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Date:7/24/2014 4:02:47 PM
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Wild Bill, Part III
As befitting the name "Wild Bill", Bill Beaudin loved to shoot and to a lesser extent, loved to hunt. He had a great respect for wildlife, and would never kill anything he didn't plan on eating. Bill owned a .38 Police Special for "everyday use" and a brace of "ball and cap" Navy 36 Colt pistols. The actual name was the "Colt 1851 Navy". The "36" refers to its caliber, somewhat small for military pistol, but desirable in this case because this Colt was designed to be holstered on the body, rather than the larger .44 cavalry pistol that had to be holstered on the saddle. It was named the Navy Colt because Colt chose to honor the Texas Navy with the engraving on its cylinder. The engraving honored the victory of the Texas Navy at the Battle of Campeche in 1843, in which Colt Paterson revolvers were used. Bill's Colts were loaded by by filling each six-shot cylinder with powder, wad and ball. Percussion caps were attached to each charge at the rear of the cylinder, thus, "cap and ball". History tells us that one could expect one or two misfires from each cylinder. Still, preloading five or six cylinders and carrying them into battle was a "force multiplier" in military parlance. You simply popped another cylinder into the pistol and continued firing. One night, as Bill was returning to the America Legion bar where he had his bunk, he saw that someone had broken in. Bill stalked into the place, and as he entered the kitchen he snaked his Colt around the corner and followed it to find one wide-eyed, terror-strickened teen-ager staring at the snake-eyed muzzle of the pistol. Sheriff deputies were called, reports filed, and all involved lived to pursue their lives.
Bill also owned a 45-70. That is a long barreled, single shot buffalo rifle with a rolling block action. It had a flip-up rear sight which allowed shots from ranges up to half a mile. I fired it a few times. Even though I was a scrawny teen-ager, I was surprised that the rifle didn't kick that bad. That was because the rifle was so heavy, it absorbed the recoil. Bill said that the 405 grain bullet was so heavy and so slow that a man could fire at a buffalo and then roll a cigarette and light it before he could look to see if he hit it or not.
When I was 16 or 17, I finally saved enough money to buy a 30-30 Winchester,Trapper's model. I paid $80 for it in the mid seventies. Naturally, I asked Wild Bill to sight it in for me. On a warm, cloudy day in August, Bill picked me up in his cluttered Jeep and for an hour or so, it was just him and me. Almost 40 years later, I haven't touched the sights since Bill set them up. After all this time, I suspect the sites are a little skewed. Lord knows I haven't had much luck lately hitting deer. Still, I can't bring myself to fiddle with them sites. I'll just have to make due with them as best I can. Let me know, dear reader, if you would like more stories about Bill. I'd be happy to oblige. -- Gary
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