by Stephen Bly
I’m a dirt road guy. Blacktop bores me. And Interstates drone like a prison line: you see nothing but the rig in front of you.
My latest protagonist, Avery John Creede, and his 17-year-old nephew, Ace, roam for days under the clear, blue Montana skies. If you like frontier wilderness, Montana’s got plenty of that kind of space left. I live next door in Idaho, and don’t intend to move, but Montana and Wyoming feel a lot like home too.
One thing about our highway system. . .it’s well marked and easy to navigate. Not so in Avery John Creede’s day. Those horse trails had no signs. That required a ‘feel’ for the land to keep from drifting off course. And when you’re lost a hundred miles from nowhere, danger lurks.
That’s why in one scene in Creede of Old Montana Avery uses empty brass casings from his bullet belt to mark the trail for Ace.
When you watch western movies, you don’t often see a cowboy pick up brass after he shoots to reload his own cartridges. But most of them did. Store-bought bullets were often too far away and expensive. Somewhere in his saddle bag, most cowboys carried a reloading tool (see left photo) and a bullet mold (see right photo). With a hunk of lead, a tin of primers, and a sack of black powder, they could reload the brass and restock their bullet belts.
Avery packs a .44 Colt revolver and a .44 Winchester 1873 saddle ring carbine. Both weapons use the same bullet, so he only needs one reload tool and one bullet mold. A .44 Winchester Center Fire cartridge is often called a 44/40. The size of the bullet is .44 of an inch, and it contains 40 grains of black powder. That explosion pushes 200 grains of lead fast enough to kill most anything.
If you simply required a larger bullet, you could go with the .45-70 (found in most of the Army rifles, carbines, and muskets). Or, like the Fortune men in the Fortunes of the Black Hills Series, you could tote a .50 caliber Sharps.
But enough of this ammo talk, especially since most of the readers of this blog tend to be gals. However, if you lived in the Old West, you’d have to know these sorts of details. And carry your own gun. As Mary Jane Cutler (alias ‘Sunny’) does in Creede of Old Montana (to be released October 2009).
On the trail,
On the trail,
Available Now! The Land Tamers (hardback)
Coming Fall 2009! Creede of Old Montana (hardback)
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