Things of beauty

Somebody out there somewhere has a knife, with a homemade pecan handle, and a pitted blade stamped “Original Bowie Knife,” that went missing out of my Air Force dorm room 30 years ago. I hope they’ve treated it as I did: it was not an heirloom. I found the blade, rusty and black with weathering, in a pasture when I was a kid. One of my uncles made the handle for me with a piece of pecan wood from my grandfather’s homestead’s biggest tree, when I salvaged part of a storm-damaged limb; it took weeks to sand it down to shape, but he split it with a table saw, and set the handle through the tang with stove-bolts (countersunk, naturally) hidden away in holes plugged with more pecan — and if you don’t think cutting those little plugs, grain-matching them and sanding *them* smooth raised blisters, all I can say is, you’ve never done anything like that. The damn thing was illegal as all hell to have in a USAF dorm room; I didn’t have a proper sheath for it. It could best be described as ugly. But to me that knife was beautiful — not least ’cause it was MINE.

I might be an unusual person. Let me show you some other things I regard as beautiful, though I don’t have them any more either.

Springfield Rifle

Springfield Rifle

That rifle is a pretty fair example of the parade rifles the US Air Force honor guard detail members brought out, when I was just another enlisted gunfighter, for special occasions. I heard them fired for change of command. I cleaned and repaired them for the honor guard’s use. They were kept in a special locker in the armory. They fire a .30-06 round. I was not required to attend the one funeral that these were used to fire the salute during while I was stationed at a base with a rifle-armed honor guard, as on that day we were working active training with a class of folks who hadn’t yet qualified with that little .38 revolver you see in the second photo.

.38 S&W Model 15

.38 S&W Model 15

Given that movie sets are famous for using blanks, I’ve probably carried a weapon with real ammo oftener than the entire cast(s) of Law & Order, by now. I wore one every day I worked while I was assigned to the range (this is what happens when you complain and you’re the junior member of the staff). I didn’t mind the firearm; it was the holster I hated, ’cause it flopped around. No thong at the bottom, and no way to discreetly install a velcro patch to hold it still against my fatigues. The Molle system has, if nothing else, eliminated *that*. My particular M-15 was the ugliest one in the armory, from one point of view — not Parkerized, and the bluing badly worn on the action, and the grips worn down so far the checkering didn’t even look inked-on anymore (that’s why it was mine: it fit my hand).

Ok, nostalgia interval over. What firearms or other weapons have you fond memories of?


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