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For as long as humankind has been carrying weapons, people have been decorating them. Early designs were attempts to add a magical power to the piece. Later efforts were intended to beautify, and to show off the wealth and status of the owner. Elaborately embellished weaponry became a form of male jewelry while the ladies of the Renaissance discretely carried some gorgeously wrought stilettos to discourage unwanted advances.

Fancy weapons were normally limited to those a man or woman carried on their person at all times. As firearms replaced swords and daggers, weapon smiths continued their art by engraving, and decorating handguns in addition to the classic dirks and daggers. Such pistols were engraved, and had gold or silver inlays in the barrel. Stocks were often decorated with ivory inlays in addition to gold and silver wire and fancy scroll carvings. This grand tradition started to fade away around 1900 with the full industrialization of Europe and America, and the reduction in the number of artisans doing hand work.

Fortunately a modern phenomenon is resurrecting this beautiful art form.

Nobody really knows how it started. A ceremonial gathering that occurs mostly in the Deep South and Western states of America. It would be an easy guess that it began in the Old West as a loud party to celebrate the end of a successful cattle drive, but this odd ritual is celebrated east of the Mississippi as well.

At seemingly random times of the year, folks gather in large groups around a fire pit to roast meat, overeat, and socialize. The startling thing for many people who visit these events for the first time is the amazing array of handguns are hanging from the belts of the participants. And what handguns they are. These fantastic examples of the gunsmiths’ art are generally referred to a “Bar-B-Que Guns”.

Bar-B-Que (BBQ) Guns are special. Mostly because they are beautiful, but the admirer shouldn’t be fooled because they are not decorations.

BBQ Guns are subject to three unbreakable rules:
Rule #1: A BBQ Gun must be a fully functional weapon.
Rule #2: The piece must either be highly decorated or an extremely rare and exotic specimen.
Rule #3: The only exception to rule #2 is an unadorned firearm must have a really cool TRUE story to go along with it.

These guns break the ice at events where the attendees might have never met. By putting on a finely tooled gun belt, and sliding home their favorite BBQ Gun each participant creates a personal introduction that immediately establishes common ground for starting up a conversation and establishing new friendships.

Every BBQ Gun has a story…

“I got this pistol when I retired from the Highway Patrol.”

“This is one of only 12 prototypes made.”

“I won this baby…”

“I really admire your Colt. Who did the engraving?”

Endless stories eagerly shared by people with common interests have caused BBQ Guns to develop a following as collector items.

Some are quite popular based on prior owners.
http://historical.ha.com/c/item.zx?saleNo=6105&lotNo=32376

Others based on the artist who did the engraving.
http://historical.ha.com/c/item.zx?saleNo=6105&lotNo=32296

Then there are the pieces that have really cool stories like the Colt’s .38. Detective Special that appeared up on the “Sons of Guns” TV show. Elvis Presley was reputed to have been carrying that pistol when he met President Richard Nixon at the White House. Sadly the expert the Red Jacket contacted refused to talk on camera, but wouldn’t you love to be the one telling that tale?

My BBQ guns? Well they’re nothing pretty, so I’ll have to tell you the story someday.

What’s in YOUR holster?

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