“So we’re all going to church on Sunday. Good. Who’s that?” Cotter pointed to a tall man at the dining table sipping coffee.
The man stood up and extended his hand. “Carlton Strom, Mr. Cotter. Mrs. Colt may have told you my name.”
“Oh, yes. That’s your wagon out front?” Cotter looked around the room. “Where’s your driver, Mr. Strom.”
“I drove it down from Hartford myself. May I speak freely Mr. Cotter?”
“Go right ahead.” Cotter sat down with the others.
“Mr. LaRoque and Mr. Mashpit have allowed me to inspect their pistols. I assume yours are identical?”
“Yes. I only have one on right now but for Wednesday practice I wear the two-gun rig just like theirs.”
“Very good. Mr. Cotter I have seen guns altered like yours before. Several western law enforcement officers and civilians have asked us to perform such hammer and cylinder adjustments. You also have the triggers widened. Who did this for you?”
“My own guns were altered by our gunsmith in the Army but John LaRoque is also a blacksmith and he reworked the metal for us for the other guns.”
“And you two gentlemen. What will you be shooting today?”
Rosicot and Bradley showed him their pistols and the rifles. Hamer also handed him the shotgun.
Strom looked the weapons over. “They’re in fine shape. The two pistols for these gentlemen have the same modifications as the others. That’s good. When will we be going to the shooting site, Mr. Cotter?”
“Right away. I just have to change clothes and get my holsters.”
Strom followed their buckboard in his shorter wagon that contained a heavy gauge wooden crate reinforced with leather straps.
At the clearing, Mashpit and LaRoque attached the gourds to the ropes and set up stationary targets.
“Please stand behind us, Mr. Strom. Bradley, Fabian, John, Andy and I’ll be going through our regular routine. Use the cotton for your ears.”
The horses jerked at their tethers at the gun blasts. When the smoke cleared they inspected the targets. All of the gourds and melons had disintegrated. Cotter and LaRoque instructed Fabian and Bradley with their guns.
“Fabian you’re a good shot with both the pistol and the rifle.” Cotter raised his eyebrows.
“Oui, Monsieur, but not so fast as you and them.”
“Bradley, I’m surprised at you.” Cotter smiled. “I thought you couldn’t shoot a gun. You did better than Fabian.”
“Jake, I detest violence. My father taught us how to shoot at the same time we learned to walk. My concern has always been that one man cannot make a difference against a group of aggressors. I must say after what I just saw my confidence is up. As a group we are indeed a force to be reckoned with.”
“Yes indeed. I go along with such an assessment gentleman. Please, Mr. Mashpit and Mr. LaRoque can you help me with the box in my wagon please?”
Strom removed several smaller boxes and two large oiled canvas wrapped packages. He opened a box and pulled out a handful of shiny brass objects. He gave one to each of the men.
“Mrs. Colt told me she already made you aware of Colt Firearms next milestone Mr. Cotter.”
Cotter held the inch-and-a-half brass tube capped with a lead bullet. “I forget what she called it. My name is Jake...” Cotter pointed to the others. “…and Fabian, Bradley, John and Andy.”
“Very well, and you can call me Carlton.” Strom held up one of the brass objects. “It’s a metal pistol cartridge, Mr. Cotter…Jake. The first metallic cartridges were introduced for the Henry rifle in 1860. The brass shell has the primer cap contained in its base. The powder charge is inside the casing with the bullet mounted on top. We have dies to perform the loading of these shells in several stages.” Strom opened another box. He showed the group how the sequence of primer, gunpowder and the preformed bullet was seated by the tubular die device. “In less than a minute, gentlemen, these cartridges can be reloaded. Colt Firearms will be selling cartridges in boxes of twenty-four. All the brass is reloadable and the components will be available at any sales location.”
“But, Monsieur, what gun does this bullet go into. We have but our paper cartridges in our cylinders.”
“They go into this.” Strom opened the oiled canvas bag and removed a nickel-plated Colt revolver. Its barrel was seven-and-a-half inches long just like the Colt-Patterson style guns they were using. He handed the pistol to Jake.
“My god. This is beautiful. How is it loaded?” He handed it back to Strom.
“Just like this.” Strom swung the side cylinder cover open and inserted six cartridges as he rotated the cylinder in crisp clicks. He put the gun in his empty holster and moved forward ahead of the group. In a rapid draw, Strom fired all six cartridges at one of the stationary targets. Cotter and the others stared in amazement.
“I want each of you to fire this gun and tell me what you think.” Strom was smiling at their awestruck faces.
Cotter and the others took turns firing the pistol. “We have to carry several cylinders for fast reloads after we insert the paper cartridges on our Colt-Pattersons. They’re very bulky. What about these brass bullets?”
“Look at my holster, gentlemen.” Strom opened his coat to reveal the row of cartridges strung along the entire length of his belt. He held up a box of cartridges. “And you can refill the belt loops with these.”
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