Monday, July 4, 2016

Last Gun of Frank James


Alexander Franklin “Frank” James (1842-1915) survived two of the most hazardous jobs of his time. Civil War Confederate Guerilla and bank robbing outlaw. He lived to the ripe old age of 72; I’m sure his proficiency with arms contributed to his longevity.  As a boy, Frank James started shooting percussion rifles, shotgun and “cap and ball” revolvers. Frank was an expert shot and undoubtedly killed many men. As the older brother of the famous Jesse James, Frank was a public figure after his retirement from crime and his subsequent acquittals. Frank was “Scott Free” but he still had enemies.   

In 1904, while lecturing in Butte, Montana, a supposed relative of the cashier killed in the Great Northfield Raid threatened to kill Frank publicly at the theater where Frank was speaking. The man was either drunk or mentally unbalanced, but armed with a 45 caliber revolver. The police subdued him just before Frank arrived. The old guerrilla, even over the age of sixty, was still a formidable man.  By this time, Frank James was carrying his last gun in an overcoat pocket, a new Colt 1903 hammerless .32 caliber automatic pistol. Frank called this pistol his “Gatling Gun”.


The police asked Frank to get out of town. Frank replied "I will go when I am ready." It is amazing to think Frank started out with percussion cap and ball pistols in the Civil War, moved on to cartridge revolvers for his outlaw career, and ended up with a semi auto pistol.

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