EMF’s Great Western II and 1892 Hartford Rifle are true to the originals in size and design, but crafted in stainless steel. While traditionalists may balk at the idea, they’re easier to clean — especially with the black powder loads.
FOR 14 seasons television viewers tuned in to see the fiery opening of Bonanza. When that blazing map of the Ponderosa burned away to reveal Lorne Green, Pernell Roberts, Dan Blocker and former Teenage Werewolf Michael Landon, we knew we were in for an hour of family entertainment. I know it was “family” fare, for two reasons: A) My parents allowed me to watch it, and B) the Cartwrights (Johnny Carson called them “a 40-year-old father and his three 30-year-old sons”) didn’t have ammunition loops on their finely tooled gun belts. That was the tip off they would be mostly solving their problems with words and not bullets.
Every time I saw rancher Lorne Greene’s Ben Cartwright wearing his ornately tooled rig carrying that fine 7.5-inch Colt Single Action Army, I realized that this was befitting a wealthy landowner with fine taste. Of course, I jumped on the opportunity to equip myself with the equivalent guns and leather — only I would take advantage of a century of metallurgical advances and update the “gun iron” to stainless steel.
When my old friend, John Fasano obtained the two stainless guns and the ornately carved leather, Bonanza was foremost in his mind. He knew that I too spent many a Sunday night in front of the flickering Philco television set in my parents’ living room. John also knew that I had actually visited the Ponderosa, and even sat on Ben Cartwright’s leather chair.
Years ago I traveled to Lake Tahoe, Nevada and took the tour of the house that was the standing set for Bonanza’s Ponderosa. Now discontinued, the tour of the “Ponderosa” main house was curiously exciting. The famous hats were there when you walked in the door, and you felt the presence of Ben and the boys. It wasn’t long before we began to expect one or more of them to appear. As we looked around we realize that there were no two- dimensional props here — this place was real. However it must be said that the majestic staircase went…nowhere. There is no “upstairs.” On the tour we learned that all second floor scenes were shot in a studio, although “Hop-sing’s” kitchen was intact.
A short stroll from the house and barn we came upon an area that afforded a great view of Lake Tahoe. Standing there, it was easy to orient yourself into a position that displayed the lake without any power lines or other evidence of the 21st century. It’s then we realized that we’ve seen this view in the background of dozens of scenes where one of the Cartwright boys was romancing some pretty young thing in a too tight dress. Never to marry, of course. All I needed to make that experience complete was a beautiful rig like the one provided by Alfonso’s of Hollywood and a bright SAA on my hip.