REWARD: $2000 'long shot' to find missing pistol
FORMER Grafton man and gun collector Bryan McGuren has just fired his longest shot, offering a $2000 reward for an antique Colt pistol that has been missing for almost 40 years.
Mr McGuren, who has extensive family connections to some of the city's founding families including the Schaeffers, was putting some historical pieces together to add to the Schaeffer House collection, when he recalled the missing pistol.
He said the pistol, an 1860 New Modern Army Colt .44 calibre pistol, was the only piece missing from a boxed set, which included a wooden stock, which clipped onto the pistol, converting it into a carbine.
The box still has some of the ball ammunition needed to load the pistol.
"The pistol would have the serial number 156664 and the stock has the number 156665," Mr McGuren said.
"The fascinating thing about the stock is it is also a whisky flask.
"When it was made the stock was split in two and hollowed out and the flask put in and then glued back together.
"It's such a good job you can barely see the join where it was glued back together."
The antique weapon is a revolver, but does not take bullets, like a modern pistol.
"It's what they call a cap and ball pistol," Mr McGuren said. "You would have a flask of powder which you put gunpowder into each cylinder, then placed the ball into each cylinder.
"The pistol has a lever which you pulled to ram the bullet and the charge home. Then you would put a little grease in each cylinder to stop the flash igniting the other charges.
"After that you would have to place a percussion cap on at the back of each cylinder to allow the hammer to set off the charge."
Mr McGuren described the weapon as a "rich man's toy".
"You imagine this was the type of gun a wealthy young man would have with him if he went down the back at Yulgilbar Castle to pot a few roos," he said.
"It would have cost more than a year's salary for most people in those days."
He said the pistol was also noteworthy because it was made in Colt's British works rather than the famous Cincinatti factory.
"The British versions are better because they made better steel in those days," he said.
"I've got a similar pistol in my collection, but it was made in America, so it's not the same quality."
Mr McGuren recalled the empty gun case from almost 40 years ago when the historical society was setting up its collection in Schaeffer House.
"I can remember the pistol was missing from the gun case even back then," Mr McGuren said.
A recent search revealed the case, covered in dust with the wood warped and bent from years of rough storage.
"I was able to gradually get the case back into pretty good condition with using clamps and steaming the wood to make it pliable," he said.
"You'd have to steam it, tighten the clamps a little, then steam it again, tighten a little more.
"Eventually I got it so the lid shut properly."
Mr McGuren admitted the offering a $2000 reward for the return of the pistol was a "long shot", but thought it was worth a try.
"It might be enough for someone who has it lying around to come forward," he said.
"I've got no idea how or why it went missing, but I would love to see this set back together."
How to collect: Mr McGuren has a licence to collect antique pistols (Lic No 689-068-300). If you have the gun or information about it, contact him on 0422 860 681.