Sorry, I've had a cold and been in bed the last few days. So here's part two ...
My grandfather was on a security detail in Germany in 1945, and was sweeping an area for the arriving VIP. Under a culvert, he found something wrapped in fabric, like someone had stashed it until they could come back and get it. It was a great find, and he had it shipped back home the next day.
It was a Mauser 98, the basic German rifle. The equivalent of an M1 that the Americans used. This particular M98 was Gestapo issue. It was a good gun. Mauser knew what they were doing. Still do. They made excellent guns that had been around for a long time, guns that got their reputation originally, not through war, but for being good and reliable hunting guns. Big game in Africa. Deer hunting at home. That sort of thing.
My grandfather was home soon after that. He spent the entire next winter working on a new stock for his gun. It's a beautiful one, too. Hand made over a few months from one piece of mesquite, sanded and shaped to perfection. Used it for hunting for many years. My dad hunted with it, too. My granddad doesn't hunt anymore, so the gun has been sitting in the back of our gun cabinet since I can remember. I didn't know anything about it when I was a little kid; I just knew there was a 'German Gun' in with all the rest (we had 10-20 guns, depending on the time. Dad used to love to buy guns at pawn shops and refinish them, make them all purty, and resell them. Some, like my .410 shotgun that I LOVE, ended up being so nice that we kept them. But I digress.).
John's dad was over last month, and he and John got to talking about WWII, and the Mauser versus the M1, and how they'd love to have one of each. I told them that I remembered there was a German Gun at my dad's house, and I thought it might have come from the war, but I didn't know much else about it. I called my dad and he told me what he knew, and told me he'd bring it up next weekend when he and Wesley came to visit.
So my dad and brother got here. They went out to get lunch, but brought the gun in before they left so we could look at it before we started shooting it. (I love living in the country, by the way! I can shoot anything I please, at any time of the day, in my 'backyard.') John and I were looking at, commenting on how pretty it is, and how heavy, and we were laughing about how hard we just knew it was going to kick. John turned it over to look at the underside, noticed something and took a closer look, and stopped cold. I asked him what was wrong, and without a word he handed the gun to me and pointed at something. I took a closer look, and saw what he had seen. And knew right away why he had stopped. I got chills just looking at it.
The Nazi Eagle was stamped into the metal of the gun in three or four places. It was probably about a centimeter high, maybe even a little less, so you couldn't make out a ton of details, but there was absolutely no mistaking what it was.
Let's think about some facts for a second. This gun was made in 1940. My granddad found it in 1945. It was a Gestapo gun. It was worn and had been hidden. This was not a gun that had sat around in a case for people to look at. This was a gun that had been used, probably frequently, probably for its intended purpose.
I was holding a gun that had almost certainly killed Allied soldiers, if not Americans, during WWII.
That's a sobering thought. Seeing those eagles was creepy as hell.
I wasn't able to go out and shoot it with John, Dad, and Wesley. I was just too freaked out. And I'll tell you what ... that gun is LOUD. I mean, LOUD. John got to shoot it several times, and kept laughingly saying over the next few days, 'Oh, man, I've got Mauser shoulder! That thing kicked like a mule!'
So it's a very fascinating thing to have in my family. I asked Dad the following day if I can have it once he dies or is otherwise unable to use it anymore. (He said yes, I can, as long as I don't poison him to try and get it early.)
But until then, the next time he brings it out, I'm looking forward to shooting it. But I'll never be able to forget where it came from.