April 4, 1900 was my father’s birthdate.  We lost him in 1988.  He was a good man and a good dad, and I miss him still and always will.

It was he who instilled an appreciation of firearms and the responsibility they embody in me, his only son.  .22 rifle at age 4, handguns at 9, and carrying a loaded pistol when I started working part time in his jewelry store at age 12.

I inherited his guns, and have them all still.  He preferred Colts and Winchesters, but owned a couple of double barrels of other brands.  He carried daily: in his younger days, long before I was born, a .38 revolver had saved his life. I also inherited his love for the outdoors, and his habit of carrying a gun or at least always having one within reach for emergencies.

One of those heirlooms reaches still farther back: a 1903 Pocket Model Colt .32 semiautomatic. It was his father’s before him.  My grandfather, who passed just before I was born, used it to shoot an armed robber.  Later on, my dad used it to chase away a burglar.  It was the first autoloading pistol I ever fired.  My younger daughter has fired it too:  four generations of our family have sent bullets downrange with it.

Things like this are touchstones of our memories.  Feel free to share here your experiences with inherited guns. Happy birthday, Dad.

34 COMMENTS

  1. I have a single barrel, crackbarel, 12 gauge shot gun. It was given to my godfather on his Wedding day in the early 60s.
    He gave it to me on my 16th Birthday.
    It is well used but very precious to me.
    I am amazed at the lack of safety features as opposed to today’s weapons.
    I plan on passing it to my granddaughter on her 16th.

    Happy Easter 2021

  2. Massad,

    I have had the pleasure of starting my law enforcement career in the early nineties. You were one of my first go to instructors on firearms. I have read many of your articles and applied that knowledge in my career.
    I based a large portion of my time in law enforcement and off duty to firearms training. Flash forward to 04/04/2011 I was ambushed responding to a home invasion. I was shot five times and paralyzed from the waist down.
    I haven’t let it stop me. I currently spend most of my time as an ambassador for the Glock brand shooting competitively as an adaptive shooter. Shooting from a wheelchair has given my a great platform to show other people with disabilities what they can accomplish.
    Just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for your dedication to law enforcement training and being a cop yourself.

  3. Happy Birthday to your Dad. I’m honored to share a birthday month with him.

    My first duty weapon was my Dad’s 38 S/W Model 10 with fixed sights which he carried when he was a cop. Those fixed sights were a challenge but I carried it and qualified with it for a year until I obtained a S/W Model 15 which I bought from a retired LAPD cop. An old Chief friend of mine who was a Gunsmith did a sight job on it which resulted in better qualifying scores on the range.
    We were farm kids and from a young age my Dad, who had a variety of guns taught us the safety and responsibility of handling those guns. I still practice and share that knowledge to this day. Thanks for the memories Mas….

  4. I wish I had memories like those Mas. My memories of my father are of a man who used me
    as a punching bag and an indentured farm hand. Probably why I went into Law Enforcement
    (even though it was my entrance into that profession was more by accident than purpose).
    I did my time walking a beat, then a scooter, then a car. From there it was on to investigator
    and finally Child and Sex Abuse.
    Anyway, I’ve made sure my daughter has been raised around weapons of all kinds. I’ve taught her to shoot and when she wanted to date, I told her she could when she could whoop a boy her age. She entered Karate training the next week. I sincerely hope that her memories of me will echo those you have. I’ll rest easy if they do.

  5. My deceased father in law, who was anti-gun to the core, asked me to get him a gun when he contracted leukemia. I came to find out he already had a WW2 era Walther PPK in .32 caliber, with the original leather officer’s holster, and 6 of the original rounds. His father had carried it as a German officer. I had it checked over by our friend Bill Pfeil, and then fired some Blazer and Gold dot ammo through it. After all those years it ran great. This has since been passed on to his grandson, my nephew with the recommendation to buy some modern ammo. I applaud your father for raising you to be the man you are Mas. I’m sorry that our heirloom had to skip two generations.

  6. This is an example of how personal firearms are to people. Many, if not all folks who own guns have similar stories. This is one of the tangible elements of firearm ownership that keep the second amendment alive.

  7. Mas
    I am envious of you good fortune to have had a loving father! Treasure those memories forever! Everyone should be so fortunate, but unfortunately that is too seldom the case.

  8. My dad introduced my brother & I to the outdoors and shooting. Later, he laid that torch down and we picked it up.
    Just before he passed, he made it clear he was no longer attached to his guns; he parted with his beloved 1911 before that.
    So, when I wound up with them two months ago, I decided to turn them into my new competitive shooting gear.
    I’ll keep a scope & sling, which will go with me to training classes and Camp Perry.
    He got me started; I’m most grateful for that.

  9. My family is preparing for Easter dinner and the requisite Easter egg hunt. Twenty years ago, we spent Easter with my dad in the hospital a few days before he passed. It bitter sweet but I’m glad you as well as I can cherish the fond memories.

  10. Having served in the horse cavalry in WWI, my Pop Pop became a police chief in Pennsylvania during the Great Depression, retiring and moving to Florida in the 1950s. He won several state pistol competitions in Pennsylvania. His “official” daily carry was a Colt 1911 Super 38 in a shoulder rig, all of which which I still have. My other grandfather carried a Colt .25 or a Colt Detective Special .38 as he worked on classified wartime government engineering projects. My brother has the .25 and I have the .38 snubbie. My other brother has my Dad’s Python. Dad, at age 9, was responsible for running the family gas station after school, closing up and bringing the cash deposit home at 7 PM. Then, at age 15, he also drove the family station wagon, which doubled as the Pittsburg Coal Company’s “armored car”, to ferry the cash payroll envelopes to the various company sites every-other Friday, with Pop-Pop literally riding shotgun in passenger seat. Dad thought it was great but conceded that in today’s environment, it would likely constitute child abuse and a violation of child labor laws. It seems society has forgotten how real responsibility helps children develop to their fullest potential.
    Like you, we share many happy memories camping, fishing, hunting and shooting with our grandfathers and with Dad. And we’ve introduced our own children to these joys as well. We are blessed now with fine, adult children. Dad passed on in 2016 but he is still with me in many ways. We can only hope our own children will regard us as we do our own fathers.

    PS: Mas, You have a Bren-Ten! So cool! At the risk of unmasking my own “maturity issues”, I confess that Miami Vice was one of my favorite shows from the late 80’s.

  11. My father in law left me his Ruger security six, and his Marlin 336 in thuty-thuty, love them!! Will go to my son….. some day…

  12. Great memories, Mas.

    I lost my father 2 months ago at age 94. He also left me with a cherished shooting heritage. I started shooting with him at least 65 years ago — when nobody had the sense to wear eye and ear protection. My ears still ring. He gave me a nicely-sporterized and scoped Remington-made Springfield 03-A3 (I still have it) the day I reached deer-hunting age. I’ll never forget the lesson I learned when we went to shoot it for the first time. Before taking the first shot, I muzzled Dad and an uncle (from whom I learned the art/science of reloading). After a brief reprimand from my uncle, everything and everyone got back into the truck and we went home without firing a shot. I’ve been very muzzle-aware since.

    • I had a similar experience on my Boy Scout rifle range. The old retired Army sergeant who was the range officer yanked me off the firing line when I prematurely started firing. I just wasn’t listening to his commands. After a tongue lashing, he made me stand back off the line while the scouts who could “follow range commands correctly and safely” got to fire all afternoon. The next day we reported to the range and he graciously allowed me to take a place on the firing line. I never forgot the tough love. It served me well when I went into the US Army infantry. I never made a mistake on the rifle, pistol, machine gun, rocket launcher, etc. firing lines although I saw many who did and paid the price for it.

  13. Mas,
    I lost my Dad on New Year’s Eve 2018; my brother and I held his hand as he left this world and met his Savior. He’d been a 30+ year retired Texas Highway Patrol Captain and was raised in the tough life of the Pampa, Texas oil fields, so he knew how hard, brutal and dangerous men could be. As a result, on his passing, I inherited his weapons as well, and there were quite a few. He was particularly fond of the 1911 and older Smith revolvers.

    Some of the most special he left were a daily carry 1970’s satin nickel Colt Combat Commander in .45 (of course), a Les Baer 1911 in .38 Super (a cartridge he’d become enamored of in his later years), a 4″ S&W m57 .41 Magnum that was once issued to the Amarillo Police Department (an agency he’d worked for before moving on the Texas Highway Patrol in 1970) and a few of his THP issued weapons he’d bought as the Dept. retired them; a 4″ S&W m28 .357 Mag, a Sig P220 .45 and a Sig P226 .357 Sig he carrying every day until he retired.

    I would trade every gun in the world and all I have to have my Dad back for a day. But a minimum, I can put one of those guns in my own hand, knowing he carried them, shot them, trained with them and relied on them in the darkest of nights and it’s almost like my hand is in his hand again…. almost.

    Thanks for your story, it stirred a lot of memories of my own.
    God bless.

  14. When my grandfather passed I was able to try out his EDC snub 38. Being the first larger caliber that I had tried beyond my brothers 22 and being all but 12 years old I couldn’t keep hold of the slick grip. The metal had been pitted from years of sweat as well. Not sure where that ended up.
    Kind of wish I had spoken up after my brother-in-law passed. He was the one that took us out shooting and helped me pick out my first house gun, a S&W 686. He once loaned me his car when I was in a pinch and I returned it with a trunk full of skeet and beer. That was a good weekend.. He was in Vietnam, retired LAPD and had an extensive collection. He was one of us that would go out and get a firearm simply because it was slated to be banned. As things played out when he passed I would have felt like a vulture asking about his guns. He had a 9mm Calico that always caught my eye and made me salivate. Glad I get to keep the memories.

  15. My grandfather passed down an Iverson Johnson 12 gauge. His initials and the date 4/19/21 are scribed on the underside of the fragile buttplate. At some point in his life he had sawn off the forged in full choke, and after I’d had it awhile I had a machinist friend true up the barrel. It is the first gun I owned and stood behind my dresser in my college dorm and later in the bedroom closet as a protection for my new family. I never fire it these days because I have better, stronger guns, but for a very long time it was my only firearm.

  16. I have a 16g L C Smith shotgun that was used by my grandfather to hunt rabbits, birds and the occasional deer in Michigan. He was a German immigrant who fought for his adopted country in WWI and was the greatest man I ever knew. He passed in 1982 when I was stationed at Ft. Lewis and I still remember that long plane ride from Seattle to Detroit.

    I also have a Winchester Model 88 that was given by my grandfather to his son-in-law, my father. He passed away too early at age 72. I think of them both often but especially when I pull these guns from the safe and wipe them down.

    God bless this country and Happy Easter.

  17. I finally got to carry my grandfather’s rifle..by way of my dad..rabbit hunting with the “other men” when I was 8 years old..loaded but not cocked. When we saw a rabbit, I could cock it. For some reason, I was always too slow to get a shot.
    Later after getting married, I bot a Ruger Bearcat for “protection”. Years and many guns later, my 8 year old son was really curious about the guns so I took him and one of every gun type and caliber I owned, along with a lot of ammo. We went to my dad’s farm and shot all of them until he said he was tired. That satisfied his curiosity and his thoughts of sneaking in to see and touch them when I was not around. He has gone on to a good collection of his own including hunting and trap shooting guns. He has told me he intends to do the same for his now 3 year old son.

  18. I was going to comment about how I wished I had some heirloom guns but I am the only one of my family going back as far as I can that owns firearms, and I do wish that. But after reading some of the comments I’ll just say I’m blessed to have (still, thank God) a loving, supportive, faithful father.

  19. My Dad grrew up on a farm in Rural southeast NEvada (Churchil COunty) He lived and worked in the outdoors, nature, etc, they often only had meat when they shot it for supper. I remember my Grandma, his Mom, and her 1880 comething pump action .22 with an octagon barrel. She was one tough woman, living until the ripe old age of 106. Still “had all her marbles”at that age. Her stores were amazing, I particulary enjoyed the tales of my Dad’s antics. Firearms were part of life out there, and Dad was a very good shot. He took us out shooting when I was six, out to the old farm, still in the family. He had a single shot bolt action .22 that was safe to use, and easy to fire. We lived in “the big city” and Mom hated guns. He wanted to get me my first rifle at 12, the age HE got his first driving license. SHe’d have none of it. SO he waited till I was 16, and proven very responsible.

    Grandma’s old .22 pump went to one of my cousins, I remember out with him one visit back to the family’s place, the actioin was so worn all he had to do was hold back the trigger and work the slide, and it would fire on its own. Crazy, Not very accurate, either.

    I did not take much of in interest in firearms until my college years, but lack of funds sort of cramped y style. I’ve since been able to gather some interesting pieces… I have a soft spot for old miltary rifles, haveing a number of them. Thjey still work VERY well and are accurate. When I decided to get a handgun and begin carrying one I happened to jotice a rather forlorn looking Browning High Power on a table.. picked it up, and loved the feel and heft of it, and the action ,It fit my hand perfectly and pointed naturally for me.. which Glocks never did. It was rather battered, the bluing near the receiver and ejectioin port being somehow worn off, and some corrrosion. I checked the barrel, test fired it dry, I decided I wanted that more than I wanted the four pictures of Ben I had in my money poke. That was some ten years ago, and I still carry that thing. VERY accurate and reliable, easy to shoot, still ugly, but I don’t care. Of all the ones I own, THAT one is MINE. It took me a few decades, but I think I’ve cought up pretty well. I’msure Dad would be pleased to see where I’ve been able to take his own live of firearms, quashed for most of his life because of family, work, city living, etc. He went home to meet his Saviour some ten years ago, and I’m thankful for the legacy he’s left me.

  20. Good article uncle Mas. I remember you writing about your pappy periodically over the years, and soon realized what a rich legacy he and grandpa left and passed down to you. I don’t have any heritage guns as you do, but do have some good memories of range trips with my own dad, particularly when he introduced me to the Hi-Standard .22 Sentinel which my mom kept to protect me in Atlanta when I was an infant and the former was going to GA Tech. Later came a 6″ S&W 19 with the razor sharp front sight and a couple of others; my first handgun was a 4″ S&W 586 which I wish I had hung onto. First semi auto? An original CZ-75 which was a great shooter but the Iron Curtain era “bluing” was terrible!

  21. Mas,
    My father had a couple of interesting rifles, and my grandfather gave me the revolver he bought in France during the great war. It was a 7.65mm “comrade gun”. When he was dying of cancer, my father sold his rifles to an old friend, and gave away the pistol that my grandfather had given me. The only heirloom I have is my grandfather’s single shot .22, which someone had inlet a penny and a nickel into the stock. Cheap prick that my father was, he dug out the coins and filled in the holes with body filler. No, I don’t have any fond memories of my father.

  22. Mas – thank you for sharing those wonderful memories. My dad’s birthday was one day after your dad’s. He would have been 95 today. He served in Army intelligence in the post-war German occupation and as a Sgt. was issued a .45 sidearm. He said he preferred the German Luger he obtained for some cartons of cigarettes. Alas, neither pistol survived his divorce. I would give a lot to have those in my collection.

  23. My father is still alive, but he did give me a 25-06 a couple of years ago. We lived near the desert and that cartridge made sense there. An uncle of mine, a mechanical genius and jack-of-all-trades, had built it in the 1970’s. Another uncle in town, a gunsmith who did warranty work for Remington, used to ask him for machining advice. It is not a fancy rifle, but well done and accurate.

    Anyway, he loaned it to me for deer hunting in 1989, the only time we went deer hunting together. Then a few years ago he gave it to me, along with brass he resized from mil-surp 30-06 way back. It reminds me of that hunt, and also of that uncle. The uncle passed away several years ago and a lot of his handiwork was lost when the mine he worked at for decades closed.

  24. The only good memory of my father was when he helped me get my first handgun, a S&W model 19 because he didn’t want me hanging around with a neighbor who let me fire his S&W model 66, the first time I shot a handgun. From the age of six to thirteen, I was beaten every time my father and I were alone for no reason other than he felt like doing so. My father threatened to hurt my mom and our dog if I told anyone of the beatings so I kept quiet and endured the pain. By the time I turned thirteen, I was the same size as my father so he wisely stopped pounding on me as I was now big enough to defend myself. I never saw my father hit Mom because she would have left him.

    I had saved up $200 to buy a S&W model 28 with 6″ barrel and my father told me he had a friend who was a gun dealer and would sign for the revolver since I was only seventeen back then. I had to promise to stop seeing the neighbor who owned several guns and taught me a lot about firearms and reloading. I agreed to do so as the neighbor had told me he was moving in a couple of weeks to another state for a better job. However, instead of getting me the S&W model 28 I wanted, my father handed me a S&W model 19 with 4″ barrel. He told me the revolver costed more than the $200 I gave him for the purchase, but he paid the difference. I didn’t get the revolver I wanted, but was happy to have my first handgun and was grateful my father would even allow me to have any guns at all. My first gun was a Ruger 10/22 standard model my mom signed for several months earlier. My father and I tolerated each other until his passing in 2016. My mother left us in 2013 and one of the last things she said to me was to apologize for leaving me with my father and making me promise to take care of him. I never took revenge on my father for the years of beatings he gave me and never even laid a hand on him. When a nurse at the hospital he was taken to after falling at home called me to inform me my father had passed at the age of 88 1/2, my first emotion was relief that my ordeal was finally over. Those last three years taking care of someone who tried to make my life as difficult as possible were terrible.

    Several years ago, I came across a S&W model 28 with 6″ barrel in excellent condition at a local gun shop known for it’s high prices and to my amazement, the asking price for the 28 was only $500 and after a bit of haggling talked it down to include the sales tax and background check fee. It now resides in my gun safe next to two S&W model 19s with 4″ barrels I bought from the last PD I worked for when the agency sold them off after transitioning to pistols. That first S&W model 19 was traded off a long time ago.

    • Tom606,

      May God richly bless you for being a saint when you were oppressed. You obeyed the Fifth Commandment, even when it was not easy.

      I hate the devastation which has hit American families. When a machine isn’t working right, it gets fixed, especially if it is a space shuttle. But social problems go from bad to worse. Sad.

      • Roger:

        Thanks for your kind comment. I’m sure my father wasn’t the only one who wasn’t nice to his kid(s) and many other boys and girls suffered similar experiences. I’m just relieved my ordeal has ended although it took awhile and I lost Mom due in part indirectly to my father’s actions concerning her health. I suppose having experienced physical violence as a child made my decision to became a police officer to help others easier, although in that career, I didn’t come across too many cases of child abuse and the few I responded to concerned extremely unruly teens who I didn’t feel too sorry for.

  25. Sometimes, your dad is your good friend, who imparts the same sort of introduction.

    I always was interested in firearms, from the days of reading the ads and articles in Boy’s Life magazine, the journal of the BSA. I then found books at the library, especially Jack O’Connor’s book on rifles and shotguns. My parents weren’t anti-gun. They just had no interest, and weren’t comfortable getting me one. As a result, I was on my own.

    But what really pushed me over the edge was a kind and generous friend, who let me tag along with him on shooting and fishing trips, and let me shoot his guns and ammo. Thanks to his willingness to be a friend and a mentor, I started carrying a gun when I moved to the city, and started into the shooting sports.

  26. Just remember one thing.

    Your dads did the best that they could with what they had. If they weren’t good dads, it’s because they probably had it just as bad if not worse than what you experienced. I’m not excusing their behavior. I’m just saying that holding on to anger, or disappointment or rage is only hurting you. It’s certainly not hurting them, especially since in my case, my dad is dead.

    I’m not very religious, but the biblical idea of forgiveness makes amazing sense. My decision to forgive my own father had positive impact on my own health, my happiness, and my well being.

    So sorry so many had such bad experiences. It’s horrible when adults treat children badly.

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