Texas Ranger captain Frank Hamer (1884-1955) was one of the best examples of the transition from horseback Rangers to Rangers of the modern era. As soon as his horseback days were over, Hamer chose to set aside his boots and spurs in favor of shoes and business suits. By examining photos of him throughout his career, we see that he had the same attitude about rifles, transitioning from the Winchester Model 94, to the Savage Model 99, and finally to the Remington Model 8 autoloader. However, throughout his long career, Captain Hamer still hung on to the same handgun, Old Lucky.
Old Lucky is a Colt Single Action, in .45 Colt caliber, with a 4 3/4-inch barrel. It is blue, with nearly full-coverage scroll engraving (probably what Colt called “C” coverage). During most of his career, Hamer stocked his favorite sixgun with a set of carved pearl grips. However, in later years, he changed these for a set of the factory hard rubber.
Hamer was also an advocate of carrying a backup gun. In Sweetwater, Texas, in 1917, he used a Smith & Wesson .44 Special to kill Gee McMeans because his normal gun arm had a bullet in it and he couldn’t get to Old Lucky. In 1934, during the hunt for Bonnie & Clyde, Hamer carried a Colt 1911, in .38 Super, as a backup gun to Old Lucky, though he didn’t fire either handgun during the ambush.
Regardless of the other guns he carried, Hamer virtually always carried Old Lucky. One source, highly suspect, claims that Hamer used Old Lucky in over 50 gunfights. I suspect that the number is probably closer to a dozen and his son, the late Frank Hamer Jr., agreed with me. Frank Jr. also told me that his father always had the old Colt on him. “Daddy wouldn’t even walk from the living room into the dining room without Old Lucky in his waistband,” the son once told me.
I examined Old Lucky while it was part of the vast collection belonging to Charles Schreiner III, at his home on the YO Ranch. Sadly, upon Charlie III’s death, the collection had to be sold to pay estate taxes. Old Lucky sold for a reported $165,000 and is now in a private collection. Old Lucky is a piece of Texas history and I wish that the present owner would have some good photos made of the gun and share them with those of us who still care.
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