I know that Texas doesn’t have a lock on court guns, or their kissin’ cousin, the BBQ gun, but someone always asks me what they are.
Unfortunately, I’m afraid they’re a dying breed. At least in this part of the country. Back in West Texas every lawman worth his salt has a court gun. Around here, everyone has gone to polymer framed pistols, and I’m here to tell you, ain’t no way this side of the Styx than you can turn a Glock into a court gun.
Sorry, ain’t gonna happen. It is technically, physically and aesthetically impossible.
So, down to brass tacks.
A court gun is the pistol that you wear during your court-type duties.
Usually a Colt Government Model or clone or a Browning Hi-Power, although any metal pistol with removable grips will do. Either blued or stainless is just fine, and have a small amount of tasteful engraving done to the slide.
Replace the grips with burlwood or stag. Fancy wood is acceptable, and can be minimally engraved. Understatement is the word of the day here.
The gun leather for your court gun should be dark in colour, with the classic basketweave pattern and a Ranger buckle. A subdued floral or Celtic pattern is acceptable, as long as the leather engraving is not a different color from the rest of the belt. In the past, the best gear was custom-made by inmates of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, but I don’t know if they’re still doing that.
Some philistines have asked about nylon carry gear, or — God forbid — kydex. The only stuff good enough for a ‘court gun’ is leather. Period. Full stop. And for God’s sake, don’t have your name engraved on the back of the belt. That’s just…just…tacky.
For accessories, consider one open-topped magazine pouch and a belt-mounted badge. Polish your boots, press your jeans and wear a starched long-sleeve shirt.
Now, a BBQ gun is a whole different animal. A BBQ gun is what you wear to barbeques, baby christenings, formal balls, and any other place where a fancy jacket or outfit would be worn.
Get your paws on a revolver. Smith & Wesson or Colt would be best, although I understand that Brazilian products are becoming accepted. Polished stainless at a minimum, and full-blown nickle is a better. And pony up for full engraving. Have the trigger, hammer, screws and ejection rod anodized blue, gold, or colour-case-hardened for the traditionalists.
Now, look in the mirror. Is your mustache over 50% grey? If so, go for pearl grips. 49% or less on the grey-meter, and you’d best stick with ivory. If you go for mother-of-pearl, have it carved or inlaid. Steer heads are a classic pattern, although badges and stars are always safe.
If you go the ivory option, have the ivory inlaid or scrimshawed. Floral patterns involving roses and the Texas flag are good, as well as the state of Texas, a tasteful rendition of a young lady, or long horn cattle. Any scene from the battle of the Alamo is a surefire crowd pleaser. For those souls living outside the Great State of Texas, the flag raising at Mt. Suribachi may be substituted for an Alamo scene, and anything involving Marines is acceptable engraving material.
I would advise that you stay away from morbid or dreary themes in your engraving — unless it is extremely well done.
The leather for your BBQ gun should be of a floral pattern, with the engraving a different color than the rest of the leather. The engraving pattern should extend to the buckle and any other metal hardware which should consist of silver and be polished bright enough to shave in, although gold is acceptable if carried with the proper attitude.
Accessories should be limited to a reload and a pocket watch.
No BBQ outfit is really complete without hand-made boots made from the hide of a critter that is guaranteed to send your local PETA petter into orbit. Pressed jeans under a Western-cut jacket, with a bolo tie, and a black Stetson complete the ensemble. The bolo tie should have a chunk of rock slightly larger than a baby’s fist and the Stetson should have a hat band made from the cousin of the critter on your feet.
For some of the best examples of court and BBQ guns around, I strongly recommend visiting the Texas Ranger Museum in Waco, Texas.