Vintage Colonel Charles Askins Article On Concealed Carry

You know those guys at the gun store that start their sentences with “back in my day” followed with some nonsense about pump actions, the 1911, or a home defense lever gun that you generally ignore? Well, Colonel Charles Askins was not the kinda guy that you should ignore.

Charles Askins had quite a career starting as a wildland firefighter in Montana then moving to New Mexico to be a Park Ranger. Where his career got fascinating was when the U.S. Border Patrol recruited him in 1930. Charles went on to head up the handgun skills program and stated in his memoir that he was involved in at least one gunfight every week. As a result of the volume of gunplay in his life, Charles figured he had killed 27 men in his career but never kept track of the number of men for whatever reason. Who knows how many lives Askins ended, I doubt even he knew.

In addition to being a damn good gunslinger, Charlie also wrote. A lot. He produced over 1,000 magazine articles over a 70 year period. If you want to learn more, I recommend reading his memoir, Unrepentant Sinner

Enjoy this magazine article he wrote a while back about concealed carry.





Patrick R

Patrick is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Co-Director for TFBTV. He is a verified gun nerd and also podcasts at The Firearms Podcast. With a lifelong passion for shooting, he has a love for all types of firearms, especially overly modified plastic handguns, precision rifles, and AR based things. You can follow Patrick on Instagram @tfbpatrick, Facebook, or contact him by email at tfbpatrick@gmail.com.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • Slab Rankle

    Charles figured he had killed 27 men in his career but never kept track of the number of men for whatever reason.

    Exterminators don’t necessarily keep count of all the rats they’ve killed.

    I wonder if he associated with Bill Jordan. Birds of a feather, for sure.

    • Kivaari

      I don’t remember if they rode the border together or not. They certainly crossed paths for another 30-40 years while being gun celebrities.

  • Kivaari

    He was later quoted as saying he had killed 35 men, but he didn’t count the “N*****rs and Sp***s”. He self-described himself as a “homicidal maniac”. After reading his book, “Unrepentant Sinner”, I’d say he was not a good man at his core. He was simply a heartless killer.

    • adverse4

      A killer with a heart would leave you just as dead.

      • Tassiebush

        A killer with a heart is unlikely to have killed in many of the circumstances Askins claimed to have done so.

    • Bill

      Indeed. A sociopath with a badge is the worst kind of scum.

      • Kelly Jackson

        Sometimes you just have to clean up the streets with a gun

    • Tassiebush

      Yeah I’ve got a copy of it and he certainly shot a lot of people in situations where it was needless. He caught a captured German disabling German vehicles and shot him in the back without warning and there were plenty of ambushes as a policeman that wouldn’t be legal.

      • RealitiCzech

        Pretty sure POWs lose protection when committing sabotage. I get the feeling Askins played up his triggerhappy nature for the purpose of edginess.

        • Kivaari

          One can tell the German sergeant that he should cease his action. No need to shoot him in the back.

          • RealitiCzech

            He agreed to cease hostile action when he surrendered.

          • Kivaari

            He was breaking distributor caps and was shot in the back. A civilized soldier would have confronted the unarmed POW and moved him into the nearby column of POWs. Back shooting seems extreme. Legal? Moral?

          • john huscio

            I doubt George “we’re gonna kill germans by the f–king bushel barrel-full” Patton would’ve frowned upon his activities in the war….

          • Aaron White

            It was a different time. We were taught to hate the germans and japs. He did nothing anybody else would have done at that time.

          • mosinman

            he’d just cause trouble somewhere else

          • RealitiCzech

            A civilized soldier could have just threatened him, fired a warning shot, or hit him with a rifle butt. At this point in the war, POWs were more a burden than an asset. POWs have rules they must follow – if they don’t, they can be shot. Hell, shooting him may have been a good object lesson to other POWs to abide by the rules.
            And it might’ve never happened. War stories have a lot of similarities to fish stories.

        • Tassiebush

          He may well have played it up. There was also the border patrol ambushes that apparently started with shots rather than any verbal warning. It’s a good read but gee he comes across as a pitiless mean ba$tard!

          • valorius

            Things were way different back then. Remember how they ended Bonnie and Clyde?

    • Ark

      Yeah, this does not seem like a good person.

    • crackedlenses

      At least he was not shooting at us.

  • adverse4

    He killed all those poor defenseless miscreants? The Brute!

    • Kivaari

      Some he outright just murdered. He even tells of one along the border, one in Europe and one in Vietnam. He was proud to have shot a Vietnamese subject with a .358 Win. Savage M99. It was the first kill in the world for the gun and cartridge.

      • Don Ward

        Wait, what? I thought the yarn was he went to Nam and racked up the first kill with the .44 Magnum in combat? Now he claimed to do the same for the M99?

        BS meter is now peaked.

        • Kivaari

          He claimed both. There was no indication that any of them were VC, or armed in any fashion.

          • Don Ward

            Honestly? The guy is either a liar or a psychopath.

            Or both.

            If he was getting into a “gunfight every week” or was killing that many people on the border, there would be news stories about it. I’m not a gunfighter but I have worked as a newspaper reporter. And certainly in the 1930s when reporters did more gumshoe reporting, there would be stories of these infamous gunfights all over the place. Not just the El Paso and border newspapers either. These sort of shootouts would have been picked up nationally. That’s the way the wire service worked back then. So if these stories are true, there should be news stories from the 1930s corroborating his memories.

          • Kivaari

            I suspect both. But other Border Patrol officers of the era reported similar events. They were chasing alcohol smugglers as well as immigrants. I know for a fact that lots of police actions before 1970 went unreported. I worked with some old timers that did things quite outrageous by even 1970 standards. There was more gun play than ever reported. Not always involving two way shoots, nor fatal wounds.

          • Zack mars

            You must not be familiar with how the border works.

            Even now, terrible stuff never even makes the 3rd page of the news. Not defending the guy, but bad stuff happens all the time, and will never see the light of day

          • Paul White

            Hi; my grandparents spent their last decades along the border (El Paso and the bootheel region of Texas), so yes, I have spent time along the border.

            It isn’t the wild west now for sure. I cannot comment on the 1930s but in the 80s, 90s and 00’s it wasn’t particularly bad.

          • Zack mars

            I’ve lved there a number of years, and i still have friends there.

            Having your windows shot out, cars stolen, and people threatening you with firearms is pretty bad.

            The “wild west” was never “wild”, and if i had to pick living on the Tex/Mex border again, or some Arizona town in the 1870’s, I’d take the latter every single time

      • American Spartan

        Links any of those stories?

  • James Earl Jones

    Was anyone else’s favorite content the magazine ads?

    • codfilet

      I just sent away for some of that stuff!……

      • Tassiebush

        Haha I recall enquiring about martini cadet carbine barrels and being told I was about 20years too late…

    • Phillip Cooper

      Yes. Much better than the John Wayne wannabe that wrote the article.

      • Paul Rain

        You’re so right. Atkins knew nothing about gunfighting.

    • Cap’n Mike

      Yes
      I just sent $50 to Ma Hunter in New Jersey for one of their .50 Cal water cooled Machine Guns. At that price, I should have ordered 2.

      • American Spartan

        Back when America was a free nation….Goes to show you everytime you allow marxists and cucks into office, they ruin everything for everyone.

    • Blake

      “Look what I got from General Franco”: http://www.angelfire.com/nh/milarm/95carb.html

      That SMG appears to be one of these:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Defense_M42
      pretty good deal for $30, even back in the day…

  • John Q Public

    Interesting info no matter how controversial the source maybe.

    Take away is choose the platform that suits you the method of carry and practice your craft.

    If you see trouble and can avoid it, best to do so. Situational awareness can be the best self defense. Smooth draw is fast draw least steps to get gun from holster to in firing position is majorly important(only thing to take issue with in article)

    9mm was king then and still is for defense
    (Not that other cals aren’t good)
    End of the day shot placement

  • Rick McMullen

    I find his preference for AIWB (not that he called it that) to be quite prescient.

    • Klaus Von Schmitto

      I’m really fond of just putting a gun in my front pocket. I like it that he liked that too.

  • No doubt he was rough and a real character. He also was universally liked. The southern border during that time was a wild place where gunfights happened a lot. Just a different time and attitude about shooting offenders.

    • Don Ward

      Again. There should be copious amount of news stories about his exploits at the time. I say that as a former newspaper reporter who has a bit of knowledge about that industry. And in those days, reporters were more likely to do gumshoe reporting and hit the streets. And most newspapers had reporters whose sole job was the police beat. They’d pour over the rap sheets and just hang out until a story occurred. If our protagonist was in a “gunfight every week” – I understand this is an embellishment – there should be print on this, even if they are yellowing away in the morgue of the El Paso newspaper’s library.
      The only thing I’ve ever seen to corroborate Col. Askin’s exploits are his yarns in the old gun rags which I read once upon a time as a kid and which are now available online.
      The point I’m trying to make is that 27 kills (not counting unfortunate stereotypes in his words) is a remarkable number and which far outpaces most of the celebrated gunfighters of the Old West (who also embellished the truth).
      As a newspaper man – even a former one – I’ve learned to be skeptical until the truth is outed.

      • Zack mars

        Go look at things like borderland beat. Stuff from the border NEVER makes it on tbe news.

        You’re giving the news way too much credit

        • Don Ward

          I’m speaking specifically as to how news reporters gathered stories in the 1930s. In that day we had more reporters actually out on the streets covering a beat. It’s not like today when a news reporter just sits at his desk or whatever, reading and writing Tweets. They actually were expected to go out into the field and cover stuff. And news rooms employed more individuals and they actually sent those individuals out and about to cover stories in order to get the scoop on their competition since any reasonable sized town in America at the time had multiple newspapers. And there was money in the news business in order to pay guys to do that sort of legwork unlike today.
          I’m not completely discounting Col. Askins’ yarns. But I am expressing skepticism. If there was a Mexican murdering Border Patrol officer who had racked up the type of kill count that has been discussed, I am pretty certain there would be corresponding news coverage back in the 1930s detailing his exploits. Perhaps they are sitting in the archives of the El Paso Herald Post or whatever other newspapers that town had at the time.

          • Zack mars

            The border has always been a terrible, violent place, that has basically been ignored by the media.

            Nothing new under the sun

    • Tassiebush

      I guess one thing that contextualizes it is that his colleagues were shot without warning too. I guess if your job is to secure the border and you get fired on habitually you’re not going to hold back.

    • Bill

      One of the points you make is eerily ironic: people seem to think that the SW border today is some kind of free-fire zone today when in fact it is nothing like it was 30, 50, 100, 200 even 400 years ago.

  • Steven

    I have the impression none of you youngsters ever met Col. Askins. I did more than once with first time coming with an introduction from the late Jack Lewis. I think Jack liked to egg old Charlie on. Trust me, he was just as mean to the core as his articles seemed to indicate. A man killer and proud of it.

  • Don you get up on the wrong side of the bed today:-)

    • Don Ward

      I’ll stand by my critique of Patrick’s lede. There are plenty of good reasons for having a pump action shotgun or even a lever action for home defense, particularly if you live in a state like California.

      1911s however…

      😉

      • valorius

        Agreed. A lever action PCC is a tremendously effective self defense too. So is a shotgun. Shrug.

      • I agree with you Don and since I carry a 1911 add that in as well.

    • Tassiebush

      I think he just had his morning cuppa ruined by an accidental glimpse up a Seattle hipster’s kilt.

  • Jim_Macklin

    Technology has changed a lot in the past 80 years. Some of the ads are for companies of renown such as Freeland Scope Stands, that are long gone.
    Askins was a lawman of his time, another Border Patrol agent was Bill Jordan who wrote NO SECOND PLACE WINNER. As I recall he spoke about having three gun battles in one shift, everyday.
    In a face to face sporting contest, today’s gunmen such as Jerry Miculek could beat any of the gunmen of the 1850-to the 1970s.
    The mindset of a sport shooter is far different than that of a soldier or a Border Patrol Agent.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fa99eae6bc8a3c767a1dcb27bfb598eb34ca5d2c3d0d00cfe4c05a10b3e0cf91.jpg

  • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

    I think you missed the point of the home defense shotgun post I wrote. They have a place but there are better options available.

    As for lever actions and 1911s, I cant seem to recall writing anything on them making me wonder if you have me confused with someone else.

    Either way, you are entitled to your opinion and I am entitled to ignore it entirely.

    • Don Ward

      Really? You picked an awful odd way to write the lede to a story if that’s the case since you seem particularly antagonistic about the thought of individuals using those weapons that I listed. But hey, feel free to ignore the writing criticism. I mean what do I know about that subject?

      • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

        See it how you like. The lede was centered around the old guy behind the gun counter, not the firearms. I don’t have a fancy j-school degree like you do, just a passion for firearms.

        You should try to be less critical, you might be happier.

  • Random Disabled Person

    Is the barrel pointing up for concealed carry, any worse than horizontal pointing at people behind you?

    I wish TFB would do more articles on the old magazines, retailers, shooting stars/experts, and the advertisements. Tons of information, that could be compiled to be viewed differently. There is a large amount of history in the advertisements alone. Posting a collection from various sources like old newspapers and Shotgun News, etc., would be very educational.

    Amazingly 50+ years later , we’re still arguing about what is the best hunting round….

    This great source for seeing what was the norm back then and how we are losing our gun rights little by little from then until now. The differences in the firearm community for views of acceptable behavior is vastly different. Look at the opinions on this post and it doesn’t even mention about professional shooters having a “nip” before matches.

    If anyone doesn’t know the “Guns Magazine” has been posting their “classic” old issues in free pdfs. The first issue is from January 1955 and they add a new issue each month and are on May 1967 which is 145 issues of great ads and articles. With lots of misery for seeing what was once abundance surplus. That there were massive amounts of Lee-Enfield rifles other than just the SMLE No.4 Mk.1….

  • john huscio

    I seem to remember reading somewhere that one of his favorite things to do was shoot German officers while they were on the toilet.

    • valorius

      Seems like a perfectly acceptable pastime to me.

      • American Spartan

        …Moron. “Yeah lets enjoy murdering people who were helping get rid of Communism, because “muh Jingoism”.

        • valorius

          So we should’ve allied with the nazis? And you’re calling me a moron?

          • American Spartan

            We should not have gotten involved. Compare the numbers they killed with the death toll of communism…Its not even close. More over cultural marxism via the Frankfurt school are still harming this nation, but hey, I guess all that matters is feel good about killing people who were trying to end the horrors of communism matters more then being free…Its ok, we all make bad choices.

          • valorius

            OK dude.

          • American Spartan

            Thats right moron, claim what ever victory you want and run away like the Gamma male degenerate you clearly are. “Nazis are evil, never mind communism killed 15 times more people but I give them a pass, why? I dont know but they just do because being a “nazi” is the worst thing ever, not losing your rights, nation, people, self determination, right?”

            Boomer cuck moron, all of you.

          • valorius

            I have no idea what kind of douche sauce cocktails you’re on, but i’m not going to waste my time arguing with a moron that says we should’ve sat aside and let the Nazis murder their way across the world.

            Sorry.

          • American Spartan

            We sat back and allowed the communists to murder their way across the world, you have no issue with that, I wonder why?

          • valorius

            We sat back as we lost over 100,000 men in Vietnam and Korea? Are you aware you’re deluded?

  • Rnasser Rnasser

    Thanks a lot, Daniel! That’s a golden archive for me.

  • Joe

    Another hero from the Thin Blue Line.

    • valorius

      You want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.

  • Random Disabled Person

    Thank you very much for the information on American Handgunner. I didn’t know they existed and were available. Now to download like mad and loose the next day. Although my modem and hardrive will soooo hate you 😉 . I can’t wait to find and read the new product reviews on the older used pistols I own. A TFB post listing all the numerous places to find and freely download/read copies of old firearm magazines would be great.

    At “GC” ‘s 12 issues a year verses “AH” ‘s 6 per year, it will take about 5 years for Guns to catch up the to the start of Handguner’s Archives. Then begins the slowly overtaking them process, which comparing old issues side by side will be a treat for the younger people coming up behind us. Imagine them digging through the internet archives to read all the old TFB posts and comments.

    I would love to see the first few decades of “Shotgun News” ,now called “Firearm News” published in such a way. This is our history and often sadly not documented in way the information will be stored safely and displayed for all. No want! “NASA recording over the moon landing”, and/or fire destroying the few remaining copies. I have old webpages save from the late 1990’s early 2000’s and the difference is amazing. Since they updated and changed the front page each day, so you knew they were there and working.

    We’re lucky to have these companies do this, no hunting through old microfilm (reels), and/or microfiche (flat sheets) for the past issues, with hopes your library saved and catalog a subscription to the magazine.

    Plus long after we’re gone, people will still be arguing about what is the best hunting round and the best handgun self defense caliber.

  • Random Disabled Person

    Thank you again @Daniel E. Watters . That was two great archives of historical and exciting material to read. The advertisements are always a treat with such. “Shotgun News” is like “Computer Shopper”, the biggest selling point is the massive advertisements consolidated. Many issues filled my dreams and cut outs on the wall for “when I’m finally 18, I’m going to be able have… “.

    Sadly these suggestion tips/pointers are buried by the massive comments.
    Proof that there many great resources and free content, that need to have spotlight placed on them for the community as whole. Even a forum guide per type of firearm, time period, building, and/or type of shooting would possibly open up resources some may not have found yet. Google doesn’t always give all results fairly. Especially with forums that just require you join with a free account to get rid of harvesting and/or spam bots.

  • Fegelein

    Iirc, he didn’t consider blacks and Mexicans to be people either. Perhaps we shouldn’t listen to everything he said.