This tiny .22 LR revolver once defended my family. It’s the first gun I ever shot and was just a budget .22 LR single-action revolver my dad bought from a local hardware store. It was pretty common to find these catalog guns back in the day. At just $20, it was probably as much as my dad could afford on a teacher’s salary in the 1960s.

It was a fine plinking gun as a kid. At some point, we even managed to break the cheap plastic grips on this budget six shooter. The safety is just the half-cock position for the hammer on this little Herter’s hardware-store revolver, which was one of many sold by mom-and-pop shops back in the day alongside common tools and tackle like hammers and fishing lures. 

A Herter's hardware-store revolver
At some point, we managed to break the cheap plastic grip. (Photo: Don Summers/
Herter's single-action revolver
The six-shot revolver offered only the most basic of sights and a half-cock safety. (Photo: Don Summers/

Was it cheap? Sure. But what really stands out for this firearm is the history behind the purchase. Made in West Germany not long after the rise of the Berlin Wall, this little gun came into the family for self-defense purposes during a string of crimes in the area we lived. 

My father was a veteran of the Korean War, but we didn’t have any firearms in the house until he bought this particular pistol. What changed? Well, in 1964, our family lived in a very rural and rugged part of Pennsylvania. Our small town of Shade Gap became the target of a man who terrorized the community.

The man would strike and then vanish into the woods, going so far as to lay traps of logs to stop cars and attack women on the road. He roamed the area for several years, and my father bought the revolver knowing he would have to leave the family behind when he went to work.

This small little revolver guarded our home as one of the largest manhunts in American history scoured the land around our otherwise little-known town. In the final days of the manhunt, with helicopters landing on our school playground and the National Guard swarming the area, it ended with the perpetrator being shot and killed by law enforcement.

I was only a kid then, but that is how I came to know my first firearm. 

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revolver barrel loading graphic