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Cmdr. James Bond, OHMS 1953-present

The Guns of James Bond -- and of Ian Fleming

"The Guns of James Bond" was written by Ian Fleming as an introduction to his correspondent Boothroyd's own gun book, and in it he poked fun at himself for thinking that the Berns-Martin "Triple Draw" shoulder holster meant for an S&W Centennial revolver could also be used with Bond's silenced automatic that was the Walther.  Prior to these articles (both are the same) the combination had largely gone unnoticed because both pistols were issued at the same time; while in the film the Centennial, which could not be silenced, was not mentioned but in any case was used in the Crab Key scenes.  Less noticed was that the pistol Bond produces from his shoulder holster in one of those scenes is a Browning 1910 automatic and not the Walther at all!

The Walther, introduced before WWII, was available in .32 acp and the larger .380 acp.  The aluminium frame made it lightweight but not so lightweight as the much smaller  Beretta was with its own aluminium frame.

Above, was the Beretta M418 really Bond's original pistol?  Right era (this one is 1950s) but because Fleming had only an incorrect name and caliber to hand, and did not ever see the pistol itself, we'll have to think of Bond's Beretta as fictional, too.  The Beretta of the film's scene was not this .25 but instead a larger Beretta in .32 acp comparable in size/caliber to the Walther.

Fleming thought himself fortunate to have made the aquaintance, by correspondence, with gun enthusiast Geoffrey Boothroyd of a major paint company in Glasgow.  Boothroyd however was no expert and had gained all he knew from a series of early 1950s articles by genuine gunman Col. Charles Askins of the U.S. Army for WWII.  

Fleming surely regretted Boothroyd's well-meaning intervention because the changeover caused Fleming much grief and he took it very personally; having already erred in nominating the year of his Casino Royale hero's automobile that was made only in 1930 vs. 1932.  Had Fleming stayed with the Beretta his life would have been smoother and he died within two years of the film 'Dr. No's release.


In the same year that Fleming's "From Russia With Love" appeared, so did Mattel's 'Snub Nose .38'.  The author, who had one in that year, only now notices from the plated cylinder, that the toy emulates the painted revolver with a chopped barrel, ramp front sight, round butt brown grips -- all modifications from the standard Mattel that is based on an SA Colt.

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Above, Boothroyd's own 1950s Berns-Martin shoulder holster, shown here off its removable harness (the buckles) to be worn on the belt.

The long-barreled .45 Colt ''Army Special' revolver used by Bond in 'Casino Royale' was surely the long-barreled 1909 'Army' in .45 by Colt.  The Texas Rangers abandoned the caliber in 1929 when the Colt .38 Super Automatic was introduced, then switched to the new .357 Magnum in 1935 when it appeared, because the .45's lead bullet could not deliver stopping power after striking the heavy steel bodies of the cars being used by mobsters during the Depression.

Above, the .25 acp at left and the .32 acp at right, which brought more power to the shot but also enlarged Bond's pistol substantially.

Above, Ian Fleming's own FN .25 acp auto had been his father's in WWI and Fleming carried it during his own wartime service in WWII while at Naval Intelligence.  It ended up in the Caribbean with him and his mother as personal protection from the locals; their ammunition was the original box from WWI.  With this pistol in hand Fleming wrote the Beretta into his books, with the grip panels removed, the grip safety taped down, and the front sight filed off (which makes sense on the FN but not on the Beretta at left).  Both pistols are 'striker fired', hammerless designs.

The revolver on the cover of "From Russia With Love", in which "the problem with Bond's Beretta" was devised by Fleming, is indeed Boothroyd's revolver.  Boothroyd loaned his revolver to the artist for lack of being able to send a color photo -- not yet possible for the home cameraman -- and the local C.I.D. took exception with Boothroyd after discovering it was missing when a murder in that caliber took place.

Little noticed is that the 'Elizabeth Regina' marking of the painted revolver was a change from the King's marking that was on Boothroyds' actual WWII revolver.  Elizabeth was crowned queen in 1953, the same year that the first Bond book "Casino Royale" was published.

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Geoffrey Boothroyd lived partly off his fame as Fleming's advisor for Bond, and above is a magazine carrying his story.  Unfortunately he throws Fleming under the bus in his telling of the tale.  

Even Bond's film holster was a fiction, made by the film's costume department from cloth and chamois from a standardized H.H. Heiser design made for the Centennial and suited to the Walther, too.

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Ian Fleming Had His Own Guns

Above, the ancient Colt presented to Fleming by Colt's Firearms really was gold plated.  Note the date (!) and the caliber (!) likely because it was already imported by the English distributor.  Painted for the cover of "Golden Gun".

Below, this particular Colt of Fleming's has been incorrectly identified as a Police Positive which is the same caliber as his true revolver from Colt's that was an Official Police of a larger frame.  Said to have been presented with engraved sideplate (other side of the revolver) to Fleming in 1944, the year it was made.

Below, as mentioned the Ruger company presented Fleming with its .22 target automatic subsequent to his being photographed with Boothroyd in Glasgow with Ruger's new .44 Magnum revolver.

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Fleming's .357 Magnum, engraved sideplate.

Below, Fleming's personal .25 automatic

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