Celebrating the wartime pleasure of getting loaded and cleaning your guns

This wartime ad from Life encourages you to get loaded on fine booze at home while cleaning your guns, to leave the roads and railways clear for Our Boys.

Life, October 16, 1944


  1. And remember kids:  Guns don’t kill people, only commies and anti-NRA America-haters do.
    Oh God, I need a drink… and a gun.

  2. While a beer or a whiskey goes nicely while cleaning your guns after a day of shooting, an easy chair does not. Work like that needs to be done outside or on a workbench, it’s very dirty!

    1. Work like that needs to be done outside or on a workbench, it’s very dirty!

      No worries, this guy lives in 1944. I’m sure his wife-slave will take care of the mess just as soon as she finishes birthin’ that baby.

  3. To be fair, those are flintlock pistols, what pirates used in the 1700’s. He’s polishing an antique. Not going to accidentally shoot yourself cleaning one of those. I wonder if the marketers assumed people would recognize the distinction?  

    1. Not going to accidentally shoot yourself cleaning one of those.

      Probably not going to shoot whatever you aim at either.

      1. Tell that to the Cominazzo match shooters on the U.S. International Muzzle-Loading Team.    At the championship levels, the shooters wielding pistols like those depicted in that ad generally place every shot within 2 inches of target center at 25 meters, i.e. overall group size about 4 inches across.  And they can do it with real-from-the-period pieces.

        1.  Isn’t one of the more important elements reliably-formed shot, not just the weapon itself?

          1.  Sure but I don’t understand your point.  Near-perfect spherical projectiles for 250-year-old smoothbore flintlock pistols are not hard to buy or make.

      2.  Not unless one’s loaded.  I admit it’s less likely with one of these than with your modern 9 mm, but the eternal truth prevails – do not mix guns with alcohol.

    2.  It happens occasionally. Blackpowder doesn’t deteriorate over time if kept dry and old flintlocks were commonly stored loaded with the hammer down because loading them took so long. Always assume a gun is loaded!

  4. Just remember to have Andy Williams on speed-dial.

    /is that an old-people reference, or do people still get that?

  5. No, no, no, no, no. Guns and alcohol do not mix.

    Attitudes toward gun safety in America have improved drastically over the past fifty years. This sort of scene would freak out modern gunnies. 

    1. Which scene?  The one where he’s cleaning his gun with no beverage in sight?  Or the one where he’s enjoying his drink with no guns in sight?  Though the “two jobs” involve the same easy chair and the same Santorum-vest, there’s no indication that both jobs should be performed simultaneously.

      And do modern gunnies actually call themselves “gunnies”?  Whatever happened to the term “shootist”?  ;^)

      1. Well, true. Unless that’s a five-foot tall cocktail glass in the lower scene.

        Many of the firearms enthusiasts that I know do indeed refer to themselves as gunnies.

  6. I don’t have any antique pistols to polish; but looking on the bright side, my whisky hasn’t been velveted for extra smoothness either.

  7. Judging by the helmet on the mantel he is an antique weapons/armor collector. I know it’s difficult to understand how someone can have a drink and enjoy their hobby, but just close your eyes for a second and replace the flintlock pistol with StarWars action figures (or whatever else you deem socially acceptable for people to enjoy). 

    1. One night I was sitting in bed reading, and my apartment neighbors blew a hole in my wall right above me with a Star Wars action figure. Oh, no, I guess it was a gun.

      Well… but luckily that is a flintlock rather than a Glock 9mm, which means it’s rather more work to prime it and then blow a hole in your neighbor’s wall.

  8. So, back in WWII, we were be expected to sacrifice  luxuries like weekend travel to help out the war effort?

    That Roosevelt really WAS a commie. A real freedom-lover would insist everyone go shopping, buy new cars, and tear around the countryside wasting gas just put the fear of capitalism in our enemies.

  9. Despite two minutes of searching, I never found out what it meant for a whiskey to be “velveted”.  I did, however, run across this charming factlet in wikipedia:

    Schenley’s Black Velvet DeLuxe was the only liquor available to submarine officers at Midway in World War II, where it was held in low regard and known as “Schenley’s Black Death.”

    1. I always enjoyed photo in the SRL book, “Pranks”, where someone re-painted a  Black Velvet billboard featuring Telly Savalas  They changed “feel the velvet baby” to “feel the pain baby”.

  10. Those may be antique flintlock pistols, but somehow I doubt this guy is going to limit himself to just one shot.

  11. Ad Exec: “We’re trying to justify telling men to drink alone at home… It’s patriotic. We need an illo… Get that Rockwell guy on the horn!”

    Assistant: “We don’t have the budget for a Norman Rockwell.”

    Exec: “Darn. Find someone who paints like Rockwell. Get a homey scene with an easy chair. Gotta get a chair. See if he has one already painted, we’ve got a deadline…”

    I think you guys are putting in far more thought in to analyzing this ad than the Mad Men put into creating it. That painting was found in the art dept via index cards that read “Dad, hobbies, easy chair.” Man’s enjoying his weekend doing Manly things, I say. Lounging. Drinking. Polishing his Symbols of European Military and Cultural Dominance… Wait, which side is he on?

  12. I can’t tell: is that cotton wadding or a small foothill of cocaine next to the second pistol. Say hello to my little friend.

  13. While I am not saying it is good safety to drink and play with guns – it is a LOT harder to accidentally load and shoot a black powder flint lock than a modern semi-auto or revolver.

  14. Alternate caption: ” If the Lord God Jehovah holds me in half the esteem I hold myself, he’ll let me plug a Kraut with this before the war’s over.  Section 8 indeed…”

  15. OK, so if he’s polishing a couple antiques, why does he have a bore brush on the table?  

    Also the brush is probably way to small for those flintlock hand cannons. 

  16. If there’s no flints in the locks and no powder in the pans, then they are not likely to discharge even if loaded. Since there’s only an oil can, brush and cotton wool in sight, he’s probably just cleaning and oiling them – they might just be contemporary reproductions that couldn’t be fired.

  17. I love ambiguous marking terms, particularly old ones. They practically even put it in air quotes. Velveted indeed!

  18. I can think of at least three other “jobs” one might “handle” from such an…easy… chair. Ahem.

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