but have high hopes of finding treasures in there.


Book Review:

Random Shots: Episodes in the Life of a Weapons Developer

Roy E. Rayle, Random Shots: Episodes in the Life of a Weapons Developer, privately published, 2002, 150 pages, $19.95

This little gem is something I stumbled across when surfing one day. Before getting into the fascinating content of the book, I have to put in a plug for the publisher (whom I have never met, and I don't get anything for saying good stuff about him.) Ray Merriam in Bennington, Vermont is a dreamer, or more accurately a visionary who enjoys his job, and perhaps makes a living doing what he likes instead of what some corporate boss likes. He enjoys military history, and in 1968 began a WW2 History magazine that went through several name changes. After about 10 years he broadened into a general Military Journal, and in the 1980s into the Weapons and Warfare theme, but then abandoned the unprofitable periodical field to focus on publication of booklets and books. In this endeavor, he has remained focused on WW2 era people and events, but sometimes covers a wider scope of military matters. It appears that his offerings are mostly individual or unit memoirs, or copies of obscure manuals, reports or other documents. The company's goal is " is to promote the study of all aspects of the Second World War and, to a lesser extent, military history in general, to help make resources and materials more readily available and known to all who are interested."

Beyond the content of the publications, which reflects dedication and hard work to locate and prepare for sale, he is to be commended for the technology he uses. This is literally a "print on demand" type operation where your order is printed when you order it, on high quality printers, with good paper, and then neatly bound with cardstock covers. In addition to hard copy, he also can provide a wealth of info in electronic form, mainly as .pdf versions. (He also peddles the hard copy originals after digitzing them, so you can find originals, reprints, or digital versions on his site. Prices are modest, and quality is excellent, and service is great. If you want a printed copy of some old dogface's memoirs, a copy of a WW1 grenade manual, a set of high-res WW2 photos on a CD, or one of dozens of other eclectic items basically not available anywhere else, this is a great place to look. We added a link to him, and urge you to support him You gotta like someone who is having fun doing what interests him, and we hope he is successful.

The author of the book being reviewed, Roy Rayle, spent time working for the U.S. Navy on gunfire control systems in WW2, and worked on Air Force armament systems after the War. In 1953 he was commissioned in the Army as an Ordnance Officer. He spent a lot of time at Springfield and was a key player in the small arms development and trials in the 1950s leading up to the adoption of the M14 rifle over the T48 and FN designs. He had personal contacts with such experts as John Garand, Melvin Maynard Johnson, Bill Brophy, and Jim Crossman. He also participated in the M60 machine gun development, and helped figure out how to mount the 105mm Howitzer in the AC-130 gunships. His account is not "braggy" credit taking, but a fascinating and dispassionate, detailed account of what went on in the way of testing, scheduling, technical challenges, political factors, personalities, and the bureaucracy, etc that all go into a weapons development program. Those of you who wisely heeded our advice to read Bruce Canfield's excellent book Johnson Rifles and Machine Guns, and also Billy Pyle's Gas Trap Garand will really appreciate learning the "rest of the story", about how rifles are tested and evaluated and selected. Much of Rayle's story is truly "random" which help keep it interesting as it gets into varied topics. There are also a couple of appendices at the end full of technical stuff for engineers to love (although history majors will shudder at the mere thought of such matters).

Any U.S. military arms collector will enjoy and be enlightened by this book, and I am sure that you can find other publications from this source of equal interest.


Darwin Award:

Darwin Award Honorable Mention

(Note: Darwin Awards are earned by those who remove themselves from the gene pool by extraordinarily stupid actions, demonstrating the survival of the fittest members of a species.) Used courtesy of

The Smoking Gun
2002 Darwin Award Nominee
Unconfirmed by Darwin (July 2002, Wisconsin)

Two drunks were goofing around, when one challenged the other to shoot him with cigarette butts "to see what it would feel like." His friend obligingly loaded a gun with three cigarette butts, placing ammunition behind the butts to make sure they left the barrel of the gun. He then shot his friend from a distance of seven feet. The friend who issued the challenge died of two cigarette butts to the head, and one to the heart. The gene pool is in trouble!


This is the end of the Newsletter

We hope it was useful or interesting.  We invite you to visit Antique and Collectable Firearms and Militaria Headquarters, when you are ready to add to your collection, or even if you decide to sell all or part of it.
John Spangler & Marc Wade


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