Gutta Percha

by
posted on March 13, 2012
wiley-clapp.jpg

Remember back in the 1970s when Smith & Wesson offered a series of beautiful die-struck belt buckles? A full collection of these handsome artifacts from a never-to-return era would be worth a lot more than what a 70s-era collector paid for them. Sadly, mine does not include every buckle in the series. It does, however, include the famed “gun box” buckle. This variation was a metal rendering of the top of the boxes found in the first few years of the Smith & Wesson partnership. The top of those boxes portrayed the tip-up revolver contained in the box. The original boxes are of course quite valuable, but the belt buckle is also collectible. Original boxes were made from a material known as gutta percha, a form of sap from a particular tree.

The tree grows on the Malay Peninsula and some of the East Indies. Collected by harvesters, the substance has been used commercially for a variety of applications. It was essential to the sealing of underwater cables that established telegraph and telephone service between continents, was used for inert containers to hold various kinds of chemicals and was once the basis for the fillers that took up the space in a root canal in dentistry. To say the least, this was a very flexible material.

For gun folks who admire the old shooters, gutta percha is best known as a material for handgun grips.

Sometimes used interchangeably with “hard rubber,” gutta percha is actually a little different. It molds well and produces a marbled swirling black intermingled with veins of reddish-brown. It is very exotic and old fashioned—a part of firearms history.

Latest

Carcano TS Carbine
Carcano TS Carbine

I Have This Old Gun: Carcano TS Carbine

For almost 55 years, the Carcano served the Kingdom of Italy. When it was adopted in 1891 as the country’s first smokeless-powder firearm, it was a cutting-edge design that defined the modern service rifle.

The Armed Citizen® April 15, 2024

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

Handloads: Getting A Carcano Into The Field

The accuracy of 6.5x52 mm Italian-chambered Carcano rifle is atrocious, and ammunition is scarce at best. However, for budget-minded shooters and collectors, they are still a popular option.

Preview: PMAG +5 Extension With Springfield Armory Logo

Requiring only the use of two included Allen wrenches and simple instructions, the Springfield Armory +5 extension is a quick and easy way to increase the capacity of a 5.56 NATO-size Magpul PMAG.

South Of The Border Turkey Shoot

Along the U.S.-Mexico border where the cultures of the two nations merge, a sport-shooting game has emerged—the Silhoueta Shoot. Authors Ben Avery and Gene B. Crum take a close look and report their findings.

New For 2024: Traditions Pro Series

Despite its name and extensive line of traditionally styled muzzloaders, Traditions Performance Firearms is at the cutting edge of modern muzzleloading and hunting firearms. New for 2024, Traditions is adding Pro Series models to its most popular firearm lines.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.