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Antique Guns: Can You Spot a Fake?

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Antique Guns: Can You Spot a Fake?

When it comes to fake antique guns, it’s easy to wind up as the proud owner of a dud. Even a trained eye can be fooled by modern reproduction firearms that have been faked to look like the real thing.

The gun book business is the nuttiest enterprise I’ve ever been involved in. Take one of my recent projects, for example: The Gun Digest Book of Firearms Fakes and Reproductions by Rick Sapp.

I dreamed up this title after speaking to a number of prominent firearms auctioneers who told me that they’ve encountered a staggering amount of faked or fraudulent vintage firearms.

I thought that perhaps gun buyers would appreciate a nice little volume that showed them how to keep from getting burnt by buying a supposedly antique or rare firearm that’s really no such thing.
1858 Remington Army Revolver.

I could have used a book like this myself about 15 years ago when I was in a small antique store in Fort Wayne, Indiana, now long out of business. (I mean the antique store is out of business, not Fort Wayne. Come to think of it, Fort Wayne’s out of business, too.)

As I passed row after row of glass cases, I glanced down and there it was, unbelievably: a Cochran Turret Revolver.

The Cochran, as you might recall, had a cylinder that rotated horizontally, like a turntable, with the consequence that at least one of its chambers was always pointed back toward the shooter. Not a good quality to have in a percussion pistol, which have been known to chainfire.

I asked the elderly lady in charge to open the case so I could handle the Cochran. No doubt about it, it was obviously the real deal. Patinated finish, old-style nipples, saw-handle grip made of shrunken, dried-out walnut.

I furtively glanced at the price tag. Two hundred dollars for a Cochran! I drew my credit card with a noise like a whip cracking, and that was that. Well, not quite. I asked the lady to wrap up the Cochran in tissue paper and began mentally congratulating myself on being such a shrewd cookie.

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