My First ... What?

About 1961 Dad came home with my first real handgun. Neither of us had any idea what it actually was. I was allowed to keep it in my room but not show it off to other kids or take it out of the house. Dad felt safe because he somehow knew ammunition for it wasn’t readily available.

I eventually learned the pistol was a French Model 1935A chambered for an odd 7.65mm Long round. Dad and the local police chief were both born of Italian immigrant parents and the police chief “gave” the pistol to my father. As my father was a bill collector, I have an idea why he was given it. Some French military surplus 7.65mm Long ammo did become available, so I finally did shoot the Model 1935A. In an ironic twist, I later sold the pistol to the police chief’s son.

Following my inborn interest in cowboy handguns I received for my 17th birthday in 1966 a Colt Frontier Scout .22 LR. It was a short-lived treasure. The little single action was enjoyable to shoot, but hitting anything with it past about 10 yards was a matter of chance. In frustration I traded it back to the store with a few bucks extra for a Ruger Mark I .22LR. With its 67/8" barrel and target sights, I could at last direct bullets to a target. I became enamored with bullseye shooting, which led to my next handgun milestone.

That same summer and by shenanigans too lengthy to detail here, I raised enough cash to buy a slightly used Smith & Wesson K38 with a 6" barrel. Cost: $50. However, factory ammo cost was a shock to my system. This led to me soon becoming a handloader.