Firearms have been a part of the nation since the very beginning and the right to bear arms continues to be a point of debate for officials, the media and the general public at large. Some of the guns that are said to have changed the course of history as we now know it are the guns that have come to represent America today. Shooting Range Industries presents the following examples of guns that can tell the story of our forefathers and America’s place in the modern world.
John Aldens’ Wheellock Mayflower Gun
According to historians, the Wheelock is said to have arrived on American soil with a young man by the name of John Alden by way of the Mayflower in 1620. Called the Mayflower Gun, it is primarily a muzzleloader with a very complicated lockplate. No one knows its specific origins and depending on who you ask, the gun is said to be of either Italian or German origin. This gun is considered a national treasure and proudly graces the entrance to the NRA’s national firearms museum in Fairfax, VA.
Captain John Parker’s Musket
On April 19th, 1775, Captain John Parker along with many others stood against a force of the British who were on their way to destroy artillery, ammunitions and military stores at Concord, and commonly referred to as the battle of Lexington. Parker’s fowler is a .62 musket that is 59 ¾ “long with a 44” barrel and is comprised of both British and Dutch influenced components. In 1861, it was donated to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by Parker’s grandson and now resides in the State House.
Timothy Murphy’s Long Rifle
The battle of Saratov and the American victory is attributed to the success of a Pennsylvania rifleman by the name of Timothy Murphy. Murphy fired his long rifle at a distance of 300 yards mortally wounding the British Brigadier General Simon Frazier along the American contingent to press forward and win the day. While there is some dispute regarding whether Murphy used his long rifle that day, historians continue to piece together the events.
Meriwether Lewis’ Giradoni Air Rifle
Despite its Italian-sounding name, this repeating Austrian air rifle is said to be the key to allowing Lewis & Clark to explore the American West. According to the history books, Lewis used the air rifle to trick the Indians into believing that the explorers were more powerful than they actually were. Lewis essentially traveled the west with the security of a repeating air gun which greatly impressed the Indians. The gun now belongs to a private collector.
Samuel Walker’s Walkers
Samuel Colt received an order from the government to build a large .44 cal. revolver based on the concept of a Texas Ranger named Captain Samuel Walker who had successfully fought against the Comanche’s using a Colt Patterson. There were 1,000 military issue and 100 commercial Walkers produced and the two guns that personally belonged to Samuel Walker are in a private collection. The Walker is one of the most collectible guns as such has also become one of the most faked guns in the world today.
Abraham Lincoln’s Henry
Although this gun never saw combat use and few were purchased by the American government, the 1860 Henry is known as the forerunner of all Winchesters and did see a small amount of use during the Civil War. The Winchester’s ascendency starts with the Model 1866 vaunted shirt maker. The Lincoln Henry can be seen on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
John Henry Parker’s Gatlings
These are actually four guns made by Colt with the serial numbers 1040, 1041, 1042 and 1043 respectively. On July 2nd, 1898, Parker’s guns fired an astonishing 18,000 rounds into Spanish defensive positions. One of the four guns is on display in the NRA’s National Firearms Museum, two are held by private collectors and one is said to be missing in the Philippines.
Alvin York’s U.S Pistol Model 1911
On October 18, 1918, in the Argonne Forest, Alvin York drew his M1911 while being charged by five Germans wielding bayonets. He shot four of them down in quick succession until only the leading officer remained who promptly surrendered. York turned his M1911 in before he left the service but its current whereabouts are unknown.