(I ran a slightly different version of this  piece last June)

Since the new book will be out soon, I thought someone might be interested in the details concerning the rifle that monster hunter Mordecai Slate uses. It’s a Colt 1855 Revolver Rifle. A rifle that has a revolving cylinder, like a six gun. It was a real weapon used in the early days of the Old West,  but Slate added some modifications to it.

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The 1855 had a six-round cylinder, like a six gun, but, unlike the pistol, it did not fire .45 caliber bullets. Instead it used paper cartridges, which, unfortunately had the discouraging feature of leaking powder. The paper would tear, gunpowder would leak, and the result would be a phenomenon known as “chain fire.” Namely, one of the cartridges would go off, and set off the other five rounds, serially or all together, depending how much powder had leaked. It was not an ideal situation.

The chain fire problem is probably the reason most people never heard of the gun. It was soon replaced by the more popular Winchester and Springfield rifles.

But Slate came across the weapon as a young man during the Civil War. He liked the rapid fire capabilities of the cylinder, but the chain fire problem had to go. He modified the cylinder so that it would use .45 caliber shells, instead of the paper cartridges. Naturally, in his line of work the ammo wasn’t exactly standard. They were silver cartridges, hand rubbed in garlic. That’s the weapon he uses in most of the stories in HUNTING MONSTERS IS MY BUSINESS.

By the time the events in the novel VAMPIRE SIEGE AT RIO MUERTO occurred he had found he needed more fire power and he modified the gun further to accommodate a cylinder that would hold 12 cartridges instead of six. When facing a crowd of vampires, or werewolves, he carries a special bandolero that holds pre-loaded cylinders. When the cylinder in the gun goes empty, he usually tosses it and slaps in a pre-loaded. It brings the body count up significantly.

Although the Colt 1855 is a somewhat obscure weapon, you see it show up in western movies from time to time. In fact, it’s the rifle Jamie Foxx picks up near the end of Django Unchained, after he talks his way out of the cage transporting him to the mining company. It isn’t given much attention and you have to look close, but that’s the gun that Django’s holding as he rides back to Candyland to rescue the fair Broomhilda.

Sized Cover

It’s a strange coincidence, but shortly after I began writing these stories I learned that Taurus Guns started manufacturing a revolver rifle called The Circuit Judge. And guess what, like Slate’s gun, it fires .45s! Life and art imitating each other, or something.

So that’s the story behind the gun. You can see it in action in Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto, Kindle or paperback. You can get it here. And soon Slate wields it in Hunting Monsters Is My Business.

 

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