Berns Martin Triple-Draw Holster

In Dr No, James Bond has just been given the news that against his preference, he will be receiving a new weapon, the Walther PPK 7.65 mm. Bond reluctantly accepts the decision of the Armourer as to choice of weapon, and the inquires as to the best way to carry the gun.

“Berns Martin Triple-draw holster,” said Major Boothroyd succinctly. “Best worn inside the trouser band to the left. But it’s all right below the shoulder. Stiff saddle leather. Holds the gun in with a spring. Should make for a quicker draw than that,” he gestured towards the desk. “Three-fifths of a second to hit a man at twenty feet would be about right.”

The recent release of the book The Man With The Golden Typewriter is a boon for Bond researchers as it shows you directly how Fleming got much of his information. In this case a fan named Geoffrey Boothroyd. There is an entire chapter in the book entitled ‘Conversations with the Armourer’, in which the extensive correspondence between Fleming and Boothroyd is chronicled.

Geoffrey Boothroyd and Ian Fleming
Geoffrey Boothroyd and Ian Fleming

In his very first letter to Fleming, Boothroyd gives his opinions on the firearms Bond is said to use and what he should use. He suggests a Smith and Wesson .38 Centennial Airweight. (In a later letter he mentions the Walther PPK 7.65 mm) Then he says:

Now to gun harness, rigs or what have you. First of all, not a shoulder holster for general wear, please. I suggest that the gun is carried in a Berns Martin Triple Draw holster. This type of holster holds the gun in by means of a spring and can be worn on the belt or as a shoulder holster. I have played about with various types of holster for quite a time now and this one is the best.

Boothroyd sent Fleming a series of prints to show the various ways in which the holster could be worn.

‘A’ Series. Holster worn on belt at right side. Pistol drawn with right hand.
(Boothroyd notes: This draw can be done in 3/5ths of a second by me. With practice and lots of it you could hit in figure at 20 feet in that time.)

‘B’ Series. Shoulder holster. Gun upside down on left side. Held in by spring. Drawn with right hand.

‘C’ Series. Holster worn as in A, but gun drawn with left hand.

‘D’ Series. Holster word on shoulder, as in ‘B’ series, but gun drawn with left hand.

Boothroyd provided Fleming with 2-4 points of note under each of these series.

A later letter to Fleming has Boothroyd answering the writer’s query as to where he can find more about the holster:

The Berns Martin people live in Calhoun City, Mississippi, and a note to Jack Martin, who is a first class chap and a true gunslinger, will bring you illustrations of his work. Bond’s chamois leather pouch will be ideal for carrying a gun, but God help him if he has to get the gun out when the other fellow is counting the holes in Bond’s tummy.

Berns-MartinLightnincut

 

Here is a closeup of the brand mark on the holster:

berns-martin

And then here is the entire rig:

berns-martin-rig

 

Even after getting the information here, it was still a little inaccurate. When Fleming wrote Dr No, he had Bond issued the Berns Martin Triple Draw holster, but with the Walther PPK. Boothroyd wrote to tell him that the holster could only be used with a revolver (such as the Smith and Wesson) and not his new Walther, which was an automatic.

Colt Detective Special

As Moonraker opens, Bond is in the firing range in the basement of the headquarters building, getting some firing work in with the Instructor.

THE TWO thirty-eights roared simultaneously.

The walls of the underground room took the crash of sound and batted it to and fro between them until there was silence. James Bond watched the smoke being sucked from each end of the room towards the central Ventaxia fan. The memory in his right hand of how he had drawn and fired with one sweep from the left made him confident. He broke the chamber sideways out of the Colt Detective Special and waited, his gun pointing at the floor, while the Instructor walked the twenty yards towards him through the half-light of the gallery.

(A sidenote – the reference to the Ventaxia fan is yet another product placement by Ian Fleming. The company is actually Vent-Axia and provides exactly the type of fan described here.)

The Colt Detective Special is short-barrelled revolver favored by detectives for both its stopping power (.38 Special) and ease of concealment.

Bond was likely using a second series CDS here, which were manufactured between 1947 and 1972.

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This is a 1956 model, so about a year or two away from the events of Moonraker, but as part of the second series of the CDS, the overall design would’ve been the same as the one James Bond was using.

Tee-Hee in Live and Let Die also carried a .38 Colt Detective Special, which Bond took off him after knocking him out. Bond then used the gun to shoot his way out of the garage.

Champion Harpoon Gun, Wilkinsons Commando Dagger

When James Bond is reviewing his equipment for his undersea trek to the Isle of Surprise in Live and Let Die, he inventories it as follows:

There was a new and powerful Champion harpoon gun and a commando dagger of the type devised by Wilkinsons during the war. Finally, in a box covered with danger-labels, there was the heavy limpet mine, a flat cone of explosive on a base, studded with wide copper bosses, so powerfully magnetized that the mine would stick like a clam to any metal hull. There were a dozen pencil-shaped metal and glass fuses set for ten minutes to eight hours and a careful memorandum of instructions that were as simple as the rest of the gear. There was even a box of benzedrine tablets to give endurance and heightened perception during the operation and an assortment of underwater torches, including one that threw only a tiny pencil-thin beam.

For the Champion harpoon gun, someone can correct me if I’m mistaken, but I’m assuming it was the Arbalete Champion speargun which Bond had received.

$_57

 

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I can’t say for sure this is what Bond used – I don’t even know what year this gun is, but hopefully this allows you to picture at least the type of speargun he was using.

In The Hildebrand Rarity, Bond also has a Champion:

Bond had a Champion harpoon-gun with double rubbers. The harpoon was tipped with a needle-sharp trident – a short-range weapon, but the best for reef work.

The double rubbers described here refers to bands, which give the gun its power:

Two factors affect a band’s power potential: stretch and diameter. All other things being equal, a 9/16-inch band provides less potential power than a 5/8-inch band. Adding additional bands increases the power potential in a linear fashion (i.e. two 5/8-inch bands yielding 100 pounds (45.4kg) of power potential. – How to Choose the Right Speargun

As for the commando dagger devised by Wilkinsons, there are many to choose from. We’ll go with these for now:

wilkinsons

While these three knives may look the same, and indeed were designed to look alike, the top knife above is the Wilkinson, and the other two are look alikes from the same era.

For more on the Wilkinson knives, check out this excellent website: The Wilkinson F-S Collection.

As for the limpet mine, it sounds like it looked like this.

limpet-mine

 

And this shows you the components of the mine, including the copper bosses and magnetized bottom:

limpet-mine-2

 

 

He also has a supply of Benzedrine tablets. (Note the entire section Fleming and Bond get in that wikipedia entry.)