Geoff, personally I really like to hear about gun folks who have passed (or not) from people who knew them. It gives me some insight and perspective that I would not otherwise have.I am of two minds, which is an ancient way of saying undecided:
Is it better to have the aging generation of gun writers characterize and comment on their forefathers?
Or is it better to let the work stand on it's own and let the secrets and opinions go to the grave.
Who wants to know what Chic Gaylord was really like, I think.
I can relate. I HATE it when I go into a room and stand there for minute trying to remember just why the hell I went in there! :help:As a youth in the '60s the first Gun Mag I subscribed to was "Guns and Hunting" which later rolled into "Guns" I remember an article by Gaylord on barrel length and caliber. The most memorable part was a picture of S&Ws with barrels from 8 3/4" down to a model 36 with a barrel under 2".
As I recall the conclusion was, for a concealable revolver, a 3" Model 36, with a trigger shoe. (Note: Trigger shoes are HIGHLY disregarded now days, but in the day were effective in decreasing "felt" trigger pull by adjusting the length of pull and making the touched area of the trigger larger.)
Who is annoyed that he can remember spot items from the ancient past, but cannot remember where he left a flashlight. Sigh.
Mr. Marlowe, I wish people like you and Charlie and Massad would write books about what it was like being involved in the gun world in times past, your contacts and interactions with the folks that have helped to shape the industry and the sport to what it today.Nonte was a decent (although perhaps also a troubled) man who not only well represented the tinkerers who had long preceded him in the periodicals but who could also write a lot more interestingly than many of the other similarly-more-technically-inclined guys who were his contemporaries during the period of time that he was best known.
He was not a stupid man and he was extremely knowledgeable regarding firearms for he routinely helped friends of mine in the Midwest with technical matters and relatively advanced and esoteric issues involving historical and sometimes rather abstract firearms. I can speak of that, firsthand.
Some of the errors in his works might well have been errors either missed by him during his generation of the huge volume of printed information in the books and magazines we can still see today or they might have been the inclusions of editors who sometimes add mistakes of their own to the works of others they oversee. Unfortunately, on that last part, I can speak of that firsthand as well.
That said, Major Nonte was very guilty of both practicing and promoting the kind of less-than-sophisticated "machining" that the bulk of his readers could not only understand but perform themselves at home. I was lucky to have worked as both a machinist and a foundryman in my teens, a tool-and-die maker in my twenties, and an engineer after that so I have always respected people who can work with their hands to create the things they "see" in their minds. But I must admit wincing more than once when reading of his numerous exploits using a drill press (not even a mill-drill, let alone something like a true Bridgeport J-Head) to convert "S" or "N" frame cylinders from .38Special or .41Magnum to .45Colt!
But as alluded to elsewhere in this thread, much of the Major's work (and there was plenty of it for in those decades he was popular, he was literally everywhere every month) was the kind of tinkering, customization and personalization common to the era in which he wrote. Used guns were cheap and often plentiful and people didn't worship them as collectables the way they do in many cases today. They were tools, plain and simple. And if making them more suitable for the role they played in their owners' lives meant radically modifying their original designs, so be it.
Personally, my one time focus on concealable, service-caliber automatics stemmed from the many articles he wrote about such things and his almost visionary interest (obsession?) in cut down pistols about which he wrote regularly during a time when few people even wrote about pistols let alone custom fighting ones like this. It was eye opening to see a step-by-step chopping and channeling of Smith Model 39 when most people I knew had never even fired a "stock" one. For people like Charlie here, who know me personally, now you can finally understand why some of those things of mine came about at a factory level and why I am so impressed with where the industry is finally heading (some four or more decades since Nonte wrote about them) in terms of compact and, separately, mini 9mm's.
I have a signed-to-me copy of his book that's being discussed in the posts above and while I can't agree with everything that's in it (I didn't even do that at the time I received it when it was first published), it is still a helpful tome and one worth having.
Now as to Mr. Gaylord, he was an interesting character as well. An old and amazingly knowledgeable friend of mine worked for him in New York and he told me stories about him all the time. And another friend, writer and police officer had the opportunity to meet with him at length before he passed away. But those reminiscences are going to have to wait for another day.
It's just that right now I only have the time to question Charlie here about his remark regarding Major Nonte. Are we really supposed to be surprised (or even take notice) that a gun writer might be "very fond of himself"? I'm sure that at times (many times) he was but having attended more than a few Outstanding American Handgunner Award Dinners, several Outdoor Writers Association Conferences, one or two of the older Peterson Writers' Programs (as well as having a few things of my own published every now and then), I thought that trait was sort of a prerequisite.
Just joking. Have a good day everybody.
And why should you guys (meaning gunwriters) be any different from any of us Charlie? Hell, me and my fellow PO-lice sit around and "...solve many of the world's problems" both WITH and WITHOUT a strong drink or two. Can't figure out why anyone would fault somebody from having a strong opinion about something that was their life's work...or politics, cars, movies, etc."I thought that trait was sort of a prerequisite."
And all this time I tought modesty was a virtue...
But I also confess to ego that, in private, knows no bounds... or maybe in a dark corner (or motel room Terry) when I am plied with strong drink. Mr. Marlowe and I have solved many of the world's problems that way.
I still marvel at the fact that somebody wanted to read my stuff enough to pay me for it.
And for the skeptics out there his credentials are even better than mine