In the centuries since the gun was invented, hundreds of innovators, engineers and inventors have brought their vision together to create what has become one of the most perfectly produced items ever made. This TALES OF THE GUN COLLECTORS SET chronicles the long history of firearm design and construction from the first, primitive weapons to today’s computer-controlled, high-tech factories.
From the gunslingers of the Wild West to the newest technology being developed for tomorrows super-weapons, guns have etched a place in today’s culture for their masterful combination of form, function and beauty.
Produced by Greystone Communications, Inc. for The History Channel
Part 1: Early Guns
Revisit the era of early guns, which lasted for nearly 800 years – from the discovery of gunpowder around 1000 AD to the widespread use of the flintlock musket in the 19th century.
Part 2: The Rifle
For nearly 400 years following the inception of firearms in the 14th century, hitting a target with a gun was often a matter of luck – until the technological leap of cutting grooves in the barrel permitted the bullet to spin, thus providing gyroscopic stabilisation. This innovation sparked the evolution of the rifle…an evolution that began with the Pennsylvania rifle of the American Revolution.
Part 3: Early Machine Guns: Advent of Rapid Firepower
This episode relates the story of the birth and development of rapid fire weapons from the 14th century until the end of World War I – where on one terrible day the machine gun was responsible for moving down nearly 60,000 men.
Part 4: The Gunslingers
During America’s western expansion, a new breed of man arose – the gunslinger. Sometimes he wore a badge, sometimes he was an outlaw. But he always had a gun at his side, and the urge to step to the edge and pull the trigger. Wild Bill Hickok, Jesse James, Wyatt Earp. See why the weapons they carried stamped these gunmen’s existence.
Part 5: Dueling Pistols: The Etiquette of Death
At the turn of the 19th century, upper-class men of Europe and America fought pistol duels to the death. The pistols created for these duels were some of the most beautiful ever made. This program examines these magnificent weapons which gave this strange ritual its deadly character.
Part 6: Guns of Valor
A gun in battle is only as good as the soldier firing it. We’ll tell the stories of six Congressional Medal of Honour recipients, and look at the weapons they used in earning America’s highest military award. Including battles from the Civil War, World Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam, meet these brave soldiers and view their guns.
Part 7: The Making of a Gun
Go behind-the-scenes to uncover the literal composition of this most powerful and destructive device. Forged from simple raw materials, the gun is so durable it can last 100 years. It has few moving parts, but its design requires complex engineering. Its purpose is basic – and it performs it well as one of the most powerful destructive devices ever invented. Here is how it works. This episode features interviews with law enforcers and gun historians.
Part 8: Big Guns
Marvels of technology and spectacular in their sheer power, big guns have shaped the nature of warfare for centuries. Though of humble origins, they evolved into some of the biggest and most complicated machines of destruction ever made. Put in your earplugs as we fire the Parrot, Big Bertha, Gustav and Atomic Annie, among others.
Part 9: Guns of the Famous
Prized for their beauty and coveted for their past, we handle guns of the famous including: Teddy Roosevelt’s buffalo gun, Wild Bill Hickok’s Colt Navy Revolvers, Bat Masterson’s Colt Revolver, General Patton’s ivory-gripped revolver, Ulysses S. Grant’s 32-caliber gold inlaid revolver, and a fowler claimed by Napoleon, among others.
Part 10: U S Guns of World War II
An examination of the weapons that came through surf and snow, dense jungle and choking dust; the guns of the American G.I. Though World War II introduced instruments that pierced the dark and weapons that released the power of the atom, the infantryman’s guns were designed decades before; but in dependability they were unequalled.
Part 11: German Small Arms of World War II
A look at the evolution of German “small arms” from the end of World War I, when the defeated nation was denied the right to rearm by the Treaty of Versailles, to the end of World War II, after Hitler had again supplied the country with the means to wage war. See how Lugers, P38s, and Mausers wrote an agonising chapter in the gun’s history.
Part 12: Guns of the Bizarre
Duck Feet, Salt Shakers, Squeezers, Knuckledusters, Fish Hooks, and Harmonicas. Though the listed items sound innocuous, they exist for one reason – self defence. These are the nicknames of some of the unique guns we handle in this examination of the inventive gunsmiths who created these strange one-of-a-kind firearms.
Part 13: Ten Guns that Changed the World
It could be argued that the gun is mankind’s most important invention. If so, which guns have had the greatest impact on history? See if you can guess which 10 guns our firearms experts and historians chose. Their choices were based upon innovative design, individual function, and impact on history.
Part 14: Sharpshooters and Long Range Weapons
A fierce presence on every battlefield since the first buckskin-clad patriot fought in the American Revolution, today sharpshooters are an indispensable part of law enforcement in the form of SWAT marksmen. Whether in target competition or on the battlefield, their precision firearms enable sharpshooters to hit targets a half a mile away!
Part 15: Guns of the Commandos
From the Thompson and Sten submachine guns of the 1940s to modern, ultra-compact M-16 SP automatic carbines, the commando has always relied on an impressive array of standard issue and exotic firearms. Today, these highly-trained shock troops are called Special Operation Forces, but expert use of weapons remains their stock-in-trade.
Part 16: Magnificent Failures
Born of necessity, some were so far ahead of their time that they went unappreciated, while others were obsolete before ever being fired. They were the bright ideas of wild-eyed geniuses, futuristic attempts to improve technology, goofy gadgets, and clever creations to side-track existing patents. Join us as we review gunmakers’ magnificent failures.