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The guns of Charles Askins Jr.

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by timothy75, Mar 7, 2008.

  1. timothy75

    timothy75 Well-Known Member

    I've been reading more and more about this guy an find him very interesting. Unlike a lot of writers he never seemed to have clung to one caliber or gun ala Keith, Oconner, Cooper, but rather continued to test and use new guns as they came out. From what I've read he was a real gun junkie and I like that about him. I know he was fond of the 1911 platform and was wondering if anyone knows any other favorite pistol/rifle/shotguns he had throughout his life, particularly his later days since my books are dated. Or any other unique stories about him you'd care to share. Thanks
  2. Joe Gunns

    Joe Gunns Well-Known Member

    If you haven't read his memoir, UNREPENTANT SINNER, it is worth a read. Colorful character. HE tells of various guns he owned, but its been too long since I read the book to remember. He was a guy who marched to his own drummer and did what he wanted to the best of his ability. Like the majority of the males of his generation he had no patience for stuffed shirts, petty regulations and stupidity and bulldozed right along despite the potential consequences. If he'd been a boomer he'd probably be in jail. The book is out of print and kinda pricey. Check out abebooks.com for used copies, paperbacks seem to start @ $28.
  3. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    I met the man, and knew him for some years. To say the least he was... well ... interesting. Understand that he liked to pick fights in his magazine articles by making outrageous statements like, "The .30-06 is worthless," or ".45 pistols are going to be gone within 5 years." He knew that enough readers would be outraged and make a fuss, and that would sell magazines and attract more assignments.

    But he was the real thing. A genuine man-killer that I believe never felt any remorse. He obviously wouldn't fit in today, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

    He believed that any man that went into a fight armed only with a handgun was a fool (he used stronger language, but this is the High Road), and having an argument over the size of bullets was stupid because bullet placement was the critical thing, and while in the Border Patrol in Texas during the middle-late 1930's he carried a Colt New Service chambered in .38 Special, even though he had an early registered S&W .357 Magnum - that was engraved too boot.

    He also "field tested" an early S&W .44 Magnum by counter-ambushing someone that was placed to ambush him, and then wrote an after-action report that was published in the American Rifleman. That riled some members, so he quit.

    Like him or not he was perhaps the last of the gunfighter breed, and I think he would like to be remembered as such.
  4. Mad Magyar

    Mad Magyar Well-Known Member

    I recall some of those articles...He didn't mind picking a fight with anyone when in came to firearms....I liked his read....
  5. Joe Gunns

    Joe Gunns Well-Known Member

    Exactly! My crack about him being in jail was meant in reference to the PC baloney that my boomer generation has embraced. I think that there is a place for men with the bark on within the normal range of human behavior, and a need for them in society.

    I remember that he believed that his use of the S&W .44 mag whilst an advisor in Vietnam in this incident was likely the first combat use of that weapon, making his adversary the first man killed with that round.
  6. MikePGS

    MikePGS Well-Known Member

    I quite enjoyed his "Six Guns are Clunk" article, along with Bill Jordan's response "Come now charlie" :D
  7. bannockburn

    bannockburn Well-Known Member

    I know his tastes in firearms was pretty varied. From an old Guns magazine article he wrote about holsters, he mentioned his Pachmayr-tuned M1911 that he won the National Pistol Championship with before WWII. Some of the other guns he had were: a Colt New Service .45, a S&W Model 39 9mm, and a .45 caliber derringer.
    Something interesting that I found in a Guns and Ammo magazine from October, 1977, was his introduction back then as their new Handgun Editor. They listed his accomplishments, including: 534 shooting medals and 117 trophies from competitive shooting matches, numerous national and state pistol championships, 10 years of service with the U.S. Border Patrol, 23 years as an U.S. Army officer through three wars, firearms instructor for the Border Patrol, and Instructor of Infantry Weapons for the South Vietnamese Army. He was also the second recipient of the Outstanding American Handgunner Award. This man not only knew guns and wrote about them, but also used them in every sense of the word. In combat, law enforcement, competition, and sporting activities, Col. Askins was the real deal.
  8. The_Shootist

    The_Shootist Well-Known Member

    Tough Hombre!

    Judging from his memoir (which I'm lucky to have - asked for it for Christmas :D) Askins was a stone-cold killer, discussing his fights like a cook shares recipes.

    Certainly not somebody you'd want as an opponent.
  9. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    I didn't get that impression, and I knew him.

    During his lifetime, and in the occupations he chose to follow, killing sometimes became necessary. He did what he did, and lasted long enough to die in bed of old age. A lot of others in his line of work didn't.
  10. The Lone Haranguer

    The Lone Haranguer Well-Known Member

    In Col. Askins on Pistols and Revolvers (c. 1979; I got mine via NRA Publications but don't know if it is still in print), he favorably mentioned the Smith & Wesson Model 52 (the .38 Spl. wadcutter target pistol) calling it "sweet-shooting" IIRC. In little sidebars between the chapters he would write about various gunfights he had had. In one he wrote calmly, dispassionately and somewhat graphically of shooting a fleeing German soldier, hitting him in the back of the neck. ("... the bullet came out his mouth, taking out a handful of teeth ... ") :eek:

    He had a way with "creative" use of language. "I plugged the jazbo spang thru the brisket ..." "But there's them as likes lots of ca'tridges in the clip ..." And muzzle energy was "muzzle smash" or "muzzle geewhiz," expressed in "ft lbs" :D Don't mistake this for lack of literacy or intelligence. Rather, it makes the narrative fun to read. When anyone else tried to copy his style they fell flat.
  11. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    In bullseye match shooting -something he excelled at - as he was a National Champion - he preferred to shoot the .45 match with the Colt pistol rather then a revolver. And for a time he carried a Government Model as a Border Patrol duty sidearm. But I don't think he was particularly fond of it for that purpose...

    Because he was left handed. :uhoh:
  12. ccd

    ccd Well-Known Member

    There is a gun shop in San Antonio that has a few of his old handguns for sale; that is if their website is still current.
  13. Joe Sacco

    Joe Sacco Active Member

    About 20 years ago, when I was still with the feds, Col. Askins son helped us out with a case (he's not slouch either) and introduced me to his Dad. I've visited his house, which was a among other things one of the nicest privately owned safari and arms museums I'd seen.

    He was definitely the real deal and had the memorabilia to back up his statements. He was an old gentleman at the time but I wouldn't have wanted to be on his bad side. I'm privileged to own an autographed copy of Unrepentant Sinner. Best, Joe
  14. The Lone Haranguer

    The Lone Haranguer Well-Known Member

    In Stephen Hunter's Pale Horse Coming, one of the "old gunmen" who comes to the aid of Earl Swagger is a thinly disguised version of Askins, by the name of "Charlie Haskins." :D
  15. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Well-Known Member

    Askins seemed to favor revolvers for combat duty. Autos were available to him but in police work and in his military career he always seemed to pack a large caliber revolver. He carried a 44-40 Colt New Service during WW II and in the early days in Vietnam he carried a S&W .44 Magnum.

    It was Mas Ayoob who called Askins a "stone cold killer" in his piece about him following Askins' death. If you read his book, you have to get the impression that Askins was quick to kill and felt absolutely no emotion afterward. He once caught a group of American Indians trespassing and poaching so he shot all their horses. During the war a German soldier was disabling surrendered vehicles so Askins shot him in the back. He could have simply ordered him to stop but he preferred shooting the man in the back. He wrote of gunfights in the Border Patrol that would get an officer charged with murder, today. If that's not a stone cold killer then I don't what is.

    Askins was tough. Period. He was also a racist and a contentious cuss.

    I have no doubt that he was very pleasant to folks when he met them, but people who knew him intimately seem to agree that he was a very dangerous man with ice water in his veins.
  16. papajohn

    papajohn Well-Known Member

    I'd probably have gotten along with "Old Askins", as he liked to call himself, but I'd make darn sure I stayed on his good side. One Border Patrol Agent who was killed a few feet away from Askins during a gunfight barely got a mention in Unrepentant Sinner, saying he never cared much for the guy. He didn't say he was glad the guy was murdered by contrabadista, but he didn't have anything good to say about him either.

    One thing I loved about the Colonel was his ability to poke fun at himself, making awful shots, stupid decisions or verbally shooting himself in the foot. He had a wry sense of humor, understated and clever.

    As for guns, he used a lot of shotguns early on, but as was mentioned, didn't seem to have a lasting fondness for any one gun or caliber or gauge, he used whatever was handy, and used it well. One dark night on the Rio Grande found him with a white rag tied around the muzzle of his side-by-side shotgun, so he could tell where it was pointed!

    But as for his cold-bloodedness, I guess he was. He was also a racist, in the worst connotation it carries. When asked about the men he'd killed, he said something like, "Twenty-six, not counting (blacks) and Mexicans."

    But for all his ugly traits, he was a damn fine pistol shot, accomplished wingshooter, and no one to mess with while he had a rifle, and he unabashedly preferred the heavier calibers. All his books are good reads.

    Just don't expect to get any warm and fuzzies from them!

  17. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Well-Known Member

    Bill Jordan, who knew Askins very well, said he was a man to drink with, but not to get drunk with. He was a racist -- when asked how many men he'd killed, he said, "Twenty-seven, not counting Mexicans and N*****s."

    Askins favored Colt revolvers for much of his life (he set many a record in pistol matches with Colts.) In his final days, I recall a letter asking him what guns he carried and what his loads were. At that time, he said he usually carried an M1911 with factory loads. But in his law enforcement days, he usually carried a Colt New Service.

    Being left-handed, he liked the 99 Savage as a rifle for law enforcement use. He also liked pump shotguns for that same purpose. Interestingly, for hunting and sport, he was a firm admirer of over-and-unders.

    His lethal use of the .44 Magnum was more or less accidental -- he was hunting in "Indo-China" and heard someone on the trail, stepped into the brush and ambushed a Viet Minh.
  18. Trebor

    Trebor Well-Known Member

    I'm surprised no one mentioned the Colt Woodsman he had custom chambered in the centerfire ".221 Askins" by modifying cases from the 5.5 Velo Dog round. He used that gun to win the National Matches and after that they changed the rules to require a .32 minimum in the centerfire event.

    Here's an article where he talks about it in his own words:

  19. bannockburn

    bannockburn Well-Known Member


    He briefly mentioned that gun in an article he wrote for American Hangunner magazine back in the late '80's. There were a couple of other things in that article, which was entitled, "Ride the River with Colonel Askins", that I found most interesting. In relating about various gunfights that occured while he was with the Border Patrol, Askins wrote the following:

    " The service handgun was the old WW-I model 1917 revolver. It was made by Colt and fired the .45 ACP cartridge. This had to be loaded with two three shot clips. Pretty awkward. However, Border Patrolmen in those halycon days placed small faith in the belt gun. Gun fights were up-close affairs and everyone depended on the .351 Winchester auto rifle or the 12 gauge shotgun. The rifle, as issued by the Service, was the old service Enfield Model 1917, the old crutch issued to our troops during WW-I. It was pitiful in gun battles such as we fought. "

    " I might explain right here that we had the lowest respect for the handgun in combat. If a Border Patolman was so stupid as to go on night patrol armed only with a pistol, he'd have been laughed out of the outfit. He carried, as did everybody, a revolver, but what he depended on was either the .351 Winchester auto rifle or a 12 gauge auto shotgun. "

    And he should know, for in a 10 year period the El Paso subdistrict he was assigned to, had a gunfight on average every 17 days.
  20. BigG

    BigG Well-Known Member

    I believe the "stone cold killer" appellation is a mistake. He was a guy who knew what he was doing and he didn't hesitate. A lot of people seem to fault him for that but I think it's because they would like to be decisive, but aren't.

    He had a Browning/Rem autoloading shotgun full of what he called 'blue whistlers" with a white rag tied around the muzzle as a night sight. ;)

    He liked the Savage 99 because as a southpaw he liked lever actions. He later got into the big magnums that Winchester put out 264/300/338/458.

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