• Red Nichols, Holstorian

"No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die".

Updated: Nov 19

So says Goldfinger in the film of the same name, and presumably in Ian Fleming's book of that name, too. And today, Bond did die: Sir Thomas Sean Connery, the Scot who created the James Bond roll for the cinema, died age 90 and within a month of Dame Diana Rigg who served in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service", a film with another Bond actor.

As you can see, this post is not really about Sir Sean, is it? But rather is about Bond himself.

Connery stood out for me in '62 because I had just seen him in "Darby O'Gill and the Little People", a Disney film of 1959. And so had Cubbie Broccoli: he and his wife agreed from that appearance that the future Sir Sean would be James Bond beginning with "Dr. No". So I as age 9 and 12 respectively :-).

Here the producers are reviewing a map of what turns out to be S.E. England, along with author Fleming and actor Connery during the production of Dr. No:

Together, on the set. Fleming did not profit much by his creation despite leaving a healthy estate; with letters to his mother so-stating as he asked for money before his death in '64:

I'll add that Fleming owned several firearms but not ever the Beretta .25 that he made famous as Bond's first pistol. Fleming had merely heard of a pistol called a '.28 Biretta' and thereafter only got the name and caliber right because he sought confirmation. Instead, the pistol that Fleming handled while writing the Bond series of books was his father's FN Browning 1906 Third Model .25 ACP that had been inherited by his mother when her husband was killed by a bombing raid at the outbreak of WW1 (1914 for Europe including Britain). The pistol was carried by Fleming during WWII and ended up in Jamaica with him where he handed it back to his mother -- who wrote him in England to get fresh ammunition because what they had on hand also was from 1914! This, from of all places, a Colt book:

It also makes more sense of the 'taped grip' as something that held the grip safety of the Browning into its 'fire' mode: Fleming's was the Third Model that had all three safeties. And the tape would not have interfered with the inserted magazine on the Browning with the grips removed (the "skeleton grip" of Bond's pistol") whereas it surely would have on a Beretta 418 (below); which also had a grip safety though it is not shown in this diagram as the odd lump that it was.

Fleming was presented with a Colt DA revolver, and after the War according to its serial number:

We have his letter to the constabulary seeking to finally register his firearms, on the very last day of 1953!

He also owned a Ruger .22 (the British, then and now, refer to this as a 'point two two' rather than as a 'twenty two' as Yanks do) automatic presented to him by Steve Vogel, a Ruger son-in-law who we in industry knew from the big trade shows that included Sturm, Ruger & Co. Likely the occasion of this being made possible was Fleming's appearance with Geoffrey Boothroyd in the latter's hometown of Glasgow in 1961 where they were photographed with Ruger's brand new Super Blackhawk; because the Ruger .22 pistol was gifted in 1962:

The holster for which pistol was by Coggswell and Harrison, the British dealer who handled all of Fleming's firearms (owning a pistol in Britain then, and perhaps now, was a near impossibility) and were holding all of them at Fleming's death:

And this Colt, that was used as the image of his final book (that I doubt he himself wrote any part of, with his having killed off Bond in You Only Live Twice and meaning him to stay dead as having been a curse on his own life), too. It's an oldie (1875) likely because it's one that had been imported already (note the British inspection marks):

I mentioned in my announcement of the death of Dame Rigg that I fell in love with her character in the film, and even married her equivalent who was a Sicilian equally happy to settle a debt (to a third party) with her body. Now I mention, that I also had the good fortune to live the Bond character's life but without its perils: I can count England, Switzerland, and Japan; and pistols, holsters, and submachine guns; and bedding pretty foreign girls in my personal Chronology :-).

All things that I couldn't have imagined for myself in 1962, but if George Lazenby's video biography is anything to go by, I'm certain that actor Connery was absolutely counting on them!

"Of course", Bond's equally famous 'other' pistol was the PPK. Recommended by fanboy Geoffrey Boothroyd for the opposition and not for Bond, Fleming appears to have stuck with it to replace the underpowered .25 automatic because he considered silencers to be necessary to Bond's work; and revolvers to be unsuited to silencers.

The famous error of issuing a Berns-Martin shoulder holster for the Walther was only a half-error: Bond was also issued the new aluminium framed Smith Centennial revolver that Boothroyd had recommended the holster for; in the same scene of the book but on the next page and not in the film though it was used there. Brand new in 1953 and Boothroyd picked it for that reason, finally being a .38 Special in the small frame and aluminium being new for it because of the U.S.A.F. trials then.

It was I who realized that Boothroyd was only an enthusiast and no gun expert: all his advice to Fleming came from a half-dozen Charlie Askins articles that appeared in the Gun Digests of the early 1950s, including the Centennial, Berns-Martin and even the inadequacy of the .25 acp.

And it is little known that Fleming always corrected his errors though why they weren't also corrected in the many, many, many reprintings is beyond me: following Dr. No was the book Goldfinger and in it Bond's Berns-Martin is described as an inside waistband holster with the Walther and remains so for the rest of the books; i.e., his is not ever a shoulder holster again.

So, in a way, Bond and Fleming's most famous pistol was . . . Boothroyd's own K frame Smith that was military issue in .38 S&W with his own, personal Berns-Martin shoulder holster.

What if Fleming had seen this one of Werbell's, the chap who was a real-life secret agent then? Perhaps "The Man With the Golden Gun"? No, that's a crazy idea :-).


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