This is a guest post originally from Supervel on instagram. I am a big fan of Charles Askins and have been meaning to post about him here for a long time but always get distracted. If you don’t have his autobiography shown below, I highly recommend it. Askins was and still is a very controversial figure. Mainly because of the glee he took in very carefully describing in loving detail nearly every man he shot. And he killed a lot of guys. Much speculation still exists that he may or may not have helped his best friend commit suicide. While dying from a very painful terminal cancer, Charlie “helped” him go out with his boot on. A lot of people believing he didn’t so much hand him the gun as deliver the mercy shot himself. If you have read Charlie’s writings and his biography, you would probably agree that the idea isn’t too far fetched.
Col. Charles Askins pitched up in Saigon in April, 1956, assigned as the chief firearms instructor for the entire Vietnamese Army which at the time consisted of 10 under-sized divisions of 5,000 men each. The hard-bitten colonel, a former Border Patrol officer and NRA National Pistol Champion, did not arrive unarmed. As a prominent gun writer, Charlie was given one of the first Smith & Wesson .44 Magnums, a five-screw N-frame, and he brought the big magnum with him.
Charlie being Charlie, he immediately decided to accompany some patrols on the hunt for Viet Minh communists, and this led to the opportunity, which Charlie relished, to kill the first man with the new .44 Magnum: “Down the trail came a single Viet Minh. He had the MAS 49 over his shoulder and a bag of rice in his left hand. When he got even with me, he chanced to look down and there in the mud of the path were my big paratroop boot prints.
I was watching him, not being more than three to four steps from the little bastard. I saw the wild look come in his eyes and he glanced around fearfully, meanwhile swinging the French 7.5mm off his shoulder. Instead of shooting this Viet Minh with the service rifle, I shifted the gun to my right hand [Askins was left-handed] and pulled out the big .44 Magnum.
I let this ambusher have the first 240 grain slug right through the ribs on the left side. It was probably the first man ever killed with the .44 because it was quite new in those days. The effect of the bullet on this pint-sized Oriental was indeed impressive. It literally swept him off his feet. It lifted him off the ground like he had been struck with a huge club and dumped him four to five feet away. I had shot him double-action. I deliberately cocked the big revolver and put another bullet in him, this one aimed at the throat.
I gathered up the old MAS 49 rifle, turned and meandered back to the highway.” Col. Askins wrote for me when I was editor-in-chief of GUNS Magazine and American Handgunner. Charlie was always lively and animated during our frequent phone calls…
A couple of other factoids about Askins. He was a believer and proponent of the “Fitz special” Colts. The revolvers with the front of the trigger guard removed and a fan of the Auto 5 with buck for use on Mexican bootleggers while he was in the Border Patrol.