Toggle-Locked Orphan: the Benelli B76

Today we have another article from our now gone friend Kevin O’Brien, or “Hognose” as he was known by his many fans and admirers. Kevin was the owner and writer of weaponsman.com and  passed away  in spring of 2017.  We repost his work here to save it, introduce it to more people hopefully and to honor our friend.

If you have a well-rounded firearms education, the name Benelli needs no introduction. Now part of the Beretta family, the marque has been known for its semi-auto shotguns since its founding in 1967. But Benelli made an attempt, in the 70s and 80s, to make a NATO service pistol. It’s interesting for its unusual toggle-lock mechanism (one we missed when we covered toggle-locking), its fine Italian styling, and its relative rarity: internet forum participants, at least, think only about 10,000 were made. (We do some analysis on this claim below, and posit a lower number).

benelli b76 pistol

There were other Italian semi-autos at about the same time, like the Bernardelli P-018, competing in part for European police contracts, as many Continental police departments replaced 7.65mm service pistols during the 1970s and 80s rise of European communist terrorist groups like the Red Brigades and Baader-Meinhof Gang. But the Benelli was a unique blend of design and functionality. Arriving too late into a market saturated with double-stack double-action pistols, it might have been a killer competitor for the P1/P.38 or the Beretta M1951 twenty years earlier, but by the end of the eighties, the market was heavily oriented towards double-stack, double-action, and often, ambidextrous-control service pistols. Even European police services who had thought 8 rounds of 9mm a real fistful of firepower had moved on — and so did Benelli, retreating to a concentration on its market-leading shotguns.

Mechanics of the B76

The toggle-lock is not truly a lock in the sense of a Maxim or Luger lock, but more of a hesitation lock or delayed blowback. Other weapons have used a lever in delayed blowback, like the Kiraly submachine guns and the French FAMAS Clarión, but the Benelli one is unique. It’s described in US patent No. 3,893,369. The toggle lock or lever is #5 in the illustration below, from the patent.

US3893369-1Benelli B76

Benelli often cited the fixed barrel of its design as a contributor to superior accuracy in comparison to the generic Browning-type action.

Aesthetics & Ergonomics

The styling of the B76 is a little like its Italian contemporary, the Lamborghini Countach: angular, striking, and polarizing. You love it or hate it, or like Catullus, both at once: Idi et amo. It came in a colorful printed box, resembling consumer products of the era…

BenelliB77Pistol in box

…or in a more traditional wooden case.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The somewhat blocky slide needs to be protected by a holster with a full nose cap, if you intend to carry the B76. It’s a large pistol and it would be prone to print if you did, much like any other service pistol like the M9, the Glock 17, or various SIGs. Where the pistol comes into its own is when you handle and shoot it. The safety falls right to hand, like that of a 1911, although as a DA/SA gun it’s perfectly safe to carry hammer down on a loaded chamber. The grip angle is much like the P.08 Luger, making for a very natural pistol pointing experience. The pistol’s steel construction and roughly 1kg (2.2 lb) weight makes it comfortable and controllable to shoot. The heavily-contoured grip on the target models makes it even more so.

The guns are known for reliability and accuracy, and their small following is very enthusiastic, reminding us of the fans of the old Swiss SIG P210 pistol: the sort of machinery snobs whose garage is more accustomed to housing premium European nameplates than generic American or Japanese iron, and who not only buy premium instead of Lowe’s tools, but who can take you through their toolboxes explaining why the premium stuff is better.

Production and Variations

The Benelli company was relatively new when it designed the B76. The US Patent application for its locking mechanism dates to 1973, and the planned start of production was 1976 (that may have slipped).

There were several variants of the B76, most of them sold only in non-US markets. The B76 was the name ship of the class, if you will, but there were several variants. The B77 was a scaled-down model in .7.65 x 17SR (7.65 Browning/.32 ACP); it was a completely different gun. The B80 was a 7.65 x 22 (7.65 Parabellum/.30 Luger) variant, largely for the Italian market; only the barrel and magazine differed from the B76. The B82 was a variant in the short-lived European police caliber, 9 x 18 Ultra (sometimes reported, mistakenly, as 9×18 Makarov). In addition, there were several target pistol variants, including the B76 “Sport” with target sights, grip, longer barrel, and weights, and a similar target pistol in, of all things, .32 S&W Long called the MP3S. We’ve covered some of these exotic Benellis before, in the mistaken belief that we had brought this post live, which we hadn’t. (D’oh!)

The one modification that might have brought Benelli sales to police departments or military forces was never done, and that is to develop a double-stack magazine. A “mere” 8 rounds of 9mm was already insufficient in 1976, when many NATO armies already issued the 13-round Browning Hi-Power as their baseline auto pistol, and the novel Glock 17 coming on strong.

Benelli dropped the pistols from its catalog in 1990. The company still produces its signature shotguns and a line of high-end target pistols, and even some rifles based on the shotgun design, but its foray into the pistol market has left Benelli with bad memories, red ink and a few curiosities in the company museum. But the curious pistol buyer looking for a firearm with a difference will find here a remarkable and character-rich handgun. If you’re the sort of man who can rock an Armani suit or avoid looking ridiculous in a Countach, this might be a good companion piece.

We’ve mentioned the internet claims of production of 10,000. The highest serial number we found on the net (5462) was well below that, but we certainly don’t have a statistical grasp on production yet. With 7 known serial numbers we can make a rough calculation that there’s a 9 in 10 probability the total production is under 6400, and a 99% probability it’s under 8500. That’s assuming our rusty MBA-fu still retains its potency.

Market

No B76s are on GunBroker at this writing, and only very few — single digit quantities — have moved since 2012. The guns offered were all in very good to new-in-box condition, and they cleared the market at prices from $585 to $650. One went unsold at $565 against a reserve of $600, hinting that, despite these guns’ character and quality, there’s just not much of a market for single-stack full-size DA/SA autopistols.

For More Information

We’re seeking a better copy, but for the moment, heres a .pdf of the manual. Unfortunately, it takes greater pains to describe the mundane DA/SA trigger system than the rare, patented breech lock!

benelli_b76.pdf

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

My Firearms: Glock 30, a forgotten glock.

Years ago I would buy used ACOG scopes cheap, use them for 6 months to a year, then sell them for a small profit in order to repeat the process with a different ACOG.  One of these times I was offered a Glock G30 with a large number of accessories in trade for an ACOG I had hardly any money in.  It was such a good deal for me I was going to get the G30, shoot it for a bit, then flip it for a profit when I got tired of it.

I still have it.

Long ago evil prevailed and an assault weapons ban (AWB) was passed in the United States.  Part of this limited magazine capacity to 10 rounds.  Many consumers felt that if they could only have 10 rounds, they would rather have the largest rounds they could practically use.  This helped bolster the already ever popular .45ACP.

Glock had made a full sized pistol in .45 ACP, that is the G21.  Many people, including my self, find that the G21 feels especially awful in the hand, very brick like.  Even more so than a standard Glock.  While still very accurate and reliable, the 13 round capacity large G21 never seemed to be that popular from what I could tell.  Still sold more than enough to be a commercial success.  During AWB, guns built around a 10 round capacity became popular.  Glock designed a compact pistol in 10mm that held a 10 round mag, that is the Glock 29.  Soon after, they made a version of that in .45 ACP, the Glock 30.  The mags had to be a little longer to allow for the larger diameter of the cartridge.  That is why the G30 mags have a larger base plate on them.

It would be reasonable to expect the G30 to have the same awkward feeling grip of the G21, but much to my surprise it feels comfortable in the hand.  I’d had several other people who hated the G21 and had to be coerced into firing my G30 comment similarly.  I don’t know why this pistol feels better in the hand than the G21, but for me, it just does.

Accuracy and Reliability all fall right in line with Glock “Perfection”.

An annoying thing is that Glock doesn’t make the G30 any more.  They have 3 models replacing it!  The G30S, the G30SF, G30Gen4.

Glock took the generation 3 Glock 30 and made the grip a little smaller to make the G30SF.

There is the Glock G36, which is a single stack .45 ACP that is thinner.  The G36 had some teething issues early on and developed a reputation for being finicky.  But people found that you could put the thinner lighter G36 slide on a G30 frame.  After that started to become popular, the G30S came out which is a G36 thinner slide on the G30SF shorter frame.  The G30S is often said to be the best choice of the bunch for CCW as it is slimmer and lighter than the others.

The Generation 4 G30 is the same as the G30SF with the option to change the backstrap.  With out any of these inserts installed it has the shorter grip like the G30SF, and you install back straps to give it the standard sized grip or larger.

As of when this article is written, there is no Gen4 G30SF and no Gen5 G30 models.

 

I think the G30 and the variants are overlooked.  That is a real shame as this is compact great shooting .45 with a greater capacity than a standard 1911.

Where are they now – Muzzle Standoffs

The second AR15 upper I purchased had a Phantom flash hider with the crenelated front pin and welded to it.

It looked the the bottom flash hider in the picture.  Not only was the Phantom flash hider a superior flash hider, it could be used as a pain compliance tool on others.  The sharp front on it would cut holes in my rifle cases.  I chose to get rid of that upper for that reason.

Shawn and I were just talking on the phone and he mentioned pistol Standoffs.  That got me wondering what ever happened to them.

Some years back, there seemed to be a very short burst of popularity of having a standoff on a pistol in case you have to fire at contact distance.  That popularity seems to have died off quick.

I mainly saw Standoffs sold for the 1911, Glock, and CZ.  I did a quick search to find a good picture of one, and I see that ProofMark still sells one for $120.

That one actually looks pretty nice compared to others I have seen.  It combines all the desired features of a Muzzle Standoff.  It looks pretty rigid, and has a surface with a profile that would encourage compliance of someone it was pressed against.  It appears to have an inserted glass breaker.  There is also a rail on the bottom so that it doesn’t remove your ability to mount a light or laser on your pistol.

Why is the Muzzle Standoff not a massive popular commercial success?

  • Cost:  Not a great deal of people want to drop $100+ on an accessory.
  • Perceived need:  Many people buy their firearms to be toys, or don’t expect to be in a close fight.
  • Possibility for failure:  Debris or clothing can get stuck between the standoff and the slide and induce malfunctions, or the standoff can get bent or damage allowing for malfunctions.  The polymer frame of the Glock can flex enough to cause some standoffs to create reliability issues.

Striking with the firearm or contact shots are a serious concern.  There is the very real possibility to push your pistol out of battery where it wont fire if the muzzle is in contact with the target.  Firing a shot at contact distance can cause enough flesh, meat, and bone from the target to come back into a firearm and cause a firearm to stop working.  Striking with a firearm can break it.

Self defense tends to be up close, and there is the possibility of having to grapple or ground fight with a pistol is something you NEED to prepare for if you choose to carry a pistol for self defense.  But despite all that, the issues of contact shooting can be mostly mitigated with training and techniques.  It is not good to spend money on equipment when training would be better.

Herbert W. McBride

“Born on October 15, 1873 in Waterloo, Indiana to Robert W and Ida S. Chamberlain McBride, Herbert had a long family tradition of military service. His grandfather was killed in the Mexican War, and his father served the Union cavalry during the  War of Northern Aggression. His father had a distinguished legal career, becoming a judge on the Indiana Supreme Court.”

“While not much was is know about his youth, Herbert was very interested in military service and small arms.  He was also very involved in the Indiana National Guard before WW1 and by 1915 had over 21 years of service  and held the rank of Captain. There he  also coached a highly successful  rifle team.”

Fond of hunting as a youth he would accompany his father on hunting trips to the area around Saginaw Michigan. He said he remembered  at about this time that he placed about 10th in the local shoot match where his prize was a can of oysters. The top prizes being hams and turkeys. He declared ” that no medal or other thing  have I won since by shooting ever game me the thrill that that did ”

During the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897 he said he caught gold fever and spent more than 2 years in northern Canada. On his way back he hoped to go with a bunch of recruits to  South Africa to see service in the Boer War, but was not able to, for regulations were such that only British subjects were eligible. This was in 1900.

Returning to Indianapolis he rejoined his old guard outfit., Company D, 2nd Infantry. His commanding officer believed that individual proficiency with the rifle was the very highest attainment of the doughboy. McBride said that this that if a man could not qualify as a Marksman in his first year he had to get out, if not a sharpshooter by his second year he was gone, and finally after three years he must qualify as Expert or he could not reenlist. McBride became the captain of his company in 1907 and shot with them at the National Matches up to and including 1911.

In March of 1914 while working for the railroad on the Grand Trunk railway, he learned of events in Mexico. Believing that this would mean war and being “double damned if i am going to miss it” he started  out on ST. patricks day , 1914 after  ” a good feed and a bottle of johnnie walker I hit the trail”  Ten hours later he was at the nearest telegraph office.  He  sent a telegram to his father asking him if he though this would mean war?  His father’s reply was yes and for him to hurry back.

Returning to Indianapolis he was frustrated with the reluctance of American politicians to become involved in the Great War. He decided to resign from the Guard and once again go back to Canada to enlist in the 21st Battalion at Kingston as a private.  He was assigned to a machine gun platoon, but was happy to report “we also carried rifles”The men were issued Canadian built Ross Mark 3 rile in .303 british.  The men were carefully coached in marksmanship  by the time they shipped to England  and had a reputation as riflemen.

After a period in the machine gun platoon McBride was promoted to section leader, whose  job it was to find suitable positions to emplace the machine guns to give protection to the crews and fields of fire into no man’s land. He was well suited to this work from his hunting experience. This work enabled him to move around the battlefield unobserved by German snipers. Soon he was offered excellent opportunities to scout and to use the rifle he carried to fire on the enemy.

According to McBride “ up until this time I had taken the war more as  a more or  less impersonal affair and had not gone out of my way to look for trouble or for someone to kill, but on November 14th, a German sniper killed Charlie Wendt, one of my boys. This put me on the warpath right.”

On that day “the weather was setting in the bad and during the worst of it very little sniping went on, so we often went in and out by the overland route in broad daylight. This November 14th came  on a Sunday and it was just such an occasion for over land travel. The rain delayed the 20th battalion from reliving  us until about noontime. The trenches were crowded with troops and the going so bad that I talked it over with my crowd and we decided to save several hours time by going out down the open road. Al hands for it, so I started first  and had the others follow at fifty yard intervals. Our route  was in plain sight of the German lines, and we got well out under cover of a small hill without a single shot being fired at us. From here on out we were practically safe. as the ground was partially screened with bushes and the trees, so the bulk of the party went right on out across this covered ground, But Charlie Wendt and I stopped at the small hill to arange about the relief of a gun crew I had stationed there, Charlie stayed with me  few minutes and then went on by himself, saying he would meet me at the redoubt farther out, I continued t my walk with Endersby, the man in charge of the gun, and all at once Heard Charlie calling,m “oh Mac.” and looked to see him lying on the ground about a hundred yards back off, shot through the abdomen.”

McBride and Endersby  both rand to help him. Endersby then ran back to call for stretcher bearers, while McBride bandaged Charlies’s wound. While McBride knew of the seriousness of the wound, he thought Charlie would pull through, but Charlie didn’t think so. ” Finally he told me to get about ten of them for him and I  told him I would do so “

According to McBride the sniper continued to fire but that it was a miserable display of shooting and he told Charlie that he ( McBride) would be ashamed to have such a rotten shot in our  outfit. McBride felt it was a stroke of luck that the sniper had managed to hit Charlie at all. The bearers came up and took Charlie away, but the next day McBride learned that he had died.   Not long after this , in the same area McBride felt that the same sniper was responsible for shooting down several unarmed stretcher bearers attempting to bring in a wounded man from an exposed area behind the British line. A total of six men were shot, 2 soldiers and 4 stretcher bearers who were clearly marked with red crosses, from a range of about a hundred yards. At that distance McBride felt it was plainly visible that they were bearers and not to be shot at while bringing in the wounded. Of the six shot five died from their wounds, Angered by this event, McBride vowed to Charlie Wendt and these men “should  go to their God in state: with fifty  file of Germans to open Heavens gate”

With permission from his commanding officer Colonel Hughes, McBride went back to a newly organized sniper school at the village of La-Clytte to be issued a Ross rifle with a Warner& Swasey telescopic sight and a spotting scope with a tripod stand,  McBride thought the best feature of the scope was this it mounted on the left side of the rifle, which left  the iron sights to be used for close up work. He had some trouble with the mount screw becoming jarred loose from the rifle recoil.  So he used safety razor blade salt water to rust the screw tight. He later said this it worked so well  that “I was nearly court martialled as the armorer couldn’t get the mount off!” The Ross rifle that he was issued was one that had been built for the Canadian Army rifle team to use to compete in the American National Matches shot at Camp Perry Ohio in 1913 and was extremely accurate.

McBride now teamed up with a friend, one William Bouchard, who with his sharp eyes was to be McBride’s observer on the spotting scope. The US Army and Marines  in WW2, Korea and Vietnam later used many lessons learned by these two in the trenches of the Western Front of the first world war.

McBride was not in favor of the “lone” sniper, he thought a man on his own would bot do as well as a proper,paired team of two, the sniper and observer. Not so far away in their sector was a small hill behind the Canadian trenches where there were the shelled ruins of a french farmhouse and barn. When the Cananians had arrived in this sector they found a dead French sniper in the barn and 8 dead German soldiers nearby in the front of the farm assumed to have been killed by the sniper.  His Lebel rifle still protruding from a window. So the place became known as “sniper barn.”

The barn was some 500 yards from the German lines and being slightly higher gave good observation. McBride knew it would be foolhardy to sniper from the buildings, as the farm was shelled almost every day. But a few well protected  areas in front of the buildings  in a hedgerow offered a good view. This tactic of using a “hide” in an area close to the obvious  place or building that would draw the enemy’s attention without being too near that place  would become a tactic used by snipers in wars to come.  McBride reported that “fortunately, although the shrapnel bullets cut off two legs of the tripod and one buried itself in the stock of my rifle, neither one of us was actually hit, although we both had one or more holes through our caps and tunics. That was before the advent of the tin hat. We were all the time working on new nests and, eventually  had six all well concealed and offering good fields of fire””

When the two built a new sniping nest, they would immediately sight in after finding the ranges to all prominent objects in the area. The information was noted in a book that McBride carried for the purpose. Oright in front of that big tree just to the right of number 4 post, see him”? McBride  spotted him, he was apparently a German officer observing their lines though  binoculars.  “He was standing upright with the large tree right behind him. McBride said he had looked over the officers several times and only the kids’ keen eyesight had found him but when Bouchard pointed it out, McBride saw him quite clearly. Finding him again through the rifle scope. McBride fired and the officer dropped, shot int he chest.”   The two lay motionless for  a long time  while looking  for something else to shoot when suddenly a bullet hit in their nest. At first both thought it a stray round fired that happened to come there way as strays came across the front lines all the time. Then a short time later another came into the nest and went through McBride’s cap barely missing his head. Then a third shot came hitting his spotter. This was not random stray rounds, a German sniper had found them. Both men carefully crawled out  backwards and escaped to the ruins of the farm for cover. After checking Bouchard’s wounds , the bullet had skimmed his head and shoulder and continued to hit the calf of his left leg.   After dressing the wounds they wisely decided  to try it again from another constructed hide site on the opposite side of the farm ruins.

The nest they used next had been constructed at night since it was about 100 feet out from the corner of the furthers building out.  This nest was in an open field that was reached by  a tunnel like trench about 3 feet high and 3 feet wide. They  had removed the earth back to the barn setting the sod aside the trench which when covered with boards and the sod put back on appeared to heave never been disturbed. This took many nights of hard labor to finish. The rest was large enough to hold them both, with two holes in front for the rifle and spotting scope with brush and glass in front to screen them from the Germans.  After being finished, they left it unused for over a week to wait and see if the Germans had detected it. Since it had not been shelled it apparently had not been discovered.

They entered and waited. Nothing was spotted that day, until they were readying to leave. Then Bouchard noticed some activity on the German side. It seemed some construction of a new machine gun emplacement was going on behind a mud covered cloth whose purpose was to hide the work being done. These  clothes were used up and down the trenches to hide  construction as they blended in with the muddy terrain to make observation of the work parties behind them  difficult. Taking a shot through the middle of the cloth, McBride made the Germans scramble out of the trench climbing over one another. Bouchard thought one was hit”

As time passed, McBride and his spotter racked up over 100 German kills,more KIA  than most infantry companies.  By 1916 the British and the Canadians had put together their own organized, official sniping programs.  These turned out many of the desperately needed snipers. When it was discovered McBride had been a Captain before the war, he was quickly promoted and finished the war as a Captain.  Sad to say Couchard was transferred to another unit and was killed on September 15, 1916  by enemy shell fire.  McBride finished  his service with the Canadian Army in Feb 1917. He was wounded a total of seven times while in the service of the Canadian Army. After being retired from the Canadian  service due to wounds, he reentered the Indiana National Guard as a Captain in 1917 and was assigned as an instructor to the 139th Machine Gun Battalion, 38th Division. He served out the rest of the war at Camp Perry teaching marksmanship  marksmanship and sniping.  He resigned from the Army in  October 1918 and spent several years  after the war in the lumber business around Portland Oregon. Much of the 5 years  before his death writing his classic book on sniping in WW1 and his experiences , ” A Rifleman Went To War”  which was published in 1935.  He died in  1933.

 

On November 9, 1935 McBride’s former commanding officer , Brigadier General W.S. Hughes wrote about the author of “A Rifleman Went To War” as follows.    The Author of this book, the late Herbert W. McBride , served in my Battalion as a private, non commissioned officer and officer. He was one of the best fighting men I knew and was promoted and decorated on my recommendations.    He was considered one of the best machine gunners in the allied army. Also  one of the best with a rifle.  Herbert McBride was outstanding as a fighting man, fearless. untiring , a genius for invention and always seeking authority to be given opportunity of damaging the enemy. I had the greatest admiration for Captain McBride as a soldier and with an army of such men it would be an easy matter to win against any troops. It was such fighting ability that enabled my 21st Battalion to come home with the record of never having been given a black eye in the over four years of active participation in the war. They never went after anything they did not take, and they never gave up anything they captured.  Of the original 1058, less than 150 are  now still alive, most of them buried in Flanders’  Fields and in the Somme.”

 

The Emma Gees- H.W McBride

A Rifleman Went To War- H.W. McBride

PS Magazine – Bill Bentz 

The Complete Book Of US Sniping  – Senich

Patton’s Revolver And The M1911

Above of course is the famous side arm of  General Patton.    This Colt  Model P is of course chambered  for the classic widowmaker, .45 Colt. or .45 Long Colt if you like that better.   I won’t go into its purchases history and serial number and blah blah blah. That has been done to death.    It was the pistol that Patton used in his Mexican expedition to personally waste one man and helped down another man.   Patton reportedly strapping their bodies across the hood of his Dodge car like slain trophy deer when he drove back to report to Pershing and thus earning his promotion to 1st Lt.

The ivory, never pearl!, grips has two notches filed in.  It doesn’t take much  to guess what they were for.

Over the years  while talking about Patton and his sidearms, people have wondered to me why Patton didn’t carry a M1911.   Well, he was issued a Colt M1911 and he did carry it for a time. Then something happened that ended that.

Patton was a master pistol shot.  He even competed in the Olympics one year.   As a master of the Handgun, Patton was like everyone else and always wanted to improve the trigger. He would stone the parts to give his guns the “hair trigger”  he liked.    Upon getting his M1911 he of course filed  and stoned the parts to make the trigger as light as he liked.

The rest of this story has a few versions I have read over the years.  One has it  that at some point Patton stamped his foot and the gun discharged , grazing his leg. The parts having been altered to the the point of being unsafe.    I find this story  told a million times to be unlikely.   Even with messing with the FCG of a M1911  it would have been nearly impossible for it to go off without depressing the gripe safety. Patton would not have pinned it or altered and the safety to have been defective or  deactivated. Patton carried his  Peace maker with a load of 5 rounds, hammer down on an empty chamber. He would unlikely carried a 1911 cocked , with a round in the chamber back then.

The story  I think is probably more accurate and the one  I like the best is a bit more colorful.     While at some  watering hole in TX or Mexico around the local population and while drinking, Patton while radiating  confidence  and  performing the macho antics of the area and its culture shoved his 1911 into his waist in the “Mexican carry”  ( no holster) fashion.  The gun went off and grazed Patton and very nearly cost Patton  the cojones that made him the most famous tank commander of of WW2.       Apparently this rattled Patton as it would most.   Patton of course blamed the gun  and not his alterations to it not advised by the factory.   It is much more likely Patton almost shot his sack off after being a little drunk and showing off.

Patton did use the M1911 while he served in WW1 but after seemed to prefer his 6 shooters. Below is part of an article from the 1971 August issue of Guns&Ammo.

 

“In those days, Patton was quoted as saying that the auto was an arm of two parts, while the revolver required nothing other than loose ammunition. Also, the pistol was totally dependent on the condition of the magazine for proper functioning. He once told his nephew that the automatic pistol was a fine noisemaker for scaring people but that it was well to practice with the revolver if it was going to be necessary to fight with handguns to live. Patton also often stated that the handgun should never be drawn and pointed unless it was intended to shoot to kill. The nephew, Frederick Ayer, Jr., went on to become a fine pistol shot, eventually serving as a high-ranking FBI agent during WWII. As a boy, Ayer witnessed a very early version of Hogan’s Alley (FBI Academy) animated target training, as practiced by his Uncle George Patton and a well-to-do Massachusetts sportsman. Col. Francis Throope Colby had set up a white-painted metal screen in his basement in the early 30s and projected upon it his own pictures of charging African game and spear-waving natives. Colby and Patton loaded .22 pistols with the now-unobtainable explosive-tipped rim­ fires and competed with each other in naming and hitting marks on the pictures. It is said they also competed in profanity, something else Patton used as part of his “warrior” window dressing.  These practice sessions were part of Patton’s life in the period between World Wars I and II.”

“Shortly after the 1916 excursion into Mexico, he was ordered to the Allied Expeditionary Force for the World War in Europe. Patton was still on Pershing’s staff, but now detailed to be the first U.S. commander of tanks. When he landed in France in 1917, he carried an ivory handled .45 Auto. As far as is known, he left his Single Action behind, for all of WWI.”

Patton earned the Distinguished Service Cross and promotions for WWI tank operations that go beyond the scope of this article. There is no record of his having to fire his handgun in hand-to-hand combat, although in later years he was known to have claimed six Germans for that period.

At one point, Patton lay severely wounded after a foot charge on a machine gun nest, his ex-orderly tending him in a muddy shell hole. As he did so, Corporal Joseph T. Angelo used his own and Patton’s .45 Autos to fire on German emplacements not far away. In later years, Patton also joked about how he (when conscious) and Angelo took pot shots at low-flying German planes during the several hours before heroic action by Corporal Angelo resulted in Patton’s rescue and recovery.

The .45 Auto which Patton carried evidently served with more dependability than the earlier .45s he tried and put aside, yet there is little or no record of his carrying it again. The ivory handled pistol was seen briefly during maneuvers in 1941 but was superseded for a time by a Colt .22 Woodsman! The .22 rode with Patton while he was training tankers in the California­ Arizona desert near Indio, in 1942.

Maybe it was Patton’s romantic nature that  gave him preference for revolvers like the ones carried by his heroes of the civil war.  Or maybe he just liked the more powerful rounds the guns could fire.