Bicycle Guns – Whatever Happened to Them?

I have examined gun advertising more than most (e.g., my work on The American Rifleman), and so it is always fun and educational when I come across ads that I have not seen before.

Early in my work, for example, I was surprised to see an ad from 1937 for Peters (a division of Remington Arms) .38 special “target” wad-cutter ammo, used by Mrs. Esther Sichler to win the Championship Cup at the Southern California Revolver League Matches. It was a good reminder that advertising has targeted women for some time (and often indirectly through their men).

Wandering around the Roy Marcot Firearms Advertisement Collection (housed at the McCracken Research Library of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming) online recently, I came across something I had not seen before: the bicycle gun.

Specifically, the Harrington & Richardson Arms Co. “Bicycle Hammerless Revolver,” advertised in Recreation magazine in 1902.

Source: MS 111 Roy Marcot Firearms Advertisement Collection, McCracken Research Library, Buffalo Bill Center of the West. HR.REC.1902.6. http://library.centerofthewest.org/cdm/ref/collection/MS111/id/755

I had previously posted about Colt’s ads encouraging people to “add a Colt to your motoring equipment.” So I am not sure why it didn’t occur to me that gun manufacturers would sell products to people using other common forms of transportation. Perhaps because I don’t recall ever seeing a contemporary gun advertisement directed at cyclists. To be sure, there are any number of concealed carry gun ads showing people walking and jogging (and driving, still). But bicycle guns?

Like the Smith & Wesson Safety Bicycle Revolver, advertised in Forest and Stream magazine in 1898.

Source: MS 111 Roy Marcot Firearms Advertisement Collection, McCracken Research Library, Buffalo Bill Center of the West. SMW.FORS.1898.7.23. http://library.centerofthewest.org/cdm/ref/collection/MS111/id/50

Of course, those who prefer long guns are not left out in the cold here. In Recreation magazine in 1898 they would find the J. Stevens Arms & Tool Co. “Favorite Bicycle Rifle,” $6.00, with the optional leather bound canvas case for an additional $1.50.

Source: MS 111 Roy Marcot Firearms Advertisement Collection, McCracken Research Library, Buffalo Bill Center of the West. STEV.REC.1898.4. http://library.centerofthewest.org/cdm/ref/collection/MS111/id/157

Sometimes what is noticeable in old advertisements is not the different products but the changes in social norms portrayed. Even if the bicycle gun makes a comeback (I hope it does), I doubt we will ever see an ad like the one Forehand Arms Co. of Worcester, Mass. placed in Recreation magazine in 1899.

Source: MS 111 Roy Marcot Firearms Advertisement Collection, McCracken Research Library, Buffalo Bill Center of the West. FORH.REC.1899.8. http://library.centerofthewest.org/cdm/ref/collection/MS111/id/557

 

20 comments

  1. If I recall, there was even a caliber specific to this genre. 5mm Velo-Dog which stood for velocipede anti dog!!! I guess cyclists being chased by stray mongrels was way more of “a thing” in those days!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. David, always pleasantly surprised by something I’ve known about for decades, that looks joyfully wondrous (or shocking) to your new set of eyes. And I carry every time I ride. Concealed pocket gun.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. With the explosion of little polymer semiautos, its never been easier to carry while in the peloton. In fact, if Dave had been carrying a Chief Special or similar little five shot revolver, that Cinzano racing team might have had second thoughts about jamming a frame pump into his front wheel.

    Seriously though, I’ve thought about getting a little 380 such as the Ruger LC to slip more easily into a lycra jersey. My Beretta PX4 Subcompact is bulky enough that it takes up most of my ass pack if I ride with it. Plus, it probably weighs half as much as a carbon frameset.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post. My two favorite avocational topics, bicycling and firearms.

    I’ve carried a Polish P-64 in my center rear jersey or wind vest pocket for years (CPL holder in WA) recently supplanted by a lighter but slightly bulkier Ruger EC9s.

    I’ve fired my pistol to successfully “course correct” groups of one to four chasing dogs on three occasions, never firing directly at them but rather safely into the dirt. I’ve been chased many more times but I prefer to outpace them, and I usually can unless they get the angle on me. In the case of the four charging dogs I was fixing a jammed chain and definitely had no other recourse.

    These incidents were all in a rural (county jurisdiction) situation where our local sheriff wouldn’t have batted an eyelash at me firing my pistol. In the city I’d be far more likely to risk the dog bite than discharging a firearm within city limits in a less than mortal danger situation.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Cycling jerseys typically have three rear pockets. I use the center for weight distribution of the pistol, which is heavy relative to other items I carry like a spare tube, CO2 inflater, phone, wallet with CPL, food.

        A positive retention holster mounted with strong brackets to the main triangle behind the head tube might work but it’d then be open carry and would also be a source of asymmetrical weight on the bike frame, which is unappealing. If someone designed a retention holster for the water bottle mounts, that might be appealing for short rides of 1.5 hours or less.

        Like

  5. I’m really curious what that Forehand ad means by “book agents,” that you apparently need to arm yourself against. With some Googling, the best definition I can come up with is door-to-door booksellers, who must apparently have been extremely pushy in the late 19th century. Still, buying a gun for the purpose of threatening salesmen seems extreme to me.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.