Without pointing fingers, I credit my grandpa and Joey Scarbury for sparking a healthy, life-long interest in firearms which led me down the road to becoming a collector of all things gun. 

The paterfamilias of my household, my grandfather was a retired 30-year military man and avid hunter who still referred to places on the map by the name "Persia" and "Indochina," not to be quaint but because that's what they went by when he was stationed there. Central in his man room was a tall oak gun case, with twin locking windowed doors, that showed off a selection of rifles and shotguns acquired over a lifetime. Polished walnut and deep charcoal bluing on ordnance steel. Smooth actions constructed by professional craftsmen to high tolerances. 

There were others, of course, that were in places unseen and not on display. Guns who served a daily purpose outside of the range and field. 

It was from my grandfather's steady hands that I learned the basic firearms safety rules one crisp Christmas morning in the backyard after receiving my first BB gun around age six. My first target? A stack of folded-up paper grocery sacks accumulated back in the days when "bag boys" were a thing. 

From there, I moved up a couple of years later to a Marlin Model 60 .22 LR carbine. Thousands of rounds spent plinking with that gun later put me far ahead of the curve in marksmanship classes in Scouts and JROTC – the latter done with Mossberg Model 42s in a classroom against a target trap on the wall every Tuesday! My first deer was harvested not long after with a surplus Mauser in 8mm that was as tall as I was. My first handgun, around the time I learned to drive, was a snub-nosed .38 that paw paw had previously stuffed in his pockets when he was walking around Saigon. 

"If you are old enough to have a car, you are old enough to have a .38," was the statement used when the old J-frame was passed down. Made sense. Both are awesome responsibilities. 

Growing up, guns were tools to accomplish tasks, the equipment needed for participation in shooting sports, and relics handed down from earlier times that still held a purpose in the present. This I learned from my grandpa. 

Believe it or not...

As a kid of the late 1970s and early 1980s, besides a steady diet of PBJs and Jiffy Pop, I subsisted on some of the campiest television and films ever made. Saturday morning was wall-to-wall Kung Fu Theater and Chuck Norris movies. Nights were spent looking for episodes of The Incredible Hulk (Lou Ferrigno!), The Amazing Spider-Man (live-action way before Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield), Knight Rider, The A-Team, and The Greatest American Hero

The what?

Oh, yeah. 

Normal guy meets aliens as normal guys do, gets a super-suit, and heads off to save the neighborhood in 22-minute family-friendly segments courtesy of Stephen J. Cannell and Frank Lupo. What's not to like, right? The thing is, the opening credits, showing a battered, bruised, and bandaged Robert Culp as FBI agent Bill Maxwell, ripping off a righteous mag on his Government Issue was my hook. I mean did you see that M1911? To this day, whenever I hear crooner Joey Scarbury's belt out Mike Post's theme song for TGAH, I think 230-grain FMJ.

If you listen closely, you can almost hear a bald eagle high-five Randy Savage. 

After that, I knew that I had to have a GI .45 to add to my collection, should I ever get more than a random box of water pistols and a trusty .177 Daisy. Why? Because I wanted one, that's why. This I learned from ABC's Wednesday night lineup from 1981 to 1983. 

Don't laugh. Many gun collectors have sought out pieces based on their use in film, video games, or television. Without that phenomenon, sites like IMFDB wouldn't exist. Without James Bond, the Walther PPK probably would have ended production in the 1970s. Without Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry, you could probably buy a vintage Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum – "the most powerful handgun in the world" – for a lot less these days. 

Today, I have a few M1911s, of assorted vintage, including this milsurp GI, complete with "dummy mark" and rack numbers. The frame is circa 1943, while the top half is a 1970s GI contract replacement "hard" slide and chrome-lined barrel. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

While it is standard to acquire firearms for sporting uses, personal defense, and as cherished heirlooms, it is also standard to get them "just because." Millions of gun owners agree, despite anti-gun propaganda.  

This all brings us to the Joy of Gun Collecting, but that is the subject of another article.

Love cool old guns like these? Be sure to check out our carefully curated Military Classics and Collector's Corner sections where history is just a click away.

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