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Doc Coles SASS 1188

Whats a Barbecue Gun Where You Come From?

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A discussion in another thread took an odd turn when I used the term "barbecue gun" to refer to my engraved 7.5 inch Colt with checkered ivories.  A fella said that he had never heard of a long barreled gun referred to as a barbecue gun and stated that the term was used in Texas to refer to short barreled guns used for concealed carry and there is a very short specific list of what qualifies as a barbecue gun.  I learned the term in California where my family worked with cattle since the turn of the last century but there was never any talk of a required barrel length or association with Texas.  The way I learned it, the term referred to a fancy l gun that was worn to public events instead of your every day gun.  Obviously they would be functional (who is stupid to wear a gun that wouldn't shoot?), but they were a way to show off or at least dress up a bit.  I did some checking on line and and the top result came up with the following definition, which is in keeping with the term as I learned it:

 

"An old term from the Southwest that refers to a gun that is not worn daily. It won't have the scratches, wear marks, etc a daily wear gun would have. These guns were not something that were never used or "useless." In the time the term came about they were functional guns (sometimes, heavily modified for better accuracy/reliability/etc) that might have some custom engraving, polishing, or custom grips. They didn't make many guns purely for show - they made guns to use and users modified them for show. They were normally worn in tooled leather holsters as opposed to daily wear holsters - which were plain."

 

other online references indicate that in modern times, the term applies to  a "...large, intricately engraved pistol with custom handles, and it rests comfortably in a belt holster in plain sight. The holsters are usually leather and may also be intricately carved. This would be for formal wear worn with your suit to parties, weddings and you guessed it barbecues.  These guns usually are bigger, since concealment is no longer the objective. They have longer barrels, thus a longer sight radius, which improves accuracy."

 

The whole discussion got me wondering if or how the term is used or was traditionally used in other necks of the woods.  And what exactly is on the list of Texas barbecue guns?  Not intending to start a ruckus .  Everyone gets to use the term as they like, just wondering about the variations.  Let the games begin!

 

Doc

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So you're sitting around the deck with your friends, grilling something tasty and the topic goes to guns.  Well eventually someone will need to show a gun that he owns  that will make everyone jealous.  That is my definition of a BBQ gun....

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Well, I’m friends with quite a few cops from my area in central, NJ. 
There is one town that’s, shall we say, not the best area. In fact, there is a bit of a gang problem there, and they have “BBQ guns”. Basically it’s a “block gun”, for use by any of their crew “on the block” which is normally stashed in a busted up BBQ. The grill could be in someone’s yard, or in an abandoned house yard. This gun is usually stolen and/or has its serial number filed off. 

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Well Doc, this Texan has always heard the term to refer to any fancy handgun. The term means, to me, a fancy handgun that you wouldn't normally carry, but would take it to a special gathering of friends and neighbors to show it off. Perhaps a little braggadocio.

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Posted (edited)

I'm your huckleberry.  

 

Most of what is accepted to be a BBQ gun can easily be seen at the Texas Ranger Museum in Waco.

The definition of a BBQ gun was written long ago by working Texas LE. 

 

BBQ guns were and still are used as every day carry guns by those that can afford them.   Including many  past and present Texas Rangers (it is a long list) along with most traditionally inclined SW Border Lawmen.   Same gun, and leather might be  used on duty for a special occasion, going to court, church or a wedding might be a worthy occasion.   And one would likely have a duplicate set of "working guns"  when you knew the gun and leather were likely to be abused.  

 

In polite society BBQ guns are not flashed about to impress anyone or openly carried.   Open carry in mixed company is generally frowned upon in polite society so a jacket is likely to cover the tooled leather or a gun stuck behind  a nice tooled belt with a fancy engraved silver buckle.

 

Women and children don't get to see a BBQ gun unless it is by chance.   Might makes the women folk nervous and the young'uns too curious.   But no self aware male would go unarmed unless required but he has no reason to  make the fact known to the world either.   

 

Fancy, long barreled guns are parade day props,  or best used as target or hunting arms.  They are seldom every day carry guns and haven't been for over 100 years.  The key here is how A BBQ gun gets selected to be embellished.   It all begins as a "every day carry gun".  If you can't easily carry it every day and use it as tool it won't pass muster all fancied up as a BBQ gun

 

Helps to recognize that a proper Texas BBQ is likely a political and social event of like minded folks.   It isn't a gun show or a shooting match.

 

BBQ guns...   and a working gun copy

manny3.jpg

 

 

tom1%2B%25282%2529.JPG

 

 

 

 

Edited by levi littleton
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Posted (edited)

"You can call any gun a BBQ gun. It is still a free country. But calling a cow a bull, don't make it a bull."
There are plenty of photos on the Internet of very nice guns. Few are worthy of the title..BBQ gun.   And no need to look it up on the Internet to get a definition or find out who now makes a "Texas BBQ gun" :)

Attributes of a true BBQ gun
Full sized steel firearm that can easily be carried concealed on the hip
with few rare exceptions it a Colt 1911, Combat Commander or SAA
the exceptions are generally K frame S&Ws and the occasional HP
If you haven't seen a fancy version of the Model in the Texas Ranger Museum it aint a proper BBQ gun
grips are Ivory, pewter, silver or pearl (no movie cowboy stag)

style points for carved or engraved or gold inlaid grips
master C engraved or better
nickel, gold or silver plate ( only a good deal of gold inlay work makes a blued gun a proper BBQ gun)
 

what a BBQ gun is NOT
It is not a j frame revolver
it is not a Sig, Glock or any modern 9mm/40 cal
it is not a 5.5" no matter how fancy or a 7.5" Colt SAA
it is not a blued gun 

Edited by levi littleton

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Well now we know what it is for Texans.  But given the fact that 1911s are the primary gun that qualify, and the focus on concealed carry, this would seem to be a 20th century definition and probably associated with cities or towns, where carrying a gun openly in public is frowned upon. 
 

The tradition of fancy guns goes a lot further back than that.  Back to the days when a gun was a piece of working gear worn openly and carrying a concealed gun was viewed on as underhanded or shifty.  

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Doc Coles SASS 1188 said:

Well now we know what it is for Texans.  But given the fact that 1911s are the primary gun that qualify, and the focus on concealed carry.. 

 

 

Don't think you are getting the drift on the idea behind "BBQ gun".   Texas, NM, Arizona, Colorado, LA,  can be included in that "Texas" tradition.   The Texas tradition was greatly influence by the art and the animosity at the Mexican/US border almost since Texas gained its independence.  The 1911 might be the working gun but it wasn't ever the primary gun on the border by any means.  More likely a split between the SAA and the 1911 even up to the '50s, as dbl action wheel guns made inroads to both back at least 1890 and prior.   

 

Easy for non gun folks to get a "presentation Colt" like the Colt factory engraved 7.5" guns that were at the 1876 World's fair with a turn of the last Century working BBQ gun to the uneducated.   The  7.5" Colt was the Single Action Army for a long time.   It was a good bit of time before the shorter guns...first 5.5" and then the 4 3/4" guns became the most popular selling Colts.   "Presentation" Colts were around long before the BBQ guns started showing up in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

 

My Great Grandfather's  engraved pair of Colts were never, ever to my recollection called  BBQ guns.   Only name I ever heard them called were "the engraved Colts".    He was born in 1860 and ran cows with my Grandfather (born in 1890)  in Texas, IT and then OK and Colorado.    Nice guns but they weren't considered or called BBQ guns.  Just "engraved Colts".    If they had been Lawmen, that pair might well have been considered their BBQ guns.  (4 3/4", 45, C engraved, nickel and pearl) 

 

Both men carried in the open on the ranch.  Both carried concealed in town.   GGP carried a US Army 1911 later in life.  GP carried a %.5" Bisley. 

 

I do appreciate the fact you are at least interested in looking into what a BBQ actually is despite your convictions.  

 

No clue where you are getting your history.   Open carry was pretty much outlawed in towns but the days of the cattle drives (1867 on.. or there abouts).  Hand guns were carried by working  drovers on the trail (conversions or cap and ball at first then cartridge guns later to those that could afford them) for a number of obvious reasons.  One high on the list was to shoot a sour cow willing to put a horn in your horse or you.   But carrying guns in the open in the cow towns/shipping centers (or most towns) despite what the romance  and dime store novels tell ya,  was outlawed early on.  Shoulder holsters were poplar leather every where.  

 

Many big outfits from Texas to Montana outlawed their hands from carrying a handgun at all.   You mentioned a personal Texas to  California connection.   Once livestock  fences became mandatory in California (1866 and more so in 1870) the California open range was done.  The big herds moved on to the Great Basin where cattle can be found still worked in a rodear on open range and the Californio tradition of horsemanship never died out like it almost did in post WWII California.

Edited by levi littleton
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20200512_014357.jpg.974c3866feb6f5116c85c86f1920d168.jpg

 

Engraving?

 

We don't need no stinking engraving. 

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Would these count?

 

44Special2-3-375.jpg

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Crapolla....all this time I thought a BBQ gun was my deer rifle that provided the steaks I was BBQing! Guess it could be called a freezer gun too, as I fill my freezer with the meat I get from it!  LOL:

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10 hours ago, levi littleton said:

I'm your huckleberry.  

 

Most of what is accepted to be a BBQ gun can easily be seen at the Texas Ranger Museum in Waco.

The definition of a BBQ gun was written long ago by working Texas LE. 

 

BBQ guns were and still are used as every day carry guns by those that can afford them.   Including many  past and present Texas Rangers (it is a long list) along with most traditionally inclined SW Border Lawmen.   Same gun, and leather might be  used on duty for a special occasion, going to court, church or a wedding might be a worthy occasion.   And one would likely have a duplicate set of "working guns"  when you knew the gun and leather were likely to be abused.  

 

In polite society BBQ guns are not flashed about to impress anyone or openly carried.   Open carry in mixed company is generally frowned upon in polite society so a jacket is likely to cover the tooled leather or a gun stuck behind  a nice tooled belt with a fancy engraved silver buckle.

 

Women and children don't get to see a BBQ gun unless it is by chance.   Might makes the women folk nervous and the young'uns too curious.   But no self aware male would go unarmed unless required but he has no reason to  make the fact known to the world either.   

 

Fancy, long barreled guns are parade day props,  or best used as target or hunting arms.  They are seldom every day carry guns and haven't been for over 100 years.  The key here is how A BBQ gun gets selected to be embellished.   It all begins as a "every day carry gun".  If you can't easily carry it every day and use it as tool it won't pass muster all fancied up as a BBQ gun

 

Helps to recognize that a proper Texas BBQ is likely a political and social event of like minded folks.   It isn't a gun show or a shooting match.

 

BBQ guns...   and a working gun copy

manny3.jpg

 

 

tom1%2B%25282%2529.JPG

 

 

 

 

Not to hijack the thread, but why is there no trigger guard on those guns?

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1 minute ago, Charlie Harley, #14153 said:

Not to hijack the thread, but why is there no trigger guard on those guns?

 

One less thing to clean BBQ sauce off of ?

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Because Manny Gonzalez cut them off.

 

Back in the early part of the 20th century many "gunfighters" cut the front of the trigger guard off so they could get their finger in there quicker.

 

At least that was the theory.

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Up here it is Generally considered to be a Highly Polished Stainless , Chromed, or Nickeled Gun or a Heavily engraved often Gold inlayed Blued and Case-hardened one

With Ivory, pearl, Bone, Buffalo Horn or silver Stocks ,,,, Grips ...

While they were fancy Show pieces , they were still smooth and functional firearms ... A lot of them were SAA's with 7 1/2 or 5 1/2 inch barrels ,Or Colt 1911s done up the same ...

Most Cowboys and Ranchers could only Dream of such guns, for lack of Folding Money ....

 

Jabez Cowboy 

 

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Skeeter Skelton wrote about BBQ guns.  His books might help those that are interested.

 

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11 hours ago, CAPTAIN said:

Well, I’m friends with quite a few cops from my area in central, NJ. 
There is one town that’s, shall we say, not the best area. In fact, there is a bit of a gang problem there, and they have “BBQ guns”. Basically it’s a “block gun”, for use by any of their crew “on the block” which is normally stashed in a busted up BBQ. The grill could be in someone’s yard, or in an abandoned house yard. This gun is usually stolen and/or has its serial number filed off. 

That’s a new one on me.

 

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It is what you want it to be. Ford vs Chevy. :D

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Posted (edited)

Levi, to be clear, I got the term from my family as well.  My great grandad was raised Oklahoma in the 1880s and ran away to Texas as a cowboy at 14.  He came to California around the turn of the century and ran ranches in Ventura county.  A number of his kids and grand kids were also cattlemen.  I didn’t learn the term from a book.  
 

As for me, I grew up with guns, dad is a gunsmith an engraver (he did the work on a number my guns including the 7.5 inch).  I have been shooting a handgun since I was five and worked in the gun trade as a salesman and gunsmith for more than 20 years, ran shops, was a partner in a shop.  I have bought and sold a lot of very fine western guns over the years and have a decent collection of it myself.  I left the trade when I finished my Ph.D in historical archaeology so now I repair and restore primarily western guns as a hobby.  Between my dad and having worked in good shops, I have seen a lot of engraved guns and read a lot of good books on engraving.  So, I am not exactly “uneducated” in the field. 

 

Now that we have both trotted out our great granddaddys and said we didn't just fall off the turnip truck, can we can calm down a bit?
 

I am not saying that your definition is wrong, I am just pointing out that that is not what it meant where I grew up in California.  Saying that it’s a Texas thing and we don’t know what we are talking about does not change that. 

 

 

Edited by Doc Coles SASS 1188
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These are my personal idea of BBQ Guns.  Also Main Match

IMG_0280.jpeg

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26 minutes ago, Colorado Coffinmaker said:

These are my personal idea of BBQ Guns.  Also Main Match

IMG_0280.jpeg

Very nice!  I love engraved cap and ball guns.  I have a 2nd gen 1860 fluted cylinder that came from the factory in the white that I am trying to get dad to engrave with a period pattern.  

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13 hours ago, levi littleton said:

what a BBQ gun is NOT
It is not a j frame revolver
it is not a Sig, Glock or any modern 9mm/40 cal
it is not a 5.5" no matter how fancy or a 7.5" Colt SAA
it is not a blued gun 

The title of this thread is

 

Whats a Barbecue Gun Where You Come From?

 

Now it is wonderful that you know, where you live, what is and is not a barbecue gun.

 

And I am thrilled all to pieces that you are so sure of what you know.

 

But even THE GREAT STATE OF TEXAS

1995490509_MapTexanviewofTexas.jpg.9b71c948fbcb09b5384fc6269e42b194.jpg

does not include the whole world.

 

 

Now around here the top one would be my working gun. The bottom one would be my barbecue gun.

 

IMG_20200512_123844.thumb.jpg.37ff0f1c74a80f1fec2b796d01570f08.jpg

 

They are both five and a half inch, and neither one has been scratched up or nickeled.

 

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Understandable......when you are from CA, TN or AK what might be acceptable as a so called BBQ gun even when they clearly aint :) 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

What the hell does Texas know?

 

They think barbecue is cow, when all right-thinking people know that it's pig.

 

Cow 1.jpg

Hedgehog 2.jpg

Dog 4.jpg

Hippo 1.jpg

Edited by Alpo
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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Doc Coles SASS 1188 said:

Now that we have both trotted out our great granddaddys and said we didn't just fall off the turnip truck, can we can calm down a bit?

 

 

Ya I bit my tongue some there waiting to see how long that yarn was gonna get.    I've been writing about a specific gendre of handgun ( BBQ gun) that is often (as seen here) credited to guns where the term is simply being misused. 

 

With a Ph.D in  history I am sure you see that often enough.    With your current advocation I might suggest a trip to the Museums in Waco and  OKC.  Always fun. 

 

Weren't a lot of folks kicking around IT  and the Texas border during those time frames.   If the ages added up likely as not our GGFs might well have known each other at least casually.    

Edited by levi littleton

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“When you tell somebody somethin', it depends on what part of the country you're standin' in... as to just how dumb you are.” ~Smokey and the Bandit

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Posted (edited)

Texas is an OK little state with some oil, but up here in Alaska we like things a bit bigger.  Its cold half the year, but that just keeps the Texans from moving in. 

 

I don't get to the lower 48 (what we call "outside") much these days.  Too much work and a young boy to raise.  I would love to go to the museums and will if I get the chance.

 

When I was a kid in Santa Barbara we had the annual fiesta, which was a heck of a party with parades over multiple days.  My favorite was the cablagata, where everyone rode on horseback or in period horse drawn wagons.  Folks, including a lot of the old Spanish/Mexican families that started the town, ranchers from the surrounding area, and the Sheriff's posse (which was a collection of the influential folks in the county, which was saying something for there) would ride in their best gear.  Not the Bohlin stuff like the rose parade, but very nice stuff.  This often included very fine guns, in tooled gun belts.  It was not common to carry a gun at other times, laws being what they were.  Not that many cattlemen I know carried handguns while working, and I think actually showing up at a barbecue carrying a gun would not be considered polite, even on a ranch.  None the less, a fancy handgun was called a barbecue gun. 

 

The only LEO that I know who carried a fancy gun was Dick Price (the late great Diamond Dick), who carried a nickle Colt sheriffs model with ivory grips when he was Captain of Homicide for the Sacramento county Sheriffs Department.  The term barbecue gun would have applied to it but I don't recall if he called it that.  He told me that the deputies under his command thought it was funny when he showed up to serve warrants etc. and pulled it out.  The only reason he could carry it was that as a captain he could establish the TO&E for his unit, so he put in a provision that a Colt sheriffs model was authorized for the homicide captain.  So technically, it was a duty gun. 

 

Up here in Alaska it is still free America and you can wear open or concealed without a permit and I carry a gun in the bush for work and when I am out, but those are always working guns, usually a shotgun with slugs for bears or moose.  If I carry a handgun, its concealed. 

Edited by Doc Coles SASS 1188

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I always figured a BBQ gun was like your go to church gun: fancy, concealed and not your daily carry piece.

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it be like the white shotgun at a formal weddin' 

 

 there are a few social events where I will strap on a pistol , a bit pretter gun than I what I pack everyday 

 belt is a bit less worn than the everyday belt , polish it up give it a shine 

 

  CB :FlagAm:

 

  Arkansas open or concealed carry , NO permit required , still some what FREE 

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1 hour ago, Go West said:

I always figured a BBQ gun was like your go to church gun: fancy, concealed and not your daily carry piece.

 

I was just about to say that if they was gunna get so stuffy about the term "BBQ gun" then I'd just start calling mine "Sunday go to meetin gun". 

 

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I only heard the term barbecue gun a couple of years ago on a firearms talk radio show.  The definition was similar to Levi's except it is worn to be seen.

My daughter asked me to presided* at her second wedding which was held on a granite outcropping a block above our family cabin in South Lake Tahoe.  The theme was old west.  Since, this was after CA banned open carry nobody carried Vaqueros or SAA's.  If the cabin was a 2 miles to the east in Douglas County NV some of us in the wedding party would have been.

*I got one of those mail order licenses.

The closest thing I have to a barbecue gun is a Lipsey's special blued Vaquero with an engraved cylinder with gold leaf inlay.  I bought it off Gunbroker when I lost out on a SS 357 OMV match to the one I already had. 

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Let me get this straight.  You go to a family BBQ with a loaded fancy pistol on your person and someone wants to inspect it and the first thing out of your mouth is "Hold my Beer".  What could possibly go wrong?:wacko:

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15 hours ago, Dantankerous said:

Would these count?

 

44Special2-3-375.jpg

 

Yep,

they would be welcome around my fire.....

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Bobacue. :P

3649DD2D-984C-4FFB-AEB3-235E8D76A34D.jpeg

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Posted (edited)

These are my BBQ guns.  Worn in a double Huckleberry rig over a black double breasted vest, with or without coat or jacket.

 

French Grey barrels and loading levers, color case frames, blued engraved cylinders, nickel grip frames and trigger guards, carved walnut grips with oak leaves and acorns, and all fire blued screws.

 

We will add engine turned, (damascened) hammers and gold plated triggers when I can get 'em back to Willy McCoy!!

 

IMG_3583.jpg

IMG_3585.jpg

IMG_3587.jpg

Edited by Blackwater 53393
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