By Ian Bradley Johnson
“I’ve got something I bet you don’t see every day.”
This is a phrase I heard nearly every day for six years as I worked a gun counter.
After a few years, I felt I’d about seen it all; the good, the bad, and whatever the “just as good” crowd is crazy about that week. But one day a leather briefcase that looked as though it had been in an attic for 70 years was dropped on the counter in front of me.
As a general rule, most extraordinary guns that walked into the shop did not come in plastic cases because those didn’t exist when most extraordinary guns were made.
The dude tossed the briefcase on the counter and it immediately intrigued me. The corners were worn and torn, the sides covered in scratches and scars. The brass buckle carried a rich patina.
When I opened it I saw a stack of documents and a book. The documents had British military letterheads and the book was a flight log. Digging further I found RAF patches and a military flap-style pistol holster.
Inside the holster was an Enfield No. 2 MK1 top-break revolver in .38/200. Americans know this cartridge as the .38 S&W, not to be confused with .38 Special.
The gun was all original, with no import marks. It even had the lanyard and a few boxes of ammo made by Kynoch!
The guy explained to me that his grandad was a pilot in the RAF during WWII. After the war, he settled in New Orleans but he managed to keep his service revolver. After his grandfather passed they went through his things and found the briefcase.
Let me be clear, cool guns come along all the time. But extraordinary guns need three elements to be considered top-shelf:
- The gun must be a classic. This is a general qualification that can apply to thousands of guns from various military surplus models to Browning A5 shotguns, pre-64 M70’s, 1911s, vintage side-by-sides and single-action pistols.
- The gun must have an interesting story.
- It must have proof of said story. The history of most guns is very difficult to prove, and as neat as most gun stories are, they are just stories unless there’s proof. This can come in the form of pictures, articles published about the particular gun, capture papers with military surplus or original receipts, etc.
This gun was special because it had all three elements in one extraordinary vintage package.
After a few minutes of ogling, I asked, “How much?”
His response: “Not a chance.”