What gun goes with my Halloween costume?

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(All images courtesy of, and hosted by, the National Firearms Museum. Please allow time to load, and click on each picture to see the full-size version!)

Why, the incomparable Vampire Detective Special, of course!

Back in 1975, a young Leonard Francolini — already a master engraver at Colt — produced a masterpiece that is still talked about to this day. Francolini took a standard Detective Special and turned it into a ghoulish tribute to Dracula fans everywhere.

The post-’72 Detective Special, with its signature lugged barrel and long ramp front sight, was heavily engraved and then silver plated (what else??) The engraving features bats hanging in the cylinder flutes, gargoyles on the sideplates, and the trademark rampant Colt dancing on a coffin. The muzzle of the gun — which you point at the undead demon — features a cross visible from his vantage point, no doubt to scare him into submission while you prepare to send him back to the netherworld.

The grips are made of ebony in an old cylindrical profile complete with butt cap, and the left side has two little “notches” of inlaid silver — in the shape of bats, of course. The hammer is silver plated to match the gun, but the trigger, screws, and ejector head are all done in a beautiful fire blue.

The work includes six silver rounds of ammunition, each bullet carved into a snarling vampire bust.

The ebony case is, naturally, shaped like a coffin and its blood-red lining has room for the gun and “ammo”, plus an ebony stake with sterling silver shaft and a sterling bottle for “holy water”.

Francolini always said, very tongue-in-cheek, that the gun was “commissioned” by a “Dr. van Helsing”. It has changed hands a couple of times over the years, but in 2010 it was offered at auction and ended up in the Robert E. Petersen collection at the NRA National Firearms Museum.

Now everyone can enjoy this tour-de-force of both engraving artistry and wry humor! You can see more pictures of this superb piece at the NRA Museum website.

-=[ Grant Cunningham ]=-


About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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