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Thread: History/set-guns/BATF/"A story to tell"

  1. #1

    Default History/set-guns/BATF/"A story to tell"

    Roughly 26 years ago I was an indentured slave to a firearms store. Eldon Bryant was getting long in the tooth, as they say. Eldon brought in most of his firearms from the early 1900's. For those who do not know Eldon Bryant was old Alaska.
    So by appointment Eldon shows up just as the store opens, and the slave master has coffee with Eldon, as the indentured slaves haul in roughly 90 old firearms from Eldon's vehicle.
    It is soon evident that a large number of said firearms are not "Politically correct" by 1986 standards.
    So the store was closed, the door locked, blinds were drawn, till we sorted out the sell'able product, from the "Holly Spit" this needs to be destroyed (classic history) firearms.
    Eldon Bryant, was a very nice man, from a long ago time in Alaska history. And I must be careful what I record for posterity, but a lot of firearms that should have gone to a museum were destroyed. And this slave learned a lot about early Alaska, and "Set'Guns".
    It is NOT my objective to cast negative light on a Alaskan Pioneer, only to record how we foolishly destroy our history.
    If you have ever seen the "Tools" of men like Albert Johnson you would understand.
    I hope I do not regret this post.


    "The stories I could Tell"

  2. #2

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    I hope you never have to regeret sharing pricless pieces of Alaskan history. Best post I have ever read on here, and I hope to enjoy many to come. Once again, were all ears...
    "When the time comes for a man to look his Maker in the eye, where better could the meeting be held than in the wilderness?"

  3. #3
    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    There are set guns in museums around the US and the World, so I question the fear and need to destroy them. You can't use them, but you can collect them.

    I remember a small museum in the Sierra Nevada's on the California side of the state line that had a display from a local grizzly and cougar trapper. It included a cut down sxs 4 bore set gun and one of those giant toothed leg hold traps. Another place had a BAR set gun from the Chicago Mob days. I have not been to either of these places since I was in the single digits of age, but if I could remember how to get to them the items would still be on display.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    I would guess there are still some out there and if not in use at least hanging on a wall as grand-pa's gun
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

  5. #5

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    Many of these had "WAY" sub 16" barrels & sub 26" OAL, like Savage M-99's cut-off at the fore'end.

  6. #6

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    Back in Eldon's day, these guns were just tools. Nothining sinister about them.I consider my firearms my tools no different than a hammer or saw or wrench. There is nothing mystical about them and I have no more sinister intentions about guns than I do about wood planes. Keep up the stories....

  7. #7
    Member broncoformudv's Avatar
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    Thanks for another educational post about Alaska's history and history in general!

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Well, some 30 years ago I worked for Ted Dixon in Fbks who owned Dixon's Gun Shop. A prominent wealthy Fairbanks businessman had a fire in his home, and while the guns in his safe were mostly okay all the others were in various stages of burned or smoked, heat had taken the bluing off etc, and so we had to go get everything and assess it for insurance claims.

    We brought it all back to the shop, including a lot of ammo that had not fired off. When we first saw that he had put mercury in many of the handgun and even in some of the rifle bullet tips we started to get a bit concerned. And then we found he had many class 3 fully-auto weapons too, but only a class III permit for one, as per the law. Sawed off shotguns and silencers too, you name it, it was quite the collection too <grin>.

    We were in a catch 22 situation, boss felt that if we wrote up an official assessment, without informing authorities of the illegal weapons and silencers etc, we could get in trouble, so he told the guy to take it elsewhere. Not sure what happened after that, really was only one other gunshop in town back then.

    Also, a few people in positions of power in local govt came in with Class III fully auto weapons, and typically it went like this:
    "I'm not sure what happened but I was at the range today (alone) and right when a couple of other shooters showed up this [Uzi, AR, etc] started to fire fully auto...I need you to fix that." <grin>

    I enjoyed my time at the gun shop, met a lot of cool people, learned a lot too. And got to handle and fire a whole ton of firearms. One time Steve and I took a .44 automag out back to the shop to shoot it into the bullet trap after it was worked on by the smith. Neither of us had ever fired one. Was a homemade bullet trap, opening was maybe maybe 12 x 12 inches. But instead of holding the pistol into the opening we figure we'll stand back three feet and blaze away. Big mistake! Lucky the ricochet of the third round hitting just outside the opening didn't hit either of us. That thing could kick pretty good.

    Too bad they destroyed all of Eldon's stuff AGL. BATF was a lot more forgiving back then though than they are now, maybe it wouldn't have been a problem to get it to a museum and not get Eldon in trouble. But I can see the real concerns and the situation that put your boss in.






  9. #9

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    Some stories didn't end so well...
    Like the 9MM Barretta that got polished up in the back room of one of the most reknowned shops in Eagle River...Guy took it home to show it off to his Dad...As he locked and loaded the clip...with his finger on the trigger, it began to rip. First shot took out his three fingers of his left hand..Second shot hit his Dad in the hip...Third shot hit his Dad in the stomach...Fourth shot hit his Dad in the neck...at some point one of the Errant shots went thru the wall and shot out the lamp in the next room, that his Mother was using to read by!!!
    Father died and the shooter got some new fingers, after they used some of his ribs to make them with. All kinda sad really.
    "96% of all Internet Quotes are suspect and the remaining 4% are fiction."
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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    Anyone remember the western Alaska State rep who was charged with illegal weapons when he tried to get a machinist to build some repair parts for some old guns he had?
    Had his trial in his home town and was acquitted.............but I think he lost the guns.
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
    I have less friends now!!

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    Member .338-06's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martentrapper View Post
    Anyone remember the western Alaska State rep who was charged with illegal weapons when he tried to get a machinist to build some repair parts for some old guns he had?
    Had his trial in his home town and was acquitted.............but I think he lost the guns.
    I remember that! The gunsmith/machinist was in Juneau. I was a casual acquaintance with the defence lawyer. He laughed about that case, he knew he'd won when he got the trial moved to the rep's town.
    I may be slow, but I get where I'm going!

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by martentrapper View Post
    Anyone remember the western Alaska State rep who was charged with illegal weapons when he tried to get a machinist to build some repair parts for some old guns he had?
    Had his trial in his home town and was acquitted.............but I think he lost the guns.
    The One in NOME, Alaska...........? Never heard of it..........Heheheheheeh

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    Quote Originally Posted by bushrat View Post
    Well, some 30 years ago I worked for Ted Dixon in Fbks who owned Dixon's Gun Shop. A prominent wealthy Fairbanks businessman had a fire in his home, and while the guns in his safe were mostly okay all the others were in various stages of burned or smoked, heat had taken the bluing off etc, and so we had to go get everything and assess it for insurance claims.

    We brought it all back to the shop, including a lot of ammo that had not fired off. When we first saw that he had put mercury in many of the handgun and even in some of the rifle bullet tips we started to get a bit concerned. And then we found he had many class 3 fully-auto weapons too, but only a class III permit for one, as per the law. Sawed off shotguns and silencers too, you name it, it was quite the collection too <grin>.

    We were in a catch 22 situation, boss felt that if we wrote up an official assessment, without informing authorities of the illegal weapons and silencers etc, we could get in trouble, so he told the guy to take it elsewhere. Not sure what happened after that, really was only one other gunshop in town back then.

    Also, a few people in positions of power in local govt came in with Class III fully auto weapons, and typically it went like this:
    "I'm not sure what happened but I was at the range today (alone) and right when a couple of other shooters showed up this [Uzi, AR, etc] started to fire fully auto...I need you to fix that." <grin>

    I enjoyed my time at the gun shop, met a lot of cool people, learned a lot too. And got to handle and fire a whole ton of firearms. One time Steve and I took a .44 automag out back to the shop to shoot it into the bullet trap after it was worked on by the smith. Neither of us had ever fired one. Was a homemade bullet trap, opening was maybe maybe 12 x 12 inches. But instead of holding the pistol into the opening we figure we'll stand back three feet and blaze away. Big mistake! Lucky the ricochet of the third round hitting just outside the opening didn't hit either of us. That thing could kick pretty good.

    Too bad they destroyed all of Eldon's stuff AGL. BATF was a lot more forgiving back then though than they are now, maybe it wouldn't have been a problem to get it to a museum and not get Eldon in trouble. But I can see the real concerns and the situation that put your boss in.





    I was out Alaska for almost 30 years and lost track of Ted. Do you, or anyone else, know what happened to him? I've been back to Fairbanks several times and it looks like his old shop is no longer there.

    Jim McKnight

  14. #14
    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Jim, Ted passed away (prolonged battle with colon cancer) the winter of 1981-82. Shop was bought by another guy, and was running until the mid to late 80s as I recall. There was a silhouette competition held in his honor each year, not sure if that is still going. There is also a Ted Dixon memorial scholarship offered from UAF.
    Best,

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    Quote Originally Posted by bushrat View Post
    Jim, Ted passed away (prolonged battle with colon cancer) the winter of 1981-82. Shop was bought by another guy, and was running until the mid to late 80s as I recall. There was a silhouette competition held in his honor each year, not sure if that is still going. There is also a Ted Dixon memorial scholarship offered from UAF.
    Best,
    Thanks for the info. I had heard that he passed, but since I was so far away, I was never able to confirm it. He was a good guy and a friend. I still have one of his store hats. I think I'll wear it again this hunting season.

    I went on a spring bear hunt with one of the guys working in the shop, in 1979 I think, but, alas, I can't remember his name. I remember he was fond of the .35 Whelen. We had Bill Sewell fly us into the head of the Wood River. No bears gave themselves up that trip.

  16. #16

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    One of my friends in Chitina had many problems with breakins. He decided to take and set a conibear trap and put it in a black plastic trash bag and put it on a counter in the entry way of his house. He hauled a local teen up to his house and showed him how it worked. About two weeks later an extremely embarassed lowbrow showed up at the clinic with a broken and bloody arm. My friend hasn't had any of his other properties broken into. It seems that the word gets around.

    Many years ago there was stone house that was owned by a family of hard rock gold miners that was near Pippen Lake that was marked danger explosives. The people who owned the house moved to California and were gone for several years. When they came back they report that there was a beat up old mercury POS that was half burned in their yard. It turned out that the nogoodniks didn't believe the sign and ran over a setup with blasting caps and dynamite that leaked. They said that it looked like they drove over the ied with their front tire and it exploded and caught the car on fire. They left the car there and it must of been winter because it was just there when they came back. They had the local mechanics shop haul it off.

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