Guns Of Outlaws

Guns Of Outlaws by Gerry and Janet Souter

From colonial-era rifles carried on the “Owlhoot Trail” to John Dillinger’s Colt pistols, the history of the American outlaw is told in guns – weapons that became each man’s personal signature. Authors Gerry and Janet Souter peer into these criminal’s choices of derringers, revolvers, shotguns, rifles, machine guns, and curious hybrids, giving us a glimpse into the minds behind the trigger fingers. With over 200 illustrations, Guns of Outlaws gives a unique look at the lives and the hardware of the most infamous outlaws in American history, and of the law enforcement officers who hunted them.

As settlers moved further west, away from authority and soft city life into the Great Plains, the push for survival through the endless prairies and jagged isolating mountain ranges bred ruthless men. Most outlaws were technology freaks who seized upon the latest weapon innovations developed in the industrious East to provide an edge in the life-and-death cosmos of the Wild West. Outlaws tinkered with their guns, creating unique hardware that became their calling cards. Attempts by lawmen to take control sparked a weapons race, pitting gunmen and bandit gangs against home-grown lawmen and vigilante “posses.” By the late 1930s and early 1940s, outlaws on horseback had given way to marauding bank robbers. Using fast cars and faster guns, they became folk heroes of the Great Depression, even as the law was hard on their tails.

The book’s 22 chapters begin in the eighteenth century and works forward covering nearly two centuries of history of infamous criminal use and misuse. Even being on the wrong side of the law, outlaws were quick to adapt the newest technology. Where the outlaws of the Natchez Trace used flintlocks, post-Mexican War castaways had percussion caps, everyone was quick to grab up cartridge breechloaders, and then self-loaders when they became available.

Gerry and Janet Souter formed Avril 1 Group and have published 50 books, notably American Shooter. Like that book, this is a thorough history taken from the perspective of the American bad man.

Read more in the December 2015 issue.

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