Gun show brings Wild West to life

By John Cousins

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Con Egan with his collection of Colts favoured by the most notorious names of the Wild West. Photo / George Novak
Con Egan with his collection of Colts favoured by the most notorious names of the Wild West. Photo / George Novak

A retired dairy farmer's lifelong interest in the legendary lawmen and outlaws of the old West translated into a fascinating corner of the Tauranga Arms and Militaria Show.

Con Egan's collection of Colt pistols and rifles collected from around New Zealand and the United States traces back to one of his earliest memories when his mother dressed him up in a cowboy outfit.

He never looked back and 22 years later started to collect sidearms of the sort that were once used with deadly effect by outlaws such as Jesse James and Billy the Kid and lawmen such as Wyatt Earp and Pat Garrett.

He scoured New Zealand and the US to build up a major collection, which included the actual Colt used by a Kiwi policeman who hunted the killers involved in the Maungatapu murders of 1866 when a gold convoy from the West Coast was robbed.

The rest of his collection, which included 80 pistols, were historic examples of the firearms used to terrorise and ultimately tame the old West.

Mr Egan said his display, matching his guns with those carried by the famous names of the Wild West, created a lot of interest at the show held at the weekend in Greerton Hall.

"Everyone has a bit of cowboy in them," he said

He was reluctant to go into detail about the value of the weapons, saying it depended on the market at the time and the condition of the firearms. However, all his guns were in working order.

The guns on display spanned the years 1851-1878 and included weapons gathered during his five trips to the US in which he went to all the Colt shows and visited historic battle sites such as Little Big Horn where General Custer fought his last battle and The Alamo. Mr Egan said he found visiting Little Big Horn moving.

His trips included staying with friends in Kansas and helping them out on the farm, along with visits to famous towns such as Tombstone.

Some of Con Egan's Colts and their famous match-ups

• 1860 Civilian Army Colt: Jesse James
• 1873 Single Action Long Barrell Colt: Doc Holliday
• 1873 Single Action Short Barrell Colt: Wyatt Earp
• 1841 Thunderer Colt: Billy the Kid

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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